VIDEO The Damascus Road – Paul’s Conversion

The Damascus Road

As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Acts 9:3

On a journey home from the University of Erfurt, where 21-year-old Martin Luther studied law, a frightening thunderstorm suddenly enveloped him. A lightning bolt flashed and struck so close that Martin, petrified, cried out, “Saint Anne, help me! I will become a monk.” Shortly thereafter, he entered an Augustinian monastery and eventually traveled to the little town of Wittenberg to teach at the university. His mentor, Johann von Staupitz, assigned him the books of Romans and Galatians. While studying, Luther’s eyes were opened to the true Gospel message—salvation by grace through faith. This discovery was a Damascus Road experience for him, and he devoted his life to advancing the cause of the Gospel.

We’re often on the road to life as we design it when God intervenes with storms, lightning bolts, mentors, and the Gospel message. Every one of us needs a Damascus Road experience. It may not be as dramatic as Paul’s or Luther’s, but we need a moment in our life when we understand and receive the Gospel.

No one is the same after an encounter with God. His Living Word changes everything!

The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me. Martin Luther


Conversion of St Paul

 

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Phone Zone

Pray continually. 1 Thessalonians 5:17

One of the benefits of cell phones is that we now have virtually unlimited access to others. As a result, many people talk on the phone or text even while driving—sometimes resulting in terrible car crashes. To avoid such disasters, many areas of the world have made distracted driving illegal. In the United States, highway signs are popping up to remind drivers of special cell phone zones where they can pull off the road to safely talk and text to their heart’s delight.

While it is a good idea to restrict mobile phone communication for drivers, there is another kind of communication that has no restrictions: prayer. God invites us to call on Him whether we are coming, going, or sitting still. In the New Testament, Paul’s words advise each person who wants to communicate with God to “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Paul brackets this divine open-door policy by encouraging us to “rejoice always” (v. 16) and to “give thanks in all circumstances” (v. 18). God calls us to joy and thanksgiving—expressions of faith in God through Christ anchored in continual prayer.

God is available for a quick cry or for a lengthy conversation. 

God is available for our quick cry or for a lengthy conversation. He welcomes us into a relationship with Him, a constant and endless sharing of our joys and gratitude, needs, questions, and concerns (Hebrews 4:15–16). We are always in the prayer zone.

I’m grateful, Lord, that You want to hear from me. I need You today.

Access to God’s throne is always open.

By Bill Crowder 

INSIGHT

As in today’s text, we find helpful teaching on prayer in Luke 18:1–8. The parable of the persistent widow contrasts the widow’s plight and a believer’s privilege. In this parable, the widow perseveres in getting an unjust judge to give her the justice she needs.

Like the widow, we’re desperately helpless. But unlike the widow, who is a stranger to the judge, we’re God’s beloved children (Romans 8:16). The widow went to a court of law claiming man’s laws, but we approach the throne of grace claiming God’s promises (Hebrews 4:14–16). The callous judge didn’t care, but our heavenly Father cares deeply for us (1 Peter 5:7). She didn’t have easy access to the judge, but we have unhindered “access to the Father” (Ephesians 2:18). “Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence” to talk with our Father and to ask for His help any time (Ephesians 3:12 nlt).

How does knowing we can talk with God “face to face, as one speaks to a friend” (Exodus 33:11) encourage you in your prayers?

K. T. Sim

One Man Worthy of Our Praise

Matthew 8:23-27

The men traveling with Jesus on a stormy Galilean night said something that ought to make us sit up and take notice: “What kind of a man is this … ?” If we ask ourselves that same question, we will start to see the big picture of who Jesus Christ is instead of concentrating on the facets of His personality revealed by individual stories.

Imagine the wind—which had been funneled through a narrow gorge—pushing out over the Sea of Galilee, making the water turbulent. Jesus and His disciples were caught in just such a dangerous storm while making their way to Gadara. As waves crashed over the deck of the boat, the experienced seamen onboard were convinced that death was imminent.

But Jesus was sleeping. He was resting quietly during a storm so frightening that the Greek word used to describe it is seismos—from the same root that gives us the phrase “seismic activity” for earthquakes. What kind of man is this who can sleep while the boat heaves and pitches? The answer is that as the One who created the seas, Jesus knows how a storm brews and what energy causes a wave to stay in motion. That’s the kind of man He is: a divine Being cloaked in humanity, who rebuked the winds and sea so they became perfectly calm.

Scripture indicates that both the air and the water were instantly stilled. Such is the power of Jesus, the Creator and Lord over the universe. Taken together, all the Bible stories about Jesus reveal the “big picture” that He is the only man worthy of glory, honor, and praise (Revelation 5:12).

There Is Much Yet to Do

“Now Joshua was old and stricken in years; and the LORD said unto him, Thou art old and stricken in years, and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed.” (Joshua 13:1)

There is no set “retirement age” for the Christian, for there is always “yet very much land to be possessed.” Joshua had survived 40 years in the wilderness, then led in the long hard conquest of Canaan, and was now at least 80 years of age. Not only was he “old and stricken in years,” but God even told him he was old! But instead of allowing him to settle down to enjoy a few retirement years in his hard-won new home, God sent Joshua out once again for further conquests.

That must always be the case with those who love and serve the Lord. There is still much Scripture to study and learn, many people yet to reach with a gospel witness, many with whom to share God’s love and comfort, much money yet to be earned to give to missions. Even those who must retire from active service or become confined at home still have much praying to accomplish.

No one who knows the redemptive love of Jesus Christ is ever too old to possess more “land” for the Lord. “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing” (Psalm 92:12-14).

Old age eventually comes to everyone who survives youth and middle age, but that does not mean it is time to quit. “O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come” (Psalm 71:17-18). HMM

Thou art my God, I will exalt thee

Psalm 118

It would appear from the chapter which we last read that the singers at the founding of the temple sang—Psalm 118.

Psalm 118:1-5

Out of the Babylonish captivity had they come to the freedom of their own land, beneath the patronage of Cyrus.

Psalm 118:7

For there were such: the Samaritans and other envious neighbours looked on with jealous eyes.

Psalm 118:8-12

Faith is more than a conqueror, and sings a song of victory before the battle is over.

Psalm 118:17

Israel was not quite dead: the nation would yet revive: even in her ashes lived her wonted fires.

Psalm 118:23

Thus, as they looked on their once despised leader, they were led to sing in mystic prophecy of Jesus, the Messiah, who is now to us our chief corner-stone.

Psalm 118:26

They blessed the priest, and the priest returned the benediction, and then they proceeded to sacrifice.

Psalm 118:27-29

Let us treasure up this golden sentence, and when we are in any difficulty or trouble let us at once repair to Him, whose mercy endureth for ever.

 

Praise ye the Lord, how kind, how nigh!

His mercy fills eternity.

Let Israel now adoring cry,

“His mercy fills eternity.”

 

Let Aaron’s line new anthems try,

“His mercy fills eternity,”

Who fear the Lord, sing deep and high,

“His mercy fills eternity.”

 

Thou art my God, ’tis thee I praise;

My Lord, on high thy name. I raise;

Praise to the Lord, for good is he,

“His mercy fills eternity.”

 

Godhead, Forever One

Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. (Luke 23:46)

When Christ Jesus died on that unholy, fly-infested cross for mankind, He never divided the Godhead! We are assured from the earliest church fathers that the Father in heaven, His eternal Son, and the Holy Ghost are forever One—inseparable, indivisible—and can never be anything else.

Not all of Nero’s swords could ever cut down through the substance of the Godhead to cut off the Father from the Son.

It was Mary’s son who cried out, “Why hast Thou forsaken me?” It was the human body which God had given Him. It was the sacrifice that cried—the lamb about to die! The Son of Man knew himself forsaken. God dumped that vast, filthy, slimy mass of human sin on the soul of the Savior—and then backed away.

Believe it that the ancient and timeless Deity was never separated. He was still in the bosom of the Father when He cried, “Into Thy hands I commend my spirit!”

Little wonder that we are amazed and marvel every day at the wonder of the ancient theology of the Christian church!

 

Giving Without A Whisper

“But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: that thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.” Matt. 6:3, 4

No promise is made to those who give to the poor to be seen of men. They have their reward at once, and cannot expect to be paid twice.

Let us hide away our charity; — yes, hide it even from ourselves. Give so often and so much as a matter of course, that you no more take note that you have helped the poor than that you have eaten your regular meals. Do your alms without even whispering to yourself, “How generous I am!” Do not thus attempt to reward yourself. Leave the matter with God, who never fails to see, to record, and to reward. Blessed is the man who is busy in secret with his kindness: he finds a special joy in his unknown benevolences. This is the bread, which eaten by stealth, is sweeter than the banquets of kings. How can I indulge myself today with this delightful luxury? Let me have a real feast of tenderness and flow of soul.

Here and hereafter the Lord, Himself, will personally see to the rewarding of the secret giver of alms. This will be in His own way and time; and He will choose the very best. How much this promise means it will need eternity to reveal.

 

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