Heavenly vision, earthly service

“What are you doing? Why are you doing it?” – not just at this moment, but overall in your life. Are you ‘killing time?’ – frittering away day upon day watching TV and playing meaningless games? Or, are you living to make a Kingdom difference? That last phrase sounds so grandiose, doesn’t it? But it is a question worth asking because we can fill up our lives with activities, be exhausted by all the running around, and yet have nothing in the way of significant results to show for all our busyness.

I read a phrase in the book of Acts this morning that caught my attention- I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. Here’s the context. Paul was arrested in Jerusalem after narrowly escaping death at the hands of mob incited to riot as he was entering the Temple court supposedly with Gentile men who were not allowed in those restricted areas. He was held for two years in jail by Roman authorities who knew he really didn’t deserve to be in prison, but who wouldn’t free him because of political pressure from the Jewish religious leaders. Finally, he was called to make his defense. He recounted his experience, how he had become a Christian as a result of a vision of Jesus Christ that stopped him in his tracks on the road to Damascus. He told of his commission to take the message of Jesus, the Savior to the whole world, then he summed up saying, “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven.” (Acts 26:19, NIV)

Such is the power of vision! Paul lived on the road with discomfort, often persecuted by those who did not believe that non-Jews should hear the Gospel. He was arrested several times, beaten by authorities more than once. He worked to write the letters that now make up a large part of our New Testament, instructing Believers in the Faith. Why? Because he had vision, a transforming experience from God, that made him passionate about making a Kingdom difference in his world!

The word, vision, can, as I mentioned at the opening lines sound grandiose. There are those who hid their own ambitions and pride behind spiritual language, claiming they are executing a vision from the Lord, when they are just building their own little kingdom! That’s not the kind of vision that pulled Paul through the difficulties that came his way. He heard from God, ‘saw’ Jesus giving him a commission, and obeyed- with all of his heart, mind, soul, and strength.

Note this well. It was not results that Paul used as his measure of success. If he had, he would have given up and gone back to making tents in Tarsus! He was a faithful servant of the Lord and that, to him, was enough! That is why when he was nearing the moment of his death at the hands of Roman authorities, he wrote to Timothy a message that celebrated God’s call and his obedience. He didn’t recap all the conversions that came about from his sermons. He didn’t tell of the churches that he established across the Roman empire. Here’s what he said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness that the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his glorious return.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8, NLT) Obedience to the vision – that what mattered.

So what does God want from you?
Have you heard from Him – from the pages of Scripture, from the voice of the Spirit, in the circumstances He sovereignly directs around you?
Then obey the vision of Heaven and get about your service!
That’s all that really matters in the end.

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