Sunday, March 10, 2013

40-Day Lent Bible Reading Plan (March 10th)

It has been almost four weeks since I decided to read through the New Testament during Lent. Instead of giving something up, I decided to be intentional about adding something. I know some of you are doing this plan or some other intentional plan during this time. How is it going? I would love to hear what you are learning. Sometimes, I feel like an island out here in space. But it is good for my soul to write down some things I have learned through my time in the Word of God.

This past week, I read John 15 through Acts 26. Much of that reading is the history of the early church. I have read it many times in the past. I am actually teaching through the book of Acts during an adult elective class at our church at 9:15 on Sunday mornings. But as I read it again, I was struck by the life change that took place when someone came to faith in Jesus. The easy example of this is the Apostle Paul. He was radically changed by the gospel.

In Acts 9, we see him on his way to Damascus to persecute more Christians. He had just been part of overseeing the death of Stephen and the massive onslaught of persecution of Christians that resulted in the spread of the Christian people. Think about his reputation. He was vocally and visibly in opposition to the name of Jesus. And then God intervenes on that road.

As I read that story once again, I couldn't help but to think about those people traveling with him. What did they think? What went through their minds when they finally arrived in Damascus and Saul was not about the persecution of Christians. In fact, he was to go to a know Christian, Ananias, for healing. And then after he received his sight again, what did he do?
"For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, 'He is the Son of God.' And all who heard him were amazed and said, 'Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests? But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ" (Acts 9:19-22).
Radically changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ! Radically transformed. From a persecutor to a preacher.

His story is certainly the capstone of many in the book of Acts. As I continued to read about the transformation of lives, I couldn't help but to think, "Where's that transformation today? Why do we expect so much less than that when we share the gospel with people today? When someone 'prays to receive Christ' why aren't we shocked when their life does not change?"

I think the story of the book of Acts is that when Jesus intervenes, you are never the same again. Ever!

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