FRIDAY, OCTOBER 6
SCRIPTURE: Acts 9
The story of Saul continues to become prominent in the story of early Christianity and the young New Testament Church. As the chapter opens, Saul is still on a rampage against Christ followers and he is extending his search to areas as far away as Damascus. He is going there to arrest any Christ followers he might find and bring them back to Jerusalem where they would most certainly face imprisonment.
What Saul didn’t know was that God was orchestrating things to bring Saul face to face with Jesus. And when that happened on the road to Damascus a lot of things changed. In fact, in Philippians 3:12, Paul says God took hold of or apprehended him. In other words, the one who was going to arrest Christ followers was arrested by Christ.
The story then shifts to a home on Straight Street in Damascus. Saul had been praying and fasting for three days. That leads us to the privilege of meeting a man named Ananias. Remember that if Jesus had not arrested Saul, we would never have meet Ananias. And yet Ananias would become a critical piece in the story.
For lots of real reasons, Ananias was less than excited about going to Saul. He even reminded God of some of the stuff Saul had been doing to Christ followers. But God was adamant. Ananias was obedient. And Saul was saved.
There is an interesting statement at the end of verse 19. “For some days, he was with the disciples in Damascus”. Have you ever thought about the fact that Saul was discipled after he was saved? Can you imagine being one of those who had the responsibility of discipling Saul?
When you get to verses 25-26, the Scripture seems to read as if as soon as Saul left Damascus, he went straight to Jerusalem. But that is not the case. Galatians 1 helps us understand that after leaving Damascus, Saul went to Arabia and spent three years there before going back to Jerusalem. During that time according to Galatians 1, Paul did not confer with people but received his instruction and call directly from the Lord.
When Saul finally arrived in Jerusalem, he had a struggle being accepted by the church there. His pre-salvation testimony was still in place and preceding him. But a man named Barnabas comes back on the scene (We first met him at the end of chapter 4.) and helped Saul be accepted by the Christ followers in Jerusalem.
From there the story goes back to Peter and his work for the Kingdom. He and his ministry will take center stage for the next few chapters. And it is through God using Peter that Gentiles hear the Gospel and are saved.
We must never doubt that God has a great plan. We must never doubt that God’s plan is going to be carried out. And we must never doubt that God is able to use a lot of folk – the well known and the unknown, the major actors and minor players, the fearful and the fearless, the disciplers and the encouragers, even the living and the dead to accomplish exactly what He wants to do.