Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord–Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here–has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 9:17
Saul was one of the most aggressive in persecuting the Christians of the early church. With the blessings of the Jewish high priests, he was determined to permanently derail the Christians and put an end to the church once and for all. I am once again reminded of the admonishment by one high priest in Chapter 5: “…For if their purpose is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”
Saul apparently didn’t realize that he was fighting God Himself. This new faith was not of the apostles’ doing; it was God’s plan and it would not be thwarted. God allows Saul no room for doubt. Appearing to him on the road to Damascus, Jesus asked Saul “why do you persecute me?” What a great question. Saul was persecuting the believers – but in God’s eyes this persecution of God’s people amounted to persecution of Jesus Himself. What amazing love God has for us! He took our place on the cross, and now He stands as the One persecuted by Saul! Saul, of course, cannot refuse this message and after his conversion he became one of God’s most powerful witnesses.
God didn’t just end Saul’s persecution; He took this most stringent opponent of His church and changed him into one of His strongest witnesses. What testimony to God’s power and wisdom! There are many instances in Scripture in which God chooses an unlikely person to serve Him in furthering His plan. Moses, Rahab, David, Jonah…and Saul among many others. God shows time and again the superiority of His wisdom and power.
Today, Christians all around the world are still being persecuted – some to their death. Here in the United States, Christians are persecuted for standing firm on God’s Word – not physically perhaps, but certainly verbally and emotionally. We see it in the media and we read it on the Internet. Perhaps if we look at those who persecute us as potential witnesses to the Lord we might be in a better position to witness to them. Perhaps there are some modern-day Sauls out there. I don’t know, but I do know this: No human will derail God’s plan for me and for His church. Believe that. Stand on that promise. Stand firmly on God’s Word. And go and serve the Lord.
Ponder this: How would God use me? Who are the potential unlikely servants in my life? How might I witness to them in spite of their disbelief?
My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, I sometimes wish You would appear to me as You did to Saul. Perhaps You have, but I’m just not tuned in. God, in Jesus’ name, use me as You will to witness to You and reach those who need to hear Your Word. AMEN.