“ON EAGLES” WINGS MINISTRIES”
“See how I bare you on eagles’ wings and brought you unto myself.” Exodus 19:4
Royce Kennedy, 909 Whistling Duck Drive, Largo, MD 20774. U. S. A.
“I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision.” Acts 26: 19. January 2012. Page 1.
At the time of this writing, we are still in the month of December, but are now able to peak over the threshold into the New Year. It is no secret that the airwaves and even magazines are chock full of doom and gloom prophecies of the imminent demise of planet earth come December 2012. Some have cited the prophecies of Nostradamus, and others have pointed to the predictions said to be found in the Mayan calendar. But a few nights ago I watched a documentary on this subject, and an expert deciphering their writings said the Mayans did point to some sort of cataclysmic events, but they also pointed to the world in the years 4000 plus. As children of God, we have a sure word of prophecy thus offering us solid foundations on which to stand.
Even at this juncture I am reviewing the year 2011 and what it has brought me in terms of achievements. I was able to get two books published (although I am not yet making any money from them; or gaining public recognition) and have recently submitted my third manuscript, hoping to see my third book released to the public in early 2012. During 2011, my website has brought me a few new friends who bumped into it by chance and contacted me by email.
As I approach my 77th birthday in a few months, I have been looking at my life in retrospect, and reminiscing over my childhood and teenage years; and most of all, my call into the ministry. I picture many loved ones, parents, cousins, and school mates, who have passed on before me. As I relive those days for a moment, a tear settle in my eyes, because as we grow older, we cannot help but being cognizant of the impact so many people have had on our lives.
There are some with whom I have had sweat fellowship in weekend ministers’ retreats, conferences, and weekend meetings on farms, in homes, and in hotel conference rooms across a wide area of this country. Again the sentiment is the same! Some of these loved ones have crossed over having heard the call, “Come ye blessed of my Father.” The passing of Kelly Varner, North Carolina, struck a painful note in many of us.
The latest news that hit me hard was a few days ago I learned of the passing of our dearly beloved Bennie Skinner, West Palm Beach, Florida, in July of this year. I first met Bro. Bennie in West Palm Beach in 1980 along with Bro. Dale Davis who was pastor at West Gate Tabernacle. I was on my way to Montego Bay, Jamaica, and stopped in West Palm Beach for the meeting with Bro. Bennie.
I later became pastor at Westgate Tabernacle and we flowed with Bro. Bennie’s Grace Gospel Church as two sister churches. When visiting preachers came to one, they also came to the other and our annual conventions brought new loved ones from all parts of the country; thus extending the family of God on local levels. Bro. Bennie and I spent a week in Nassau, Bahamas, sleeping in the same bed, and having time to delve into the deeper aspects of the kingdom of God. He became like a father to me in the ministry even though one ministry differed from the other.
Back in 1974 in San Diego, I was in a house fellowship, and a sister originally from Fort Smith, Arkansas, told me of J. Preston Eby. Over the next few years our path did cross and Bro. Eby became my best friend. Through him I met Bro. Elwin Roach who became my lasting friend. He built my website and does the hosting for me. Every once in a while you meet someone with the quality of being a lifelong friend. The same goes for Mario and Yolanda Parra, Margie Galaviz, Tiana Casarez, and Ruth Carter, all in El Paso, Texas. These are people with stellar character and a deep love for Christ and those who serve him. Thank you all!
We are going to take a closer look at Saul’s encounter with the resurrected Christ on the dusty Damascus Road. At that time he was still chock full of vengeance and madness against the newly formed Apostolic Church that emerged on the day of Pentecost. In his pockets, he carried letters of authority, giving him power over every child of God he came upon.
Becoming the greatest apostle was completely beyond his own comprehension, but the events of that crucial and momentous day are now facts of church history. The day came when the apostle, now bearing the name Paul was drawn before King Agrippa to account for the charges made against him. After given permission to speak, he set about to present an overview of how his life was transformed, and how he ultimately became a messenger of the gospel of Christ. By highlighting his sordid past it was hoped that the King’s Court would understand that his story was not simply made up and fabricated for expediency.
We are going to rehearse his defense so as to garner the nuggets of truth in both aspects of his life—as Saul of Tarsus, and as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We will contrast one against the other and take a peek into the mindset of this unique person. Here is his first mindset! “I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.”
Think for a moment that we are faced with such a mad man in our time, with cable television cameras following this man around. Can you imagine what the headlines would say? What do you think every minister standing in their pulpits on Sunday mornings would say about this man? In fact, where was God when all of this was taking place? Who among us can be philosophical and trained enough to explain why God, seemingly looked the other way, while countless numbers of his saints were blaspheming and being put to death by the consent of this man?
Who among the clergy and the laity at large would see an ounce of good in this mad man? Can you not hear devoted Christians, filled with the Holy Ghost and Fire Baptized relegating this man to a burning hell? He would be called a child of the devil; a man that is past feeling. But amazingly enough God told Ananias that “he is a chosen vessel of mine” and the fact is that we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. So even while Saul was assaulting the church, he was still a chosen vessel of God. Based upon that fact alone, can you look around and point out a single person that you can condemn and place in hell? The immediate question would be, “How do you know?” When I think upon the marvelous ways of God, I simply throw up my hands in praise and worship, and thank him for my being here in the first place.
Sure, from where we are sitting today with our bibles open to this story, we can review the good, the bad, and the ugly in a single breath. We can simply skim over the afflictions this man brought upon the saints of Jesus Christ, and quickly turn the pages to his glory days of preaching, healing, and setting the scene for the building up of God’s redeemed Body of believers. We feel no passion and we see no intrigue! It is laid out too plain and simple to stir up any emotion in us. Okay, Saul became Paul, who in turn became the most outstanding and did more for the spreading of the gospel than any other apostle. Three cheers for this brilliant man!
But having explained the mission that brought him onto the Damascus Road, Paul related how a voice spoke to him in the Hebrew tongue, and after hearing that he simply could not kick against the pricks, and it was Jesus he was persecuting, he asked what Christ would have him do and here is what he had to do and why.
“I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But arise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, (it gets pretty heavy from this point) to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee. Hold it! Hold it for just a moment, Lord! This man is a killer and even at this moment if check his pockets you will find letters by which he captures and arrest thy people, take them back to Jerusalem to be punished and killed! Isn’t this a little premature to say the least? But the Lord continued!
Delivering thee from thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee. To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith is in me.” Remember, I told you that it gets pretty heavy after a while! This is very heavy duty material that is not meant for the faint at heart. But what captivates me is the fact that moments ago this was mad man against God’s people; and based upon the attitudes of Christians today, he was bound for hell and deserved no mercy. Ah! Not in God’s eyes!
Saul, still in shock on that dusty road could have pointed God’s attention to the facts of his life up to that very moment. Nothing about his attitude toward the church of the living God had any merit or occasion for joy and congratulations. But at this juncture, he came face to face with the living Christ and his life could never be the same again as long as he lived. So what was his attitude and response to God’s call upon his life?
“Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision.” Acts 26: 9-20. The vision that we are observing in this study is not the ones you get while half asleep and half awake. We are thinking of the mandate given to you when you had that personal encounter with Jesus Christ, and you were sure that he touched you with his nailed scarred hands. When he called you into the ministry, he set in your spirit, in your heart a vision that became your own. “Thank you Jesus!”
The vision that he placed within you became your personal property and responsibility. No one else was given your vision, and you certainly cannot copy or rely upon someone else’s vision. After the years of severe turbulence, upheavals, and changing circumstances, can you say with uplifted hands to heaven, “I have been obedient to the heavenly vision?” You do not have to be an ordained minister to feel obligated to your vision.
Abraham was called out of his country and away from his kindred and his people to a land that God promised to show him along the way. It was his vision and to be precise, it was not even Sarah’s vision in part. But Abraham (named Abram at that time) took along his father, his nephew, and because of his vast wealth, he took hand maids, men servants, cattle and great substance. He had trouble every step of the way, and God did not begin to deal realistically with Abraham until after he and Lot were separated.
From a barren rocky mountainside, God told him to look east, west, north, and south, and all the land that he could see to him it would be given. But we believe that God opened his eyes to such an extent that he did not look over vast expanse of real estate. No! He saw hidden truths of the kingdom of God that were not meant for his day, but for ensuing generations even including our own.
Saul did not look for excuses to quickly disqualify himself. After all, in the presence of such glory having fallen to the ground, his only concern was to corporate and possibly save his life. After this event had passed, Saul could have dismissed the entire episode and a mirage, a mere optical illusion caused by an over worked mind. He received a vision of Christ and it was now his to own and to show stewardship as a faithful servant. Listen to how quickly things fell into place for Saul.
“And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent, that thou mightiest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received his sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.” Acts 9: 17-20.
Hold it!! Hold on for just a minute or two! Are we talking about a man, who, hours ago, was on a killing spree against God’s people? How could he be preaching in the synagogues in Damascus before taking his place in the “New Converts Class?” Shouldn’t he have gone through all the necessary steps before receiving the right hand of fellowship?
Shouldn’t he have matured some, and go off to Bible College to be properly trained for the ministry? We cannot have this man to run off to preach before being examined and approved by the Board of Bishops and the Ordination Committee! Saul’s rush to preach was against all protocol; but here is his take on the subject! “I certify you brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Galatians 1: 11, 12. This is where the concept of the “heavenly vision” comes into prominence and is intended to hold sway over one’s life for the duration. Your God given vision becomes your personal treasure and responsibility. WOW! I feel like preaching just about now!
Here is the great divide, in that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto Paul; and of the circumcision was committed unto Peter. The apostles in Jerusalem saw this clearly and gave Paul the right hand of fellowship into the body and bade him farewell to go unto the Gentiles. There was no stopping this man, Paul, because it seemed as if the zeal he had against the church that drove him in fury, was now turned a full 180 degrees, and that zeal was now focused upon doing what his vision impressed upon him to do.
When he came to the end of the line he testified on this wise: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them that love his appearing.” 2nd Timothy 4: 7, 8. In recent newsletters we talked about how Paul said, “For me to live is Christ” and “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; by which the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” What we see in this amazing picture, is a man who gave up all for the heavenly vision that overwhelmed his soul that day on the road to Damascus. He arose and walked away a new man, and he could not find or recover the man that he once was. That old Saul of Tarsus died that day in the grandiose light that shone from heaven. It consumed what this man was, and out of the flames produced a new man that burned within and even without with a new heavenly vision.
In boldness, he told King Agrippa, “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision” and that was the full sum of his story. Sit back for a moment and take a look upon your life in retrospect; then do a “self-evaluation” putting your years in perspective. Ask the right questions, then determine for yourself, to yourself, if you have been obedient to the heavenly vision that swept over your soul many years ago. That vision must have impacted your life, and for years stood in the forefront of your motivation and even the reason for going forward. I am putting myself in your shoes, because it is the heavenly vision that came to me in December 1951 and reaffirmed in many places by many people since that time. At times when I hit rock bottom and the path ahead seemed dark, that vision shone as a light beam and a flicker of life with a direct connection to the throne room of the Father.
Back then, you burned with zeal and ecstasy being found worthy to be called by the Lord. Understand that I am not addressing only those who were called to preach from behind a podium. The heavenly vision means different things to different people and you are the only one who knows what the vision is; and you are the only one to determine how faithfully you have embraced that vision and gave it life; even in droughts and storms as you forged ahead with your life. The five foolish virgins took their lamps but no extra oil and went out to meet the bridegroom; along with other five who brought along their lamps and extra oil. Sadly, sometimes because of extended darkness that engulfs the soul, it is incumbent upon us to turn within for a fresh supply from that extra source of oil. Some are brought down and shaken from the narrow path that they were on, according to their individual vision.
Trials and severe tests turn some into casualties, while others achieved such lofty heights that there is no room or need for the heavenly vision that was imparted in their infancy; but now they have outgrown that simplicity. Paul had a formula that he offered to Timothy that he is sure would enhance his ministry and enable him to war a good warfare. This is where I have pitched my tent; and this is where I have laid my table laden with delectable foods from the garden of God.
“Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly (completely—totally) to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.” 1st Timothy 4: 14,15. Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.” 2nd Timothy 1: 6.
Back in the early days when we were first introduced to a ministry of gifts and the move called “The Latter Rain” I basked in its fullness and relished the presence of God and firmly embraced his words. From Jamaica to Birmingham, England, the heavenly vision remained strong and influential in my life. From Birmingham to London and later to Norfolk, Virginia, the heavenly vision remained intact and vibrant. Periodically I pause to reflect on what has been and what is likely to be; but in the center of all matters is the heavenly vision that is my personal responsibility. Paul became a man in a hurry!
He had many bad years that he had to compensate for! He killed and injured many of Gods dear children and although we do not read where God commanded him to hurry and make amends for his past madness against his church, Paul’s own heart and conscience drove him forward indeed like a man who needed to redeem the time, and to accumulate some earned points, not because God demanded it; but because his own inner feelings would not allow him to do any less; redeeming the years that the locusts had eaten.
Seemingly Paul allowed his sordid and violent past to serve as his inspiration to excel above all the other apostles, though he himself would never have made that assessment. He managed to redirect his zeal against the church, into working in the church and for the church to extend its message across nations. In spite of the changes that have transpired since the first century A.D., can you imagine Paul dressed in a preaching robe decorated with three bars on each shoulder; and having the congregation standing to its feet as he walks in? Here is what made this apostle unique and so effective!
“Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Eph. 3:7,8. But did not Paul place apostles at the head of leadership and a place of supreme honor? “For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed unto death (not celebrity status) for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.” 1st Cor.4:9.
Thus we conclude that Paul became great because he made himself the lowest for the gospel’s sake. I doubt that he would go around with business cards featuring his apostleship. But whether he was up or down, his heart was fixed on being obedient to the heavenly vision; and being great in the eyes of men did not seem to enter into his mind as something to yearn after and that in itself made him great. After all, he excelled in the Jews religion above his equals being exceedingly more zealous than they. He knew what high-knobbing with socialites was all about. As we like to suggest from time to time; he could have been the next ruler in Israel. When he encountered Christ and got a grasp of what happened at Calvary, and how he was incorporated in the big scene, he gave up all and counted them as dung so as to win Christ. Where in this picture can we put the ministry of today and not spoil the scene?
Perhaps my vision is a little obscured, and what I am reading is somewhat vague; but I think we will be hard pressed to find the kind of ministry today that Paul highlighted in real time. What role is the heavenly vision now playing in your life after all the years that have elapsed since you received it from the Lord? Is it now standing on the back burner? It has become a relic that you dust and admire every so often, especially when you have visitors? You decide here and now if you have been obedient to the heavenly vision. God bless!
Here is a reminder!!
Please be reminded that all love offerings in support of this ministry must be made out to: Royce Kennedy. The bank will not accept gifts made out to the ministry as that would require a business account. Thanks for your support throughout 2011 and your continued letters of encouragement.
Royce O. Kennedy