Read Acts 9 -- 10
In Today’s Reading:
Conversion of Saul; Dorcas raised from the dead; visions of Peter and Cornelius; Gentiles receive the Holy Spirit.
Saul of Tarsus was a sincere Pharisee who was determined to stamp out the followers of Jesus. He considered them religious blasphemers who should be put to death. With this conviction, Saul obtained a court order to go about 150 miles to Damascus in Syria to arrest Christians who had fled from Jerusalem: If he found any of this Way (followers of Jesus), whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem (Acts 9:2), where they could be tried for heresy.
Armed with a warrant and men to take charge of his prisoners, Saul immediately began his mission; but, as he neared Damascus, suddenly there shined round about him a light from Heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me? And he said, Who are You, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus Whom you are persecuting (9:3-5).
When someone persecutes a Christian, Jesus Christ not only knows about it but hurts just as we do. He is moved with the feelings of our infirmities (Hebrews 4:15).
About the same time, the Lord spoke to Ananias, a disciple of Christ who lived in Damascus, saying to him: Inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he is praying (Acts 9:11).
Ananias had heard how much evil he (Saul) had done to the saints at Jerusalem. . . . But the Lord said . . . Go . . . for he is a chosen vessel . . . to bear My Name before the Gentiles . . . For I will show him how (many) great things he must suffer for My Name's sake. And Ananias went . . . and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus . . . has sent me, that you might receive your sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit. . . . and he (Paul) received sight . . . and was baptized (9:13-18).
A similar event took place in the home of Cornelius, a Roman centurion in charge of one hundred soldiers. Although he was a Gentile, he was deeply respected by the Jews, a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. He saw in a vision . . . an angel of God . . . saying. . . . send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter (10:2-5).
Peter also had a vision that caused him to realize that God is no respecter of persons (10:34). The next day he and other Jewish believers went to the home of Cornelius and told them about Jesus. Peter said: To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His Name whoever believes in Him shall receive remission of sins. While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all them which heard the Word (10:43-44). After they were filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter said: Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Spirit as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord (10:47-48).
For by one Spirit we are all baptized into One Body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles (I Corinthians 12:13).
Thought for Today: When our desire is to live in accordance with God's Word, we can be sure of gaining His best.
10:1 band = one of the ten divisions of the Ancient Roman Legion; 10:3 ninth hour = 3 p.m..
Government Officials: Rep. Ernest Fletcher (KY) and Sen. Jack Reed (RI) · Pray for your pastor · Country: Comoros (563,000) in the Mozambique Channel of the Indian Ocean · Major languages: Shaafi Islam (Swahili dialect) and Malagasy · Limited religious freedom · 99.7% Muslim; .2% Roman Catholic/Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: Intercede for others (Exodus 32:31-32).
Memory Verse for the Week: Acts 8:37-39