At a recent dinner an elder was telling a story and at the end of it a community member’s name was mentioned. The name brought a lot of eye rolling and growling. Someone shot up and said, “Oh, did you hear? He is now an online Preacher”.
That got everyone in an uproar. They couldn’t believe it. A quick response was “Well, if it is listening to him that will get me to heaven, then it just won’t be happening!” The elder noted that the man had made a public apology on the community television channel and a radio station for all of his sins and as such we should all forgive. I remained silent.
I wasn’t silent because I agreed or disagreed. My silence was in prayer for this man who sinned, was persecuted for his crimes, came out of jail and couldn’t hold a job and then became an online preacher.
I prayed for God’s strength to not judge. I was compassionate to this man who gave his life to Christ and was doing HIS work.
As I went home this was still heavy on my heart. And I felt the Lord saying to me… “Remember Saul”.
Saul was notoriously known to persecute Christians. Hearing his name brought terror to the Christian community. When God stopped Saul on that Damascus road and changed his life forever, he was giving the name of Paul and was one of the greatest apostles of God’s Kingdom. Except for Jesus, no one else shaped the history of Christianity like the apostle Paul. At first the people doubted Paul and many tried to kill him. God had plans though for Paul and bringing glory to Christ Kingdom.
“Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” ….and after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah. After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him,… When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple.” Acts 9:1-6, 19-23, 26
God’s mercy and grace is such an amazing thing. God alone knows the heart and is able to forgive. He uses the least of us so that HE may be glorified.
Thought: Think of someone you know who you feel may be the last person God would ever use to preach HIS gospel. Pray for that individual and yourself = God may be calling YOU to lead them to HIM.
Prayer: Merciful and compassionate Father, your great wisdom we cannot fathom or attain. When we hear you voice Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” May I ever be ready and mindful to say “Here am I. Send me!”