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Friday, April 16, 2021

A Familiar Pattern

April 16

(Acts 9:4-5 NIV) ““As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. {4} He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" {5} "Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked. "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied.””

(Acts 9:8 NIV) “Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus.”

(John 9:24-39 NIV) ““A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. "Give glory to God, " they said. "We know this man is a sinner." {25} He replied, "Whether he is a sinner or not, I don't know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!" {26} Then they asked him, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?" {27} He answered, "I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?" {28} Then they hurled insults at him and said, "You are this fellow's disciple! We are disciples of Moses! {29} We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don't even know where he comes from." {30} The man answered, "Now that is remarkable! You don't know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. {31} We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. {32} Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. {33} If this man were not from God, he could do nothing." {34} To this they replied, "You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!" And they threw him out. {35} Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" {36} "Who is he, sir?" the man asked. "Tell me so that I may believe in him." {37} Jesus said, "You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you." {38} Then the man said, "Lord, I believe," and he worshiped him. {39} Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.””

There is a common pattern in the salvation stories of those who come to the Lord later in life. Many, like Saul, start out cursing Jesus and His church. We’re blind to God’s grace. But then something happens in life. We are knocked to the ground and realize our blindness. As we lay there in the dust of our sin, we have two choices: we can remain face down in the dirt, cursing God; or we can look up, and be open to something different. If we choose the latter, we begin to hear God. Our friends may not hear anything, but we do. It’s our time. Jesus is calling our name. We ask, “Who are you?” and realize that it is the Lord. When we hear God, we have another choice -- remain where we are, or get up and do what God says. Saul chose the latter… we should too. Leave that desert road of indecision! Make the walk into your Damascus, and you too can be healed and saved. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day  

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Whacked and Commanded

April 15

(Acts 9:6-7 NIV) ““Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do." {7} The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. {8} Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. {9} For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.””

(Luke 9:23-26 NIV) ““Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. {24} For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. {25} What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? {26} If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.””

(James 1:22-25 NIV) “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. {23} Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror {24} and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. {25} But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does.”

On the road to Damascus, Jesus whacked Saul upside the head. If that image bothers you, try to come up with a better phrase for being knocked to the ground and made blind. While Christ had Saul’s attention, He issued a command: “Go into the city and wait.” Saul obeyed. Being knocked down and blinded promotes obedience. Along with all the correct teaching today about the love of Jesus, we must not forget that our Lord has an infinite amount of power. Sometimes God is gentle with us. On other occasions, for reasons known only to Him, He takes a firmer hand. Saul experienced the awesome power of God -- not a gentle breeze or a still small voice, but a whack upside the head from God Almighty. The road to Damascus is never smooth, and it will always humble us. It is populated with proud and stubborn people, who often take some mighty convincing. Never fear -- Jesus is up to the task. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

The Damascus Road Experience

April 14

(Acts 9:3-5 NIV) ““As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. {4} He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" {5} "Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked. "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied.””

(Acts 26:9-15 NIV) ““I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. {10} And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the saints in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. {11} Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. In my obsession against them, I even went to foreign cities to persecute them. {12} "On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. {13} About noon, O king, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. {14} We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.' {15} "Then I asked, 'Who are you, Lord?' "'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,' the Lord replied.””

Saul had been busy beating up on the Bride of Christ, but as he headed down that desert road to Damascus, he met the Groom -- and the Groom was not happy. He knocked Saul to the ground, giving him a taste of his own medicine. Saul had the good sense to address this forceful light as “Lord”, asking “Lord, who are you?” His heart skipped a beat, and his breath left him, as he heard a voice say, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Saul was not only leveled that day, he was humbled. He not only ended up eating dust -- he ended up eating his words. He certainly must have feared for his life. Jesus had Saul’s attention, and Saul was now listening. What will it take to get your attention? Will it take a Damascus Road Experience? Will you have to be knocked flat on your back before you look up and finally listen? Maybe today, God is saying to you, “Don’t make me come down there.” Listen! -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day  

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Misdirected Zeal

April 13

(Acts 9:1-3 NIV) "Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest {2} and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.”

(Philippians 3:4-6 NIV) "If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: {5} circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; {6} as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless."

Saul was one of the most religious men in Israel. He was a Pharisee. He believed in a holy and righteous God -- a God so holy that He would never lower himself to become a man as these “Jesus people” were claiming. Saul’s beliefs drove him to try to eradicate this little sect of believers called “The Way”, and to stop their gospel from spreading. He oversaw them being beaten up, imprisoned, and even killed. When Saul heard that some of them had fled to Damascus, he put a team of thugs together and headed that way. What Saul didn’t know was that he was about to get a wakeup call. In his zeal for God, he had actually become an enemy of God. That can happen to us too. We can become so zealous for our particular brand of faith that we discount, criticize, and fight against others who don’t do things like us. Be careful, or like Saul, you can end up fighting against God. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day