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Sunday 16 August 2015 – Kobus Swart
2 Tim. 4:6-8; Acts 7:54-60; Eph. 2:10; Acts 9:1-9; Acts 27:1-7, 13-14;
Prov. 29:18-KJV; (Isa. 50:7); 1 Cor. 10:11; Rom. 13:11; Heb. 1:1-2;
(Num. 14:21); (Hab. 2:14); Heb. 10: 36-39
These are the words of Paul at the end of his life’s journey: For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing (2 Tim. 4:6-8). My prayer is that each one of us comes to a point where we can say, “I have finished my course, my assignment. I may not have seen what I believed for, but I kept the faith. I have not turned my boat around.” For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them (Eph. 2:10). This refers to the master plan of God. For everyone born on this planet, God has a master plan for his/her life. It should therefore be everyone’s priority to find out what God’s plan is for their life.
Let’s look at what happened to Paul (when his name was still Saul) that gave him such determination never to look back. He had great challenges in his life; he was in prison, he was persecuted, he had hard times but he never turned back.
When Stephen was stoned to death his robes were laid at the feet of Saul (who later became Paul). Paul felt his mandate was to persecute the Church. He did it with passion and conviction. He was engaged, as with many Christians, with a mandate he thought was given to him by God. They are pursuing avenues and dreams that may not have been given to them by God.
It takes an encounter with God to turn us from what was not the master plan, to the plan of God. Most often people engage in a direction because they are influenced by family or friends, or because of money. God interrupted Saul in what he was busy doing (Acts 9:1-9). Each one of us has a very personal, unique story. Did Paul have an easy road after the encounter? No!
Later in his life, Paul finds himself on a boat but this time he is a prisoner. Paul was imprisoned for the will of God for his life. Was he sad or scared? No. He had a mission. He knew he had to appear before Caesar. In the eyes of the world he was a prisoner in chains, but he had a mission. All the time there were contrary winds (Acts 27:1-7, 13-14). Even while imprisoned Paul was on a mission within the master plan of God, and all the way the winds were against him. If you feel that things are not going smoothly for you, just consider a man like Paul. Paul’s anchor and the strength of his commitment, his vision and his surrender to the purposes of God had its origin in a God-encounter.
Think about your life, if you are wobbling, why? Why are you so easily distracted from your course? Why do you complain so easily? It is not about me or you, it is about the Lord! It is so easy when it is tough and the winds are contrary to say, “Poor me, I am going through it again!” It is not about you, it is about the Lord.
What happened to Paul, established a vision in his life. A vision is also a revelation. Where there is no vision, the people perish (Prov. 29:18-KJV). If you do not have vision, your life is in danger. You are going to be distracted and go in different directions. Even if you have vision, it is not going to always run smoothly. A man or a woman with a vision from God must set their face like flint (Isa. 50:7) and not be open to the enemy’s bribes.
What kept Paul going? He had an assignment; he was called as an apostle to the Gentiles. He was a missionary; he went on journey after journey into various nations of the world. With the God-encounter and the determination, Paul was convicted in his own expectation through reading the Scripture that he was living in the last days (1 Cor. 10:11). The coming of Jesus Christ 2000 years ago ushered in the last days. We are in the last of the last days. Paul was motivated by that conviction; he sensed an urgency not to deviate from the will of God, the call of God and from the master plan because he believed the end was close (Rom. 13:11). We are living in the last days (Heb. 1:1-2). There is a condition of the heart, an inner focus that I want to have, otherwise when the urgency is not there, one can be distracted.
When you have that encounter with God, four things will be established in your spirit. Are these in your life or not?
- Passion. See the end product; see victory; see the end breakthrough.
- Motivation. Safe living always has regrets. If Paul wanted to live a safe life he would not have continued his journey. What difference and contribution can you make?
- Direction. Otherwise you consider easier options. The voice of the Holy Spirit is no longer behind us, the voice is inside us. May God give us the sensitivity of heart to hear the voice that may say, “Stop, you are on the wrong course, turn around.” It is like a compass. We have to keep “true north”. Stay on the course to which God has called you.
- Purpose. Vision gives us purpose. I cannot imagine living a life disconnected from God’s purpose for my life. I want to stay connected to God’s purpose for my life. Being disconnected from God’s purpose does not necessarily mean you are sinning. The earth is the Lord’s but too many Christians have the desire to leave this earth. This earth will be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea (Num. 14:21; Hab. 2:14). Absorb that into your purpose, your calling and your vision. You have to make a difference in your world!
The longer the Church remains passive, the longer we will have to cope with conditions on this planet. God is waiting for us to participate in His plan. Let us be part of that voice that is not afraid. We want to see the final unveiling of the Christ in the earth.
A warning on our journey: For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay. But My righteous one shall live by faith (Heb. 10:36-37). He who is coming will come, which means he is busy coming all the time, but there is the final corporate unveiling ahead. And if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him (Heb. 10:38). If you withdraw from the plan of God it means withdrawing into destruction. But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul (Heb. 10:39). Once you have engaged on this journey with God, I pray that you will draw the strength, the conviction, the power that God makes available in spite of contrary winds and that in spite of challenges you will not withdraw. Jesus got into the boat because they were persistently going forward. Make a commitment this morning.