Acts 9

Act 9:1 Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest,
Act 9:2and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

Stephen is dead now and Saul feels that it is his mission in life to stamp out this new movement. While some feel we have next to nothing to learn from history, this, in many places the condition of the Church today. As a Christian today, the religion being sold as the religion of peace studies to learn from the Qu'ran and it is recorded in this holy? Book, one hundred and sixty-four times that the Islamic, a.k.a. the Muslim, is to exterminate the Jewish believer and the People of the Way, Christians!

Ah! But when we read these passages we are comforted to know that just as Jesus handled the situation with Saul and the Sanhedrin. That is not a guarantee that we willo not be slaughtered! But it does teach us that, in the end, God will have His way!

Act 9:3As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him;
Act 9:4and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him,"Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"
Act 9:5And he said, "Who are You, Lord?" And He said,"I am Jesus whom you are persecuting,
Act 9:6but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do."

We must learn to be good servants and we must learn to do so whole heartedly! In Vietnam there were a few Helicopter Crews that nobody had any use for and eventually were grounded or ended up flying V.I.P.s, where they were safe.

As a Killer Spade I was the servant of the men on the ground and when things went wrong, their lives depended on me and my Chopper. We brought them hot food, coffee, ammo and carried the wounded to the hospital when everybody else refused to land in the middle of the gun fight.

In the same, exactly the same, manor the lost man's life depends on the Christ follower. We need to stand up and be counted.

Act 9:7The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one.
Act 9:8Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus.
Act 9:9And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

Just as Jesus blinded Saul, so must we allow Him to do for us! When we look to the LORD for our very lives, we are blinded to the things of this world and we gain the Spiritual Perspective. When D. L. Moody was, once, in London he was conversing with the local pastor and asked what he was staring out the window at?

He asked the pastor to look out and tell him what he saw? The gentleman looked out and told him he saw cabs, men and women but asked Moody again, what did he see? Mr. Moody told him he saw all those sinners down there on their way to Hell.

That is the perspective of the Man of God.

Act 9:10Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, "Here I am, Lord."
Act 9:11And the Lord said to him,"Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying,
Act 9:12and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight."
Act 9:13But Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem;
Act 9:14and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name."
Act 9:15But the Lord said to him,"Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel;
Act 9:16for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake."
Act 9:17So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit."
Act 9:18And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized;
Act 9:19and he took food and was strengthened. Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus,
Act 9:20and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, "He is the Son of God."

Like Saul, the saved are radically saved. It is popular, today, to jerk Matt. 7:1 out of it's context to hush the Christians mouths. But if we go back to Matt. 5:1 and read forward to the end of chapter 7 we get the context and learn that we are not to be stupid but rather we are to judge others by the same standard we wish to be judged by.

Just like Saul, as he became Paul, when I was saved I wanted everybody I met to go to Heaven with me. That will never happen but in the last three verses of Matthew we are instructed to teach, just as Paul did.

Act 9:21All those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, "Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?"
Act 9:22But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ.
Act 9:23When many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted together to do away with him,
Act 9:24but their plot became known to Saul. They were also watching the gates day and night so that they might put him to death;
Act 9:25but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a large basket.

Without people like Ananias being loyal to and listening to God, Saul should have been Killed. But because Saul sold out to God, Jesus cared for Saul.

Act 9:26When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple.
Act 9:27But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.
Act 9:28And he was with them, moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord.
Act 9:29And he was talking and arguing with the Hellenistic Jews; but they were attempting to put him to death.
Act 9:30But when the brethren learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus.
Act 9:31So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samariaenjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.

If the Church of today will return to it's first love, as we are called to do in the Revelation, we will all live Blessed Lives. Contrary to what the world believes, that does not mean a trouble free life. It does, however, mean that our walk will never exclude the presence of our God.

Act 9:32Now as Peter was traveling through all those regions, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda.
Act 9:33There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years, for he was paralyzed.
Act 9:34Peter said to him, "Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed." Immediately he got up.
Act 9:35And all who lived at Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.
Act 9:36Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did.
Act 9:37And it happened at that time that she fell sick and died; and when they had washed her body, they laid it in an upper room.
Act 9:38Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, having heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him, imploring him, "Do not delay in coming to us."
Act 9:39So Peter arose and went with them. When he arrived, they brought him into the upper room; and all the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing all the tunics and garments that Dorcas used to make while she was with them.
Act 9:40But Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed, and turning to the body, he said, "Tabitha, arise." And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up.
Act 9:41And he gave her his hand and raised her up; and calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive.
Act 9:42It became known all over Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.
Act 9:43And Peter stayed many days in Joppa with a tanner named Simon.

There are teachers today that teach against the gifts today, claiming they passed away with the early Church. The problem is that, quietly, God is still performing just as He always has. The reason some do not see God at work is because they have never opened their spiritual eyes.
I liked your comments about the "judge not" passage in Matthew 7, Bill. In addition to Jesus telling us that we would be judged according to how we judge others (implying that we all judge, which we do), in another place Jesus instructs us to "judge righteous judgment". In fact the word "hypocrite", whom Jesus preached so heavily against, actually comes from some root words meaning "too little judgment".

"Don't judge" is a popular catch-phrase in a morally depraved world, though I don't think it's really what God wants to hear preached. (Almost any time judgment is mentioned in the Bible, it's talked about as a good thing, and not as something bad.) What we need is more righteous judgment in the world, based off the rock of Jesus' teachings - not to throw the baby out with the bath water.