Acts is so packed that it’s hard to write about everything I want in my limited time, so I decided to focus on Saul/Paul through the mentioned chapters. I tried to put a shorter verses on here but I would definitely encourage a read-through as well 🙂
Side note: the verse I quoted in my cover photo is about Saul too so I figured I’d use it for this post too x)
Saul was such an interesting person because of the transformations he went through in the book of Acts. He was a terrible man who persecuted Christians and had his heart set on breaking churches apart, and we see this image in Acts 8:1-3 where he even allows the execution of poor Stephen who just wanted to preach the Gospel!
But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. – Acts 8:3
When we reach Acts 9 we start to see how Jesus breaks him apart and gives him a new perspective to life. God literally blinds him and then tells him what he needs to do.
… “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And [Saul] 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.” – Acts 9:4-6
Saul’s obedience here is something we take for granted. How was he able to turn his life around completely in a matter of days, even seconds? If it’s hard enough to make certain life choices in a short period of time, how much more difficult do you think it must have been to go from a persecutor of Christ to a disciple of Christ? His change of heart is just the beginning. Jesus shares his intentions with Ananias;
… “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” – Acts 9:15-16
Saul isn’t mentioned in Acts 10 but it’s hard to believe what’s being told to Peter is totally irrelevant.
And the voice came to [Peter] again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” – Acts 10:15
It’s the transition from the Law of Moses to the New Covenant. We’re being told what the Holy Spirit is capable of (and it’s capable of saving anyone), we’re being told that not only can we eat shrimp (gotta love this one), but that the Holy Spirit is for Gentiles (non-Jewish people) too! The Holy Spirit is for broken people like you and I, it’s for people like Saul.
Saul begins his travels with Barnabas to share the Gospel elsewhere in Acts 13, where he gives his words of encouragement (Acts 13:17-41). There’s a lot of things that are going on but I felt more convicted by Acts 14 and didn’t want to write toooo much! Acts 14:19-22:
But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned [Saul] and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom..
What is motivating Saul to return to all these places where people wanted him dead?
He performs miracles in Lystra, ends up getting stoned in Lystra, and then not only does he return to Lystra, he returns to Iconium and Antioch, the cities where the Jews that stoned him came from. What gives?
Remember Saul’s past.
Remember that he, too, was once the persecutor. I can only imagine what he felt towards these people that were as lost as he once was, and I can only imagine the hope he hung onto in the midst of it all. To be on the receiving end of the suffering he made others go through, it must have broke his heart and given him all the more strength to persevere.
We all have different ways we’ve experienced Christ, different views, different stories, and often I catch myself in envy of others who just seem to have it all … together. I like to wish I hadn’t gone through this or that, or that I could abandon certain characteristics. It really shouldn’t be like that, and it’s comforting to know that God has given all of this to you as a gift, not a curse.
Don’t sulk in the shadow of your past. Walk forward and remember that his power is made perfect in weakness.
Michael “The Power of Christ will Saul-ve anything” Ru