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

Acts 9:19-31

19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Saul in Damascus and Jerusalem
Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. 20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, "Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name?And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?" 22 Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.
23 After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him, 24 but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. 25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.
26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews,[a] but they tried to kill him.30 When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.


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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