The Sequel – Day 8

April 15, Wednesday

Saul DamascusMeanwhile, back in Jerusalem, Saul continued his rampage against the Lord’s disciples. Knowing that the Message was spreading, he obtained letters from the High Priest authorizing him to investigate the synagogues in Damascus. His plan was to arrest any followers of the Way, men or women, and haul them back to Jerusalem as prisoners.

Somewhere along the way everything changed. They were not far from Damascus when a blinding light, like lightning, blazed around him and he fell to the ground. Then he heard a voice speaking to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

“Who are You, Lord?” he asked.

“I am Jesus Whom you are persecuting,” was the reply. “But now stand up and go into the city. There you will be told what you must do.”

The rest of the entourage stood there in stunned silence. They too had heard the voice but couldn’t see who was speaking. Saul got up from the ground; but when he opened his eyes, he couldn’t see anything. His companions took him by the hand and led him on into Damascus where he remained sightless for three days. During that time he fasted, having nothing to eat or drink.

One of Jesus’ followers by the name of Ananias lived in Damascus. The Lord appeared to him in a dream and called him by name. “I am here, Lord,” he replied.

Then the Lord said to him, “Get up and go down to Straight Street to the house of Judas. Ask there for a man named Saul from Tarsus. Saul is praying; and I have given him a vision of a man by the name of Ananias coming into the house, placing his hands upon him, and restoring his sight.”

But Ananias replied, “Lord, I have heard about him and all the trouble he has caused the believers in Jerusalem! We’ve heard that he has permission from the chief priests to arrest every one of us who call on Your Name.”

But the Lord said to him, “Go! I have chosen him to be the one who will take My Name to the Gentiles and their kings, as well as to the sons of Israel. And I will show him how much suffering he will endure for My Name’s sake.”

So Ananias made his way to the house. There he laid his hands upon Saul, saying, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you, has sent me here so that your sight may be restored and that you may be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Immediately something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes and he could see again. He got to his feet and was baptized. After eating a meal, he regained his strength. Saul stayed in Damascus for some time, fellowshipping with the believers and preaching in all the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. The Jewish congregation was dumbfounded, saying to one another, “Isn’t this the guy who fought so hard against the Name in Jerusalem?  Didn’t he come here to arrest all who identify with Jesus and take them back the chief priests?” But Saul became increasingly effective in proving that Jesus was the Messiah. The Jews living in Damascus could not refute his claim.

After several days of this the Jews plotted to kill Saul, but he got wind of it and made plans to leave. Guards watched the gates of the city day and night to prevent his escape; so he got some of his disciples to let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a large basket.

Saul returned to Jerusalem and tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him. They couldn’t believe his claim to be a disciple. Barnabas, however, believed him and introduced him to the apostles. He spoke in Saul’s defense, explaining that Saul had seen the Lord on his journey, that the Lord had spoken to him, and that he had spoken in Damascus with great boldness in the Name of Jesus. From that point on, Saul worked alongside them in Jerusalem, preaching fearlessly in the name of the Lord. He used to debate with the Greek-speaking Jews until they made several attempts on his life. Finally the threats prompted the brothers to take Saul to Caesarea and send him off to Tarsus.

Thus began a season of relative peace for the church as it became established throughout the region. The number of believers increased, and they continued in great reverence for the Lord and enjoyed the companionship of the Holy Spirit.

Psalm 57

AdullumBackstory: 1 Samuel 24 Written by David when he was running for his life from Saul. This Psalm was composed in the back of a cave.

O God, have mercy, have mercy on me
You are my Refuge, to You I must flee
Under the shadow of Your wings I’ll hide
And as the storm passes, with You I’ll abide.

I cry out to God, the Most High, in this test
He’s sure to come through for He knows what is best
He’ll send down salvation from heaven above
Destroy all my foes in His mercy and love.

Fire-breathing dragons and lions surround
Men with sharp teeth and mean words do abound
Meanwhile in heaven God reigns over all
His glory shines brightest when on Him we call.

The wicked lay traps and dig pits for my soul
But then their foot slips and they fall in the hole
My heart remains steadfast just trusting in You
That’s why I can sing e’en when troubles ensue.

Morning has come and it’s time to awake
I’ll take up my harp and sweet music I’ll make
Among all the nations I’ll thank Adonai
Whose great grace and truth extend to the sky.

O God, I exalt You, declare Your great worth
I would that Your glory be o’er all the earth!
O God, I exalt You, declare Your great worth
I would that Your glory be o’er all the earth!

© 2014 J Dan Small

Psalm 52

AhimelechBackstory: 1 Samuel 22 (Saul is seeking to kill David)
Saul Slays the Priests of Nob after Doeg reveals their support of David as recorded here:
…8″For all of you have conspired against me so that there is no one who discloses to me when my son makes a covenant with the son of Jesse, and there is none of you who is sorry for me or discloses to me that my son has stirred up my servant against me to lie in ambush, as it is this day.” 9Then Doeg the Edomite, who was standing by the servants of Saul, said, “I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub. 10″He inquired of the LORD for him, gave him provisions, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.”…

Why do you boast of evil plots
You worker of deceit?
You have no clue that God above
Extends His steadfast love.

Your sharpened tongue seeks to destroy
Loves evil more than good
Devouring people day and night
Not speaking what is right.

But God will strike you down for good
He’ll tear you from your tent
Uproot you from your earthly home
No longer free to roam.

The righteous will observe and laugh
And this is what they’ll say,
“The man who will not trust in God
Relies on a façade.

“He trusted in his own great wealth
And on his evil plots
He would not call on God to save
His hopes lie in the grave.”

But I am like an olive tree
Within the house of God
His steadfast love fore’er I trust
That’s how I stay robust.

Forever I will thank you, God
For what You’ve done for me
And to the saints I will proclaim
My hope in Your good Name.

© 2014 J Dan Small