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Monday, July 7, 2014

Monday Morning Devo--Beyond the Tomb, Part 10

Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
And he said, “Who are You, Lord?”

Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”
So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?”
Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank. (Acts 9:3-9, NKJV)

Saul (who is later called Paul) is the same one who held the cloaks of the ones who stoned Stephen to death. Saul was a Pharisee of Pharisees, convinced the Christians were evil and should be eliminated. He was doing his level best to do so. He obtained a letter from the high priest giving him permission to take captive any Christians he found. Those captive Christians would probably have met the same fate as Stephen--stoned to death.

This is probably the most famous of the visions anyone ever had of Jesus. Saul/Paul had been chief among those who pursued and persecuted the ones who followed Jesus. This didn't happen too long after Jesus's death: possibly two to five years. Enough time that a lot of people had begun to follow Jesus. The rulers of the synagogues weren't pleased.

It must have been a real shocker for Saul the high and mighty to be knocked to the ground, blinded, and confronted by the King of Kings. Saul was a young man, upward bound in the political arena of the Pharisees. Now he would provide leadership to the very ones he had persecuted. How's that for humbling?

Has that happened to you before? God puts you in the middle of the very ones you're fighting against or "enemies" to? And you find out they aren't so bad after all? Well, it has to me. People I have judged as being unfit or unlikeable become my friends. It makes me realize I'm not such a good judge of character as I might have thought. Humbling.

Father God, please humble me every time I get on my high horse. May You always make me discover I'm no better than the ones I judge. Hold me so close to You, precious Lord, that I see people with Your forgiving and grace-filled, loving eyes. Thank You, Lord.

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