NT Fire Starters – Day 171: Acts 9:1-31
READ: Acts 9:1-31
THINK: No one is beyond God’s reach. We may misjudge individuals and make assumptions about their openness to God or even about God’s ability to reach them. But God can take people who are radically opposed to Him and turn them into radically committed followers of Jesus. And He may use you to help someone make that transformation. Be open to the possibilities in people’s lives–and in God’s plan–to turn them around for His glory.
RESPOND: What can you tell about Saul’s intensity and commitment, even before he encountered Jesus? How did people first refer to the Christian faith (v. 2), and why did this description fit? In what ways did Saul’s response immediately following his encounter with Jesus indicate a true change of heart? (See 9:3-19 note and 9:11 note.) How would you have responded to God’s instructions if you had been in Ananias’ position, knowing Saul’s reputation (cf. v. 13-14)? Why does serving God’s purposes often involve suffering and hardship? (See 9:16 note.) What happened in Saul’s life after Ananias prayed for Him? (See 9:17 note.) Why is this significant? (See 9:18 note.) Why do you think Saul’s transformation was so radical? Why do you think Barnabas was willing to trust and accept Saul? In what way was Barnabas’ encouragement vital to Saul’s ministry? What were the conditions and atmosphere for growth among the churches mentioned in verse 31? (See 9:31 note.) What is “the fear of the Lord,” what does it produce in believers and why is it vital to lasting spiritual growth?
PRAY: Pray that you’ll be accepting of those whom God calls to minister to you and to serve alongside you. Ask God to help you be more like Barnabas, encouraging and supporting those who are new in faith–and even those in leadership–who struggle to find acceptance among some Christians.
ACT: Be a Barnabas–a defender and encourager–for someone whom others might not readily trust, accept or give a chance. If this involves Christians friends, gently and humbly remind them of God’s acceptance and the fact that people need support and encouragement in order to serve Him with ultimate effectiveness.