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January 2 | Acts 9:1-19


 

DAILY READING


 

REFLECTION


Could This Really Be God's Will?

by Pastor Dave Mann


“Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord…” What a terrifying image! It has been just a short time since the glorious experience of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit falls upon the believers, Peter preaches, and 3000 believe and are baptized (Acts 2). Despite some resistance against the apostles, the good news about Jesus’ resurrection is generally accepted, as we read in Acts 6:7. And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith. Things are going so well for the young church.


But following the martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 7), the winds of public approval suddenly shift. We read in Acts 8:1 And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.


This couldn’t be according to the will of God, could it?


The new believers are virtually forced out of Jerusalem as they flee into Judea and Samaria, taking their newly acquired faith in the risen Jesus with them. In addition, a young intelligent man, fully trained in the Hebrew Scriptures, sets off to Damascus with a single purpose in mind, to imprison anyone who holds in honor the name of one Jesus of Nazareth.


Wait! Maybe it is the will of God. Could it be?


New believers are spread out among family and friends and new acquaintances. They tell their story. Saul is removed from his enclave of like-minded people who despise The Way. On the road to Damascus, Saul is exposed and made available to a radically new Way of thinking about the messianic prophecies of old.


Then comes the Light, the Voice, the Blindness, the Healing, the infilling of the Holy Spirit, and Baptism in the name of Jesus -- just like it was planned all along.


Saul is changed to the core of his being. He takes the Gospel to the Gentiles, and the global mission of the Great Commission is off and running.


Aren’t you glad that the Lord is such an expert at taking the worst that can happen and turning it into the best? Even when suffering is part of God’s plan, we can be chosen by Him to accomplish his mission to the world, near and far.


PRAYER

Lord God Almighty, we are continually amazed at how you turn what we perceive as wrong and painful and hurtful into something that moves your beautiful plan forward for your glory and our good. Thank you. It is truly a grace-filled honor to be a member of your kingdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen.



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