Monday, March 7, 2011

Don't Count Me Out!

 "...Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples..." [Acts 9:1]

"...Isn't this the same man who caused such devastation among Jesus' followers in Jerusalem?..." [Acts 9:21]

"...suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him." [Acts 9:3]

"And immediately he began preaching about Jesus... Saul's preaching became more and more powerful..." [Acts 9:20 & 22]

Most definitely amongst the circles of new believers (those who were now a part of the Way), he had definitely been "counted out".  In the streets, he was known for raising havoc.  He was one of the ones who'd been involved in intensely persecuting Stephen, and had even been a witness and participant in stoning him to death.  There was most likely not a soul around who hadn't heard about him and knew the type of person he was and what he was capable of.  Even Ananias in Damascus had "heard many reports about this man and all the harm he (had) done to your saints in Jerusalem." [Acts 9:13].  This guy was a force to be reckoned with and his negative reputation most definitely proceeded him.

According to worldly standards, however, his reputation may not have seemed so negative; perhaps in the "world's" eyes this man had it all: 
He'd been born in Tarsus to a Jewish mother and father...he was a seed of Abraham and of the tribe of Benjamin...he was a circumcised Jew...he'd been trained by the greatest of teachers...he excelled in Judaism...he was a Roman citizen, a Pharisee, a trained tent maker.

BUT he was someone who seemed like he'd been one of the last people on the earth who could be saved and converted to a believer of Christ.  He was a zealous Pharisee on a mission to stamp out any and all converts to this new Jewish sect of Christians.(  He'd persecute them and murder them; whatever was necessary.  He was at the furthest point, on the most opposite end of the spectrum, in comparison to a believer of Christ.  He was definitely one to be "counted out"; a lost cause for salvation.

BUT, God had not counted Saul of Tarsus (Paul) out!  God had had big plans for him from before the time he had even been conceived. 
"...This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel." [Acts 9:15]
And when Saul had seemed like the most unlikely soul to be converted and saved, SUDDENLY, on his way to Damascus planning to take those of the Way as prisoners, "a light from heaven flashed around him" [Acts 9:3], and he was never the same. From there, he became a powerful preacher, the author of 14 of our New Testament epistles, and died for the cause of spreading the Gospel.  God had not counted Paul out and worked a work in him suddenly, that no one could have even imagined.  Generations and thousands of years later, Paul continues to have an impact on all of our lives.

So I ask you today...who have you "counted out"?  Who have you looked at and thought was a complete, lost cause?  Have you looked at her, consistently listened to her foul mouth, and watched her in her promiscuous ways thinking, "She will never change!  Poor soul!"?  Who have you stuck up your nose to and raised your head to, looking down on in disdain?  Who have you judged and talked about in the streets or whispered about on the "hush-hush" amongst family?..."He's just a lost cause.  There is no hope for people like him.  He's a straight loser; and real DEAD beat!" 

BUT...don't be so fast to count your cousin out...don't be so quick to count that son-in-law out...don't be in a such rush to look at that homeless man, shake your head, and raise your nose to him...because you DO NOT know what God has planned for them.  Sometimes the one that you least expect and have "counted out" is the one that God has chosen and appointed.

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart..."
[Jeremiah 1;4-5]

"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it." [Hebrews 13:2]

It is imperative that we refrain from judging others and making presumptuous declarations that suggest, all things are impossible for a change and there's no hope for him or her.  Just as God could suddenly turn murderous Saul to Paul, He has the power to turn things around for that person you've viewed as a lost cause.  God is love and has a deep, unfathomable love and concern for the "lost".  He longs to see all of the "lost" found, and welcome them as one of his blessed children.

"Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way." [Romans 14: 13]

"Stop judging so that you will not be judged." [Matthew 7:1]

Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
 [Hebrews 13:12]

"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." [Luke 19:10]

So BEWARE the next time you prepare to judge and COUNT THEM OUT...

"'Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You!" [Jeremiah 32:17]

Mad Luv~Teri

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