In our day, we would consider Saul of Tarsus a bona-fide terrorist, a religious terrorist of the caliber of all terrorism that we see today. He consented to deaths. He put believers in chains. He committed them to prison. When it was time to decide whether the prisoner would be released, he would cast his vote for them to be killed. He would force people to blasphemy. He gave them a choice – either they deny Jesus or they would lose their lives. This is who he was.
He lived and did all for the love of his God, with the intention of serving his God.
Let’s look at scripture, in case you’re not familiar with this story. We will start where Paul stepped into the scriptures.
The Lord started talking to me about a moment of transition which is what I think God wants to show. He started to show me the pattern in the four examples in the New Testament of unbelief.
Basically there are two responses that we have when Jesus shows up
- We either yield to Him in prayer and so surrender yourself to a season of prayer or
- We persecute Him. We fight against Him, resist His sound and we resist His voice.
There is no middle ground.
I believe that in the yielding to Jesus in prayer, we think we are pulling Him in because we are praying. But, in fact, He is coming in and we are yielding to His coming. Nothing initiates on the planet. It is all from heaven. Everything starts in heaven, comes to the earth, and returns to heaven. It is all a heavenly movement.
Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are
you persecuting Me?” 5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?”
Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” 6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
7 And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. 8 Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him
into Damascus. 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”
11 So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. 12 And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.”
13 Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”
15 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. 16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”
17 And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.
19 So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.
20 Immediately he preached the Christ[c] in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.
A three day turn-a-round. This is what we are going to see. If we look into Saul’s life, we can read accounts of who he was from his own confession in:
- Philippians 3
- 1 Timothy 1
- Acts 22
- Acts 26.
We know that Saul was a zealot, young man. He was of the tribe of Benjamin. He was a Hebrew of Hebrews. Concerning the law, he was blameless. He was righteous in all ways. He lived under the strictest laws. He was orthodox of orthodox. He held himself in such devotion. He had been trained and taught, as he was brought up under the feet of Gameliel, one of the leaders in Jerusalem.
In Acts 6, Stephen, who was the first martyr, was brought before the Sanhedrin, the rulers of the temple. Saul was present when Steven was accused of saying that this Jesus of Nazareth would destroy the temple and remove the customs of the people. He had false witnesses saying that Stephen was telling everybody that what they had was bad and all going away, since Jesus had come.
Steven, then stood before the Sanhedrin, while Saul was there. The bible tells us that his face was shining like an angel. He began to tell the story of Abraham, in chapter 7. This is the longest sermon the bible records, especially in the book of Acts, and it is brilliant.
If we understand the charge against him, then we will appreciate the message. This is because the message began to be about how God chooses men and women, how He encounters people and calls them unto Himself and they journey. And in the journey, upon journey, upon journey…all the way up to David seeking a house for God, yet it was his son, Solomon, who built Him a house. The scriptures say that God does not dwell in a house that is man-made.
He tells this story to this religious crowd, which had been watching their place in Jerusalem, to themselves, erode. The church was growing exponentially. It was not separate from the temple. It was on temple mount. In Solomon’s court they would meet. It was growing to the extent that there were thousands upon thousands of believers were being added. Priests now, were coming into the kingdom.
They were on the verge of a transference of recognition that the Messiah had indeed come. His name was Jesus.
So, when this event took place, there was fear in these people who had lived and dedicated all their lives, to a great cause.
I continue to say, that if I was to choose a religion, I’d choose Judaism. I would become a devout Jew, because it is the greatest of religions on the earth today. However, I cannot choose a religion, because I’ve chosen a Man. This Man is Jesus. He is the One to whom I have given my life. And, Jesus is not indebted to any religion. Yet, He did not come to destroy, He came to save. He came to save sinners, all of which we are.
Paul said that “He came to save sinners of whom I was chief”. So, it is possible to be a chief sinner, while a devoted believer of any sect or any religion, including Christianity.
We must embrace this, if we are going to allow God to disrupt our life. I am praying for God to disrupt my life so that I can enter into the new season that is in front of me. This is because I cannot come in with the old mindset, or with old beliefs that I have held to be undisputable beliefs. He is going to challenge a lot of things.
So, to these men, who made up the high priests, Ananias, the Sanhedrin, Stephen gives this powerful message of how God has worked with mankind from Abraham until their day. As he then closes the message, he tells them,
51 “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, Acts 7:51-52
At this point, they ground their teeth, stopped their ears and rushed against him in mad, vengeance. This was because there was something about this message, which had penetrated past the point of no decisions necessary, to a decision must be made. They were not going to yield to Jesus, so they came to destroy the messenger. They took him out of the temple and brought him to be stoned. All the elders who were a part of this religious execution, then left their coats at the feet of a young man whose name was Saul.
Saul was consenting. He was aspiring. And something broke into and over the church at that moment. It was a great spirit of persecution. The disciples were literally dispersed. They were sent out of Jerusalem. Only the apostles held their place inside of Jerusalem. In Acts 8, we begin to hear the story of Philip as he goes off into Samaria. God was using all of this, as He always uses everything. In Acts 8, we hear of Saul’s first stepping into his identity and calling, but he had not yet surrendered to Christ,
Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. 3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison. Acts 8:1-3
Imagine the sense of destiny Saul must have felt…the sense that this Jesus was blasphemous to the Jewish mind at that time. This was beginning to become separated from the ruling Sanhedrin. This was somebody that was taking away the customs of the elders. This is one that was threatening the temple and its very existence. He was violent in his pursuit.
In Acts 26, he talks about how he felt he had to do this. He had to fight against the name of Jesus. It says, 12 “While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests…Acts 26:12” Now think about this. This man was not looking to get saved. He was actually trying to extinguish salvation, which was about to accost him. They were not on the way to Damascus, with a group singing “Cumbia-ya, My Lord. (Come by here)”. No, he had a plan. He had the letters. He had the authority. He knew exactly what he was doing. He was getting very good at it.
Then, the light shined, and the voice was heard. He then asked the question, “Who are you Lord?” And the Voice said, “I am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting.” “What do You want me to do, Lord?” This is a good question.
Think about this man’s mind-set. It was going through rapid change. The One whose disciples I am fighting says that I am fighting Him. “What do You want me to do?” The answer was, “Arise and go to the city of Damascus and you will be told what to do.”
He then goes and when he got up he couldn’t see. He couldn’t see because the light of glory had blinded the darkness of his eyes.
Just as we cannot see in darkness, darkness cannot see in light. Just as we will stumble in dark places, Satan stumbles in light places. He was blinded by the light and the scales fell off his eyes.
I believe that the only thing that we see scales on, in the bible, is Leviathan. Leviathan is a massive spirit of pride that rules the kings and sons of pride. Saul had been a very proud, confident, and aspiring young man, who now couldn’t see.
He went in and Ananias got the vision and heard the Voice of God. He said, “Behold he is praying.”
What I have been observing for many years, but I feel it clearly today as being very critical, is us surrendering again.
The church was born by the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon the believing disciples. And, by the power of the Holy Spirit came promise of an experiential gospel.
An Experiential Gospel
A gospel that was not taught by men, but taught by God.
- It was through revelation.
- It was through visions.
- It was through dreams.
- It was through prophetic utterance.
- It was through the disclosure of the voice of Jesus.
Ananias said, in Acts 22, that when Paul recounted this same experience, he said, “You have been chosen to see the Just One and to hear His voice.
14 Then he said, ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. Acts 22:14
Every religion (I use the word religion, because they are all the same, including Christianity when it goes off on a zeal trip) is just man attempting, out of fear, to control a relationship with God. It is awful when it takes root in any of them. And again, the best religion is Judaism, by far.But, still it was not good enough. If it had been good enough, we would not have needed Jesus. We needed someone to die for our sins, to resolve all the charges against us, leave them on the cross and resurrect into newness of life. Thank You Jesus, we are forever blessed!
But when we become established in any system, whether it be seven days, seven months, seven years, seventy years, one millennium, or two millenniums….we think about it.
We had two thousand years when Abraham began to walk with God, to Jesus on the earth.
Two thousand years till Jesus raised from the dead and the church walked with God on the earth.
And none of us have succeeded doing what we were given a commission to do. Because the propensity of man, is that we settle into systems, settle into rules, settle into conformity, settle into community, and settle into sight and
control. It then becomes difficult for God to bring in new things. We persecute the Voice of God when He comes into the earth.
In that kind of difficulty, God then has to disrupt things. When God breaks into something, He is not coming to confirm our faith. He is, most of the time, coming in to interrupt and disrupt our faith. This is so that He can re-introduce us to something we can no longer see, or are unwilling to see. This is because it is unbelief.
- Unbelief, confronted by God and yielded in prayer, will surrender to new faith.
- Unbelief confronted by God, unwilling to yield to God, will show up into new persecution.
It can happen inside a family, a church, or a nation. It can happen anywhere. Because of the nature of man; it is fear driven, and full of pride. Therefore, we see control. It is so hard for us to understand that God does not need our help. He is fully capable of taking over the earth. He already has.
The whole war in the earth of every entity fighting any entity, any man fighting any man, any ethnos fighting any ethnos, any religion fighting any religion, any sect fighting any sect, is all in resistance to Jesus Christ. It is in resistance of the Lordship of Him—Himself being revealed.
We want to go into skirmishes and we want to call them new or different names, but the truth in Psalm 2 is still true.
He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The Lord shall hold them in derision. Acts 2:4
He sits in heaven and laughs and the earth says, “We will not have You rule over us.” And yet, He IS ruling over, but is so kind. He is coming. He’s coming. He’s coming!
So, Saul was praying. Imagine sitting with a man who once was THE chief anti-Christ on the earth, of that day. See him become what would be known as the greatest apostle on the planet of his day. And the God making him a pattern, of all longsuffering, for all who would believe later.
What was happening in his mind?
What would happen in your mind if you were now all of a sudden blind in a city and told to go there, and there told what must be done? You wouldn’t know what was to happen.
Were you to be surrendered over to the Christians and they are to now treat you the same way you treated them? Were you to be executed for all of the heinous crimes of murder you had already committed?
Would it be your turn now to be silenced?
All you were told was “Go to the city, it will be told what to do…”
What would you do while you were waiting to be told?
You would pray.
Prayer is the means God gave man to move toward Him. Jesus Christ is the means God gave Himself to move toward man. Jesus enables God to move toward us. Prayer allows us to move toward God. It is not easy. If it was
easy, everyone would pray.
The kind of prayer Paul was in, I imagine, was quite disconnecting. It would be like everything we ever believed had just been taken away from us. And we have been confronted with truth that is so brilliant that our eyes can’t see.
We simply are just trying to process it.
Many times, we just read over things. If, however, we put it into the context of today, we can begin to value and have faith for God to do it for us. My prayer, is “God do it to me—Do it for us. Then go do it in the world through us”.
This is the goal, but I want it to start with me. I need it to start with me. I need to be able to consider Jesus that I haven’t considered. I need to argue with Him with what I am seeing that I can’t believe because I have never believed it before. I need Him to be telling me “Here’s a belief system you need to embrace.”
I need to be like Peter who was hungry in a powerful ministry time, spoken of in Acts 10. He went up on the house to pray while they were making lunch for him. He got hungry, then went into a trance and had a vision. He saw the sheet with all of the unclean animals lowered before him and heard the voice from heaven say, “Rise Peter, kill and eat.” He argued and said, “I can’t. I won’t.
I never have. I never will.” He had it three different times. Then, while pondering this vision as it leaves, God said, “There are some men that are going to come. You don’t associate with these men. They are not a part of you. They are Gentiles. They are coming from a city and I want you to go with them. Don’t ask questions.”
And it is just growing. This is the God you met when you said, “Jesus come into my heart.” Not someone who settled themselves into some little creed that we are supposed to feel comfortable with and follow after. No. He is altogether beautiful and perfect in all His ways. But He is uncontrollable. He does not want to be controlled. He is full of love. He has so much faith over the earth right now, so much joy and so much excitement. He is anticipating the liberation of multitudes of individuals that we think cannot be saved.
The closest thing that I would know it to be would be like, in my lifetime, would be in the sixties and the seventies when the Jesus Movement came. But it will surpass that because things have gotten more polarized than they were back then. So, we pray. We pray because there is nothing else to do.
What was Saul going to do? He was blind. He had been shut down. Shut up. But, he was praying.
Would to God, that we would understand the times when Jesus is trying to come into our life that it is not for us to get up and go. It is to sit still, ponder, press in and say, “What are You doing?”
If we resist the Lord, and it’s not critical at the moment for us to understand what He is saying, He will allow us to resist Him and we won’t even know we did. It is only when He takes over things that we don’t have the option to resist Him. Our goal is to seek God. That is a good thing to do. Just as it is to behold God, which is a wonderful thing to do. But I cannot behold God without Him revealing Himself. So, all I can do is seek God. I can ask. It will be given to me. I can seek and I will find. I can knock and the door will open. But I can’t make the door open. I can’t make what is hidden be found. And I can’t make what I’ve requested to be delivered. That is heaven’s jurisdiction. Heaven reserves that place and honor and recognition.
In the season of Saul sitting there, he gets this word. There was a man called Ananias. He would come to lay hands on him and Saul would be able to see. I don’t know if he heard that the on the first, second or third day.
God doesn’t just do things; He reveals things. He reveals Himself. We have to ponder what we hear and, as best we can try to surrender to what we just heard.
So Saul is pondering the name Ananias. “A man named Ananias is coming…oh Lord please, whatever you want Ananias to do to me – thank You. Whatever that means, thank You.” He is yielding and yielding and yielding.
Some of us are so old, yet we haven’t yielded for such a long time. We are so settled in our ways. We do what we do. We know where our coffee cup is in the cupboard. God forbid anyone touch it. Everyone knows that is your cup, so they better not touch it. We won’t change for anyone. We’ve got our car. We’ve got our spot. We’ve got our life.
But what if God wants to interrupt us? Disrupts us? What if we have been kicking against the goads? What if we have been resisting? We are in your calling, but are we going in the wrong direction? What if God interrupts us, disrupts us and shuts us down? What will we do? Will we fight against God or will we say, “I think God is doing something. I don’t know what I’m going to do.” This is the essence of what is going on.
This is what I was going through when I was travelling home recently. I was praying on the plane. My prayer went something like this, “I can see but I can’t touch. I’ve been commissioned but I can’t act. I don’t have the resources. You told me to do this but I don’t know how.”
It’s not a question of my being loved, valued, or appreciated, or if I’m a son or not. It’s none of those things. It’s about an assignment, a completion of Father’s intention; what He wants accomplished. And, I can’t do it. But I’ve been called to do it. I’ve been charged to do it. I will be judged for not doing it.
There has been just as many times that I learned I cannot do it by trying to do it. So I will not try to do what I cannot do. It’s up to Him to do what I cannot do. Holy Spirit, His demonstration, His power, come, Lord Jesus!
I found myself praying, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! What are You going to do? How are we going to do it? Where are we going to go? Come, Lord! Come! Open my eyes! Help me to see! Do what I cannot do. I cannot get myself through there.”
This is the essence of prayer that undoes unbelief. This is the substance of prayer. It is a surrendering prayer to God’s truth, as much as it is to our inability to perform the truth. It is a surrendering prayer to all demons bow at the name of Jesus, even though we had no success. He says we have to deal with this kind of unbelief in prayer.
It is not the “Who are You Jesus? We’ve known You since You were a little kid. We’re not going to allow You to confront us with new truth. We’re going to drive You out of the city. We’re going to persecute You.”
We either persecute or we pray. Many of us get to live in indifference. Indifference is going away. It’s disappearing. Indifference is a gift. It is longsuffering. It is God saying, “No, not today. It is love. Love’s first word is suffering long and kindness.
These people want those people eliminated. Those people want these people eliminated.
In Saul’s time, how many people do we think were praying, “Father, God, please kill Saul? Stop this madman.” They only had one concept. How could they know?
Since May of last year, Jesus has been appearing to me and saying,
I will set men and women free from the inside out. I will call them from their identity and their destiny. I will arrest them in their journey against Me and turn them around for Me. I will do what man cannot do. It will not be a mental thing; it will not be an emotional thing; it will not be a physical thing. It will be Me interrupting, disrupting lives that are hell-bent and turn them toward heaven. And I’m doing it.
The first thing Ananias said to Saul, “Brother Saul. You’re my brother. Here’s your sight. Get up. Be baptized! Filled with the Spirit! Eat something”. All of his training in the Torah and the Talmud and all of the Rabbi teachings, and all of the Pharisaical laws – utterly disrupted, exploded into: JESUS!! And he goes into the synagogue and he start saying, “Jesus is the Son of God!!” Nobody could stop him. They could only try to kill him. That is “Behold he is
praying”….He surrendered. He yielded. He was trying to find the position. He knows something was happening but he didn’t know how to get it.
This is the posture that is brooding over the body right now. This is the journey we are heading into toward Purim, the gathering of the CHOSEN in March. During these 40 days of Meditation and Prayer, we are giving each other
permission to deal with our unbelief. All we have to have removed is our unbelief. Then, God can do far beyond what we are allowing Him to do, because our belief system has gotten eschewed. Many of us have gone through hell,
afflicted in monstrous ways, traumatized, leaders who have been shot down, killed, destroyed, horrific situation. Why wouldn’t our belief system get eschewed? Our prayers have been, “God, if You are able”; as if God was not able, or doesn’t have mercy. Jesus is coming inside the pressure asking us “What is the problem?” He is inviting us to verbalize our story to Him.
Prayer is not saying we believe—when we really don’t. If we did believe, it would already be happening. We don’t know and have questions. Religion does not allow us to be weak or needy, broken, bruised, breached or marred. In religion we can’t be “caught”. In religion, we learn that if we are in sin, don’t get caught. In religion, if we get caught, we will experience cruelty. Religion is cruel. The first convert was a women who didn’t have success in marriage. Jesus liberates her.
Beloved, Jesus is going to liberate us! He will look into the very core of our being, where we feel the most reproach and pain and say to us, “You followed Me. Hear let me take that off you”. He changes our garment. He puts a
new turban on us. We won’t understand how the battle has opened the door for the glory. It won’t be glory for us. It will be for HIM! It will be the glory for the earth to see Christ again. People will hear of this Jesus Who is healing,
delivering people and setting them free—no questions asked!!! Amnesty!
Beloved, pray, open your deep places to God! No questions asked!
If you would like to become a champion and receive the daily meditations, email your request to firstname.lastname@example.org. Join us on this journey.
Wednesday, February 18, 2015, 7pm: I will continue in the message “Behold He Prays” This will be an activation service for the prayer of beholding, becoming, and giving birth. This continues out preparation for Chosen on March 6th and 7th.
Sunday, February 22, 2015, 9am: The Father’s Heart interns will be leading the service. “The Awakening of a Generation of Lovers and Liberators” I have a short word on, “Eyes to see what other have yet to see.”
Sunday, 10:20am: Prayer for the Nations – Join us as the Father’s Heart is prayed out, led by our interns, in new passion.
Sunday, 11am: Father’s Heart interns continue their leading us into “The heart of the Father.” The entire service will be led by them in glorious victory. I have a brief word “Recognizing what God is doing today to bring the future forward.”
All of these services are leading us to Chosen, March 6th and 7th. Pray with us and register today! Click here.
Meditations for prayer to prepare for what God is bringing are available by clicking here.