Intro: To continue on from our reading yesterday, Saul (later known as the Apostle Paul) is struggling to get beyond his reputation with the Christians. He is viewed as a persecution threat to Christ’s followers; certainly, he was guilty of that in the past. These Christians are hesitant to believe Saul is now a changed person. Therefore, to bring peace to his family, the Lord sends a Jewish convert named Barnabas to be Saul’s advocate; to serve the Lord by connecting Saul in positive ways with the apostles. Barnabas is a man of integrity and great character, so the Christians in Jerusalem soon begin to welcome Saul into their homes and ministries.
There are several things we should notice about Saul. First, his personality does not really change, but his purpose and focus definitely do. Instead of seeking to control and hinder the Word of the Lord by harming Christians, Saul remains bold but his message is about getting the life of the Lord to people. Saul boldly preaches about the death, resurrection, and the worship of Jesus Christ to bring eternal life. Second, Saul stirs up controversy everywhere he goes, because of this boldness to proclaim the Good News. He does not back down from a debate; he stays in the ring to proclaim Christ. As we read through much of the New Testament, these two things about Saul never change.
In Christ, like Saul, we do not lose our personalities; Saul became who God had actually intended him to be. God loves who he created us to be; the only things he desires to change are those things in our souls not consistent with his nature. Our new life in Christ is our truest self. When we embrace Christ and his work to sanctify—purify us from sin—we demonstrate our commitment to his lordship. Today, be your truest self knowing God loves you and he enjoys your unique personality. Blessings for your weekend. Hope to see you in church on Sunday as we dig into the Word and share Communion at the Lord’s table.
Acts 9:26-31 NLT 26 When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the believers, but they were all afraid of him. They did not believe he had truly become a believer! 27 Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus.
28 So Saul stayed with the apostles and went all around Jerusalem with them, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He debated with some Greek-speaking Jews, but they tried to murder him. 30 When the believers [Greek] heard about this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus, his hometown.
31 The church then had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it became stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the Lord. And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for remaking me in your image through my relationship with Christ and the work of your Holy Spirit. Continue to mature me in the new life that causes me to be my truest self. In Jesus’ name. Amen.