LESSON 11 14/2/2016
PAUL, THE VISIONARY LEADER
Suggested Hymns: G.H.B 129, 150
Devotional Reading: Acts 22:12-22
Topic For Adults: Where There Is No Vision
Topic For Youths: Dust Up That Vision
Topic For Intermediates: Seeing Is Vision
Scripture Lesson: Acts 9:1-6, 15-16, Acts 26:16-18; Acts 22:14-21, 26:18, 21; Acts 13:46-48; 22:2-21; 26: 2-23
Memory Verse: Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision. (Acts 26:19) NKJV
DAILY DEVOTIONAL READING
Don’t Disobey The Heavenly Vision
Paul’s ministry began with his conversion to Christ. Everyone called to the ministry must be first saved. Paul was a sinner just like everyone else who does not know Christ. Paul was saved and called to be a witness and minister to the world just as Jesus told the church in Mark 16:15. Paul was delivered from the power of Satan v.18. This was what Christ told the Church in Mark 16:17. Paul was faithful to his calling and he told King Agrippa, ‘I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision’. He was faithful to the end 2 Timothy 4:7-8. Paul said the crown is for all who love the return of Jesus Christ. Without doubt, you want to wear that crown one day and you and I can if we are obedient to His calling. We should not be disobedient to our heavenly calling or vision. Let us keep on keeping on till the end.
Point of Emphasis: Don’t be disobedient to the heavenly vision.
Prayer Point: Lord, help me to obey all that you have commanded me to do.
Vision is defined as ENERGY of progress and a DETERMINANT of destiny. One great man simply defined vision as ‘having the END in mind from the beginning’. Whichever way you look at it, vision is no doubt one of the most powerful forces available to man on earth today. A Christian is expected to operate on a God-given vision and by revelation. Every child of God should, therefore, live by vision of the word of God regardless of how sensible or dangerous it may be.
This week, we are studying the life of Apostle Paul to see how his God-given vision affected his life and ministry. Paul, no doubt was a visionary leader and we have a lot to learn from him.
NOTES ON THE TEXT
PART 1: PAUL, THE VISIONARY LEADER (ACTS 9:1-6, 15-16; ACTS 26:16-18)
The apostle, Paul, was a man who had many reasons to put confidence in the flesh (Phil. 3:4). He was well educated, articulate, a natural leader. By virtue of his background, he was a man with options. Yet he forsook everything to follow Jesus Christ. No earthly reward was promised to him. Rather, persecution and suffering awaited him. Nevertheless Paul determined to serve God. For what reason? The primary reason was his vision. Since he saw something that was so worthy, so transcendent, he was able to endure outrageous sufferings and personal sacrifice. He became a man “driven to fulfil a vision for ministry that God had entrusted to him.”
What was Paul’s vision? Paul met the risen Christ on the road to Damascus . It was a dramatic event: As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. (Acts 9:3-5). Saul saw the heavenly vision. The brilliant light he saw was the glory of Christ. In addition, he heard the voice from heaven. Of course it was the voice of the Lord. Later Paul recounted what he heard at that time in his self-defence before King Agrippa. In the texts, Jesus was imparting a vision to his chosen servant Paul. He painted an inspiring picture of salvation and liberation of the people who had been under the slavery of sin and Satan.
We all need a vision from God that will propel us to do greater things for God regardless of whatever sacrifice we have to pay or oppositions we face.
PART 2: THE POWER OF VISION (ACTS 22:14-21; 26: 18. 21)
In this text, the Lord’s message through Ananias was merged with His words spoken directly to Paul on the Damascus road and with those spoken to him in the temple when he returned to Jerusalem. With his eyes of the heart, Paul was able to see this beautiful picture of the future. As the Lord later spoke to him and Barnabas in their commission to the Gentile world, Paul could imagine himself being “a light for the Gentiles” (Acts 13:47). The vision of the Gentile world evangelisation became a driving force of his life. Paul was a visionary leader. He was compelled by divinely imparted vision to commit his life to working out that vision in his daily life. He worked tirelessly to fulfil the vision for his ministry. Nothing could stop him. Not even death. In Acts 20:24, the apostle said. “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. Whatever personal agenda he had, gave way to the marching orders he received from God.
We can see how committed Paul was to fulfilling his vision. Three times, he travelled to various parts of the Roman world to spread the gospel. With the kind of fervour not found in a person who is simply earning a wage, Paul preached, taught, gave testimonies and planted churches. The journeys were not very pleasant. He had to endure incredible hardship and trials. Listen to Paul’s own testimony in II Cor. 11:24-27: What made a man like Paul, who had many other options, persevere such outrageous sufferings? It was vision. Vision sustains people by giving them a compelling reason to persevere and to stay focused on what really matters. If you have a vision, you will do everything to ensure you live it out.
PART 3: PAUL COMMUNICATED HIS VISION (ACTS 13:46-48; 22:2-21; 26: 2-23)
Paul not only lived out his vision but communicated it. Paul talked about his vision whenever he had an opportunity. He even shared it with his opponents and prosecutors. There is no doubt that Paul communicated his vision to his partners. Several co-workers, including Timothy, Titus, and Tychicus, accompanied Paul on his missionary journeys. It would give both Paul and his companions natural opportunities to share the vision. Since they owned the same vision, they were able to “act in the same spirit and follow the same course” (2 Cor. 12: 18).
The communication of vision must have produced passion in Paul’s followers. Leaders are not the only ones who are energized by the passion of their vision: Followers thrive on it. That was why Timothy served with Paul in the work of the gospel “as a son with his father” (Phil. 2:22). That was why Epaphroditus “almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help” the Philippians could not give Paul (Phil. 2:30). The apostle also enlisted the believers in his vision. He asked them to pray “that God may open a door for our messages, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ” (Col. 4:3). To the Corinthians, Paul challenged the growth of their faith for the sake of fulfilling his vision: “We hope that your faith will grow and that our work among you will be greatly enlarged. Then we will be able to go and preach the Good News in other places that are far beyond you, where no one else is working” (2 Cor. 10: 15-16 NL T).
Are you communicating your vision well as a leader and are we as followers following the God-given vision of our leaders to ensure they are fulfilled?
In order to maximize his vision, Paul lived out his vision, communicated it and involved others in it. He could not be satisfied with the status quo because of the greatness of his vision. Until there remains a place “where Christ was not known” (Rom. 15:20), there was always a new dream, and a new challenge before him. Indeed, the apostle lived an exciting life as a Christian and as a leader.
1. Why was Paul, despite numerous persecution and affliction, able to persevere?
- What impact does the voice Paul heard from Heaven on his way to Damascus have on his ministry?
- How would you assess the personality of Paul regarding his strong defiance to all ministers?
- How will communicating one’s vision to the followers affect performance?