Acts: Day 12

The Road to Damascus

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Today's Text: Acts 9:1-31, Galatians 1:11-16, 2 Corinthians 3:12-13

Text: Acts 9:1-31, Galatians 1:11-16, 2 Corinthians 3:12-13

Can you imagine if Paul had not done what God called him to do? If he’d had the show-stopping, life-altering moment on the road to Damascus and then went home and holed up, instead of spreading the gospel fervently to the nations? Paul’s miraculous conversion ordained by God would have gone no further than Paul. He himself would have been saved, but what about the countless others he would go on to meet, as well as those of us who read his words today?

Paul had excuses to shrink back and hide away. As soon as he was converted, his ministry was met with opposition. His former cohorts, the Jews, conspired to kill him (Acts 9:23), and his new tribe, Jesus’ disciples, were afraid of him (Acts 9:26).

My (recovering) people-pleasing heart and I would have had a hard time with this. Whenever I am taking the first shaky steps toward something God has called me to do, it is always the opinions of those closest to me that can make or break me. If they hesitate, or question, or pose all-out opposition, I begin to question what the Lord said. Wait, God, did you really want me to do this? Because so-and-so says this, and so-and-so thinks that…

We don’t see this type of hesitation in Paul. In fact, we see the opposite. Scripture says Paul immediately began preaching the name of Jesus in the synagogues (Acts 9:20), the very place he once condemned believers and the very place his old buddies hung around. We also read that he preached boldly (v. 28)—as opposed to me, who would have been afraid for my own life, fearfully whispering over and over again the words of what others thought of me.

If Paul were reading this today, he’d be quick to point out that it wasn’t Paul who made Paul bold. In his letter to the Galatians, he says, “I no longer live, but Christ in me” (Galatians 2:20). It wasn’t Paul’s boldness that set him apart; it was Christ in him who set Paul apart and promised to complete a mighty work in him (Philippians 1:6).

I love what Paul says about conversion in his first letter to the Thessalonians: “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with much assurance” (1:5). When we believe in Christ, it’s not just a cognitive shift. It’s a full-body, full-heart shift. We are changed completely, as we see in the complete 180 Jesus made in Paul’s heart.

This truth—that we have the power of the Holy Spirit—is a game-changer when it comes to taking those first shaky steps into ministry and into calling. For if we have the same Holy Spirit that Paul had, whose opinions do we have to fear? What opposition can make us crumble? What power can come against the power that lives inside of us?

Sure, we may not always have people cheering us on from the sidelines, but we will always have the Holy Spirit in us, giving us the strength and assurance we need to keep going.

Let’s Praise God for this today—for the grace of His Son, the power of His Spirit, and the promise to complete the good work He began in us, by no power of our own.

SRT-Acts-Instagram12s

  • Logan Christine

    Loved this reading and the devotional. One thing that jumped out at me the most though was actually the verse about Barnabas and how he spoke to the disciples about how Paul had been chosen by God on the road. I have always loved learning about Barnabas because his constant encouragement and kindness to others has consistently inspired and fueled me to act the same in my life. Kindness and encouragement is such a power thing and it is something that is truly lacking in our world today. I pray that we Christian women would show this manifestation of love to others, especially to those who are facing oppression.

  • Just had a question: Don’t we receive the Holy Spirit as soon as we accept Christ as Savior? Why then did they pray over new believers to receive the Holy Spirit? I enjoyed the commentary! It’s so easy to talk ourselves out of something God wants just because others are opposed. We have to remember that these doubts are NOT from God, but are planted by the Enemy!

    • Anna Claire Noblitt

      I want to try and answer your question. Later in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he says, “When you believed, you were marked with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance…”(Eph. 1:13-14). The Hebrew word for ‘deposit’ is arJabon, which basically means ‘earnest,’ like a down payment. Is a deposit the full amount? I believe that upon salvation, we receive access to the Holy Spirit in full. Whether we ask for more of him and embrace his power is up to us, because Paul warns us in Acts, “Do not quench the Spirit!” Acts 5:32 says, “We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” Also, concerning the task of asking for the Spirit, Luke 11:13 says, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” I personally don’t fully understand denominational issues like baptism of the Spirit, but I have read through the book of acts and intently examined even place I saw the Holy Spirit mentioned. After reading this scripture for myself, despite what my church believes about not being able to get more of the Spirit, it is obvious that believers were more filled at certain times than others. To me, it is a matter of our actions. If we are only believing and not taking other leaps of faith to share the Good News, we don’t need the power of the Spirit. When we are reaching out, the Spirit enables us if we ask for Him to be involved. There is no reason for God to pour out his miraculous Spirit if we do not put ourselves in positions where we need him to sustain us, speak boldly through us, and work wonders through us like he did with the early church. I would encourage you to look even more intently at his presence in Acts as you study, and decide for yourself what you believe. I want desperately to experience his power in my life as the first believers did, and I can assure you that he is still working today as he was in Acts. The question is, will we deny our flesh and our understanding and live in the Spiritual by allowing him to fill us daily? In my own life I have seen God give me the Holy Spirit when I am asking and when I am stepping out in obedience. He will not withhold our Helper if we recognize our need for him, and trust that a power this amazing cannot be confined or limited.

      • Elaine

        I love your response to this.

        Unlike you, I have grown up in a church that does speak of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and firmly believe that this is something we should all seek to help us spread the Gospel. However, I’ve always understood things as, you receive the baptism, then you get the boldness to share.
        I would also say that I have seen God give me the Holy Spirit when I am asking AND when I am stepping out in obedience. There has never been a time when He has not come through with this.

        Recently I think I have been hiding Behind the question. If I “say the right thing” and ask God to use me and ask Him to give me more of His Holy Spirit, then I think I’m doing the right thing. In reality, it’s not just the asking; I MUST step out and really be willing to be available and do what He asks of me. The Holy Spirit will not be far behind a willing heart that wants more of God and wants to share the Gospel with others.

      • Anna Claire Noblitt

        Amen! It is amazing how all of the theology and confusion can simply be solved by obedience. May we be willing to die to our flesh and live in a way that invites him to use us- outside of just the asking. It’s really a hard thing to remember because I always feel like I’m not doing something right when I don’t feel filled… But in reality, I’m neglecting to do the one thing that I was placed on this earth to do!

      • Untidy

        I realised from this passage in acts that, although Paul/Saul was a great intellectual, his first encounter with Jesus was a spiritual experiential one. That challenges lots of ideas about how to reach out to intellectuals with the gospel. And I’ve been newly challenged about the role of the Holy Spirit in my life.

      • Untidy

        And I’m sorry, my comment has gone in the wrong place!

  • Kymberli

    My husband and I are being led to move to a new state, stepping out of our comfort zone leaving behind a great church and church family. Our last sermon yesterday was about following God in bold obedience, encountering and dealing with opposition, believing God will do the miraculous and walking to please Him and not man. So much like our loving Father, he confirmed that same message to me this morning. I don’t know what He has for us in our next place, but I know If He plans out seemingly small details so to speak so personally to us as He did to me this weekend, I can completely trust Him and His plans for us.

    • Heather

      We did this same thing five years ago. It was the hardest thing yet the best thing that ever happened to our marriage. God is faithful. Always.

  • It’s been a lifelong struggle for me, dealing with other people’s opinions, and letting them affect me more than God’s view of me affects me; & I’m only 17. I remember even when I was 6 or 7 I was like this, so it’s really hard to stop. But reading this reminds me that I can’t draw my boldness and not care about others’ opinions by myself; I have to do that through Jesus. This was a great reminder.

  • This reading was so impactful! I’ve been struggling to sort out my call to ministry- worried what others think, worried about not having the capabilities I need or the knowledge I need…and am reminded here that the Holy Spirit is who I need and he will make a way for me and guide my steps and his power will make anything possible.

  • Carrie Rogers

    So encouraging to me as I have taken the plunge to write about the things of God and always feel like a fish out of water.
    This truth—that we have the power of the Holy Spirit—is a game-changer when it comes to taking those first shaky steps into ministry and into calling.❤️

  • Brittany

    Amen Kristin! So true, pray to Him, show him your need.

  • Kristin Erickson

    Thank you for being honest and vulnerable , so beautiful. I can relate, and that feeling can be so exhausting having to prove yourself to others. Keep leaning on God and I believe he will change your heart over time, not overnight but one step at a time :)

    16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
    2:Corinthians 4:16

  • It’s so hard these days as I grow older to let go of things that are said to me and done to me not only in the past but as time passes. I tend to hold grudges and at the same time I want to to change that but I cannot. I for some reason still have to prove my pride and my point to these people when I wish I could just let it go. It’s frustrating and hard in my part. I don’t want my children to grow up with that mentality or heart. I wish more to go eat like Saul and just totally commit my self to God to be more like him and Love. And live life with a loving heart not worrying about proving myself to others.

  • I love how the Holy Spirit leads us right where we need to be. All of the comments today about big changes are just what I needed to see, as my husband and I contemplate some huge decisions that are not going to be popular with anyone we know, but we feel like are the decisions God is leading us to take for the happiness of our family and for our ability to serve God first in our lives. I am scared to death to tell my family and friends, but also have a strange peace about the decision we are making.

  • Kaitlyn

    The way Paul was questioned by fellow believers following his conversion struck me hard today. How many time have I held someone to their past/reputation instead of recognizing the same, new Holy Spirit dwelling within them? This is especially true of people who have hurt me in the past. Instead of questioning their new faith, I pray that my response would be rejoicing over another added to the Kingdom. Lord Jesus, I pray for my skeptical and stubborn heart and ask for continued openness towards those who have hurt me.

    • Steph W

      Yes! Right there with you today. Praying for my heart to be broken of its stubbornness, skepticism and cynical patterns. Thank you for bringing that issue to light.

    • Veronica

      Thank you for sharing this! Your comment really hit home for this critical heart.

  • Caroline

    This is so spot on. The push back is SO hard (and annoying). I know there is so much grace for others, but it sure does make me question my decisions and path when I feel like I am following God. I am so thankful for the example Paul set before us.

    http://www.in-due-time.com

  • PRAYER
    Listen to you
    Obey what you want me todo
    Let it go
    Turn it all over to you when I want to hold grudges again.

  • Ananias questioned God but then obeyed by going to Saul and doing what God told him to do.
    Ananias knew how Saul had been treating Christians and of course didn’t trust Saul. Ananias had a reason not to trust, his life could be in danger. Ananias listened to God and went to Saul helping him and forgiving him. This was obedience on Ananias part!

    I have a big problem holding grudges! If anyone does something to a family member or myself
    (they may not even know they have done anything or it could be just in my mind) I hold a grudge. I see other family members with this problem.

    PRARER
    Lord help me to learn from the scripture to
    Listen to you,

  • Stephani I am praying for complete healing and peace to surround your family.. With love and hugs to you and your family.
    Thru the years I have always felt I was called to be a missionary, and sometimes get frustrated when I feel as if I’m not doing what I should be doing, but time and time again God shows me my mission field is all around me.. I see so many hurting lost people , especially ladies , so I have redirected my thoughts and I let Christ guide me

    • Denise

      Many years ago my husband and I felt called to the mission field and we ran ahead of God’s plans and wondered why there was no moving forward. Then one day a thought came into my mind like a lightening bolt “Start where you are”. This was definitely NOT my thought as my thought was to go far far away to a foreign land. It WAS definitely God’s thought that He put into my mind. I did not like it. But I did obey and began to implement going out into the field starting where I was. And where I still am. He has shown me that the field is ripe and the workers are few but the last few years have been awesome. Not at all what I had in mind but very much so what God had in mind.

  • Suzette Solares

    I so needed this today. I have had a calling in my heart to be a Beachbody Coach which I am. But so many times I fear what people are going to think or say. So I retreat a bit. Not knowing the damage Im doing. Because I know there are so many people that need what I can offer. I know I can make a difference. I am changing people’s lives and I have to trust that it is all from the Holy Spirit. Fear not. I’m going forward.

    • Susie

      Suzette so funny you mention that because I have been looking into 21 day fix and looking into finding a good coach.. Don’t let people place the feelings of doubt or fear into you.. Pray on it ! Christ will guide you ..one life changed has a huge ripple effect.. Just think of all the people you can pray for and encourage..even lead to salvation .. People you would never come to know or chat with otherwise..hope this helps

  • Since going through some huge life changes, and changing my spiritual walk in a big way, I have seen God and felt God instill in me a boldness I never knew could exist. I always used to rely heavily on my own abilities, and when success came took all the credit. But now I see that my abilities pale in comparison to His and I freely and openly give God all the glory. He has done some major things over the past ten months and truly I can openly say to anyone that God is good. Even when people just smile and nod, I know that I can fearlessly proclaim Him lord of my life. And I know that through Gods abilities, working in me, I am planting seeds of hope fog others.

  • “When we believe in Christ, it’s not just a cognitive shift. It’s a full-body, full-heart shift” – this is such a good reminder when I share Jesus with others. I am not trying to “convince” them of anything, I am showing them Jesus and asking the Holy Spirit to open them up to this “shift”. So good!!

  • Erin Conley

    Yes, this is so congruent with a change I’ve seen in my life in the past year– just basically unleashing the Holy Spirit and truly allowing myself (and my fears) to fall away for the first time consistently. It is amazing how Paul was able to do that right away, perhaps because God’s plans needed him to. I’ve lived most of my teens and 20’s completely oblivious to the topic of surrender to God, or understanding what that tangibly looks like. Reading “Love Does” by Bob Goff last summer was what really opened my eyes, and simplified the concept of letting the Holy Spirit work through me, and how to drop the fears, insecurities and shame that were in the way.

  • Erin Cox

    I love how Paul says this:
    15But when he who had set me apart before I was born,[b] and who called me by his grace, 16was pleased to reveal his Son to[c] me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone;[d]

    “I did not immediately consult with anyone”… He didn’t text his bestie, he didn’t post it to Facebook for feedback, he moved- he acted and obeyed. Paul immediately recognized he had been set apart, from before birth, for this purpose and that moment in time. He was humbled by God’s grace so he did what he was called to do. He consulted no one. The Holy Spirit was all he needed.

    May we all dwell with such boldness, especially in the face of opposition and fear. “And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it (the church) multiplied.” Oh how much it would multiply if we could only follow Paul’s example!

  • Tochi Heredia

    Hi, Shes! I’ve been part of this community for about 2 years, but this is my first time posting something :)

    Today’s devo was perfectly timed. I’m from Argentina and next year –after years of praying about this –I’m moving to London permanently as a missionary. The last couple of weeks have filled me with worry: the EU referendum (if they leave I’ll have to apply for visa and won’t be able to work ), the economic problems in my country (an ongoing trial for us Christians down here) and my own incompetency to fulfill this calling and also graduating from college in December .

    But then I read this today.

    “What power can come against the power that lives inside of us?”
    Ahh, thanks be to our gracious God that he equips those He calls and we don’t have to rely on our own strength!!!
    Join me in prayer as I give myself fully to God, knowing that His way leads to eternal life .
    I’m praying for all of us here, that even when our future seems uncertain , we can look back and testify of His unending faithfulness.

    Lots of love, sisters!
    xx

    • Hannah

      I’m going to start praying for you! Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Christa

      Ahh, thanks be to our gracious God that he equips those He calls and we don’t have to rely on our own strength!!! Thank you for those words I needed to hear!

    • She Reads Truth

      Tochi, friend! I’m so glad you decided to comment today. What a joy it is to put a name and a face to someone who already feels like family. Thank you for joining us the past 2 years, and I’m praying for you today as you study the book of Acts.

      xoxo-Kaitlin

    • Kendall

      What a blessing it is to read your story! I immediately got goosebumps when I read of your confidence in the power of God, and I have put your name on a virtual sticky note to pray for! I pray that you would be able to do the work of God, and not worry about your own incompetency or that people would look down on you because you are young. Blessings, sister!

    • Marie

      Thank you for your obedience Tochi. May the Lord go ahead of you…

  • Keri Underwood

    I was just talking with a friend last night about how I am a completely different person. While I grew up in church and had parents that taught me the gospel, I can’t say that I was a Christian until halfway through college. I look back and how I used to live, things I used to do and say and believe in and I cringe! I am such a different person and it is all by the Grace of my Father!!

    http://www.littlelightonahill.com

    • Christa

      Same situation here. I am still friends with those I was was friends with in my “former life”. Our relationship has changed though. One in particular is still living that life. We are going on a girls trip next week and I’ve been praying for guidance, boldness, and strength in dealing with her. She is not a believer, and hostile to any mention of my faith. I ask for your prayers for myself, and also for her salvation.

      • Cali

        Praying for you during your trip. I find myself in these same predicaments.

      • Keri Underwood

        Praying Christa! I pray that the Lord guides your words. That you can stand strong and firm in you faith with unwavering confidence while still having fun and showing her the love of the Lord. I have found that when people are hostile towards my faith it’s usually because they know that they need/want it too. Sometimes it takes a bit for them to realize that though. Praying! Keep us updated on how the trip went!

  • Ellington

    Praying.

  • I’m so grateful that God tells us it doesn’t matter where we came from, but where we’re going. Going to try to stop worrying so much today and just follow my Shepard.

  • Sarah_Joy

    Asking for prayers for a family laying to rest today their sweet little girl who only lived 21 hours this week due to a heart defect. Baby’s name was Indy. May God the Father wrap them in His arms as they say good-bye to their precious daughter.

    • Jen

      That sure is a tough one to go through. Praying for peace for all of them.

    • Donna

      Praying for family and lifting you up as God use you as a blessing to them during this difficult season in their life. Grace and peace.

    • Sherri

      Prayers for this sweet little one & the family.

    • Sydney

      Praying for your family that they will find peace in Jesus.

    • Cherri

      This kind of of loss always pierces my heart. I am so grateful we can send our support and His comfort and peace to this family through our prayers during this sad time.

  • Challenged this morning!

  • Stephanie

    This makes me wonder if I am a completely different person than I was before I started following Christ.

    Ladies, today my dad is having heart surgery. Please pray that it goes well and for the strength of my family to get through this difficult time.

    • Lexi

      Praying for your daddy! May you all feel God’s hand of peace today. ❤️

    • Sherri

      Stephanie, praying for your dad & your family. God is a healer & a comforter, rest in Him.

    • Gina

      Lord, I lift up Stephanie to you and ask You equip her for the day ahead with your peace and that You cover her dad through his surgery. Let Your presence be evident in her family today. In Jesus Name!

    • Carla

      Praying for you and your family today. I’ve been in your place.

    • Jen

      praying for you and your family, that the doctors have wisdom and healing hands, for God’s grace to envelop all involved.

    • Audrey Andrade

      I know exactly how you feel, my dad had heart surgery this past year, he had a heart attack on the operating table-so the operation was at the perfect time. God is faithful and will sustain Him through the procedure and through the recovery process, praying!!

    • She Reads Truth

      Praying, Stephanie. Love to you.

      xoxo-Kaitlin

  • Lately I’ve been trying to make plans to get out of this little rut I thought I was in. Everyone kept telling me that God has a plan and that He would help me find a job somewhere doing what I love instead of being right here which is hard and frustrating. But in the last couple of days I feel God telling me he has a plan right here. Not to give up hope that someday I’ll have my dream job but that right here in this moment I have purpose and I have to be faithful to God and trust that His plans are so much bigger and better than my own.

    • Keri Underwood

      That was one of the hardest things for me to learn: to just be content with where God has me in this moment right now. I was always so worried about my goals and my future. But God calls us to just obey step by step. To be content doing His work right where you are. This is such a freeing thing, Jenn! I’m so glad you have realized this! Know that the Lord know your heart, He knows you dreams. He takes all that into consideration and will bless those that are faithful to Him :)

      http://www.littlelightonahill.com

      • Caroline

        So true, and so hard! I struggle with letting God guide me in the moment and always want to see 100 steps ahead. God is so good and will lead us, we just need to be still and open!

    • Sydney

      “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”- Galatians 6:9

      xo

    • Elle

      Amen, Jenn! I understand that frustrating feeling as I have been wondering where God would have me in the future as well as wanting to be further along in terms of a job, education..ect. One thing that I’ve learned is that God will indeed use you in the “inbetween!” “When you can’t trace His hand, trust His heart” He is faithful to see you through and to use even the seemly little things to grow, mold, and move you closer towards His plan for you.

  • candacejo

    “For if we have the same Holy Spirit that Paul had, whose opinions do we have to fear? What opposition can make us crumble? What power can come against the power that lives inside of us?”

    All through the lesson, this song was playing over and over in my head. He lives in us!
    The same power that rose Jesus from the grave
    The same power that commands the dead to wake
    Lives in us, lives in us
    The same power that moves mountains when He speaks
    The same power that can calm a raging sea
    Lives in us, lives in us
    He lives in us, lives in us!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hof9l4UWrMs (If you haven’t heard it, go! If you have, you’re welcome, it will be in your head all day too ♥

  • You have no idea how timely this scripture was and your words. I have felt so much opposition with what the Lord is calling me to do from my friends (moving away etc.). It has baffled me to the point I have cried over their opposition. Thank you for this teaching and for your words. Learning to be bold in Christ aside from what others say I should do. Thank you, thank you.

    • candacejo

      I’m right there with you, Jane. Greater is He that is living in me!! You can do all things through Christ that lives in YOU. ♥

    • Rayo

      At evening service yesterday, the pastor said something that gave me a lot of comfort over recent decisions. He said, your friends aren’t called to go with you. That the Bible never said Jesus and his friends went into ministry. You must not let that hold you back from following the path God has called you to. I pray you find the strength to listen to him, and the comfort to rest in his unconditional love and friendship.

    • Jen

      While our families are supportive, we are also being led to move away. I feel you! My little mantra has been, “Just follow your Shepard.” The sheep doesn’t question because he trusts his shepard to keep him safe. Easier said than done, but it’s what I cling to when I get overwhelmed. Praying for you today and hoping that your friends get on board so they can support you.

  • As I was reading today’s study, I felt challenged by Paul’s obedience. I have been living abroad for a few months now and staying with a wonderful host family. I have felt on numerous occassions that the Mum of the family is really seeking spiritually, and that God is wanting me to share Jesus with her. Although there have been a few conversations which have been encouraging, my time staying with the family is now coming to an end and I am challenged by how little boldness I have had and how little obedience. What if this woman could be a mayor player in the church here in France – who am I to deny her Jesus? Praise God that it is not our boldness we rely on, but on the Holy Spirit.

    • Christine

      Oh, I know that feeling. When I was reading your comment I had to think of something Aslan told Lucy in the 2nd Narnia movie ( translating here from German back to English haha): We’ll never know what could’ve been, but what will happen is a different story.
      Don’t think about the what-ifs, but focus on the things that can still happen. Maybe you can talk with her over coffee tonight, or next week, or maybe something else – but do not hesistate to do what you’re called to do :) praying for you!

    • Sydney

      Hannah, it is never too late to proclaim the gospel. The Holy Spirit will empower you with the right words, just ask him. I am praying for you this morning.

    • Marie

      Waiting in anticipation to hear how the Lord will use your words. Praying for you Hannah.

  • Rachael

    We are studying Jonah in church and I was thinking of the parallel between Jonah and Ananias. Ananias also questioned God and gave the impression Saul was not ‘worthy’ of conversion. What if he had not obeyed? Would we not have Paul’s letters? How often have I shushed the Spirit’s guidance to mention Christ in a conversation with a non-Christian friend? I often feel they wouldn’t be open or that I may offend…but how do I know, they may end up being a modern day ‘Paul’

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