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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Saul of Tarsus Part 8

First, my apologies for not posting anything in over a week. I was on the road and between driving and preaching had no time to sit down and pen my thoughts on what will be the second to last post on the conversion of Saul.
Second, the Hand of Help staff has started an e-newsletter, and it will have exclusive content whenever it is published. If you would like to receive it, please go to www.handofhelp.com and sign up there. The first issue will be e-mailed sometime next week.
As always, thank you for your patience, understanding, and prayers.
Acts 9:13-14, “Then Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”
There is one undeniable fact that all true servants of God learn throughout their journey of obedience, that when God sends you, you no longer take into account the roadblocks, or the insurmountable odds, but you go in His name, and He will ensure your victory. Often we are called to step out in faith in ways that are contrary to human reason, or the process of logic we have grown accustomed to applying to our every day decisions. After hearing what the Lord would have him do, Ananias applied just such a process of logic, and came to the conclusion that from a physical standpoint, through the prism of solely human understanding, it would not be wise to approach one who had the authority to bind him, and whose reputation eluded to the fact that he would have no qualms about doing just that.
If Ananias were to lean more on his own understanding than trust in the wisdom and authority of the Lord, by merely analyzing the facts he had at his disposal, and seeing the havoc Saul had already wreaked upon the followers of Christ, he could have easily talked himself into not obeying, not doing what he was told, shrugging off the entire experience as an incident where perhaps God did not have all the information after all.
Often God gives us specific instruction, and thinking that perhaps we know better, even if we would never verbalize such sentiment, we either drag our feet in obeying, or choose to disobey altogether. Ananias knew to place his trust in the Lord, and he also knew that even if all the hosts of hell would come against him, they could do him no harm, for he was walking in the perfect will of God. When God sends you out to perform a duty on His behalf, no matter how difficult it may seem to the naked eye, believe that He will bring it to fruition.
I have often contemplated Ananias’s reaction toward the voice of the Lord, as opposed to Saul’s reaction when he heard the voice. God spoke softly to Ananias, gently urging him to go and encounter Saul, and Ananias had a flicker of doubt, he questioned the Lord. Saul on the other hand had been felled to the ground by the awesome light of the Lord’s presence, and when he was told what to do, he obeyed without question or delay.
Looking at the situation from a purely human standpoint, knowing that Ananias was aware of Saul’s plan to destroy the church, he was simply trying to protect the body of Christ, and spare them any further harm. Ananias was among the first of Christ’s followers to be tempted into thinking that he somehow knew better than the Master that although the Lord’s command had been simple and to the point, He had somehow misspoken, or had been misunderstood.
Yes, the chief priests had given their authority to Saul that he may bind all who call on Christ’s name, but the Great High Priest had countermanded their authority, spoiled their plans, and confounded them by transforming one of the most aggressive persecutors of the church, into one of the most ardent defenders of the faith.
Man appointed and man sanctioned priests are only able to bind, to imprison, to hinder and to stifle, but the Great High Priest, Christ Jesus, is the One who is able to free, to restore, to make new, and transform. The origins of one’s authority are as important as the authority he possesses. If our authority comes from men, it is worthless in the eyes of God, and we are no better than the priests of old who went insofar as imprisonment and murder of those who opposed them for fear of losing their station, and their place of prominence. If our authority comes from God however, our singular concern is truth, our singular passion Christ, and promoting our agenda or denomination never enters into the equation. When the desire to advance an agenda, denomination, or any one particular person overshadows the desire to advance Jesus, we have failed in our mission, our calling, and our primary duty toward the body of Christ.
Acts 9:15-16, “But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”
Publilius Syrus a Roman author during the first century once wrote, ‘a good reputation is more valuable than money.’ Saul of Tarsus was not a man of good reputation by any stretch of the imagination, at least not when it came to the followers of Christ. All but God drew conclusions based on what they knew of the man’s actions, by chronicling what he had done, and coming to a rightful assumption concerning his character. We may know of men only what they are willing to disclose of themselves, only what they are willing to share, or what they are discovered to be when some dark and deeply buried secret makes its way to the surface of the general consciousness. God however, sees beyond the now, beyond what we might have done in the past, and knows what we may well become if we yield and submit to His chiseling and molding. The Lord spoke to Ananias, and commanded him to go to Saul of Tarsus, for he was a chosen vessel, one who would bear His name to Jew and Gentile alike.
It is interesting to witness the progression of Saul’s journey, first becoming a child of God by believing in the risen Christ, then becoming a servant of Christ, and lastly becoming a vessel. From child to servant, from servant to vessel, this is the natural progression of one who has been redeemed by faith in the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ Jesus. For Saul, the progress came in quick succession, one quickly followed by the other, in fact almost instantaneous, but for others the growth comes after a period of spiritual growth.
A child cannot be made to labor, for it is a child, and must be allowed to grow. Even after a child has grown, and has become an heir, he or she can still resist a parent’s request to labor.
A servant is able bodied and able to work from day one, and since he or she is not an heir, the servant performs the labors and required tasks with no sense of entitlement or presupposed favor.
Luke 17:10, “So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘we are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.”
Even so, a servant can choose to be lazy, to bury his talent, and be an unprofitable servant. As the parable of the talents so aptly describes, even when a servant is given what he needs in order to perform aptly for his Master, and bring his Master profit, his profitability is not ensured, for it is dependent on what he does with the talent with which he has been entrusted.
When one ascends to the humbling honor of being called a vessel however, he or she has reached the pinnacle of submission and obedience. A vessel cannot resist. A vessel cannot doubt, a vessel cannot justify inaction; a vessel cannot refuse to labor. When one is called a vessel of the Lord, he or she is at the Master’s disposal in totality. The Master picks up a vessel whenever He chooses, He uses it for its intended purpose for however long He chooses, and lays it down whenever He chooses. The vessel does not protest, neither does it resist. A vessel has no will of its own, it has no agenda, no aspirations, no dreams of greatness or grandeur, it is in its Master’s house, waiting to be used.
2 Timothy 2:20-21, “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.”
Saul was named a chosen vessel by the Lord, and this particular vessel’s function and responsibility would be to bear the name of Christ to kings, Gentiles, and the children of Israel. This is the duty of every vessel, for we are all called to bear the name of Christ, and declare that He is Lord. Christ determines our function and duty in His body, but we all work toward the same goal, to proclaim the name of Jesus. Some are called to be hands, while other feet, while other eyes, while others lips, and as long as we are all aware of our calling, and the talent with which we have been entrusted, we will fulfill our duty every day of our lives. Whether in greater or lesser measure, we must all labor; we must all do our part. More could be said on the topic of vessels, those of honor and dishonor alike, but desiring to maintain the integrity of the whole, and keep my focus on Saul, I will save that teaching for perhaps another time.
While reading the sixteenth verse of the ninth chapter in Acts, I came to realize that Christ never sugar coated anything. He did not tell Ananias that He would show Saul how much he would prosper in this life, how great a ministry he would have, what an impact his life would be on humanity as a whole, but rather that he would be shown how many things he must suffer for Christ’s name.
For those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, a great lesson lies within this verse. From the beginning of the faith, to the end of time itself, every true believer must first know the cross, then the duty. Only those who know to carry their cross are able to be vessels of honor for God, and worthy of the future glory.
Every man suffers for something. There are men who sacrifice their youth and their health for their dream home or their dream car, there are men who sacrifice their standards and compromise their beliefs to get ahead, but only suffering for the name of Christ will bring eternal reward.
The man or woman, who knows to suffer for the name of Christ, will carry the burden of all other suffering with ease. Just as Christ told his Apostles that they would have to suffer for His name’s sake, He would now be revealing the extent of his suffering to Saul. The first seventy years after Christ’s crucifixion, were the bleakest and darkest for the followers of Christ in the history of mankind. The cruelties to which the martyrs of old were exposed are unspeakable, their faithfulness awe-inspiring.
The persecution of the saints gave them an opportunity to proclaim the name of Christ, to men they would have never encountered otherwise. As they stood before judges and governors, kings and soldiers alike, they testified of Christ, inspired and compelled by the power of the Holy Spirit. Remembering the Lord, His courage, his long suffering, His desire to fulfill the Father’s will, even when the were subjected to the greatest of suffering, they were ready to receive it gladly, considering it unworthy to be compared to the glory that would be revealed in them. His grace was sufficient, even unto death, and His grace is sufficient still.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

4 comments:

amy said...

Dear brother Mike,
Thank you so much for this word which I really needed today. Thank you Jesus.

a seed sower said...

Brother Michael, could you please have someone post on your speaking scheduel on hand of help site, when and where your going to be speaking this year, thanks Helen

Anonymous said...

Mike, I apologize for sending you this message through your blogspot, but I tried twice to send it to mboldea26@aol.com and it returned unsent. If you would please email me in reply, my email address is cwb111376@yahoo.com
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Did you know that Joel Osteen, whom you and Gene both know denied on the Larry King Show that Christ is the only way to be saved, spoke those words because of his IRS 501c3 limitations? Multitudes of ministries all across America are the property of the IRS, and because they are, the IRS gets to tell them what to preach and what not to preach, with the agreement that if they ever cease to remain within "politically correct" boundaries they forfeit their 501c3 status. It is basically a signed agreement to forfeit the first amendment in exchange for tax-exempt status. The reason it is so important to 90% of America's ministries is because they fear losing money when they tell their donors, "Donations sent to this ministry are not tax-deductible." Through the love of money, ministries that sign up for this are silenced or are eventually removed from tax-exemt status and forced to shut down unless God raises up faithful donors who care nothing about a larger tax return! That's the deception they didn't want to tell you about!!! Is it right to you that Hand of Help should be included in a list of organizations with abortion clinics (like Planned Parenthood), gay clubs, Muslim mosques, TBN prosperity churches, etc??? I believe you are God's minister, and since you are, I believe God will see to it that the IRS beast removes your ministry's name from Publication 78, and then, you will spread the gospel further and louder than before, because it will serve to anger you spiritually about what is really going on in 90% of America's churches: COMPROMISE DUE TO MONEY LOVE! Of course, it would be better if you voluntarily remove your ministry from 501c3 status so that God does not need to put you through the same discipline which others are being put through as they come to the attention of the evil people who run the IRS.

A case in point: Spirit One Ministries is an example of a ministry that was listed in Publication 78 as a 501c3 tax-exempt ministry until a pro-abortionist called the IRS up to complain about some pro-life signs that were displayed in its front yard for the public to see. The IRS took the case, investigated Spirit One Ministries and terminated its tax-exempt status. Donations to Spirit One Ministries have been NON-tax-deductible since then.

My question for you, brother Michael, is this: Was it you who signed Hand of Help Ministries up to be included in IRS Publication 78 as a 501c3 incorporation, or did someone else sign this ministry up without letting you know what you would be agreeing to? I long to know because I hear you preaching what is not politically correct (anti-homosexuality, anti-abortion, pro-Christ, pro-truth), but I cannot see why you would personally sign in agreement with everything on IRS Form 1023, thus signing away your right to preach against sin and false religion and to preach that Christ alone is the only way to be saved. Does this help you understand why Joel Osteen and multitudes of other TV preachers are no longer preaching the gospel? Please note that the few on TV who do speak out against abortion and homosexuality and Islam and other "politically correct" issues have either rejected or lost ties with the IRS 501c3 faith-based initiative, which is obviously a covenant with death! Do you know these things, Michael? Was it you who personally signed up for 501c3 status, or was it someone else?

In love and truth,
Chris Bland

PS - To learn why your ministry will lose its 501c3 status, unless you voluntarily remove Hand of Help from IRS Publication 78 (which would honor God even more), I urge you to visit...
http://hushmoney.org/
...and also...
http://www.unleavenedbreadministries.org/?page=faq#Is_this_ministry_a_501(c)3_organization
At the last website, please note that David Eells is a shining example of a man of God who declares, "We are not a 501c3 ministry - click here to find out why," and yet God has raised up donors to advance his ministry all across America!!! God will do more for you once you too remove Hand of Help from Publication 78. Otherwise, I believe God will cause the wrong minds in the IRS to get the job done for you, because you do not belong in Publication 78 with a bunch of "politically correct" antichrist organizations. Please, send me a reply to let me know you did or did not know about this when Hand of Help became a 501c3 "corporation" and what you now plan to do about it. Will you voluntarily come out, or will you leave it up to God to raise up opposition in the IRS to force you out? Pay attention to the first website above for information on the history and intent of the 501c3 contract which your ministry is now in partnership with! That website will tell you what to do to get out of it. You must be willing to let your donors know that their donations will no longer be tax-deductible, but if you will walk by faith, God will raise up the right donors and remove the ones who are only in it for a larger tax return. It will become clear to God and to the right donors that YOU are not limiting God's work through you in order to keep your ministry's 501c3 status, as multitudes of "Joel Osteen"s are.

Love you, brother, in Jesus!

Bonny said...

Thank you again, brother Michael. I am really enjoying the Saul series. Tonight I just read my latest Voice of the Martyrs newsletter, and am again reminded of our family throughout the world, and in history before us, who have poured out their lives even with joy, for the sake of the Gospel. May we be found worthy at His coming.