Reading: Acts 9
But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened. For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, "He is the Son of God." And all who heard him were amazed and said, "Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?" But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ. (Acts 9:15-22, ESV)
Reflecting and Thinking
Most Bible students have heard of Saul's conversion-the tremendous change that occurred with a persecutor of the church turns Christian. This Saul, mentioned in the previous two chapters, becomes the great apostle Paul. God chooses Saul as apostle to the Gentiles. Saul began by teaching the Jews in Damascus, but in the face of a plot against his life, fled to Jerusalem where he was accepted by the disciples through the good word of Barnabas. He taught among the Grecian Jews who also tried to kill him, so he fled to Caesarea and then to Tarsus. The church continued to grow (9:31 is usually recognized as a summary statement).
The rest of the chapter focuses on Peter's travels to Lydda where he heals a paralytic named Aeneas, and to Joppa where he raises Dorcas. The Christians are encouraged, many more turn to the Lord and believe in the Lord. In preparation for the rest of the story in the next chapter, Peter stays in Joppa with Simon the tanner.
[Note: Since much of the book of Acts is an historical account, the "reflecting" section of these devotionals will, in addition to focusing on specific interests and applications, also attempt to summarize the historical events and travels.]
Who do you know that you would consider the most unlikely prospect to become a Christian? Have you considered that Saul was probably on someone's unlikely prospect list? Will you continue to pray about the salvation of even the unlikely ones? Note the phrase, "encouraged by the Holy Spirit", in 9:31. What do you think that means? Can the church today be encouraged by the Holy Spirit? If so, what impact would that have?
Heavenly Father, help us see the world through your eyes. Help us see the possibilities in the least likely. Bind us together with genuine fellowship that empowers bold speech. We pray for your help, in Jesus' name, Amen.