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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Today’s Reading | Acts 9:1–9

Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.

He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. (NRSV)

Saul of Tarsus, while on the road to Damascus, was a zealous man with a single-minded focus: stop the spread of this “heretical” Christian sect. But unbeknownst to Saul, he had an appointment to meet the risen Christ and be transformed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. After this appointment, Saul became the Apostle Paul and was led by love to welcome the world into the Christian tent that has now overspread the earth.

But that was Paul, a historical rarity. What about us? The same Spirit that empowered Paul can empower us, for we have this promise: “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Luke 11:13).

When we ask for the Spirit of God to transform us, we too can become extraordinary servants in our assigned field. This field may be our home, our neighborhood, or our city. It can be a specific population at a specific place—for example, sick children at a nearby hospital. This field may seem small and of little consequence; however, we are poor judges of God’s plan for us. Furthermore, God is glorified by our faithful, loving service, and not our personal glory.

Therefore, let us work faithfully in our assigned field, trusting that God will ensure the bounty of our harvest. This was the path that Paul walked—and who, in the first century, could have imagined the harvest his work would one day produce?

Eternal Spirit, we ask to be touched by your transforming hand. For you can turn a lump of clay into a magnificently formed pot filled with the living water of your eternal life that is made available to a world that thirsts. Amen.

Written by Tom Payne, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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