Sunday, November 18, 2012

November 18, 2012 … “You Da Man!”

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 323

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Acts, Chapters 9-10 To study these chapters, go to this link

Highlight Passages: Acts 9: 1-5; 19-22 : [NLT] … { Paul’s dramatic conversion changed His life forever and he became, as I did, a poster boy for his own later writing in 2nd Cor. 5: 17, copied below as a reference. }  
1 Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath. He was eager to destroy the Lord’s followers, so he went to the high priest. 2 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. 3 As he was nearing Damascus on this mission, a brilliant light from heaven suddenly beamed down upon him! 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” 5 “Who are you, sir?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! 6Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” 
{ After Paul’s conversion and some time of “recovery” in Damascus, Paul began to refute his own past life with gospel preaching that astounded those who knew of his reputation.} … 
19 Afterward he ate some food and was strengthened. … Saul stayed with the believers in Damascus for a few days. 20 And immediately he began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is indeed the Son of God!” 21 All who heard him were amazed. “Isn’t this the same man who persecuted Jesus’ followers with such devastation in Jerusalem?” they asked. “And we understand that he came here to arrest them and take them in chains to the leading priests.” … 22 Saul’s preaching became more and more powerful, and the Jews in Damascus couldn’t refute his proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.
Highlight Passages: Acts 10:43-48 : [NLT] … { Peter, a staunch Jewish convert and a leader of the new Christian “movement,” began to interact with Gentiles who were receiving the message and being converted; and this Jewish versus Gentile controversy because one of the earliest stumbling blocks to the advancement of Christianity in the Jewish world and outward to the rest of the world. Preaching about Jesus to Gentiles early in Jerusalem, we read about how Peter and other Jewish Christians witnessed how God used Cornelius, a wealthy, influential Roman Officer and convert, to propagate the truth that Christ was for all mankind, including the Gentiles. So, here is Peter preaching to Jews and Gentiles alike … }  
43 He [i.e., Jesus] is the one all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven through his name.” …. 44 Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who had heard the message. 45 The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the Gentiles, too. 46 And there could be no doubt about it, for they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter asked, … 47 “Can anyone object to their being baptized, now that they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did?” 48 So he gave orders for them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Afterward Cornelius asked him to stay with them for several days.

Reference Passage: 2nd Corinthians 5: 17 : [NKJV] … {Paul was his own best example of this truth; but my testimony make me a poster boy for this truth as well.} Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 

My Journal for Today: In today’s reading we see how Christianity had a rather curious and halting start early in Jerusalem with the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, who became the Apostle Paul … and with Peter’s encounter with Gentiles who heard the gospel and were converted to Spirit-filled Christians. And I especially identify with Paul’s conversion story, documented by Luke, in Chapter 9 of Acts.

The Apostle Paul, other then Jesus Himself, had more to do with the spread of Christianity than any other man; and His conversion story is a radical illustration of a truth he would later write to a group, mostly of Gentile Christians, in Corinth concerning the power of God to change any who would believe in Christ as Messiah and receive Christ’s free gift of His Spirit to save those who believe … Jew or Gentile. I copied that truth from 2nd Cor. 5: 17 for any readers following me here; and like Saul who became Paul, I too am a poster-child for this truth … that being saved – IN CHRIST – changes the very nature of the one who is saved.

Saul of Tarsus went from Christian persecutor to Christian minister and missionary after he was converted; and so did I. Yes, when I was 35 years old, I used to do all I could to tear the faith away from any Christian I encountered. Like Paul before his conversion, I was a “devil’s advocate,” doing all I could to break Christians of their faith. But also like Saul/Paul, after I became a Christian, I became just as obsessive and compulsive about spreading the truth of God’s love to as many as now I can.

I’m a golf fan; and often when some pro golfer tees off in a tournament covered on TV, you’ll hear someone in the crowd yell loudly (likely trying to get his voice recorded on TV), “You DA man!!!” And that’s a good description of who Paul was described as becoming in Acts 9 and who Peter was becoming in Acts 10. And I hope you go back, as I have this AM, and use the link above to re-read these two character descriptions of men who were totally changed by the influence and power of their Christian commitment.

Peter went from an impulsive and cowardly follower of Christ before his real conversion to become a staunch and courageous proponent of the Gospel and a leader of Christianity in the middle-east. Paul went from being a die-hard persecutor of Christians to an even more convicted propagator of Christianity from Jerusalem outwardly to what we now know of as Asia-minor and Europe. These two men, whom we could loudly call “Da Man,” were most certainly living examples of the truth of 2nd Cor. 5: 17, … weren’t they?

What about you? Has Jesus changed your life after you were converted? Or if you became a true, born-again Christian early in your life, has God’s Spirit shaped you into someone others would call “Da man!” (or if it fits, “Da woman!”)

My Prayer Today: … Lord, thank You for examples like Peter and Paul in Your word to give us role models of Christians who shaped Christianity in its early days and are still doing so today. Amen

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