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Saul, Saul, Why persecutest thou me?

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Oh I just love the Book of Acts so much! It stirs my soul to act and to share!

Every time I read Acts Chapter 9 I like to try to place myself in Saul’s shoes. Reading it this time, I was so blessed to be able to discuss Saul’s conversion with my sweet hubby, Ron. The excitement was thick in the air as the Holy Spirit moved and we talked about how Jesus spoke to Saul and what Saul must have experienced and what thoughts must have went through his mind when Jesus spoke to him and chose him to do His work in the early church. We shared how we would think and react if it were us.

SIDE NOTE: Let me tell you ladies, if you and your soul mate are not sharing time together in God’s Word, you are truly missing out on one of God’s greatest blessings! As we grow together in our walk with our Saviour, it not only draws us closer to our Lord, but closer to each other in our marriage relationship as well. After Jesus, my Honey Bunny is my very best friend. There is nothing like it on this earth! But isn’t that what God’s Word says it should be – Genesis 2:22-24 “And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, (and dare I say, his family? Are we to abandon our families? Of course not, but the husband and wife are now one, and each will definitely and rightfully take precedence over the rest of the family.) and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” And in Ephesians 5:31 “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.” Sometimes we women think we need other women, we like to call our besties, to talk to who ‘understand’ when we need to vent or rant and won’t judge us. I have learned the truth to be that more times than not, that is an excuse for women to meet and gossip and say hurtful things about others behind their backs, and justify it by saying we just need to vent. When we have aught against another, we are to take it to that person or leave it up to the Lord, whichever He leads us to do. If we are blessed to be married to a man who is a truly Godly man, he will call us on our back-biting and offer to pray with us for God’s direction in the matter, and support us in doing the right thing. And, of course, it does go both ways.

Okay, so I must needs get back to the point at hand. ūüėČ I just had to share what God is teaching me in this matter, and what a blessing God gives us when we place our husbands at the head of our homes as God intends and allow His Holy Spirit to mingle in both our spirits together.

So, in Acts Chapters 6-8, we read how Stephen, filled with the Holy Ghost preached truth to the religious leaders and he became the first disciple to die for the cause of Christ. Saul first shows up in Acts Chapter 8:1 tells us that “And Saul consenting unto his death…” What a truly powerful testimony Saul/Paul had to lead lost souls to Christ! And each one of us who has been saved from hell by the sacrifice Jesus gave on the cross has a testimony to do the same. Telling others what Jesus has done for us is the best way to win souls to the Saviour!

Acts 9:1-31

1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,

2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.(Saul was highly educated – Acts 22:3 “I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.” He¬†became what they called a Zealot who persecuted Jesus’ church/followers. He was deceived by the jealous religious leaders about who Jesus and His followers really were, and he believed that he was doing God’s work and was zealously devoted to it.)

3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: (Can you even imagine!)

4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? (WOW! The thoughts that Saul must have had! Here he and his soldiers are marching along on their mission to round up any of Jesus’ followers whom he considered dissenters stirring up trouble. Suddenly, a bright light and the voice of the Lord Jesus confronts him. Was it the power of Jesus’ voice that threw him to the ground or the sense that this was a divine presence from God? Maybe both.)

5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? (Saul called Him Lord. He must have thought, “This is surely the one and only Supreme God of Heaven!”) And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. (As soon as Saul realized that what he had been doing was against God’s will, he asked what the Lord wanted him to do.)

7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.

8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. (God had literally blinded Saul perhaps as an awakening to how the religious leaders had blinded him to the truth. I am sure by now, Saul is considering how he had been so deceived all of his life.)

9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. (He most probably had so much remorse about having wrongly persecuted and killed so many of God’s children. I would find it unbearable.)

10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.

11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,

12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. (What a merciful God we serve!)

13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:
14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. (Everyone knew who Saul was and how he was zealous to persecute Jesus’ followers even to death. I am sure any one of us would have been pretty scared too, “But Lord, you know how this man’s goal in life is to persecute and kill your people. If I show myself to him, won’t he take me in too for beating and prison, maybe even death?)

15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: (God had sent Jesus to his chosen people, the Jews first, but they rejected and crucified Him. Now He chose one Saul to go to the Gentiles and teach and preach what Jesus came and did for the whole world. God knew that once Saul knew the truth, he would be just as dedicated and devoted to God’s true work as he was to what he wrongly thought was God’s work.)
16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake. (And maybe there would be times that Saul would think on what he would face for the rest of his life as part of the consequences for how he had wrongly persecuted God’s church. Who knows, just a rambling thought. But we know that God’s enemy is the ruler of this world and all those who live as this world are God’s enemies as well, and will persecute God’s chosen ones.)

17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.

18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

19 And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. (I am sure Saul had to have some alone time with God’s Holy Spirit and close disciples to help him in turning his thinking around.)

20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. (He wasted no time in sharing the Good News of Jesus and what He had done in his life. What a testimony Saul had!)

21 But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?

22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.

23 And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: (Oh, but of course they would do that! Jesus’ teachings were a threat to their power.)
24 But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. (I am sure God revealed their plans to Saul and the disciples.)

25 Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.

26 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.

27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. (The apostles were the 12 who were closest to Jesus when He was here. There were many disciples who followed Him and taught others who He was.)

28 And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem.

29 And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him. (The world hated Saul just as it did Jesus.)

30 Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.

31 Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied. (Praise God! Saul was no longer seeking to lock them up and kill them!)

 

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2018 in God's Truth

 

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Lydia-An Influential Businesswoman

In my last post I shared another instance where God’s servants were imprisoned for teaching God’s truths, and God sent an angel to miraculously free them. Once again, the ‘brethren’ had been together in one accord, praying fervently for Paul and Silas. This time, they were together in the home of a woman named Lydia.

Acts 16:40 “And they went out of the prison, and entered into¬†the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.”

Lydia came from Thyatira, a city in the western province of Lydia in Asia Minor. Her name originally might have been the designation of her home, “a woman of Lydia.” At the time Lydia met Paul, she lived at Philippi, a leading city of Macedonia on the European continent. ¬†As a wealthy and influential businesswoman, Lydia sold articles dyed purple, a prized color made from certain mollusks–a respectable and lucrative trade. She had a spacious home that could accommodate many guests and servants to meet their needs. This had to be a rare achievement in her day. I would say that she was indeed a hard-working, bold, and intelligent woman to have achieved the success that she enjoyed. She also was a true child of God who understood that everything she had was a blessing from the Lord, to be used for His glory.

One Sabbath day, Lydia went to the river’s shore that had been designated by the Roman authorities of Philippi as a place of prayer and worship for the Jews. There she met Paul and Silas, who had been in Philippi only a short time. While others along the river may have rejected Paul’s words about Jesus, Lydia accepted them and became a Believer. Once she believed, she made a confession of her faith to her whole world through baptism and then, she assembled her entire household, told them what had happened to her, and she asked them to believe. After her entire household accepted Christ as Saviour and were baptized, Lydia invited Paul and Silas to stay in her home. When Paul and Silas were thrown into a Philippian prison, Lydia visited them and attended to their needs. Her house became the meeting place of the first European church.

Lydia was quick to understand that what had been hers before her conversion–home, business, and possessions–now belonged to the Lord. She had a new partner, the Lord Jesus; a new purpose, to serve Him; and a new satisfaction in seeking to be effective and successful in order to glorify the Lord. Her career aspirations did not hinder her sharing the gospel with family and friends. She was not too busy to take time for hospitality – Acts 16:15 “And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought¬†us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide¬†there. And she constrained us.”

Lydia’s name appears in Scripture only twice. She was seemingly the first Gentile convert in Europe, the first Christian businesswoman, and the first Believer to open her home as a worship center for European Christians. Not only to Paul and the early church, but also to the generations to come, Lydia proved the importance and influence of a woman of determination, foresight, and generosity.

What a wonderful, Godly example! Oh, how we could use more like Lydia in our world today!

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2015 in Godly Women

 

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Our God can Bring Glory out of Any Situation

“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

A Certain Damsel Possessed with a Demon – Acts, Chapter 16:16-34 – “16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:¬†The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.¬†(Even the demons know who God is! Here He is being mocked by one.)¬†And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.¬†And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers,¬†And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,¬†And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.¬†And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.¬†And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:¬†Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.¬†And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.¬†And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.¬†And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.¬†But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.¬†Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,¬†And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?¬†And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.¬†And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.¬†And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.¬†And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.”

Divination was widely practiced in the ancient Middle East. This attempt to contact supernatural powers sought unknown answers that usually foretold the future. The Old Testament strongly condemns such practices: Leviticus 19:26 “Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood: neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times.” And Jeremiah 27:9 “Therefore hearken not ye to your prophets, nor to your diviners, nor to your dreamers, nor to your enchanters, nor to your sorcerers, which speak unto you, saying, Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon:” (Having anything to do with evil spirits in any way, opens the door for them to come in and ruin our lives! They work for satan!)

Paul and Silas had come to preach in Philippi where they met a fortune-teller. We know her only as a “certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination.” Luke recognized her phenomena as being identical to those of the priestesses of Delphi. In other words, she was not seen as merely a lunatic or skillful ventriloquist, but she was indeed possessed of a demonic spirit, giving her extraordinary powers to predict the future, which was strictly forbidden – Leviticus 19:31 “Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God.” Her masters used and abused her, receiving much money from her fortune-telling, especially by making her answer those with problems and difficulties who were more vulnerable to such deception.

The girl followed Paul and Silas for days, crying out loudly and hindering their ministry. Annoyed, Paul exorcised the problem-causing demonic spirit from the girl’s body. Deprived of their potential gain, her masters dragged Paul and Silas into the marketplace and had them beaten and imprisoned.

***In prison, however, Paul and Silas witnessed the power of the Living Christ! Not only were they miraculously delivered, but the keeper of the prison and his entire family were saved and baptized. Acts mentions no more about the fortune-telling slave girl. However, her testimony stands forever to prove that God can bring glory even out of the most harsh and unfair situations!***

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2015 in God's Love

 

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