Saturday, July 2, 2011

A New Name

"He set off. When he got to the outskirts of Damascus, he was suddenly dazed by a blinding flash of light. As he fell to the ground, he heard a voice: 'Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me?'

He said, 'Who are you, Master?'

'I am Jesus, the One you're hunting down. I want you to get up and enter the city. In the city you'll be told what to do next.'"
Acts 9:3-6 (The Message)

Saul, who we now know as Paul, was as bad as they get. For some reason, he just hated the Christians and in that hate, did many horrible things.

I don't know about you, but if I was God, I wouldn't have wasted the time of day on Saul. I would be so angry, so hurt--that I would have turned my back on him. Thankfully, God isn't like me.

There are two things caught my attention in this passage. Did you catch them? Look closely. The first thing is this, where Saul asks, "Who are you, Master?" In other translations, it says, "Lord". Whether "Master" or "Lord", it doesn't change the fact that Saul knew that he was with God. He knew the signs--a voice from heaven, bright shining lights--he knew. He knew he was in the presence of the very God of the Christians he was making a career out of prosecuting.

Does that tell you something? Does it show you that even when we are at our worst, we know Him. Our spirits just know. It's liken to how flowers know how to bloom, birds know how to nest--it's just an instinct that is planted deep within all of us.

It also tells us another thing--God will come to us. Good or bad--if we are meant to be His--and we all have the chance and choice--He will call to us.

The second attention getter was the last line--where Jesus tells Saul who He was, acknowledging to Saul that He knew what Saul was doing, and even with that knowledge, He, Jesus, had a mission for him once he got to the city.

Wow! Did you catch the main 'wow' behind the act of Jesus? Here was the man that was prosecuting His church, going to Damascus to get papers to be able to persecute more of His church, and Jesus, stops him in the middle of the road, comes to him personally, speaks and tells him that he, Saul, is to go to the town and not do what he was intending to do, but to wait for more of Jesus' instructions. Jesus was going to talk to him again! And what did Saul do? Go the other way? Say No? No. Saul went!

Granted, in the process of all of this, Jesus does blind Saul and in three days, sends a disciple named Ananias to Saul to fulfill a vision that Jesus had given Saul, when Saul was praying--praying! And so it was done, Ananias went and did as Jesus asked and the scales fell from Saul's eyes.

We could go so much deeper, but what I feel that I am supppose to share with those of you who feel that you are so bad, that you feel there's no hope for you. There's hope. That if you feel that whatever you have done in your past or maybe are even still doing now, God can't and wouldn't want to have you in His family. There's room. That there is no use for you--ahh, but there is.

If Jesus can use Saul, with all of his bad behavior and past, to further His kingdom--what more can He use you? You were born to be His. Just like Saul. But what you do with it is your choice. If you can just turn and come to your Father, asking for forgiveness, asking to be brought back into His heavenly Family--He would have you there so fast your head would spin. It is US that keeps us away from Him--don't you see?

So come. Come and let Jesus give you a new name--if Saul can become Paul--won't it be exciting what name Jesus will give you?

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