CAT AMONG THE PIGEONS
Lord, bring out the potential in all of us.
Read ACTS 9:19b–31
19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Saul in Damascus and Jerusalem
Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. 20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” 22 Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.
23 After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him, 24 but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. 25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.
26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews,[a] but they tried to kill him. 30 When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.
- Acts 9:29 That is, Jews who had adopted the Greek language and culture
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Thank God for the church to which you belong: the rough and the smooth, the easy and the hard, the noisy and the quiet.
Saul creates havoc wherever he goes. In Damascus his dramatic turnaround from persecutor to disciple results in astonishment, followed by a conspiracy to murder on the part of former allies within the synagogues. Fleeing for his life to Jerusalem, he then evokes fear among the believers. Can such a radical change be possible? Is he the enemy within, a double agent? Finally, having been accepted within the church, his preaching and debating with the Hellenistic Jewish community result in further death threats. For his own safety, the firebrand is ushered out, first from the city and then to his home town hundreds of miles away.
The most eloquent communicators of the gospel can sometimes also be the most provocative. There is no one more passionate than the new convert with a life-changing story to tell. Yet a dramatic testimony can evoke suspicion, even cynicism, as well as praise, not only outside but also within the church. Why? Because accounts of such vivid experiences represent a rude awakening to those stuck in their ways about what the gospel means. Like a rushing tributary they disturb the easy flow of the mainstream, as well as raising profound questions for non-believers.
Barnabas is key to Saul’s acceptance by the Jerusalem church. Already known for his financial generosity (Acts 4:36, 37), Barnabas displays a similar generosity of spirit in relation to the new convert. He sponsors Saul before the apostles, emphasizing his conversion testimony and the fearless nature of his witness. Barnabas clearly has spent time getting to know him. He could perhaps sense the potential behind the combative character.
Are there some within your Christian community whose lifestyle and witness you consider over the top? Celebrate their enthusiasm and encourage their incorporation into the body.
Lord, give us more people like Barnabas, people who can see through the externals and perceive the potential within.
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