Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Pharisee’

Paul Tells All

Focus verses: Acts 21:40-22:21

We have been told of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus when he became Paul the apostle. Here we have it in his own words.

First he speaks to the priests and rabbis as one who was trained as they were. He is a Pharisee and the son of a Pharisee. He studied under one of their most respected teachers. He knew and kept the laws of Moses.

Then he simply tells the facts of how he met Jesus on the road to Damascus and where he went after that.

He doesn’t gloss over the fact that he was present as an instigator at the stoning of Stephen. He isn’t proud of it, either. It is a fact, and he relates it as such.

Then he tells them he was sent to the gentiles because the Israelites would not not accept his teaching.

While he is speaking, the mob is quiet. He is speaking to them in Aramaic, their own tongue.

We could emulate this example when speaking to others about our faith. There are several evangelistic principles contained herein.

First, speak to your hearers in language they understand. Keep it simple. You need not speak in polysyllabic philosophical terms or use esoteric Christian terminology. Tell it so a child of six could understand.

Second, tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Some people can wrap their silver tongues around a lie and entice you to believe it. But those lies will out at some point or another. Truth is the basis for a relationship with God. You can’t pull the wool over His eyes. He knows all about you, and He loves you in spite of it.

Third, you take them from what you believed at first to what you believe now, tracing your personal journey so that they can follow along. What convinced you may just convince them.

This journey is all we have to convince others of Jesus. We simply make the introduction and let Jesus take it from there. This is simple evangelism.

You are not responsible for the reactions of those to whom you speak. You cannot change anyone. What you can do is share the truth. Leave the rest to God. He will bring forth the fruit of your labors.

Father, God,

Keep us ready at all times to explain the hope that is within us. Give us open hearts and truthful tongues. Let us not get so caught up in our story that we lose the focus of Jesus’ story.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.
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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.

And We Begin

Focus verses: John 3:1-21

The last half of the first chapter of John tells of the calling of some of the disciples. Chapter two recounts the first miracle at Cana and His driving the moneychangers out of the temple.

Chapter three begins where He teaches Nicodemus, the Pharisee, about being born again – that is born of the spirit. And it is in this teaching that we find the verse that new Christians often memorize early in their walk with the Lord.

John 3:16 is a powerful verse. And it is all inclusive. “Whoever” means anyone at any time in any place. You can substitute any person’s name in place of “whoever” and “the world” as you read this verse, and it is absolutely true. Try it with your name in place of “whoever” and “the world.”

For God so loved me that he gave his one and only Son, that if I believe in him I shall not perish but have eternal life.

Wow! That’s powerful. But when you add John 3:17 to it, it becomes even more powerful. It tells you why Jesus was born. His purpose was our salvation. His birth, death and resurrection were designed for our benefit, our eternal good.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn me, but to save me through him.

And the plan is the same whether there are multitudes of people – or only one. If you had been the only person on earth, Jesus would have done it all just for you.

You see, God loves each of us as if there were only one of us. And there is. He created each of us as individuals – no two exactly alike, even identical twins. You are the only you He created. You are His “only child.”

Father, God,

We thank You for Your provision for our salvation. We are grateful that Christ was sent to us to redeem us back to fellowship with You. Grant that we may walk ever closer and closer to Your heart.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.