Tag Archives: Saul

Unlikely Servant ~ Acts 9:1-31

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.”

the Conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus...

the Conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus as painted by Michelangelo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Using Evil for Good ~ Acts 8:1-8

And Saul was there, giving approval to his (Stephen’s) death. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Acts 8:1

Saul first appears on the scene in this passage, giving his approval to Stephen’s stoning and initiating a wholesale persecution of the Christians in Jerusalem. As a result, “all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.” (8:1) I am always amazed and encouraged when God turns something negative into something positive in support of His will. In this situation, the persecution of the church scattered the disciples of Christ, effectively launching a worldwide ministry of the Word as Jesus said in Acts 1:8 “…you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

As the Sanhedrin questioned Peter and John in chapter 5 and contemplated putting them to death, one of the high priests admonished his brethren to leave them alone; if their work is of man it will fail, but if it is of God the Sanhedrin cannot defeat it. Here that admonishment plays itself out: Saul launches his persecution of the church, those sharing the Word scatter and the church grows as a result. How cool is that!! God will later convert Saul, who will become one of His most powerful witnesses.

Looking at our world today I sometimes get discouraged. I see many churches embracing worldly ideas that are inconsistent with God’s Word. I see morals and values inconsistent with God’s Word presented as normal and good on so-called family TV. I see a country in which civil discourse is often abandoned in exchange for non-productive personal attacks. I see all these things and my human nature begins to worry. Then I think about Saul – the great persecutor turned great preacher of the Gospel – and I remember that God can use all circumstances, good and bad, for the furtherance of His kingdom.

Ponder this: With God, nothing is impossible no matter how dark or dreary circumstances may appear. What worries me? Why not turn that over to God today?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, no matter what I may face today, help me to never lose sight of You; of Your good and perfect will. Use me, Lord, to be a beacon in the darkness in service to You. In Jesus’ name – AMEN.

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