~  The Apostle Paul ~
Acts 6: 8 - 15
         
Stephen, one of The Lord's own inner circle for ministry to the people, provoked the jealousy and persecution of certain ones in the synagogue, (as did Jesus before him).  Having done so, they gathered others together with them that would falsely accuse him, to the end goal of killing him. It was in witnessing the process of this onslaught against Stephen, that Saul (later called the Apostle Paul) would be impacted.  

Seeing the devotional love of Stephen for even those who caused his suffering for this Christ as he spoke boldly to them of Him accusing their deeds, (see Acts 7) he would remember it in years to come, in the midst of his own suffering for the name of Christ. This because he was indeed a Christian following Christ and His teachings in lieu of the Jews religion. (although many of the Jews of that time believed on Christ and His teachings and followed Him)

In each case, their persecutors came against them in the 'name of God', as if they were doing God's service, as Saul himself once did as we shall speak of below.
I speak here of religious pride and persecution. The root cause being their own unbelief in Jesus Christ as Savior of the world. Today, many precious Jewish people are still in unbelief that Christ was indeed the promised Saviour of the world.  Many of them daily going to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, praying earnestly and intensely for The Savior of Israel and the world to come.
Being promised He would bring them peace, this Jesus is indeed The Promised One, The Prince of Peace, (Isaiah 9: 6, 7) and The only One who can give man a peace within that passes all understanding while in the midst of a storm, loss and sorrow.
Through Him, we have direct access to The Father God, our Creator of this Universe. Nonetheless, we must first believe or cannot enter into such a 'relationship with the Divine.'

Hebrews 3: 18, 19
And to whom sware He that they should not enter into His rest, but to them that believed not?  So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

Hebrews 4: 2
For unto us was the Gospel preached, as well as unto them: but The Word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

The first Christians were all Jews. Is it any wonder that those in the Jewish places of worship known as Synagogues, protested and resisted  the accepting of any other 'doctrine' but that which had been their 'tradition' in the Old Law since Moses.

Jesus Christ came with God's own message and doctrinal teachings to the world.  A 'new thing'.  Exit: an eye-for-an-eye and enter, go the extra mile.
Return good for evil.  Living beyond what is expected or 'the norm'. Jesus commanded:
Matthew 10: 16
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

Saul himself, hailed men, women and children out of their homes, to be delivered up to be judged by religious leaders,  to stone to death using huge rocks.  All the while, thinking he was doing God's service.  As well, a number of the religious leaders of that day, were deeply concerned and impacted by the people going out to listen to His teachings day-by-day, hour after hour, embracing Him in belief to their own Salvation.  By their own unbelief, they were incensed in jealousy and anger against the fact that He could liberate people where they could not.  Thus, they sought means and time to rid their self of Him. (Conscience must change or remove what/who is causing Light)

Note: Their 'comfort zones' of 'self-exalting control' over the people was being threatened and manifested for what it truly was in the Light of this man of Galilee.

He was different,  and His loving eyes penetrated into the soul and stirred their heart. His Words 'touched' them deep within.  In that Light, many came into a Spiritual awakening, seeing where they had been spiritually asleep and had not known it.  Others, wanted to hold onto their religious pride and control over the people, and vehemently resisted Him by their words and deeds. They tried competing with Him (which jealousy causes), yet to no avail. They were losing control over the people and no doubt, their influence over the people. I speak here of being in bondage to man and it being manifested and overcome by following Jesus and His teachings.  

Note: 'Religion' movements in the 'name of God', place people in bondage to man. Thus proceeds 'doctrines of man' i.e. 'denominational doctrines'. (man did denominations)
Christianity (following Christ and His teachings) sets us all free from being deceived.
Christianity illuminates us into God's will and mind on everything we deal with.
Christianity causes us to heed and live out Christ's 'doctrine from God Himself'. In so doing, we have 'true discernment of good and evil' for choices we must make.
Christianity causes us to shuck our own self-seeking. God Himself and His Word is our Headship, controlling us.

John 8: 31, 32, 36
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If ye continue in My Word, then are ye My disciples indeed;  And ye shall know The Truth, and The Truth shall make you free. .... If The Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Some of those who chose to believe in and follow Him, said of Him:
John 7: 46
'...Never a man spake as this man.'

Luke 24: 31, 32
And their eyes were opened, and they knew Him;
and He vanished out of their sight.
And they said one to another,
Did not our heart burn within us,
while He talked with us by the way,
and while He opened to us The Scriptures?

Jesus said in John 12:  26
If any man serve Me,
let him follow Me;
and where I am, there shall also My servant be:
If any man serve Me,
him will My Father honour.

Saul, very devoutly sincere in the Jewish religion, would be the only one that would not only preach Christ Jesus as Messiah to the Jews, but to the Gentiles as well.
It is because of his love and faithfulness to Christ, that we have most of the New Testament to live our lives out by today.
These letters were written in ministry to his converts in various regions and cities while he was traveling.
We learn much about Saul (the Apostle Paul) by reading his letters in the New Testament.  We see how many things he too suffered for following Christ and for preaching His doctrinal teachings to all. He traveled much here and yon, evangelizing souls with The Good News of The Gospel. He never wavered.  He never compromised The Truth in his teachings.  He never let what people would do to him stop his preaching it.
He knew Christ Himself called him into a Sacred mandate to carry The Gospel forth. Jesus trusted him to do it and to give it for the heart of God, sparing souls from Eternal Damnation apart from Christ, their Saviour.
Love motivated this true man of God who was stabile inThe Lord and The Power of His might.
His life ~ a letter well read by all of Christlikeness and respectful devotion to 'God's cause' for humanity.

In Acts, Chapters 7 ~ 9 Prior to his own salvation, we see Saul as a young man faithful and very devoted to the Jews religion. He was on another one of his missions to deliver up these 'Christians' to the law and to have them killed. Like many others who didn't see that Christ was indeed their very promised and awaited Messiah, he was trying to stop this 'evil movement' from advancing into other regions as well. Thus, thinking he is doing God's will the entire time, he pursued this path doggedly.

Nonetheless, God Himself had His plan for Saul. God wanted this zeal to be used for Him. God knew this young man's heart and the fact that whatever it was that Saul believed in, he would follow it with all his heart and look after others with it as well. Motive is right. Sincerity was there, yet at this time, he was still sincerely wrong. His time came.
Like anyone, people can 'think' they are going to do this or that and set out to do so, but GOD! God still Divinely intervenes and we do no more and no less than He allows.  God has a way of convincing man of what we need to become aware of. This said, let's look at just some of what happened when Saul was on his journey to Damascus.
Acts 9: 1 ~ 9
And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of The Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a Light from Heaven:
And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me? (later, Jesus said in the Gospels, 'inasmuch as you have done it unto..these, you have done it unto Me')
And he said, Who art Thou, Lord? And The Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. (one cannot fight against God and win) And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do? (quickly, we see he had a change of mind and became 'willing to obey Christ') And The Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man:(was temporarily blinded by the Light of God) but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. (a fast)

As you read on through the aforementioned chapters for yourself, you will find how his eyes were restored clearly, as well as what was prophesied over him at this time of his own personal conversion to Christ as his Messiah and Savior. 'Unto whom much is given is much required.' He would endure much for Christ; as he had done in his ignorance to others ...

In moments ... during his Visitation from The Lord as he was on his way to do what he thought he should in the name of God, Jesus met him, changed his mind, heart, will and emotions. And, was about to bring forth Paul's 'destiny from God' for his life. Whalla!

Jesus woke him up Spiritually! Now, he could really see. Hallelujah! And so it is with so many of us in this world today. Although we may not have such a Visitation from The Lord, God has His own way of convincing us at any moment of time, past ourselves, what HE wants us to see, know and do. Praise The Lord!  He is Almighty! He said, 'Is there anything too hard for Me? Nay.'

This man was 'faithful to God' clear through to his death. He was beheaded for the name of Christ. He ran to the chop block ready...having everything of his Lord to gain. What I love so much about Paul is that he never made excuses for himself or others.
He never changed his message by who he was speaking to nor how they would react.
He walked in faith, rejecting fear of man. A God-pleaser vs. a men-pleaser!
Faithful..to God, his heart was wrapped up in Christ and His teachings.
His heart's determination was for lost souls to come into relationship with Christ, so as to follow Him boldly into holy living, being examples of the believer.
Paul gives much sound Spiritual insight and Biblical counsel. We are most wise to obey Christ and him.

He had a way of getting into trouble, just like Jesus did. Why? ~ Was it because he was doing or saying something wrong and callous to people? No!
Going about doing good to all, bringing The Good News of The Gospel, people would either embrace his (and the early Christians') mission and words, or vehemently oppose and set out to kill them. Just as they did with Christ and as He said would happen to His true followers.
1 Corinthians 11: 1
Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
He knew God knew what was inside him, and what he was most definitely living for The Eyes of God. Unless we are obedient to God and His laws, we dare not and cannot, say such a thing. As he told Timothy:
1 Timothy 4:12
Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers,
in word, in conversation,
in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

We see no double standard with this man of God and preacher.
He lived what he preached as God ordained for all of us to do.
Whether professing to be 'called of God into ministry' or living as a 'Christian'.
('By their fruits you shall know them.' .. and, 'Sir, we would see Jesus.')
We cannot expect others to do what we are not willing to do our self.
We cannot expect people to accept and act upon Christ's Divine Word, if we don't do it our self. It is just like that.
Thus said, every one of us is accountable to God for our self.

Do journey through Paul's New Testament letters and learn more of this dear brother in Christ and laborer in the Gospel to souls. In closing, it is my intent that the following Scripture texts written by Paul, will wet your appetite to do so.
1 Timothy 6: 3 ~ 7
If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even The Words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of The Truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
Romans 6: 19 ~ 23
I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members (body parts) servants to uncleanness and to iniquity (sin) unto iniquity; even so now yield your members (body parts) servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end Everlasting Life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is Eternal Life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Corinthians 4: 17 ~ 20
For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and 'faithful in The Lord', who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.
Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you.  But I will come to you shortly, if The Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.  For The Kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.
1 Corinthians 10: 30 ~ 33
For if I by Grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.  Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:  Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.
Romans 8: 33 ~ 39
Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.  Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the Love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
As it is written, For Thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the Love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Look at Paul's heart with God in these last number of Scriptures as he wrote to his converts, ministering to them through his letters of exhortation and comfort.
Shalom dear heart...and thank you for coming by and do come by again.  Jesus cares 4 U!

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