2 Kings 1:1-18; Acts 13:44-14:7; Psalms 139:13-24; Proverbs 29:18
NT: “The following Sabbath almost the whole town assembled to hear the word of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what Paul was saying, insulting him. Paul and Barnabas boldly replied, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first. Since you reject it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we are turning to the Gentiles. For this is what the Lord has commanded us: I have made you a light for the Gentiles to bring salvation to the ends of the earth.” When the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and honored the word of the Lord, and all who had been appointed to eternal life believed. The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. But the Jews incited the prominent God-fearing women and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas and expelled them from their district. But Paul and Barnabas shook the dust off their feet against them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 13:44-52 CSB)
I wonder what Paul would have thought if someone had told him that he would spend his latter years traveling around the known world, teaching gentiles and being run out of town by Jews. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t on his list of “things I want to do when I grow up.” But that was the plan God had for Paul all along. Paul’s plan was to become a respected Pharisee and possibly ascend to the role of High Priest… but God’s plan was for Paul to be a light to the gentiles and bring salvation to the ends of the earth. Unknown to Paul, his whole life was put together to lead to that grand call and purpose. He could have missed it and gone his own way. Thankfully, he didn’t. There was another plan that I see was in play in this story. Luke’s account says that “all who were appointed to eternal life believed.” The English word ‘appointed’ is translated from the Greek word ‘tasso’ which means arranged in a particular order. What that tells me is that for a large number of the gentiles that were in the crowd that day, there were events that occurred in their lives that all led to them being present that day to hear the word of the Lord, and prepared them to believe the good news they heard. God has plans for all of us, and often times He sovereignly works those plans out in our lives (many times with us being unaware). When the time comes, it is on us to hear the word of the Lord, believe it, and obey it. Whether it is us being the proclaimer, or us being the receiver – God is faithful to arrange our lives unto the appointed time. We need to be faithful to respond when the appointed time comes. Paul and Barnabas laid aside the plans they had for their lives and chose to walk in the appointed way that was made for them. The gentiles took advantage of the appointed time for them, responded in faith to the Gospel, and began their walk in the everlasting way. The result of God’s purposes and plans being fulfilled was a fully-alive community of disciples that was full of Joy and full of the Holy Spirit.
Psalms: “For it was you who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise you because I have been remarkably and wondrously made. Your works are wondrous, and I know this very well. My bones were not hidden from you when I was made in secret, when I was formed in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in your book and planned before a single one of them began… Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psalms 139:13-16, 23-24 CSB)
King David was someone who knew what it felt like to be rejected… to be treated as less than worthy. We saw that when the Prophet Samuel showed up to Bethlehem to meet with Jesse’s family, and David was just an afterthought… not even considered a son worth honoring. However, because of David’s relationship with God, he had a strong sense of who he was and why he was. He was not a mistake… he was not a cast-off. He had been crafted by God for a grand purpose. The same is true of every human being. No matter the origin of or the circumstances surrounding conception, each human being that is conceived is conceived with a pre-destiny… and they are carefully and artistically crafted for that destiny. It is ours to determine, through submission to the Lord, what that call and destiny is. We have the power to abort that destiny. We have the power to choose our own destiny. But oh the satisfaction that comes and the glory that is displayed when we walk in the call and destiny that we were fashioned for. For us to determine what that call and purpose is, we must humbly come to the Lord like David came to the Lord and say, “Search me… know me… show me… lead me in Your everlasting way.”
Proverbs: “Without revelation people run wild, but one who follows divine instruction will be happy.” (Proverbs 29:18 CSB)
What we see a lot of, is people running wild with no direction in their lives – chasing down whatever they think will make them happy. After all, in our country, we believe that it is an inalienable right to be able to pursue happiness… and boy do we. But the only way to truly pursue happiness is to pursue the Lord and follow the instructions that He has for your life. When we pursue Him and follow His divine instructions, we will be put on the everlasting way and true abiding happiness will be found.