that I was in a trance 18 and
saw Him saying to me,
‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly,
for they will not receive your testimony concerning Me.’
19 So I said,
‘Lord, they know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and
beat those who believe on You. 20 And
when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed,
I also was standing by consenting to his death, and
guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’ 21
Then He said to me,
for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.’”
In summary, Paul told the quieted crowd that after his conversion on the road to Damascus and time spent with Ananias, Paul eventually came to Jerusalem. However, at Jerusalem, Paul was told by the Lord to leave because they would not listen to Paul. Paul reasoned with the Lord, but the Lord insisted he leave and go to the Gentiles.
Yes, I have to agree with Paul, he seems like the perfect guy to witness to the Jews. Obviously, he is Jewish and well educated. Also, Paul persecuted the church and had consented to Stephen’s death. Who better to relate to the Jews to tell them the Gospel?
But The Lord had other plans. The Lord is all knowing, and He knew the Jews would not hear Paul’s testimony regarding Jesus. Therefore, it was the Lord who sent him away to the Gentiles. Earlier in Acts, Paul was eventually sent out with Barnabas to the Gentiles from the church located at Antioch.
Is God Moving your Ministry?
In Paul’s mind, it made total sense for him to stay and witness to the Jews in Jerusalem. However, in God’s mind, he has a better plan. Are we willing to listen to the Lord to move our ministry? When we look at where God has us, we may see how well we fit into our current ministry. We fit because we are like minded with the people we are serving, we believed and practiced the same things, and we had dedicated time and study to these people and to this place. Yet, maybe God has something new for you and me to do?
Visions or Providence?
Now for Paul, he was in a trance, and he heard Jesus himself telling him what to do. Now that is some clear direction. But, I’m almost 47 years old, and I have never had a vision. So how can we know God is calling us? After all, there is an enemy, the Devil. How do we know he just isn’t trying to mess up our current service to God?
First, God’s providence will work. Things will happen in life that will just make you have to move. Even when you don’t want to change your situation, things will happen to force you to move.
Second, God will provide multiple confirmations. Ananias told Paul at his conversion that Paul would witness to “all men”. In this passage, Jesus in the vision told Paul to go to the “Gentiles”. Then the church at Antioch sent out Paul and Barnabas through fasting, prayer, and laying on of hands.
If anyone has any stories on how they were led to move their ministry, please give your story in the comments below.
Let’s be ready and willing to move if needed.