Evangelism

Boldness

This devotional is written by John Holden-White. John is an actor, Family Guy and part of St Mary's furniture.

Acts 9:19-31

19 Afterward he ate some food and regained his strength.

Saul in Damascus and Jerusalem

Saul stayed with the believers in Damascus for a few days. 20 And immediately he began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, "He is indeed the Son of God!"

21 All who heard him were amazed. "Isn't this the same man who caused such devastation among Jesus' followers in Jerusalem?" they asked. "And didn't he come here to arrest them and take them in chains to the leading priests?"

22 Saul's preaching became more and more powerful, and the Jews in Damascus couldn't refute his proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. 23 After a while some of the Jews plotted together to kill him. 24 They were watching for him day and night at the city gate so they could murder him, but Saul was told about their plot. 25 So during the night, some of the other believers[b] lowered him in a large basket through an opening in the city wall.

26 When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the believers, but they were all afraid of him. They did not believe he had truly become a believer! 27 Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus.

28 So Saul stayed with the apostles and went all around Jerusalem with them, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He debated with some Greek-speaking Jews, but they tried to murder him. 30 When the believers[c] heard about this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus, his hometown.

31 The church then had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it became stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the Lord. And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers.

Reflection

Within days of being filled with the Holy Spirit and receiving his sight, Saul was known for proclaiming Jesus in the synagogues of Damascus and declaring that "He is the Son of God". Quite a turnaround! In Jerusalem he preached Christ boldly, disputing with the Hellenists who, like the Jews in Damascus, soon wanted him dead.

Now, I don't know about you, but this approach doesn't sit with me very comfortably. I remember a friend telling me not so long ago, that whilst he knew that I was a Christian, he was pleased that I was not in the habit of ramming it down his throat as others do. I did not receive this as a compliment and invited him to a Life Supper the following week.

Many of us can remember excitedly sharing with friends and loved ones the joy of receiving the Holy Spirit – coming to faith in Jesus, perhaps even accompanied by some miraculous outward sign. Some of us are still red-hot and eager for any opportunity to share a new-found love and knowledge of Jesus but for others, that honeymoon phase is over and day-to-day life gets in the way of that easy flow of "EVANGELISM".

Yet Paul (Saul) is relentless! This was just the beginning. He epitomises zeal, embraces opposition and shares the gospel wherever he is led or forced to go. He is uncompromising and must have been a difficult bloke to work with at times! But it is Jesus that powers him - "To live is Christ" (Phil 1:21). Paul lived to magnify Jesus, to be fruitful in his labours for Christ and obedient to His call. I would like to grow into this understanding.

Pray: Thank you, Jesus, for making yourself known to me. Renew in me the joy and the passion of that day when I first believed in your name and received you as my Saviour and King, father and brother, best friend and lover of my soul. My God. Lead me by the inspiration of your Spirit to share your amazing love with the world.

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