Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the thoughts and words of this reading that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
Acts 26:12-18 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Paul Tells of His Conversion
12 “With this in mind, I was traveling to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests, 13 when at midday along the road, your Excellency,[a] I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and my companions. 14 When we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew[b] language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It hurts you to kick against the goads.’ 15 I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ The Lord answered, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But get up and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you to serve and testify to the things in which you have seen me[c] and to those in which I will appear to you. 17 I will rescue you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you 18 to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
Acts 26:12-18 is one of the accounts of Paul’s dramatic conversion experience on the road to Damascus. He went from being a persecutor of the Church to a passionate missionary proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ to anyone who would listen. Sometimes we assume that people can’t change, don’t we? We even have expressions for that belief, like “A leopard can’t change its spots.” (That actually comes from the Bible, Jeremiah 13:23)
Is that true? Thank goodness it is not! By God’s grace, change is possible. It happens all the time and very often that change comes about by some kind of encounter with God. It very often happens when someone takes seriously the message of Jesus and begins to love and live and Jesus called us to do. It often happens when someone experiences the powerful, transforming message of grace that is at the heart of the Good News.
The apostle himself put it this way: “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
There is a lot of theology woven into hymns. To enhance today’s reading, I recommend listening to “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”. I hope you will take a few moments to let the words of this message and the emotion that always connects us to music connect with your soul.
Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of Heav’n to earth come down;
Fix in us thy humble dwelling;
All thy faithful mercies crown!
Jesus, Thou art all compassion,
Pure unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation,
Enter every trembling heart.
Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit
Into every troubled breast!
Let us all in Thee inherit;
Let us find that second rest.
Take away our bent to sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
End of faith, as its beginning,
Set our hearts at liberty.
Come, Almighty to deliver,
Let us all Thy life receive;
Suddenly return, and never,
Nevermore Thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
Serve Thee as Thy hosts above,
Pray and praise Thee without ceasing,
Glory in Thy perfect love.
Finish, then, Thy new creation;
Pure and spotless let us be;
Let us see Thy great salvation
Perfectly restored in Thee;
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in Heav’n we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before Thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster