Message: The Road to Damascus
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Daily Walk: Japhet De Oliveira
Refresh: Open with prayer. Read or listen to Psalm 86:1-7.
Read: Acts 9:1-22 (ESV). As you re-read the text for the final time this week in the English Standard Version, what new insights did you discover about God’s character?
Reflect: I want to return to the words of Jesus to Paul, as they have significant implications for us today. Could it be that we are persecuting Jesus today? What city or area has Jesus asked us to move or go to? What paradigm-shifting belief is Jesus asking us to change?
These are three really hard questions. They all touch on the raw nerves of our heart. By "heart" I mean that collection of core beliefs we all have about ourselves and about God. If you believe that Jesus called your Church to share the Gospel, when you tear it down are you persecuting Jesus? If you believe that your local neighborhood needs Jesus, why aren't you engaged in it? When you see people suffering, do you enter into the space of suffering with them? Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola challenge us to embrace and care for others:
Jesus wants us to reach out and understand each other, not from the outside in, as the world does, but from the inside out. What makes us think that we can be with those who suffer, and be for those who suffer, and not suffer ourselves? Suffering without God is a godless misery. Suffering with God is a godly mercy (Jesus Speaks, p. 68).
Finally, like Paul, the call of Jesus can be paradigm shifting for us. Imagine that for your entire life you thought Sabbath was Sunday, but when you read the Bible and listened to the voice of Jesus, you saw that it is Saturday. Imagine that you thought for your entire life that you have to work ever harder to earn salvation, but when you read the Bible and listened to the voice of Jesus, you saw that it was a free gift from Jesus. Imagine that for your whole life you believed that your close friends and family members who had passed away were living in heaven as "spirits," but when you read the Bible and listened to the voice of Jesus, you discovered that they are asleep in Jesus waiting for His soon return.
Change is not easy. But change with Jesus is possible. "For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." —Matthew 11:30.
Respond: Pray for strength from Jesus to make necessary changes in your life.
Research: Read one of the suggested commentaries on this passage.