with the Word online Bible study: I can see clearly now…

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Acts 9.1-22

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 travelling 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.

Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ He answered, ‘Here I am, Lord.’ The Lord said to him, ‘Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, and 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.’ But Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.’ So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’ All who heard him were amazed and said, ‘Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem among those who invoked this name? And has he not come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?’ Saul became increasingly more powerful and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Messiah.

What catches your attention in this story? What most intrigues you? What questions does the story bring up for you?

Have you ever had an experience you could describe as “the scales fell from my eyes”? What was different after you had that moment? (Don’t forget that sometimes those moments are more a process than a sudden insight!)

Paul was intent on his mission, when God interrupted. After this interruption, Paul was intent on a new mission. Both times, he thought he was seeking God and doing God’s will. How do we know we’re doing the right thing when we’re very zealous for the Lord?

Paul had to have temporarily lose his sight in order to see more clearly. Once he stopped looking through his own lenses, he was able to see with his heart, and to see God’s heart too. All of us can occasionally use a little reality check–a re-focusing moment, a time to evaluate what we’re doing, look fresh, and adjust our vision. We may not lose a sense, but it can be to our benefit to try using a different sense, or at least a different set of lenses. Both individuals and organizations can benefit from being intentional as we seek to follow God more closely. What obstacles (or scales!) are blocking your vision? What might need to fall away so you can re-focus?

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One response »

  1. Just this Sunday during John’s sermon I had a “scales falling” experience. For years and years I’ve heard the question (interrogative in its form but declarative in its intent) “Do you believe in Jesus?” That was the ticket, of course, for entrance into heaven–if you answer yes. But John turned it around by showing us through Scripture that “Jesus believes in you.” Yes, we ordinary people; Jesus is trusting in us to advance his Kingdom of peace, justice, and compassion.

    And how do we know we’re doing the right thing? My rapid response is this: by prayer, persons, and Presbyterians. Listening to God through prayer and reading of Scripture I trust will point me in the direction of walking the way of Jesus. Persons whom I respect such as my church pastors and theologians whose books I read shape my theology. The Presbyterian denomination down through the centuries provides us with the “shoulders of giants” to stand on for spiritual guidance.

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