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Devotional - week of September 14, 2008


DIVINE ORCHESTRATION

“Go, for he [Paul] is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake” Acts 9:15-16

The Lord is speaking to Ananias just a few days after Paul’s conversion telling him that Paul is going to be a missionary to the Gentiles. The Jewish Christian leaders in Jerusalem were years away from believing that Gentiles could become Christians.

From the time of Paul’s conversion, God, like the director of a great heavenly orchestra, began a work to bring Paul and Jerusalem together in order to reach the Gentiles. In Galatians 1:18 and 2:1, Paul reveals that it was 17 years from the time of his conversion to his first meeting with the church leaders in Jerusalem.

Paul had a brief ministry with the Gentiles in Jerusalem three years after his conversion and after the Lord taught him about his oneness with Christ. The Gentiles threatened to kill Paul, so the disciples in Jerusalem sent Paul to his home town of Tarsus in Cilicia. Nothing is known about him for the next 11 years.

Near the end of Paul’s 11 years’ stay at Tarsus, God saved Cornelius, a full-blooded Gentile. This conversion convinced the leaders of the church in Jerusalem that Gentiles could be saved. Then God began saving Gentiles in and around Antioch of Syria. The church at Jerusalem sent Barnabas to Antioch to investigate. Soon after his arrival, he was convinced that some Gentiles had become Christians.

Barnabas then went to Tarsus to get Paul to help teach the Christians at Antioch—some of whom were Gentiles. For a year Paul taught the Christians in Antioch. Then Paul spent the next two years on a missionary journey with Barnabas. They preached to and led to Christ both Jews and Gentiles. Soon after this first missionary journey and 17 years after Paul’s conversion, Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem for Paul’s first meeting with the church leaders in Jerusalem. The leaders were convinced that Paul was genuine. God had successfully orchestrated events to bring Paul and the leaders of the church in Jerusalem together for a ministry to Gentiles—opening the door for the spread the Gospel to the uttermost part of the earth.

God is continually doing a work of orchestration in our lives and in the lives of others for divine appointments. Let us walk in grace and not miss out on any of them.