Thursday, 19 November 2015

Saul Persecutor; Paul, Apostle

Saul, Persecutor; Paul, Apostle

Scriptures: Acts 9 v 1 - 22.
Verse 1: "And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord...."
Verse 20: "And straightaway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God."

Saul of Tarsus was totally and utterly against Christianity and the Lord's disciples. He stood by a watched as the first Christian martyr, Stephen, was stoned to death. In this passage he is making death threats to those who were of "this way" and obtained permission to travel to Damascus to arrest Christians.

As he came near to Damascus a heavenly light shone around him and he fell to the ground. That Light was Jesus who asked Saul why he was persecuting Him. Saul trembled before Him and instantly submitted to Jesus saying, Lord what do You want me to do?  Jesus told him to go into Damascus and he would receive further instructions.

Saul was blinded by the Light and his fellow-travellers, who had seen the Light of Jesus but heard nothing, led him to the city.  In Damascus, at about this time, the disciple Ananias had a vision wherein the Lord called his name and he said, I am here Lord. Jesus told him to go to Saul giving him the name and address of where he was staying. Jesus had also given Saul a vision of Ananias praying for him to receive his sight.

Ananias asked the Lord to confirm his mission as he knew that Saul had authority to arrest Christians. Jesus reassured him saying, Saul is a chosen vessel of Mine and will take the gospel message to the Gentiles (non-Jews). So Ananias obeyed and Saul received his sight and was baptised and filled with the Holy Spirit.

Saul (the name means Destroyer) became Paul, meaning Worker, immediately began preaching that Jesus is the Son of God but many were still afraid and wanted to kill him.

He was smuggled out of Damascus and spent 3 years in the wilderness where Jesus taught him the truth about the Law vv Grace; the life lived in the Spirit vv fleshly lusts and thereby turned this learned former enemy into a powerhouse for the Lord.

When did you have your Damascus Road awakening? Jesus has a plan for everyone. Paul had no clue that his determination to arrest Christians would be so powerfully and convincingly interrupted by God Himself. The Pharisee was humbled and his religious pride forever broken.

I had no clue that the very night my turbulent marriage was over that Jesus would step into my life while I was busy yelling at a God I never knew about how messed up I was! It was the first time that God was real to me. He did not mind my anger because I was talking to Him and He took full advantage.

He talked back and gently showed me my grievous sins and when I had admitted guilt He blotted them out with the Blood of Jesus and forgave me.  I was so broken but that was how He needed me to be. Broken and needing the Creator to recreate me. 

At another crossroads in my journey I was given Acts 22 v 10 after asking the Lord which way I should go. It read: "And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do." It was not to Damascus but to a prayer meeting before dawn that I went, and the pastor gave me verses 14-15 of Acts 22 to my great surprise.

Every one of the messages on this blog or other media, is an outworking of those two verses in my life. I am eternally grateful to Him for the very great privilege it is to call Him Lord and Redeemer and to pour out my life for others to know Him in the fullest way.

Paul did it because he knew Jesus intimately. I do it because I would not exchange one moment of my life in Christ for any material thing in this world. At the end of his life Paul said, "That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection." 

He was looking toward to this time when that resurrection power would be fully manifested; when the vision of the Bride of Christ and the Ransom paid for her would be made known; when the greater works would be done and the end would come with the glorious return of Jesus Christ to this Earth to rescue Israel from destruction in the Battle of Armageddon.

Prayer: Heavenly Father it is so important that we have a conversion in our hearts rather than mental assent to Your reality. I pray that every person on Earth will have an opportunity to know You and to have Jesus as Lord and Saviour. You alone can take our broken souls and shattered minds and make them beautiful for You. In Jesus' name. Amen.