Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things.
-Psalm 72:18 ESV
Daily Reading: Today’s bible reading is Acts 9.
Have you ever written someone off? Have you ever decided someone was just too far gone? I know I have. I would never admit it, but I get in my head sometimes that there are people who will never follow Christ. Acts 9 is the first account of three in the book of Acts about the conversion of Saul. A man we know as Paul. I want to quickly recap the story and then help us think through what Paul’s conversion means to us.
Last Friday, we looked at Stephen’s faithfulness to the end. That story ends with these chilling words: “And Saul approved of his execution.” You can almost see a stern faced man walking away from the scene as Stephen breaths his last breath. If this act alone wasn’t enough, chapter 9 tells us Saul had an aggressive agenda to persecute the church.
“But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest  and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.” (Acts 9:1-2 ESV)
Would you have labeled Saul as “too far gone?” I would have. But not our Lord Jesus. Paul would find out later that God had a plan for him that started before he was born (Gal. 1:15), and one day on the road to Damascus, Jesus stepped in to Saul’s life with transforming power.
“Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him.  And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”  And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.  But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”  The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one.  Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.  And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.” (Acts 9:3-9 ESV)
When he get’s to Damascus, he meets with a cautious, but faithful, disciple of Jesus named Ananias. Through the hands of Ananias, God gives Saul his sight back. Before the end of the chapter, Saul is found preaching the good news of Jesus.
I would like for us to consider two things we can learn from this passage:
First, Jesus has the power to transform anyone’s life. Saul’s name later becomes Paul and he is almost certainly the greatest theologian, evangelist, leader, and preacher the church has ever known. On top of all that, Paul wrote a large portion of our New Testament. From persecuting the church of Jesus to proclaiming the Gospel. Jesus can do that. He does it every day. As we look at others lives, we want to believe Jesus can transform them too. This is why we want to give people Jesus and not rules. Rules can’t change hearts; an encounter with King Jesus can! It’s not Just Saul’s life God can change though. He works his “wonder working power” in all of us who believe. If you trust Christ today, then you too have been transformed. It may not have been as dramatic as Saul’s conversion to Paul, but it is by the same power. Rest in Jesus knowing that your past failures or struggles don’t keep you from doing great things for the Kingdom in the power of Jesus.
Secondly, be faithful like Ananias. He was rightly scared to meet with Paul, but he simply obeyed. Ananias is not spoken of again except for in Paul’s retelling of his conversion story in Acts 22. He’s not a big shot. He’s not a preacher. He’s just a man who’s been transformed. And in an act of mustard seed faith, he trusts God and plays a part in one of the most significant events in the early Church. God uses simple acts of faith every day to build his Kingdom. If I ever get a chance to chat with Ananias in heaven, I want to tell him how much Paul’s writings have blessed me, and I want to thank him for being faithful that night in Damascus. We can learn a lot from this man’s simple act of faith.
Grace & Peace.