Stop and thank God for being present with you today. Ask for God’s guidance as you hear God’s voice through scripture and the writer.
Acts 9:19-31 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
and after taking some food, he regained his strength. For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” All who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem among those who invoked this name? And has he not come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” Saul became increasingly more powerful and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Messiah.
After some time had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night so that they might kill him; but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.
When he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples; and they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, brought him to the apostles, and described for them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. He spoke and argued with the Hellenists; but they were attempting to kill him. When the believers learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. Meanwhile the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was built up. Living in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.
Saul had just experienced a conversion and went from persecutor to preacher. He experienced the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. People around him weren’t so sure. They had a hard time believing that he was a changed man. While God forgets and forgives our past sin, others may not do the same. Saul continued to be feared and some conspired to kill him. Even other disciples in Jerusalem were afraid of him.
Like us, Saul’s past did not determine his future. God’s transforming power is available to all of us. We don’t have to be who we used to be. We don’t have to live under the weight and guilt of our past. When we put our faith in God and accept salvation through Jesus Christ, we are a new person. “Everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
While we may already have experienced God’s transforming power in our lives, how willing are we to accept such transformation in the lives of others, especially those who have hurt us in the past? Do we truly want that life-changing transformation for others or would we rather they get what they deserve? Let us remember the grace and mercy extended to us and be willing to offer the same to others.
LORD, thank you for your transforming power in my life. Thank you that I am not who I used to be. Continue to transform me more and more into your image. Give me a willingness and openness to see that transformation in others and embrace it. Take away my skepticism and give me discernment. Move me beyond my past into the blessed future you have for me.
Go with God!