Friday, March 16, 2012

Acts 9:1-2

Summary retelling of Acts 9: 1-2:

Saul continues to persecute the church, even leaving Jerusalem in order to do so.  He asks for permission to go to Damascus and find people of the Way (the early name for the followers of Jesus) and drag them back to Jerusalem to be put on trial as blasphemers. 

Thoughts for Today:
First Thought:
 Saul is emboldened by what he saw when Stephen was executed.  Saul saw that Stephen died and God apparently did not intercede on his behalf.  This drove Saul to want to persecute the church even more.  In Saul’s eyes, the fact that Stephen died was proof that God was not with the followers of Jesus.

Have you ever assumed that because a certain act gave a particular result that God was in favor of it?  What is the danger in believing that God is in favor of everything that happens in this world?

Second Thought:
Of course, we know that God was actually not in favor of Stephen’s death.  Yet, God didn’t stop it because He was going to use Stephen’s death to get the followers of Jesus to leave Jerusalem, proclaim the Gospel all around the Roman Empire, and even call Saul to His own side.  Stephen’s death may have been horrible, but it was not outside of God’s ability to use for His glory.

How hard is it to think about God being able to use tragedies for His glory?  Why does this take not only a leap of faith but also an open mind to God?

Third Thought:
It may seem strange for Paul to be able to go to another city and arrest the followers of Jesus and drag them back to Jerusalem.  After all, what authority did the Jewish priests have in any Roman city besides Jerusalem, right?  However, remember that at this time the only people who were following Jesus were people who first converted to Judaism or who were born Jewish.  {Technically, there were some Samaritans that Philip helped to convert in the prior chapter, but they would be a small number compared to all the Jews who were following Jesus.}  Thus, Paul had the ability to arrest them because of their faith, not their citizenship.  Because they were Jewish, they would have to submit to the authority of the priests in Jerusalem.

How does this point to making sure that we give authority in our life only to those people who are able to wield it properly?

Passage for Tomorrow: Acts 9:3-4
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