Tag: Saul

Neighboring Challenge, Day 6 – Love

Who’s “that person” for you?

  • Maybe it’s the mom in your neighborhood who’s kids are wild and disrespectful and unsupervised that you end up feeding lunch three times a week.
  • Or the neighbor whose dog barks at all hours of the day and night.
  • Or the one who yelled at your kids for walking across his lawn.

And yet, Jesus says, “I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves.” Mt. 5:44-45 msg

These irritations are minor compared to what Ananias was facing. He had a much bigger challenge than loving neighbors like the ones I described above. And you might too. But God called Ananias to love (like with real ACTIONS, not just words or prayer), Saul, who had been brutally persecuting followers of Jesus until his dramatic conversion. Take a look…

Acts 9 There was a disciple in Damascus by the name of Ananias. The Master spoke to him in a vision: “Ananias.”

“Yes, Master?” he answered.

“Get up and go over to Straight Avenue. Ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus. His name is Saul. He’s there praying. He has just had a dream in which he saw a man named Ananias enter the house and lay hands on him so he could see again.”

Ananias protested, “Master, you can’t be serious. Everybody’s talking about this man and the terrible things he’s been doing, his reign of terror against your people in Jerusalem! And now he’s shown up here with papers from the Chief Priest that give him license to do the same to us.”

But the Master said, “Don’t argue. Go! I have picked him as my personal representative to non-Jews and kings and Jews. And now I’m about to show him what he’s in for—the hard suffering that goes with this job.”

So Ananias went and found the house, placed his hands on blind Saul, and said, “Brother Saul, the Master sent me, the same Jesus you saw on your way here. He sent me so you could see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” No sooner were the words out of his mouth than something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes—he could see again! He got to his feet, was baptized, and sat down with them to a hearty meal.

Reflect on this passage.

Neighboring challenge: Who is the neighbor (in your actual physical neighborhood, or work neighborhood) who has hurt you or is hard to love?  Pray for them today. Find a way you can bless them. Love not with just words, but actions.

The Six Hardest Words to Say to Each Other

In our marriage, John and I agree the six hardest words for us to say to each other are, “You were right.” (and even worse) “I was wrong.”

Or even “We were both right and we were both wrong.”

The thing is, not only are those words hard to say, it’s brutal work facing our own misperceptions and listening and getting to the place of being able to truly own the humility behind them.

A few people I know are in a bad spot right now. They are angry and hurt and sure that they are right and everyone else is wrong. They are so sure of their rightness, that they are not willing to talk or listen to anyone with a differing viewpoint.

If you’re reading this and your heart is racing, thinking “Is she writing about me???!!” The answer is yes. I’m writing about you (whoever you are). And me. And all of us.

Because who of us haven’t been in this spot from time to time – like a toddler with eyes squeezed shut and fists clenched, desperately in need of a “Settle down and take a time out until you’re yourself again.”

A few weeks ago I read the account of Saul’s conversion in Acts 9 in my devotional time and I have not been able to get one thought out of my mind.

Saul was PASSIONATELY religious. He was POSITIVE he was right and righteous and obedient to God as he persecuted Christians – eyes squeezed shut, fists clenched. Ironically he had to literally be blinded before he could recognize how spiritually blind he was. It was only when Jesus entered the picture that eventually his eyes were opened and he saw things differently. Slowly his hands and his heart opened to something new.

Here’s what I’ve been thinking about. What things are we SO SURE OF? Are there perceptions or judgments that, if we invited Jesus in, He might change our minds, and uncover blind spots? That feels scary and vulnerable and really uncomfortable.

I LOVE being right! There are times when I gather my righteous indignation around me like a comfy blanket on a cold dark night. I don’t like the thought that I might be wrong!

So….What do you feel self-righteous about? Who is someone you disagree with? What questions could you ask to better understand their perspective?

Today I pray: Lord your Word says our hearts are deceitful above all things. Only You can uncover my blind spots, my impure motives, my misperceptions, my self-righteousness. I desire to humble myself before You today. Search me and show me where I’m wrong…where I need to ask forgiveness…where I need new eyes to see.

Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24

When You Open Your Bible

There are many mornings when I don’t feel like reading Scripture. But almost inevitably, when I do, God smacks me upside the head with something

a. relevant

b. encouraging

c. convicting

d. all of the above

I love our friend Mark Batterson’s line: “When you open your Bible God opens His mouth.”

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Today it is one line from 1 Samuel 14:36 that God speaks to me.

Saul is passionate! Charging ahead! Wanting to knock off the Philistines (for God of course). And then this…

But the priest slowed them down. “Let’s find out what God thinks about this.”

I don’t like Saul, but I am so like Saul – Fire, ready, aim!

I needed this reminder today! I think of my “to do” list – so many plans, ideas… I stop when I read this verse and think also of Nehemiah who had the wise rhythm of prayer/action/prayer/action.

I take out my journal and pray through my plans,

God, what do YOU have to say about this…?

What are my motives in this thing…really? Will this honor You?

It’s one thing to ask, but shoot…then I have to pay attention, like for more than a minute. And I’m a little spiritually ADD.

Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. trying to listen.

All the Bible People You Don’t Like

I’ve been realizing lately there are a LOT of Bible People I don’t like.

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Jacob, for example. He was just a jerk. And Gideon and Saul. I don’t like them. And I’ve never really liked Naomi.

They were SELFISH, and BITTER, and forgot all about GOD after He was always there for them! And they’re in the BIBLE for Pete’s sake!

My Bible reading plan has been MAKING me re-read about all these not-so-nice people who are just so….frustrating. I read and they’re about to do something stupid like worship a false idol or lie or whine and I’m like “No, no! Don’t do it!” but they do it anyway. Go figure.

And then it hits me. These not-so-nice-muck-ups are ME!

Maybe I cringe at the ugliness in others because deep down I recognize it as my own. Continue reading

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