Daily Bible Reading: 1 Kings 1-2, Luke 19:28-48
Today’s reading in “The Story” is found in your book starting on page 398 (chapter 28) at the transition paragraph and it ends before the transition paragraph on page 401 with the words, “…increased in numbers.”
If you do not have “The Story” you may read the passages in the NIV Bible: Acts 7:51-60; 8:1-8; 9:1-31.
Yesterday we read about how Stephen bore up under the false accusations of those who desired to do him harm, because he was preaching and teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Ultimately, we read today, Stephen was taken forcefully out of the city and stoned to death. But even as he died he begged God to forgive those who were doing him harm. He forgave them for their wrongdoing and asked God to forgive them, too!
Out of this event, we see the story of the conversion of Saul, who became the Apostle Paul. Paul made a complete turn around for the Gospel! What an amazing story of how God took someone who had been persecuting His church and turned him around into one of the greatest witnesses of Christ the world has ever known!
With the cessation of the persecution of the church under Saul, Acts 9:31 tells us “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.” Paul’s turnaround for Jesus allowed the Gospel to be spread more quickly than it had ever been previously outside of Pentecost!
God encouraged the whole early Christian church through Paul’s conversion. People marveled at how God could use one of the greatest enemies of the church and turn him into one of the greatest and most effective witnesses of the Gospel that the world has ever known.
This was such a miracle that even the original disciples who were in Jerusalem were cautious. They had their doubts about whether this could really happen. So scared were they, that it took the convincing of Barnabas, whom they knew to be a true believer, to convince them to even speak with Paul!
Here we see a great example of the power of God’s word in the hearts of people! Saul became Paul and was an advocate for the Gospel, after having been its chief persecutor. This is a miracle that rivals any physical healing that ever happened, or any material miracle like changing water into wine, or walking on water. This change of heart by Jesus within the soul of Paul is one of the greatest miracles of faith ever written in the annuls of the scriptures!
And what’s even more amazing, is that this miracle of changing hearts and turning people around for Jesus is the great work of the Holy Spirit that takes place today. Each and every day, through the word of God from the scriptures and the witness of God’s people to those who do not yet know Him, hearts are being changed and the miracle of faith is being realized at home, in our communities, across our country and around the world!
Today, we can be a part of this great faith miracle. We can share our faith with others by being a godly example of love and compassion. We can also witness by telling someone about how Jesus has changed our lives. Don’t miss the opportunity to help someone turn around to Jesus! Bless them today!
Prayer: Jesus, you did an amazing miracle in the heart of Saul by bringing him to faith through the work of the Holy Spirit. Help me to be an active part of working for the spread of the Gospel by sharing You with someone today. Amen.