Read This Week: Acts 9

Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind and did not eat or drink anything. – Acts 1:1-9 NIV

Human beings are all seekers. We come into this life looking for something. For fulfillment, for happiness, for adventure, for love. However, as hard as we seek and look, we often fail to see. See the One thing that brings purpose and meaning to this life and encapsulates all that we desire in the first place.   

The great poet, T.S. Eliot once wrote, “We shall not cease from exploring but at the end of our exploration, we will return to where we started and know the place for the first time.” Eliot was describing the beautiful contradiction that exists within the human soul. We are, by nature, explorers; curious beings with an appetite for the unknown and a craving to experience what is unfamiliar yet wanting to find answers in the familiar. 

Life is a never-ending story of discovery and longing for where we started. That’s why we need guidance and precise direction from someone not limited by the human condition. Someone who transcends anything that may influence or manipulate. Someone with the ability to help us navigate the passage of discovery and truly see what’s in front of us.

Such is the case of Saul, later known as Paul. His conversion on the road to Damascus was one of the great events in the history of the church. Perhaps the greatest behind only the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. He was a learned man studying under the greatest religious minds of that day. But he was also the chief persecutor of Christians and was good at it. Verse 1 of chapter 9 sums up both his zeal for persecution and his murderous intent toward followers of Jesus.

But one day, this hardened intellectual and facilitator of sadistic executions has a conversion experience on the road to carry out a hit in Damascus. The encounter leaves him eternally changed but temporarily blinded. Verses 3-9 tell us of this incredible moment:

As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

Despite all his learning and knowledge and seeking answers, Saul was emotionally and spiritually blind. Everything he was looking for and needed was right in front of him but, he could not see it. He couldn’t see that the Old Testament that he knew so well was pointing to the Messiah that he had rejected. He missed the cross and relied on his religion and own righteousness in his search for truth and meaning. Illumination had escaped him. He was a seeker and an explorer looking for the wrong destination.

Now, in a powerful and ironic twist, he was able to see spiritually while being physically blind. He discovered that Jesus was alive and everything that He did, said, and accomplished was, in fact, the work of God and the provision of salvation to mankind. Saul had now heard, experienced, and received the Gospel. He realized he was a sinner and his need for a Savior. He was blind but now he could truly see and his mission would be clear. Verses 13-15 says:

“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.”  

As natural seekers and explorers, may we not just look for truth and answers in what we think we know, but may we humble ourselves under the power of God to see His truth, understand, and act. May every day be an unceasing exploration of God’s heart and perfect will and may it be illuminating and revealing in such a manner that it feels as fresh as when we started.  

10 Comments

  1. Javaid on December 9, 2020 at 6:26 pm

    This week has been truly remarkable in terms of understanding the bible and the ways of God even deeper than I’ve been able to previously.

    God drew my attention to verse 31, which reads, “31 So the church throughout the whole of Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was edified [growing in wisdom, virtue, and piety] and walking in the respect and reverential fear of the Lord and in the consolation and exhortation of the Holy Spirit, continued to increase and was multiplied.”

    God relayed to me “Just as your strength in prayer and understanding of our relationship grows, Pauls was as well. That is a contagious level of sharing. Breathing my love into others and they see the light, just as you have, to start them on their spiritual journey.

    It is natural, not forced, and without rules and rituals. It is simply knowing ME and sharing ME, allowing me to bring you up where you otherwise might have fallen.

    I am all around you, so when you open your heart to me, I am there for you always.

    Miracles vary by time periods and circumstance, and some need to see them more than others. But you have the scripture to help you grow closer to me. Miracles don’t always have to be such as a raising of the dead, but they are there every single day.”

    In the words of Ken and Sam, “Chase HIM not the miracle”.

    • Ken on December 12, 2020 at 1:27 pm

      Life in the Spirit is so much better than life in the world. Sure, we have to live in this world but we do not have to conform to the ways of the world, it’s so much better to live life in the ways of the Lord, an adventure with God, led by the Spirit.

      Being in community with God and with the family of God produces so many wonderful benefits, that the world does not offer, nor can it, because they are from God. Even non-Christians get to enjoy many blessings from God, they just don’t acknowledge or thank God for them, which is super important for Christians to acknowledge and thank God for all of the blessings. It’s the blessing-full adventure that God has for us each day, divine appointments and miracles in our life in the Spirit.

      See if this song ministers to you:

      https://youtu.be/ABWnLjXer10

      • Jason on December 17, 2020 at 10:26 am

        Such good points here, Ken. I especially liked the part about the benefits of God and his general grace toward us as people, even those who don’t believe. That’s how good and kind He is:

        Being in community with God and with the family of God produces so many wonderful benefits, that the world does not offer, nor can it, because they are from God. Even non-Christians get to enjoy many blessings from God, they just don’t acknowledge or thank God for them…

        Thank you for this reminder of God’s good gifts and for our hearts to be turned toward Him in gratitude and thankfulness that He has opened our eyes to see.

    • Jason on December 17, 2020 at 10:34 am

      Great stuff, Javaid. Thank you for sharing here again. This part really grabbed and spoke to me:

      It is natural, not forced, and without rules and rituals. It is simply knowing ME and sharing ME, allowing me to bring you up where you otherwise might have fallen.

      The expression of Christ in our lives should be an outflow of our devotion and worship. You are so right, it is not forced and is without legalistic rules and empty rituals. It is knowing, living, and sharing. It is the rhythm of God’s heart and love.

  2. Heidi on December 12, 2020 at 1:53 pm

    I love how Ananias responds to Jesus in Acts 9:15 Jesus is talking to Ananias: But the Lord said to him, Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of Mine to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the descendants of Israel; For I will make clear to him how much he will be afflicted and must endure and suffer for My name’s sake.

    What this means to me is, what if Jesus showed you what you would have to go through in your journey with Him before you said yes? Would you say yes to Him anyway? Would you say Yes I want to serve you for the rest of my life? Well, I am thankful for the person who led me to Church and I got to meet Jesus.

    God did choose me and He didn’t show me what I was going to have to go through. But, because deep down inside of me when I showed up at Church, at the end of the service, I never had my own bible, but I knew when the Pastor said is there anyone here that would like to give their life to Jesus I knew that was me. I knew I needed something different in my life.

    No one has to beg me to go to church, no one has to tell me to seek Him, I just wanted to know more about Jesus and I wanted to grow and still do. I love to seek Him and serve Him because He is the best Father in the world, and Jesus is the best brother and He is the King of Kings and I love to be led by the Holy Spirit. So when the Lord leads you to help someone like Paul or anyone who doesn’t know Jesus, be willing to say yes. Ananias forgave Paul before he saw him, called him his brother, and welcomed him into the family.

    I hear God saying to us, “I have called everyone, I came to save the lost. Be willing to help those who are ready, those who truly want to serve me no matter what they have to go through. Love is the key.”

    • Jason on December 17, 2020 at 11:15 am

      Thank you for your words and for pointing to Ananias in this incredible story, Heidi. His heart, reaction, and obedience to God are often overlooked in this passage. Yet, his expression of love and faithfulness is something that should speak to and inspire us to live accordingly. This line stood out:

      So when the Lord leads you to help someone like Paul or anyone who doesn’t know Jesus, be willing to say yes. Ananias forgave Paul before he saw him, called him his brother, and welcomed him into the family.

      You have it all in there – a willing heart, forgiveness, acceptance, love, and fellowship – when it comes to what God calls us to do in regard to those who are far from Him and those who see the light and enter into a relationship with Jesus.

  3. almaschmidt on December 12, 2020 at 11:24 pm

    God gave me a song this week from Acts 9 called, “Lead Us”:

    Lead us, oh Lord, lead us, Oh Lord

    We want to serve you, trusting and believing your ways
    Sharing your love, helping others
    Becoming strong in our faith
    Relying on you to lead us

    Lead us, oh Lord, lead us, Oh Lord

    Lead us to serve you, being strong in the Holy Spirit
    Filling our hearts with your peace, joy, and love
    Bringing others to you

    Lead us, oh Lord, lead us, Oh Lord to serve you. Amen.

    Our Lord gives us what we need. Let’s honor and listen to him. Our lives could be so simple, we just seem to make it hard when we do things our way. So let’s make it easier with Jesus by our side.

    • Jason on December 17, 2020 at 10:45 am

      Another beautiful offering to God this week, Alma. What a blessing to know that the Creator of the universe is our leader and is faithful and just to guide us to the paths and places He desires for us to go. And in doing so, fills our hearts with faith, love, joy, and peace.

      Your song reminded me of one that my Mom used to sing around the house when I was a kid and it goes something like this:

      Precious Lord, take my hand
      Lead me on, let me stand
      I am tired, I am weak, I am worn
      Through the storm, through the night
      Lead me on to the light
      Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

  4. Kathy on December 16, 2020 at 4:25 pm

    In reading Acts 9 this week, this is what God was saying to me, “Following Jesus is a way of living as well as believing. If you have a surrendered heart you will ask Me, Lord what do you want me to do? If you ask Me this, you must ask it with a heart of submission and determined obedience. Sometimes you shut your eyes to Jesus, but He still appears to you. My direction in your life is done one step at a time, instead of Me laying out the details of My grand plan all at once.

    Have patience and trust Me and obey Me, one step at a time. You have to die to yourself so that you will receive a resurrection life from Jesus. I love to use people and I want to use you. Be a willing servant by the way you live your life. I want to hear you say ‘Here I am Lord. Send me'”

    What this said to me was I need to ask God what He wants me to do and be willing to submit and obey. I don’t know His full plans for my life, so I need to just trust Him daily to guide me step by step.

    • Jason on December 17, 2020 at 11:04 am

      Wonderful commentary this week, Kathy. In reading your post a couple of times, the Spirit kept bring me personally back to this line and exhortation:

      Sometimes you shut your eyes to Jesus, but He still appears to you. My direction in your life is done one step at a time, instead of Me laying out the details of My grand plan all at once.

      There is no doubt that this a reality for me as a follower of Jesus. I sometimes willingly shut my eyes to Him, His truth, and His direction. Yet, He is so good, gracious, and loving, that He still pursues me and appears and is there for me. The Lord is so merciful and faithful even when we’re not. Thank you for this reminder of His mercy and love.

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