Archive for February 3rd, 2006

Saul was all in. He was prepared to shut down this movement single-handed. So, off he went to Damascus. On his journey, he encountered: a light, the voice of Jesus, and blindness. The message from the voice of Jesus was not understood by anyone else present. I think it’s interesting that when we hear from God, we think it was obvious, but it may only be obvious to us individually, and no one else. We are then required to figure it out, put words to it, and thank and glorify Him for it.

Ananias was visited by God also. He was commissioned to risk his live by restoring the sight of the man who was breathing murderous threats and had the authority to make it happen! Ananias was obedient to do exactly what God required of him. When Ananias prayed, Saul understood. He saw with his eyes, and with his soul. He was baptized, he ate. WHAT A COURSE CHANGING DAY!!!

Saul was in Damascus, a Jew in good standing. So he went to the synagogue to preach/teach. This was likely what was expected of him, given his position in the religious community. It probably fit his usual routine. The message of his teaching, however, was VERY DIFFERENT!! Saul used his knowledge of scripture to ‘prove’ that Jesus is the Christ. His knowledge had not changed. His BELIEF had changed.

So, in keeping with the usual practice of those days, the Jews plotted to kill Saul. This takes me right back to Steven’s sermon. Good grief! Saul, with the assistance of the early believers escaped unharmed, and returned to Jerusalem to join the disciples. They suspected a ruse and did not welcome him until Barnabas vouched for Saul, having been with him in Damascus. Saul then travelled about Jerusalem, using his considerable knowledge to speak boldly about Jesus. There was another assassination attempt. (Did I say, ‘Good Grief’?)

The church flourished. They enjoyed peace, strength and encouragement from the Holy Spirit – and numeric growth too. Good times!

Peter, on his travels, encountered a man who had been paralyzed for 8 years. Peter said, “Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and take care of your mat.” Wow! People saw and turned to God.
Then, Peter was summoned to Joppa because Tabitha died. She was “always doing good and helping the poor.” Peter prayed and said, “get up.” She did. The people of Joppa were amazed and turned to the Lord. This seems to be a pattern when the Holy Spirit is working.

I hope there are things happening in my world that entice people to say, “Wow” and then turn to the Lord. Don’t you?

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9:15 On the day that the tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered the tabernacle – the tent of the testimony – and from evening until morning there was a fiery appearance over the tabernacle. 9:16 This is the way it used to be continually: The cloud would cover it by day, and there was a fiery appearance by night. 9:17 Whenever the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, then after that the Israelites would begin their journey; and in whatever place the cloud settled, there the Israelites would make camp. 9:18 At the commandment of the Lord the Israelites would begin their journey, and at the commandment of the Lord they would make camp; as long as the cloud remained settled over the tabernacle they would camp. 9:19 When the cloud remained over the tabernacle many days, then the Israelites obeyed the instructions of the Lord and did not journey.

9:20 When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a number of days, they remained camped according to the Lord’s commandment, and according to the Lord’s commandment they would journey. 9:21 And when the cloud remained only from evening until morning, when the cloud was taken up the following morning, then they traveled on. Whether by day or by night, when the cloud was taken up they traveled. 9:22 Whether it was for two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud prolonged its stay over the tabernacle, the Israelites remained camped without traveling; but when it was taken up, they traveled on. 9:23 At the commandment of the Lord they camped, and at the commandment of the Lord they traveled on; they kept the instructions of the Lord according to the commandment of the Lord, by the authority of Moses.
-Numbers 9:15-23

The Israelites followed God wherever he took them. The followed the cloud that would lead them in the direction they were to go. Every evening the cloud would descend upon the tabernacle. The Israelites went to bed not knowing if the cloud would rise up again in the morning or if they would be staying in this place for few day, months or even a years. The Israelites just followed.

I am amazed by this act of obedience. We already know that the people of Israel would turn their back on God pretty easily. When Moses was gone for only a few days they had Aaron graft a golden calf for them to worship. Yet, in this case they seemed to obey with no problem. I admit they had a very direct sign of God in the form of the cloud by day and fire by night, but still. They had no real idea of how long it was going to take them to get to their destination. What had to make it even worse is that they generally knew where they were going. If God took the long way around they would know. (Just think how bad this had to have been after the Israelites were not allowed to enter the promise land for 40 years. We will get there in Numbers 20.) Yet, they followed God. I think we can learn from this. I know I don’t always know why God is taking me in the direction he has me going. I just know I need to follow. To make matters worse, I know the ending point. I am just not sure how God plans to get me there.

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for leading me even when I am not sure I want to follow. Thank you for taking me down a path of learning, maturity and wisdom. Help me to have the faith the Israelites seemed to have had to just follow you. I love you Lord. Amen.