Before he encountered Christ, Paul has been somewhat of a hero among the Pharisees...
Blue-blooded and wild-eyed, this young zealot was hellbent on keeping the kingdom pure--and that meant keeping the Christians out. He marched through the countryside like a general demanding that backslidden Jews salute the flag of the mother-land or kiss their family and hopes good-bye.
All this came to a halt, however, on the shoulder of a highway...That's when someone slammed on the stadium lights, and he heard the voice.
When he found out whose voice it was, he jaw hit the ground, and his body followed. He braced himself for the worst. He knew it was all over . . . He prayed that death would be quick and painless.
But all he got was silence and befuddled in a borrowed bedroom. God left him there a few days with scales on his eyes so thick that the only direction he could look was inside himself. And he didn't like what he saw.
He saw himself for what he really was --to use his own words, the worst of sinners.
. . . Alone in the room with his sins on his conscience and blood on his hands, he asked to be cleansed.
. . . The legalist Saul was buried, and the liberator Paul was born. He was never the same afterwards. And neither was the world . . .
The message is gripping: Show a man his failures without Jesus, and result will be found in the roadside gutter. Give a man religion without reminding him of his filthy, and the result will be arrogance in a three-piece suit. But get the two in the same heart --get sin to meet Savior and Savior to meet sin -- and the result just might be another Pharisee turned preacher who sets the world on fire.
READ ACTS 9: 3-26
* Think of a time you have seen God's power revealed in the life of a friend. What happened to that person?
* How would you describe the power of God that was revealed in Saul's life during his conversion experience?
* With which person in Saul's story do you most identify: Saul, Ananias, Saul's companions, or Paul?
* What does Saul's conversion teach you about God?
* Think about your own conversion experience. What are the parallels?
* Think of a time when God used you to encourage someone in his or her faith? What did you do?
* How can you minister to someone who has not yet experienced God saving power?
* What is the most mysterious thing to you about salvation?
The Devotional Bible - Experiencing the Heart of Jesus with Max Lucado, Thomas Nelson Publishers, page 1244
O Holy Night