Episode #98. Today we’ll read Acts chapter 9 together. Saul is blinded by a heavenly light, the disciples and apostles are shocked by his transformation, and Peter raises a woman from the dead.
Joy: You’re listening to the Lifting Her Voice podcast, Episode #98. Today we’ll read Acts chapter 9 together: Saul is blinded by a heavenly light; the disciples and apostles are shocked by his transformation; and Peter raises a woman from the dead.
Welcome to the Lifting Her Voice podcast. I’m your host, Joy Miller, and I invite you to grab your Bible and join me as we simply read God’s word together. Some things require discipline and sometimes that’s just not easy to muster by yourself, no matter how badly you want to do it or how much you know you should. It’s just easier to do it with a friend. So refill your coffee or tea, get comfortable in your favorite chair and follow along as I read aloud. I’m so glad you’re here!
Ordinarily, I intro only the book we’re reading. But today, I believe it’s important to introduce a character. What you are about to read in Chapter 9 of the Book of Acts, is pivotal in Church history and a revelation of Jesus’ atoning work on the cross that no one expected. They thought that the Gospel was only for the Jews. Now, I realize Saul was a devout Jew, trained as a strict Pharisee under Gamaliel (Remember him? The old guy who laid wisdom on the Sanhedrin about how to deal with this Jesus movement?). But Jesus had different plans.
Little did Saul or anyone else know that this was the man who would do a complete 180 and ultimately write 13 of the 27 books of the New Testament. That’s right…almost half of the New Testament is made up of letters that Saul – Paul – wrote to the early churches. And it seems a good time to point out that Saul and Paul are the same guy. Saul was his Hebraic name and Paul was his Greek name. His name was not changed like God did to Abraham in the Old Testament. However, I think we can all agree that he did have a change of heart and this is something for us to remember today. The power of Jesus changes lives.
The next time we’re praying for our friends and relatives who need Christ, and it seems like the change is never going to happen, we can let the power of the Holy Spirit spur us on to diligence and endurance.
Acts Chapter 9
The Damascus Road
1Now Saul was still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord. He went to the high priest 2and requested letters from him to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3As he traveled and was nearing Damascus, a light from heaven suddenly flashed around him. 4Falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5“Who are you, Lord?” Saul said. “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting,” he replied. 6“But get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
7The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the sound but seeing no one. 8Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing. So they took him by the hand and led him into Damascus. 9He was unable to see for three days and did not eat or drink.
10There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias, and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” “Here I am, Lord,” he replied. 11 “Get up and go to the street called Straight,” the Lord said to him, “to the house of Judas, and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, since he is praying there. 12In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and placing his hands on him so that he may regain his sight.” 13“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard from many people about this man, how much harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. 14And he has authority here from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
15But the Lord said to him, “Go, for this man is my chosen instrument to take my name to Gentiles, kings, and Israelites. 16I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” 17Ananias went and entered the house. He placed his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road you were traveling, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18At once something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. 19And after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Saul Proclaiming the Messiah
Saul was with the disciples in Damascus for some time. 20Immediately he began proclaiming Jesus in the synagogues: “He is the Son of God.” 21All who heard him were astounded and said, “Isn’t this the man in Jerusalem who was causing havoc for those who called on this name and came here for the purpose of taking them as prisoners to the chief priests?” 22But Saul grew stronger and kept confounding the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah. 23After many days had passed, the Jews conspired to kill him, 24but Saul learned of their plot. So they were watching the gates day and night intending to kill him, 25but his disciples took him by night and lowered him in a large basket through an opening in the wall.
Saul in Jerusalem
26When he arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, since they did not believe he was a disciple. 27Barnabas, however, took him and brought him to the apostles and explained to them how Saul had seen the Lord on the road and that the Lord had talked to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus. 28Saul was coming and going with them in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29He conversed and debated with the Hellenistic Jews, but they tried to kill him. 30When the brothers found out, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
The Church’s Growth
31So the church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.
The Healing of Aeneas
32As Peter was traveling from place to place, he also came down to the saints who lived in Lydda. 33There he found a man named Aeneas, who was paralyzed and had been bedridden for eight years. 34Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and make your bed,” and immediately he got up. 35So all who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.
Dorcas Restored to Life
36In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which is translated Dorcas). She was always doing good works and acts of charity. 37About that time she became sick and died. After washing her, they placed her in a room upstairs. 38Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples heard that Peter was there and sent two men to him who urged him, “Don’t delay in coming with us.” 39Peter got up and went with them.
When he arrived, they led him to the room upstairs. And all the widows approached him, weeping and showing him the robes and clothes that Dorcas had made while she was with them. 40Peter sent them all out of the room. He knelt down, prayed, and turning toward the body said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up. 41He gave her his hand and helped her stand up. He called the saints and widows and presented her alive. 42This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. 43Peter stayed for some time in Joppa with Simon, a leather tanner.
I can so relate to Ananias, can’t you? I’m pretty sure I would have responded to Jesus that same way, as if Jesus was unaware of the havoc that Saul was wreaking in His new church. But I love that Ananias was obedient because it unleashed a whole new dimension of the spreading of the Gospel, which was Jesus’ plan all along. The disciples and apostles in Jerusalem didn’t trust Paul at first either. But good ol’ Barnabas the Encourager was right there to support him and to tell the apostles what bold preaching for Christ Paul had done in Damascus.
Peter wasn’t sitting on his heels either. He was traveling and preaching and ended up in a town called Lydda where he healed a paralyzed man named Aeneas. Because of that miracle, two whole towns believed in Jesus. Likewise, in Joppa when Peter raised Dorcas from the dead, many believed. Not only was the Gospel spreading far and wide, but Peter was positioned for what we’ll read in Chapter 10…another of my favorite stories.
Let’s pray. Lord, how awesome it is to read of Your church constantly on the move and growing. Thank You for calling Paul. Because You did, and because he was obedient to the call and the work and the suffering and the persecution he experienced, I know You. Thank You that the Good News is for all of us. I pray, Lord, that You would give each of us an extra measure of faith and boldness to be Your chosen instruments today. Amen.
Thank you for joining me here today. I pray God will grow in you what has been planted and watered here. In this time of unprecedented struggle worldwide, we can look to God for guidance and comfort. Be sensitive to those in your circle of influence who need a word of encouragement and invite them to join us. If you like this show, it would be great if you give it a five-star review. Don’t forget to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. See you right here tomorrow. Be well!
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible(r), Copyright (c) 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible(r) and CSB(r) are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
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