Acts 26:14 – “My Way’s Cloudy”

Acts 26:14b, NLT – “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is useless for you to fight against my will.”

In Acts 26, Paul faces King Herod Agrippa II, Festus (the procurator of Judea), and a host of Roman and Jewish nobility for a trial before he finally defends himself before Caesar’s court. Paul recounts the transformative encounter he had with Jesus on his way to Damascus, Syria, in which Jesus told him, “It is useless for you to fight against my will.”

(First of all, I’m glad for the New Living Translation, because the first time I read this, they were talking about “goads” in the New King James Version).

But also, how can we fight against God’s will when we rarely even know what it is? I know there are levels to this. So a Christian can argue that God’s will for all Christians is to spread the Gospel, and that was God’s will for Paul. It would have been useless for Paul to avoid that. (Though, at the time, Paul was a Pharisee who was pretty much blindsided into Christianity, so, even then, he had no idea what God’s will was until God revealed it to him.)

I think a lot of times, we put too much pressure and focus on God’s will for our lives. If we take this verse and interpret it in a deterministic manner, then, it doesn’t matter what we do; God’s will will come to pass anyway.

Let’s consider this example. I believe that if it is God’s will for me to continue my education, it will happen. In that sense, I can trust God and seek God’s wisdom as I do research, make my decisions, and wait patiently while opportunities open up.

On the other hand, if God’s will is for me to become a preacher, then that is also something against which it would be useless for me to fight. I didn’t like public speaking for a portion of my life and my career path was nowhere near preaching, or even pastoring–God forbid! (Actually, maybe I should take that last part back, you never know…) But God guided me into that. In that sense, it was useless for me to fight.

I love this, because now it brings up the question of, “Do humans have free will?” And I still think there are a plethora of ways to answer that question. For instance, I don’t believe it is “God’s will” that I wear a particular outfit on a particular day or change my hairstyle. Those things are left to chance and free will. But I do believe that God’s will plays a part in our ultimate purpose, whether it is what we do, why we do it, or how we do it. And I think that looking back on our stories and how everything is connected gives us a clue as to where God’s hand was and where we were a little more free to make our own decisions.

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.

Proverbs 16:9, New International Version


Heart: reminds me of a person’s desires

“devises (their) way”: to devise means to think, dream, design, concoct, plan, etc.

The LORD: reminds me of authority and wisdom

“directs (their) steps”: basically shows us where to go

Passages like Proverbs 16:9 make so much more sense now. As a child, my heart desired to serve God through music. I dreamed of all the different ways I could accomplish that. Many of the decisions I made were in an attempt to achieve that desire. But the LORD–the wisdom and authority of God–ended up directing me and showing me where to go (literally). It was not a direct, linear path, and I developed other skills and gifts along the way. So my next step is to keep the desire in my heart, but see what steps the Lord leads me to take.

*”My Way’s Cloudy” is a lyric from a song (and the title) by the cast of Langston Hughes’ musical “Black Nativity.” I use this as the title for this post because it reminds me that even if we can’t see our way, we can trust God to guide our steps so that we get where we’re going safely.

Photo by Vidyagauri Jadhav on

Saved by Grace Through Faith in Jesus Christ – Acts 15

Acts 15:10-11: “So then, why do you now want to put God to the test by laying a load on the backs of the believers which neither our ancestors nor we ourselves were able to carry? No! We believe and are saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they are.”

Peter says this to the Jewish believers who were Pharisees when they got saved. (Remember, there were lots of different sects in Judaism at the time. The Pharisees are the ones who preached about obeying the Torah–the Law of Moses).

These Pharisees wanted the Gentiles to be circumcised and follow the Law of Moses. The problem with that, Peter noted, is that we “are saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus,” not by our works, or what we do.

I see a theme of inclusion in the Book of Acts. The Holy Spirit levels the field between Jews and Gentiles, so that all are equal before God. Not only that, but it shows that we had nothing to do with this to begin with, so why would we have to do something in order to keep it, or to belong?

God is pleased simply by our faith. On the most basic level, faith is all God requires of us. And I believe that it is our faith in God’s story, the Gospel, that will make everything follow–the hope, the love, the obedience, etc.

Fasting, Prayer, and Discernment: “Seek the Lord for Wisdom”, Pt. 2

Hello readers!

I promise I didn’t mean to make this another series. But fasting, prayer, and discernment seem to be a theme in the book of Acts. Here are some verses:

Acts 13:2-3: “As they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off.”

Acts 14:21-23: “After they had preached the gospel in that town (Derbe) and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, to Iconium, and to Antioch, strengthening the disciples by encouraging them to continue in the faith and by telling them, ‘It is necessary to go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.’ When they had appointed elders for them in every church and prayed with fasting, they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.”

This theme of fasting reminds me of the post I wrote about Joshua and the Gibeonites. As leader of the Israelites, Joshua did not seek God before accepting the Gibeonites into his camp, which resulted in their not knowing the Gibeonites’ true identity. In Acts 13, the apostles prayed and fasted–“worshipped” and fasted–to ensure that they were hearing from God before they sent Barnabas and Saul out on a mission. Similarly, in Acts 14, it was after prayer and fasting that the apostles were able to confidently appoint elders to the churches.

Fasting and prayer are essential to the discernment process. This is what I’m learning. Prayer is communication with God. We can’t–or, we shouldn’t–make decisions without discussing them with God first, because God can help us see whether or not we are about to make a good decision, or a decision that is aligned with God’s will for us.

Fasting is the act of denying yourself of the things that you would normally depend on (like food), or, in modern times, be distracted by (like social media). I know that fasting is also supposed to help us hear God more clearly, because there is nothing to take up our time, so we can spend that extra time in prayer.

I can think of a couple things I need to seek the Lord about. What about you?

I wonder if fasting might help.

If you have never fasted before and are interested, here is one resource that I have found useful:

  1. “Fasting Guidelines and Information,” International House of Prayer, Kansas City (IHOP KC),

I know there are many more, but I would only share something that I have actually used or read.

[And, of course, here’s the legal disclaimer that I’m not a doctor and I can’t give any medical advice about fasting.]

Another disclaimer: I’m not the type of person who says “Promotion of X is not a statement of agreement with X.” I’d rather not get entangled with all of that. I will only post and share content from ministries and organizations that I trust theologically and ethically (unless later, self-directed research proves otherwise).