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DAILY DEVOTIONAL – Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Today’s scripture reading:
Saul (later called Paul) was so zealous for his Jewish beliefs that he began a persecution campaign against anyone who believed in Christ (“followers of the Way”).
As Saul traveled to Damascus, pursuing Christians, he was confronted by the risen Christ and brought face to face with the truth of the Good News. Sometimes God breaks into a life in a spectacular manner, and sometimes conversion is a quiet experience. The right way to come to faith in Jesus is whatever way God brings you.
Paul refers to this experience as the start of his new life in Christ. At the center of this wonderful experience was Jesus Christ. Paul did not see a vision; he saw the risen Christ himself. Paul acknowledged Jesus as Lord, confessed his own sin, surrendered his life to Christ, and resolved to obey him. (NLT)
Acts 9:1-6 – Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath. He was eager to destroy the Lord’s followers, so he went to the high priest. He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains.
As he was nearing Damascus on this mission, a brilliant light from heaven suddenly beamed down upon him! He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?”
“Who are you, sir?” Saul asked.
And the voice replied. “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”
[God] changes times and seasons, deposes kings and sets up kings. – Daniel 2:21 (NRSV)
Lisa Stackpole (Wisconsin) titled her story “STILL CHANGING HEARTS;” here is a portion of Lisa’s story:
“When our small church has a prayer meeting, the concerns vary widely – from global threats to the challenges faced by our members. One evening as we voiced our petitions, one woman named the controversial leader of a war-torn nation that was often in the headlines. ‘Lord,’ she prayed, ‘turn his heart to you.’ My immediate (and fortunately unspoken) reaction was, ‘That will never happen! Let’s pray for things that are possible!’
As prayer continued, I was struck by the shallowness both of my faith and of my understanding of God’s power. God desires that all people repent. Does God not have the power to change any heart?
“More than 2,000 years ago, a man named Saul was traveling to Damascus to imprison followers of Jesus. . . . Once an enemy of the church, Saul, now known as Paul, became a powerful evangelist, whose letters form much of the New Testament.
“I wondered as our prayer meeting continued whether some saint in Damascus centuries ago had prayed that Saul’s heart would be turned toward Jesus. Imagine her joy upon learning that God had granted her request! And imagine the joy of those who thought as I did – that such a change was impossible. They too witnessed the mercy and power of our God.”
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY – When have I underestimated God’s power?
Prayer: Almighty God, grant us a true understanding of your power to touch the lives of all people. Amen.
Prayer Focus: WORLD LEADERS
To read the rest of the story in The Upper Room, click on the following link: http://devotional.upperroom.org/
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