OCTOBER 21 - Nº 294 Acts 9:1-22; 22:1-16; 26:12-18
Philip and the other disciples continued to spread the good news about Jesus all over Israel. Those who believed their message became known as members of The Way. In response to the growth of this new organization, Saul stepped up his persecution. He was given authority by the high priest to travel 140 miles to Damascus to drag any members of The Way back to Jerusalem and put them in prison to await trial. As he approached the city, suddenly a blinding light, even brighter than the sun, flashed from heaven and surrounded Saul. He fell to the ground and heard a voice inquire, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” “Who are you, Lord,” he asked trembling. “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting,” the voice replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” The men traveling with Saul were speechless. They heard the sound of the voice but didn’t see anyone. As Saul got up from the ground, he tried to open his eyes, but he couldn’t see. Someone had to hold his hand to lead him the rest of the way into Damascus. For three days Saul remained blind while he waited to find out what God wanted him to do. He refused to eat or drink anything. Instead, he spent the time praying. Meanwhile, God showed up in a vision to a believer named Ananias and said, “Ananias, I want you to go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. I want you to lay your hands on him so he can see again. He knows you are coming because I showed him in a vision.” Ananias was concerned. “Lord, I have heard many reports about this violent man and all the bad things he has done to the believers in Jerusalem. He has authority from the high priest to do the same things here!” But God replied, “I want you to go to him! I have chosen this man to be the one who will spread the Gospel message to the Gentiles and their kings, and to the Jews as well. He will end up suffering very much for my sake!” Ananias obeyed God. He found the house where Saul was staying and went in. He placed his hands on Saul’s head and said, “Brother Saul, Jesus—who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you can regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately a scaly film fell off Saul’s eyes and he could see again. He got up and was baptized. Then he began to eat, and his strength returned. Saul spent several days with the believers in Damascus. He also preached in the synagogues, explaining that Jesus really was the Messiah, the son of God! Everyone who heard him was bewildered. “Isn’t this the man who was so hostile to believers in Jerusalem?” they asked. “Didn’t he come here to kill anyone who believes the things he is now teaching?” But Saul grew more and more powerful in his faith and was able to persuade many of the Jews in Damascus that Jesus really was their Messiah.
Do you know someone who is adamantly opposed to your faith, someone who detests Christianity? Pray for them that God will interrupt their journey through life. Paul’s example shows us that no one is so opposed that they cannot be saved. A personal encounter with a loving, powerful God can change a life forever.