When the disciple Stephan was stoned to death in Jerusalem, a man named Saul stood and watched with approval. Saul was given authority by the Jewish religious leaders to hunt down and imprison all followers of Jesus. Saul left Jerusalem to travel to Damascus on his mission to capture believers. God had other plans for him.
“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?” Acts 9:3-4 (NIV)
If you came to Christ later in life, you may have experienced something similar to Saul. You probably weren’t as aggressive in your disdain for believers, but you likely had a negative impression of those who followed Jesus. I was 30 years old when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Before that moment, I thought Christians were weak-minded people who needed something to lean on to get through life. While there were many people in my life who nudged me toward Jesus, in the end, it was God who pulled me to my knees and impressed upon me the reality of His awesome power.
God inflicted blindness on Saul for three days as he continued his travel to Damascus guided now by his fellow travelers. When he arrived in Damascus, God appointed a man named Ananias to heal Saul of his blindness and allow him to see. This miracle and one-on-one encounter with Jesus, turned Saul into a committed believer who was immediately baptized and began spreading the gospel.
“Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.” Acts 9:22 (NIV)
God is in complete control and can instantly turn hatred into love. God can make the blind see and He can bring the dead back to life. Everything you see happening in this world is completely under God’s control. Saul is a grand example of something bad that was changed by God into something good.
When Saul returned to Jerusalem, the disciples there were afraid of him until they heard his story and learned he had been changed by God. In the blink of an eye, God can transform you and the world around you just as he transformed Saul.
“So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.” Acts 9:28 (NIV)
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