Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 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. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 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. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord,” he answered.
The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.
“But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.
After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him, but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.
When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews, but they tried to kill him. When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.
A few months ago I woke up with a big problem… My mouth would only open wide enough for me to sip a small drink or to take a small bite of food. I could hardly chew and when I did I was also biting my cheek. What started as a tiny problem in my mouth almost 2 years prior slowly became a huge issue that needed immediate attention.
The suffering I was experiencing was being caused by my wisdom teeth (you know, those teeth that grow in at an age when a person is “mature and wiser.”) When they started growing in, I wasn’t very worried. I brushed it off to be nothing and figured, “if I have had them in this long, I will have them forever.” Also, there was no way I was getting my wisdom teeth removed, ever! Really mature, reasonable and wise of me, huh? Unfortunately, I was wrong and had to face the consequences of not listening to my body, my husband, my mother and Google. The reality was that I caused my own suffering by not tending to the cues along the way to get them taken out. The only way these little teeth growing into my mouth were able to finally get me to listen was to cause excruciating pain and to interfere with one of my favorite things to do, EAT. That morning they suddenly had my attention and I quickly scheduled their extraction, no questions asked.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Why does it take extremes to get our attention, to get us to focus on the important stuff, the stuff that matters?
In Acts 9, we read about Paul (also known as Saul). We know that Paul was persecuting Christians and working against Jesus and His followers. We also know that God had other plans for Paul and that God had to take supernatural measures to make that plan work.
In fact, Paul needed to audibly hear the voice of Jesus, temporarily lose his sight, not eat or drink for 3 days and have a vision of one of Jesus’s followers healing him to get his attention. Seems a little crazy doesn’t it? Maybe it does, but God chose Paul, He hand-picked him to be His, “instrument, to proclaim God’s name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel,” and God knew exactly how to get Paul’s mind wrapped around that.
Paul went on to be baptized and became one of the greatest servants of Christ the world has ever seen and it’s inspiring.
Life is happening all around us every day. It’s easy to get stuck in the mundane, day-to-day responsibilities we all face. But every now and then, we realize just how short life is and how important each day really is and it’s time for us to wake up to that reality right now.
It’s time for us to wake up and sense the urgency of our callings, to be the women that God created us to be.
Let’s seize the important moments in our lives.
Let’s have no regrets.
Let’s be full of grace.
Let’s be grateful.
Let’s take the time to truly rest in Him.
Let’s look around and enjoy his creation.
Let’s love God and love others like it’s our first and only job.
Let’s trust God like we actually believe every single one of His promises.
And let us live lives every single day that will make God smile.
Let’s not wait for an extreme wake up call to start living our lives to the fullest while serving God in everything that we do.
If possible, sit for a few minutes in quite and be still. With each breath, inhale God’s calling for you.
God, today I pray that I would hear and listen to Your calling on my life and that I would have courage to take the steps necessary to live it out.
Make a plan, find accountability, study the Bible, pray everyday, get in a life group… do something/anything that will keep you focused on living a life that matters.
Today’s post was written by Amanda Sanders.
Amanda has been married to her high school sweet heart Matt for 11 years. Together they have three kids ages 9, 7 and 4. In this season of life, Amanda spends most of her time drinking coffee, teaching children, doing laundry and repeating herself. Occasionally, she has some time for working out, reading for leisure and writing. You can find her on Sunday mornings worshiping at our Real Life UCF campus.
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