Unstoppable! 'Intent on Destruction' — Acts 9:1-2

Sunday, May 8, 2022

ToGather: Right Side Up

This week our focus is on living by the Kingdom of God standards.

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Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord's followers. So he went to the high priest. He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them — both men and women — back to Jerusalem in chains.
— Acts 9:1-2 NLT

Key Thought

Saul* was passionate about his work as a rabbi. He zealously protected the holiness of God and the truth about God's Christ, the Messiah of Israel, as he understood them. He surpassed his peers in his passion for honoring God and protecting the holy things of Israel. Saul had helped oversee Stephen's execution by stoning. His involvement in Stephen's execution worked to inflame his anger for all those who believed in Jesus because he thought Jesus was a blasphemer. He considered all Christians his enemies, people he must stop. He was intent on the annihilation of the Jesus movement. Before his trip to Damascus, he didn't know that the Christian movement and message were as unstoppable as the Messiah!

* The story about Saul (later called Paul) in the first part of chapter 9 gives a hint of Luke's upcoming middle section of the book of Acts. The middle section transfers focus from Peter to Saul/Paul and away from Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria (Acts 1:8) to the rest of the Mediterranean world. Here is our approach to Luke's outline of Acts:
Spirit-Empowered Witnesses to the World
Jesus' Ongoing Work through the Holy Spirit to Accomplish Mission 1.8 (Acts 1:8)
Growing into Mission 1.8: chaps. 1-9 — (Focus on Jerusalem) {Time of Peter}
Deciding for Mission 1.8: chaps. 10-15 — (Focus on Antioch) {Time of Transition}
Carrying out Mission 1.8: chaps. 16-28 — (Focus on Ephesus & Rome) {Time of Paul}

Today's Prayer

Father, thank you for the story of Saul of Tarsus, who was a hater of Christians and the Christ but who became the apostle of grace for all people, later known as Paul. O Holy Spirit, drive the truth of this transformation deep into the marrow of my bones and the depths of my soul. Inspire me to believe that any person who comes to Jesus can experience a complete transformation. Don't let this faith wane. I want to believe any person can come to Jesus, and I want to act with graciousness toward anyone who comes. I ask for this help in Jesus' name. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Acts 22:3-5, 19-20, 26:4-11
  • Philippians 3:1-6; 1 Timothy 1:12-17

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Illustration

Illustration of Acts 9:1-2 NLT — Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord's followers. So he went to the high priest. He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them — both men and women — back to Jerusalem in chains.

About This Devotional

Unstoppable! is a one-year devotional guide through the book of Acts. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage, a reflection and a prayer. The reflection opens up the day's scripture and shows how it challenges one to live for Jesus.

Unstoppable! is written by Phil Ware.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.