Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Conversion’

Almost Is Not Good Enough

Focus verses: Acts 25:23-26:29

Paul tells his story time and again. In fact, from the testimony in his trials, we should be able to assume that this is the message he preaches when he talks to the people. Conversion after conversion follows Paul in all his travels.

But in Jerusalem, he is prosecuted as a trouble maker. He stands trial three times, before Felix, before Agrippa, and before Festus. Each time he tells the same story of his life as a Pharisee, his encounter on the road to Damascus, and his life after his encounter with Jesus.

In fact, Agrippa is so moved by his testimony that he says he is almost persuaded (KJV) to become as Paul is.

Paul’s reason for appealing to Rome for his trial is not told here, but it would seem reasonable that he was playing for time, more opportunities to speak his piece in front of gentiles. At least that is the effect it had.

But what has this to do with us? Today there are people with a nebulous sense of God. Many people pray in times of crisis. But whether we have had a dramatic encounter like Paul’s on the road to Damascus, or simply a growing in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, some of us are not truly Christian.

We are almost persuaded by our intellect, but we have not made the commitment that Paul has made. We have not put telling the story of Jesus at the head of our to-do list each day. We are his witnesses in this world. Our need to defend our faith in Him should be the motivation for all we do and say.

We cannot be a sometimes Christian. We must not be a pseudo-Christian. We must be fully committed to Christ alone. Our fidelity to Him must be foremost in our lives.

Father, God,

Help us to put You first in our lives. Keep us from being distracted by this world. Grant that we may serve You completely, wholly committed to spreading the good news of Jesus and Your love for us.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
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Almost Is Not Good Enough

Focus verses: Acts 25:23-26:29

Paul tells his story time and again. In fact, from the testimony in his trials, we should be able to assume that this is the message he preaches when he talks to the people. Conversion after conversion follows Paul in all his travels.

But in Jerusalem, he is prosecuted as a trouble maker. He stands trial three time, before Felix, before Agrippa, and before Festus. Each time he tells the same story of his life as a Pharisee, his encounter on the road to Damascus, and his life after his encounter with Jesus.

In fact, Agrippa is so moved by his testimony that he says he is almost persuaded (KJV) to become as Paul is.

Paul’s reason for appealing to Rome for his trial is not told here, but it would seem reasonable that he was playing for time, more opportunities to speak his piece in front of gentiles. At least that is the effect it had.

But what has this to do with us? Today there are people with a nebulous sense of God. Many people pray in times of crisis. But whether we have had a dramatic encounter like Paul’s on the road to Damascus, or a simply a growing in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, some of us are not truly Christian.

We are almost persuaded by our intellect, but we have not made the commitment that Paul has made. We have not put telling the story of Jesus at the head of our to-do list each day. We are his witnesses in this world. Our need to defend our faith in Him should be the motivation for all we do and say.

We cannot be a sometimes Christian. We must not be a pseudo-Christian. We must be fully committed to Christ alone. Our fidelity to Him must be foremost in our lives.

Father, God,

Help us to put You first in our lives. Keep us from being distracted by this world. Grant that we may serve You completely, wholly committed to spreading the good news of Jesus and Your love for us.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

About Face

Focus verses: Acts 9:1-22

When we last saw Saul, he was participating in the stoning of Stephen. Saul was a second generation Pharisee. He seems to have had a position in the Temple at Jerusalem. He was diametrically opposed to the followers of the new Way.

While on his way to Damascus searching for followers of Jesus to bring them back to Jerusalem for trial and punishment, he literally saw the Light. That Light blinded him for three days. He was led to Damascus and spent those three days in fasting and prayer.

Then the Lord sent Ananias to him for healing and baptism.

Ananias was not eager to go to Saul. He had heard Saul’s reputation and knew that Saul had authority to arrest all who called on the name of Jesus. He went because he was told that Saul was God’s chosen instrument to carry the word to the Gentiles.

When he went he did not rebuke Saul. He called him “brother.” He laid hands on Saul, restoring his sight. Then Paul spent some time with the disciples in Damascus, presumably talking and learning.

As a Pharisee, Saul would have been familiar with all the Old Testament. It would not have been a far leap for the disciples to speak of Jesus and Paul to have seen the fulfillment of prophesy in His life.

But the people in general were skeptical. They knew his reputation – and his deeds. They didn’t believe his conversion. He had to prove it to them.

How often do we do this to others? We know who people are – or at least what kind of people they have been. Then there is a change in their lives, but we keep them in the old pigeon hole where we had cataloged them. We don’t accept their change, and therefore we make the change difficult for them.

Look at the grace of Ananias. He called Saul his brother. He didn’t do this in his own strength. He extended the grace of God.

Father, God,

Grant us the wisdom to keep from pigeon holing people in predetermined molds. Help us to extend Your grace to all who would follow you regardless of their past.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.