Have you ever said, “if it had been a snake, it would have bitten me,” after looking for something and finding it right in front of you? Researchers call this phenomenon Intentional Blindness. It’s when you are so focused on something that there could be an elephant in the room, and you wouldn’t see it. As I was reading this sermon’s text, I wondered if Jesus had chosen a less remarkable way of reaching Saul, would Saul have paid attention. I don’t think he would have because I believe that Saul had intentional blindness. He was so intent on persecuting Christians that Jesus had to be dramatic.
The conversion of Saul is probably the most famous conversion ever made. Every believer has heard the story of Saul’s transformation, and most know far more details of it than they do of the Ethiopian we talked of the week before last. I thought I knew this story, but God showed me a new way to look at it this week. While I generally love it when that happens, he two-stepped over my toes and onto my heart this time.
Sunday, October 9
“1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 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. ”
Thank you, Lord, for your mercy and grace that goes with me. Help me remember that we breathe out what we breathe into ourselves. Let me be an instrument of your peace where those around me inhale your peace. In the name of Jesus, we pray, Amen.
Monday, October 10
“3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
Today and every day, we praise you, Lord (Psalm 145:2.) Help us remember that Jesus lives in all believers. When we speak harshly or condemn others, we are talking to and condemning not only another person but also Jesus. He is in them just as He is in us. Thank you for your grace, and may we always show your grace to others. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.
Tuesday, October 11
“7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 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. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything. ”
Lord, our mouths speak in praise of you! (Psalm 145:19) Father, forgive us when we are blind to you and your workings in our lives. Sometimes we do not see your light or hear your voice. Yet, you remain constant and faithful even when we are not. Open our eyes to see you and our ears to hear you. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.
Wednesday, October 12
“10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered. 11 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. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.” 13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” ”
Praise to you, our Creator and Lord! It can be hard to discern what you want me to do. Not because you aren’t clear, but because it can be very different from what I think is good for me or, if I’m honest, what I want to do. Forgive me when I use excuses instead of being obedient to the way you are leading me. As your child, you know I can be stubborn, hard-headed, and determined that I know your plan without ever really taking the time to listen to what you want. Help me listen for your still, small voice that brings peace to my soul. I pray this in the name of your Son and our Savior Jesus, Amen
Thursday, October 13
15 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. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” 17 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.”
My soul glorifies you, Lord, and my spirit rejoices in Jesus my Saviour (Luke 1:46-47.) Lord, many, including each one praying this prayer, jump up to “go” when we hear your call. But often, when we realize how hard the life you call us to is, we slip back into our old selves. Not only do we fail to show others Jesus in us, but we also fail to see Jesus in them. Forgive us, Lord; forgive me. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen
Friday, October 14
“18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus.
Praise to you, Lord, for your greatness! (Psalm 150:2) Thank you for the example Saul gives to us. He shows us that after his personal encounter with Jesus, he still had much to learn about your ways. Forgive us when we choose to do something else instead of gathering with other disciples to learn about you. Lord, reignite our desire to gather to learn, pray and fellowship with others in your house. In Jesus’ holy name, we pray, Amen.
Saturday, October 15
Praise the Lord! Soon we will gather to give thanks in our congregation! (Psalm 11:1) Lord, there is nothing like gathering with our brothers and sisters to praise and worship you. Bless us with a restful night as our hearts turn to you. Clear our minds of earthly things and fill our souls with your Spirit. Bless the one bringing your message tomorrow with your peace as they tell us what you have laid on their hearts. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.