Still changing Heart – Acts 9:1 – 31
Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 5 He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” 7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one. 8 Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
10 Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; 14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; 16 I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 17 So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Saul Preaches in Damascus
For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, 20 and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21 All who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem among those who invoked this name? And has he not come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” 22 Saul became increasingly more powerful and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Messiah.
Saul Escapes from the Jews
23 After some time had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, 24 but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night so that they might kill him; 25 but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.
Saul in Jerusalem
26 When he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples; and they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him, brought him to the apostles, and described for them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 So he went in and out among them in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He spoke and argued with the Hellenists; but they were attempting to kill him. 30 When the believers learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
31 Meanwhile the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was built up. Living in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.
What does the passage say?
Sorry for missing yesterday’s devotion. When I woke up to write the devotion our power was already gone. Hope y’all had a safe day. Keep warm and safe.
V. 1-9 Today’s devotion is the story of Saul’s conversion. Saul was still ‘breathing threats and murders against the disciples’ (v.1 NRSV) He was on his way to Damascus, where he encounters the Lord. With the light shining from heaven, he loses his vision, along with his own desire to persecute the believers.
V. 10-18 Ananias, a disciple, living in Damascus, encounters God in a different way. Ananias receives the direction to relieve Saul from his agony. Ananias, at first, did not agree with God’s plan. However, he soon put aside his own desire and thoughts and followed the direction of God. When Ananias prayed over Saul, “something like scale fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again” (v. 18 NRSV)
V. 19 – 31 Saul, filled with the Holy Spirit (v.17) goes and shares the Gospel. Even though both the believers and the Jews rejected him, he grew as he shared. It says, “But their suspicions didn’t slow Saul down for even a minute. His momentum was up now and he plowed straight into the opposition, disarming the Damascus Jews and trying to show them that this Jesus was Messiah” (v.22 The Message). From the beginning of his ministry, he is rejected and surrounded himself of people threatening his life.
What does this mean to me/us
Throughout this story, Ananias’ introduction to Saul caught my heart. “Brother Saul, the Master sent me, the same Jesus you saw on your way here. He sent me so you could see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit” (v. 22 The Message).
‘The Master’: Both Saul and Ananias served the same master. However, Saul followed the Lord, according to his will, and Ananias followed the master regardless of his will.
‘He sent me’: Saul volunteered himself to be sent, to persecute the believers in Damascus, while Ananias was sent by God.
‘see again’: Seeing again for Saul was for both his eyesight and spirit sight. Not only that his visions were restored, but his perspective of his faith was also renewed.
‘filled with the Holy Spirit’: Even though Paul thought he knew it all, he was not aware of the full story until he received the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit enters our lives, it transforms our lives. Even though we might think we see, we might not see the full story of Jesus, until we are filled with the Holy Spirit.
When was the last time you asked God to fill your life with the Holy Spirit?
Why don’t we have this to be our prayer request, top on our list, during this time of Lent?
What does this MEAN to you?
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