URC Daily Devotion  1 September 2022

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Thursday 1 September 2022 

Acts 9: 20 – 25

For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus,  and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’  All who heard him were amazed and said, ‘Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem among those who invoked this name? And has he not come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?’  Saul became increasingly more powerful and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Messiah. After some time had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him,  but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night so that they might kill him;  but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.


What a remarkable turnaround!  From previously ‘breathing murderous threats’ against the followers of Jesus; now to proclaiming that Jesus is the ‘Son of God’. If ever there was an example of the Lord’s sovereign power changing a person’s life: this is it. Saul’s conversion is a prime example of divine revelation as an event of God’s Lordship. Saul is over-mastered by Jesus. Divine grace comes to him ‘the worst of sinners’. The fanatical hatred that drove him drains away. He acknowledges Jesus as Lord. He is overwhelmed by unconditional love. Saul is so liberated and emboldened that he begins to proclaim in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God and Messiah. 
But this turnaround is met by a backlash. Those who were most threatened by the followers of Jesus, and saw in the zealous Saul a way to rid themselves of this problem, are now appalled that Saul has become a follower of Jesus. They plot to kill him. However, the Christians of Damascus show that obedience to Jesus’s Lordship is lively and can improvise when required! The innocent doves become as wily as serpents. Some of them lower Saul in a basket through an opening in the city wall by night, and he escapes.
Today, technological advances, media influence, political machinations, and economic necessities all exercise power over and through us. Yet we need neither passively accept nor actively collude with these lordless powers. Like Saul, we can be liberated and emboldened to confess that ‘Jesus is Lord’. Jesus exercises his Lordship through servanthood. Like the Christians of Damascus, we can demonstrate that obedience to Jesus’s Lordship has a lively and improvisational quality. 
Is the Lord prompting you to listen afresh and respond anew today?   


Lord, I need new direction and inspiration. Speak afresh. Breathe anew. Remind me that your commands are not burdensome but liberating. Sing the grounding melody of love and inspire me to improvise my part today, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Today’s writer

The Rev’d Dr Julian Templeton is Minister of St John’s URC, New Barnet

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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