God’s Unique Plan For Your Life – Acts 22

Good morning and a warm welcome to everyone in the hall and those watching on Zoom and Facebook Live.

The weather is getting more hot and humid now that we’re saying goodbye to the monsoon. Can’t wait for the November and December weather when it becomes nice.

Actually, we’re almost at the end of this year. In 2 and a half months we’ll enter 2024. This year time flew by. I mean, this monsoon season also passed by like a blur. And now it’s almost Two Thousand Twenty Four.

Now if there are any of you panicking at the thought of 2024 being just 2 and a half months away, wondering what am I doing with my life, I want to remind you that God has things in control and He’s fulfilling His purposes for you. Psalm 138:8 says “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.” and in Psalm 57:2 it says “I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.

And even in today’s passage we’ll be seeing how God is in control of your life and not only that but He has a unique plan for your life.

Let us say a word of prayer before diving in.

Today we’re back with our sermon series in the book of Acts titled “The God of Power” and we’re nearing the end of the book. Including today’s passage, there are only 7 chapters left.

And as we’re nearing the end we’re also nearing the end of the story of a certain man named Paul the Apostle. The last time I preached it was from chapter 20 and it was when Paul undertook his third missionary journey with the intention of finally landing in Jerusalem.

His journey took him to several places. One of the places he visits is Caesarea, mentioned in Acts 21:8, where he stays at a house belonging to Philip the Evangelist. While he is in Philip’s house, he gets a scary prophecy from a man named Agabus. It’s mentioned in Acts 21:10 and 11. I’ll read it. “While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews[c] at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’

Now this prophecy is fulfilled in 21:27. The Jews see him in the Jerusalem temple, and they make false accusations against him. The people seize him and are about to kill him but the Roman authorities intervene. As soon as the people saw the Roman soldiers, they stopped beating Paul and let the soldiers take him away. But before Paul is taken away he requests the soldiers to allow him to speak to the Jews.

And that’s how we get to Acts 22. Paul is making a defense of his faith and also clearing his name because there were a few false accusations laid at his feet.

So Paul’s speech here is him recounting to his fellow Jews how he came to believe in Jesus Christ and how he started preaching to the Gentiles. As I read Paul’s conversion story again, it led me to consider his background, his life, and any other milestone apart from coming to faith of course.

Looking at Paul’s life and background it’s showed me that everything that happened before he came to faith and his life after he came to faith was so well planned. After you look at his life from what we have written about him in the Bible, you can see God had a unique plan for him.

And because God is the same God who cares about each one of us, He has a unique plan for you too.

Everything that happened to the point of our conversion, and after that, and now and the future is uniquely shaped by God.

Let’s see how that is from the passage.

1) Everything up till this point was God’s doing

Paul was born in Tarsus in Cilicia which was a Roman province. And he also spent time in Jerusalem learning the Jewish law from one of the best teachers of that time.

It says in verses 3 ““I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel[b] according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day.

Because Paul spent time between Tarsus and Jerusalem, he had proper exposure to both the Gentile and Jewish world. I read a commentary that said that in Tarsus because it was under Roman rule, he must’ve got the classical Roman education. So he learned what the Gentiles were learning and what the Jews were learning. This played an important role in his future. I also read somewhere that this prepared him in a special way to reach out to the Gentiles.

Paul not only shared his upbringing but also the evil he had done. Verse 4 and 5 says “I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, 5 as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished.

All that happened to Paul before he came to faith was orchestrated by God. If not even a sparrow will fall to the ground with God knowing it, as it says in Mathew 10:29 then how much more did He plan major life events for Paul.

But also this was for a reason. It led him to a point where he came face-to-face with Jesus. It says in verses 6 to 8, ““As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. 7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ 8 And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’”

After this he goes to Damascus, blind because of the great light and there a disciple of Jesus, Ananias heals him of his physical blindness. Then Ananias makes a declaration that opens Paul’s spiritual eyes. It was an announcement of a new beginning, an unimaginable love that surpassed natural thinking and which brought a solid hope.

It says in Acts 22:14-15, “And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; 15 for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard.

Paul needed to experience what he experienced so that he could see Christ. If Paul wasn’t educated in Jewish law, how would he say that whatever he gained he counts it as loss as mentioned in mentioned in Philippians 3:7-8.

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3:7‭-‬8‬ ‭says “ But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. [8] Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”

Everything that you’ve experienced till the point where you put your faith in Christ was important. Because it showed your need for Christ just like how it showed Paul.

Whether it was a dysfunctional family, where your mom and dad were fighting the whole time, or they often put their anger on you, or they had unreasonable expectations of you, or if they separated, or you had a bad breakup, or you faced a lot of addictions, or you had a bad illness or accident, or you were abused as a child, or you were taunted for your lack of apparent abilities or talent or looks or you had a financial problem, all of these things God used to bring you to a place where you understood your need for Christ. Even the worst sins you committed was allowed by God. All of this showed that you are nothing without God and only in Him is true life.

But at the appointed time God also finally revealed Himself to you, to know His will, to see Jesus, though not with our physical eyes and to hear His voice. It may not be His audible voice but you hear Him speak through the Bible. That’s the record of His voice.

Most of the things that took place in your life before you believed in Christ just happened to you. Some of it was planned but mostly it was you reacting to what was happening. But none of the things that happened were out of God’s control.

Just like Paul’s. His life in Tarsus, in Jerusalem, as a Pharisee, everything shaped his eventual conversion.

This brothers and sisters should comfort and encourage so much today. God cares about you, He made a way for you to come to Him. He planned everything that at the appointed time you hear the gospel and believe.

If you’re someone who’s not put your faith in Christ, then now is the appointed time for you to believe, everything that you’ve experienced till now would have left you broken and empty but believe in Christ and you will be filled with the joy of knowing Him, the peace that surpasses understanding and a hope that is eternal. Amen.

Everything up till this point was God’s doing and to take it further everything that is going to happen is planned by God too.

2) Everything that is going to happen is planned by God too

Now Paul got converted but it didn’t end there. God didn’t leave the picture. Like how you finish school and college and then it’s like okay now figure your career out. No, he even planned what Paul would do after he believed.

Verse 17 and 18 says, “When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance 18 and saw him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’” and in verse 21 And he said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’

The interesting thing here is that Paul’s life and ministry after his conversion was way different from what he envisioned. In verses 19 and 20 it says “And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. 20 And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.’”

Paul thought it was best to preach to the Jews because he thought that when the Jews see him preaching the gospel they will change. He thought the Jews will definitely think that something drastic would have happened that changed Paul. But that was not the case, God said that’s not going to happen. They’re not going to believe. God told him go the Gentiles.

And it worked. Probably Paul’s childhood in Tarsus, a city under Roman authority and influence, helped him preach to the Gentiles and relate with them. And his Jewish education helped explain how the law related to the Gentiles too.

Just like Paul, God even has a plan for you for the time after you’ve believed. It’s probably not going to look like Paul’s life but He’s got something for you. Some of you are maybe already seeing it play out in your life and maybe there’s more.

It’s the same for you and me. We may have plans for how our Christian life should pan out. What kind of ministry we want to do and how we want to do it. But it may not turn out like that. That’s not something to be sad about. Because whatever God has in store for you is the best, just like Paul’s life. Again, some of you may already be seeing the fruit of the experiences that God led you through in the past and most likely there’s more to come. Some may be in that phase where times are tough but God could be shaping you for something that’s coming.

And lastly, all the experiences you had before you believed, that also is important for your life now and how relate to other believers and non-believers. The things that happened in the past have a bearing on your Christian life and ministry today too.


So how does this impact your life now? If God has planned everything till the point you believed and if He’s planned everything that’s going to happen then what?

First, trust in the heavenly Father’s wisdom. He knows where He’s leading you. He knows what’s best for you.

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭90:4‬ ‭ESV‬‬ “For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night”.

Second, learn to say “Thy will be done”. This is the hardest. Not just to simply say the words like how we say it in the Lord’s prayer but to believe in it. Like Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane saying in Mathew 26:39 “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” In the face of immense pain he says let the Father’s will be done.

Things may look stagnant, hard, stuck inside the four walls of an office or home or school or hospital. Even in the midst of pain we should be able to say Your will be done because what He’s planned is best. Just look what He’s done for you till now. Jesus met Paul on the road to Damascus like that He met you, He showed that died on the cross rose again so that

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