The reading for today is Acts 22:2-16, NIV.
When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic, they became very quiet. Then Paul said: “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, as the high priest and all the Council can themselves testify. I even obtained letters from them to their associates in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished. “About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ‘Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?’ “’Who are you, Lord?’ I asked. “‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me. “’What shall I do, Lord?’ I asked. “‘Get up,’ the Lord said, ‘and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.’ My companions led me by the hand into Damascus because the brilliance of the light had blinded me. “A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there. He stood beside me and said, ‘Brother Saul, receive you sight!’ And at that very moment I was able to see him. “Then he said: ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard. And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash you sins away, calling on his name.’”
Paul has just returned to Jerusalem almost 16 years after his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus resulting in his conversion. He has spent these years spreading the Good News of Jesus to the Gentiles. Some Jews roused a mob against Paul for his teachings resulting in Paul’s being arrested, not for the first time. Paul pleads with his arresting officers to let him address the mob and they allow him to. After establishing common ground with the crowd by speaking in their native language, he defends his call to spread the Good News of Jesus through his personal conversion story. (Acts:9)
I believe by telling his story to the mob he again finds the strength to fight all the adversities he faced daily in his work for the Lord; ridicule, threats, beatings, arrests and more.
Do you have a story, or maybe more than one, of your interaction with Jesus that you can look back on to give you encouragement during difficult times? Or maybe you have witnessed something in someone else’s life? It may be a little guidance through a small issue or an answer to a question that gave you assurance of His care and guidance. I am guessing it is not anything as dramatic as Paul’s story, but it is personal and all yours. Think back on that when you face the next problem and be confident, He is still with you and always will be. Also, do not be afraid to share your story with others, they may need it!
Dear Lord, Thank you for Paul and his example to us of courage in the face of adversity through faith in you. Help us to share our stories with others to bring them closer to you. Amen
Kris Messmer firstname.lastname@example.org
Prayer Concern: Those who face persecution because of their beliefs.