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 determined to stamp out the followers of Jesus whom he considered religious blasphemers worthy of the death penalty. So he obtained letters from the high priest to go about 135 miles to Damascus in Syria to arrest Christians who had fled from Jerusalem. He stated that 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 and put to death.
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 persecute . . . Me? And he said, Who are You, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus Whom you persecute (9:3-5). Three days later, the Lord spoke to Ananias, a disciple of Christ who lived in Damascus, saying to him: Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire . . for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prays, And has seen in a vision a man named Ananias (9:11-12).
Ananias replied to the Lord: I have heard . . . how much evil he has done to Your saints (followers) at Jerusalem. . . . But the Lord said to him, Go your way: for he is a chosen vessel to Me, to bear My Name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the Children of Israel: For I will show him how great (many) things he must suffer for My Name's sake. And Ananias . . . 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 forthwith, and arose, and was baptized (9:13-18).
At about the same time, Peter also had a vision which caused him to realize that God is no respecter of persons (10:34). Speaking to Gentiles at the home of Cornelius, Peter declared: To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His Name whosoever believes in Him shall receive remission of sins. While Peter yet spoke 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 asked: 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). By one Spirit we are all baptized into one Body (I Corinthians 12:13,27).
10:1 centurion = a noncommissioned officer in the Roman army; 10:3 ninth hour = 3 p.m..
BP Staff: George Kopchak · Pray for Carl and Joyce Main, Cadence International · Government Officials: Rep. Ernest Fletcher (KY), Sen. Jack Reed (RI), and Rep. Diane Watson (CA) · Country: Cape Verde (405,000) 15 islands in the Atlantic Ocean, 390 miles off the coast of Africa · Major languages: Portuguese and Crioulo · Religious freedom · 91% Roman Catholic; 3% Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: Pray and then obediently do what God says (I Chronicles 14:14-16).
Memory Verse for the Week: Galatians 5:22