"But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things which I will appear to to you; rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.' " - Jesus Acts 26:18
In the early 1990's, churches were led in a feverish emphasis upon vision statements, purpose statements and mission statements. All of this was well-intentioned, and did a great deal of good to refocus the human and financial resources of the church on what mattered most. None of them ever improved on what Jesus said to Saul, on the road to Damascus.
Any significant encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ begins with being knocked off a high horse. This should come as no surprise.
"Pride cometh before a fall." Solomon
Prayerless people are prideful people pursuing pointless purposes and unproductive priorities that fail to point people in the dark towards The Light. Praying people are not close-minded to a good idea. They are just more inclined to determine if it is God's idea, before they mobilize the church to do it.
Note to self: Stick with the basics. You don't have to act on every good idea you have. You have been called to be a minister and a witness of God's idea. His will is found in His Word. When in doubt, read the directions.
Saul was knocked down a prideful man. Paul got up a different man. Saul's idea led him to be a murderer and a fanatic. The majority was cheering him on his way. God's idea was for Paul to be a minister and a witness.
The transition from murderer to minister was the result of One Person calling his name. No matter how you count the votes, Jesus is always the authority and the majority. Count His vote first. The rest don't matter.
Paul's calling came with a warning label. Jesus was going to rescue him from the Jews and the Gentiles. The calling, the rescuing and the sending were a package deal. When Paul found himself in need of a rescue, it was not going to be a result of his rebellion, but because of his obedience. Even when Paul was shipwrecked, he would be right on course.
Paul's mission was going to take him to people who were under the dominion of Satan. They were lost in the dark. He would point them to The Light. Paul was not called to dim the lights, but to open the eyes of people to The Light.
Engaging the culture does not include saying to people who are missing the target, "Good shot!" Sin is a matter of falling short of God's best. God's forgiveness is granted by Jesus to those who admit they have fallen short, not to those who want to move the target and demand a do-over.
Sanctified is a word that is losing more and more clout, with every passing day. It is usually attached to a sarcastic insult, not an honored status. It refers to the process of becoming more and more like Jesus, as His character is released in the life of a believer, by His Holy Spirit.
People who have left the darkness, and dominion of Satan live in the light of the Presence and The Person of The Lord, Jesus Christ. They are citizen's of His Kingdom, and Jesus is the Lord of their lives. His Word, His will, His way, His truth, His life are the standards by which everything is judged.
Jesus is the final authority, and the ultimate measurement of God's best. Any good idea that does not meet His ideal is simply not good enough to be called God's idea. Earning God's approval is an idea rooted in man-made religion. It minimizes the cross, and maximizes man's effort.
Receiving an inheritance is still God's idea. It is based upon a relationship with Jesus, not a man-made religion. The Gentiles would be invited into the family of God by putting their faith, or their trust in Jesus. They would become heirs to the inheritance by admitting their need for a Savior, and receiving His death on the cross, as God's gift of forgiveness of their sins.
Birth is an event. Character is a process. New birth is an event. Sanctification is a process. The birth date establishes a relationship, and reveals a family resemblance. Character is developed over a life-time. It is not measured by what is done on one day, but what is reinforced every day. In time the child develops the kind of character that is rewarded and reinforced by the authority figures in the home.
Faith in The Lord Jesus Christ is both an event and a process. It involves believing in Him as Savior and yielding to Him as Lord. Believing and yielding are not two sides of a coin that people use for purchasing or earning their salvation. It is a gift from God.
Receiving the gift of God's forgiveness for sin involves a faith in Jesus marked by believing in Him and yielding to Him. The event initiates the relationship, the process completes the character.
Paul never got over getting up. When he heard Jesus call His name, his next step was one of obedience. His walk with Jesus would take him to some very strange places, and Jesus would rescue him out of some extremely dangerous circumstances. Every step along the way, Paul became more like His Savior, and a lot less like Saul. Prayer not only changes things. Prayer changes people. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!