God Knows…When I Wonder if I can Change – Part 2
A Believer named Ananias lived in Damascus. God gave him some scary instructions. “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying.”
The Lord must have made a mistake, thought Ananias, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. Now he’s here to do the same thing!”
But the Lord doesn’t make mistakes. “Go,” He said, “for I have chosen Saul to carry my name before the Gentiles and Kings and the sons of Israel.”
Ananias obeyed. He found Saul. His first words were “Brother Saul.” What an example of Christian love as he greeted the man who had come all the way from Jerusalem hoping to kill him!
“The Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit,” said Ananias, laying his hands on Saul’s head. Immediately Saul could see again. Soon Saul was a baptized Believer, preaching in Damascus! And he was every bit as bold now that he was on the side of Christ as he had been when fighting against Him. He was a changed man who wanted others to hear about this change and the Power that had brought it about.
Listeners were amazed as they heard him explain how the prophecies recorded in the Old Testament had come true in the life of Jesus. Many repented and turned to God. Some made the other choice, refusing to respond. They stirred up such hatred against Saul that he left town for awhile and spent some time in Arabia where he could study and think. There he found God to be the source of true wisdom and strength.
Returning to Damascus, Saul preached boldly in the name of Jesus. His one-time friends, those who opposed Christ, decided to kill Saul. Waiting for the fright moment, they watched the city gates day and night so that Saul wouldn’t get away.
One dark night the disciples took Saul to one of the houses right on the city wall. There Saul climbed into a big basket with a rope tied to it. Slowly they lowered him out a window and down to the ground. Saul escaped. And this was only the beginning of his adventures for Christ.
Where did he head? Right to where the action was—back to Jerusalem—three years after he left it for the manhunt in Damascus. He tried to contact the disciples. But they steered clear at first. It’s not surprising. It could have been a carefully laid trap. Was he really sincere?
Finally a man named Barnabas brought him to the others and told them the story of how Saul had seen and spoken with Jesus on the Damascus road. He stood up for Saul and told of his bold preaching at Damascus in the name of Jesus. Barnabas didn’t hold Saul’s past against him. He believed in him. Perhaps Saul was remembering Barnabas when he later wrote, “Love thinks no evil. Love endures all things. Love is kind”
On the word of Barnabas, the others accepted Saul. It became obvious that he was now a Believer. Saul went to his former friends to share with them the truth of Jesus. He thought they were as sincere as he had been and would welcome truth. But he was sadly mistaken. They turned on him and tried to kill him.
Remembering how he had participated in the death of Stephen’s, Saul was willing to stay in Jerusalem at the risk of his life, if only he could help convince someone of the truth of the gospel message. But God directed Saul in another direction. “Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, for they will not receive your testimony concerning Me” (Acts 22:18).
So the disciples put Saul on a boat and sent him to visit Caesarea and Tarsus. Back in his hometown, he would have opportunity to tell his friends and family that he was a changed man and that it was Jesus Christ who changed him.
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