Acts 9: Who Are You, Lord?

Saul knew all about God. He had studied the Torah since childhood and was the equivalent of a PhD in religion.

Then God showed up. The account in Acts 9 reveals:

1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

Saul’s first question is surprising yet insightful: “Who are you, Lord?” An authority on religion encountered God yet did not recognize him.

It is easy to point the finger at Saul and highlight his wrong view of God and persecution of early Christians. But we often find ourselves looking much like the pre-Paul Saul. How?

We learn about God yet fail to recognize when God is at work right before our eyes.

We see God act and question who he is, wondering what is happening rather than giving God glory for what has happened.

We encounter God in daily life only to doubt the experience as something natural rather than supernatural.

When we do, we respond as Saul did: “Who are you, Lord?” In Saul’s case, his eyesight was temporarily removed, forcing him to depend on others for help. Three days later, a Christian was sent to explain the good news of Jesus to Saul, restore his sight, and baptize him into the faith.

Saul eventually found the answer to his question. He left a legacy of changed lives, transforming writings, and an example many of us follow still in our time.

May we do the same, beginning today.

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Dillon Burroughs is the author or co-author of numerous books and is handwriting a copy of the New Testament in 2011 at HolyWritProject.com. Find out more about Dillon at Facebook.com/readdB or readdB.com.

Acts 8: Spirit and Scripture

Churches in our culture tend to lean heavy on either Spirit or Scripture. Spirit churches are the emotion-driven, charismatic experiences-stereotype. Scripture churches are the “teaching” churches, focused almost solely on education and information.

Individual Christians also often land more toward one side of this spectrum that the other, depending on personality, background, church affiliation, and other factors. But is this a good thing?

In one sense, God has provided a variety of gifts. Yet in another way, Scripture offers examples of Christ’s followers emphasizing both a Spirit-led life and a Scripture-saturated life, sometimes in the same story.

Philip’s experience in Acts 8 is a good example. There we read:

26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”

30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.

31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

32 This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading:

“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth.”

34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

Here we find Philip being “led” by the Spirit to do something. In this case it was to stay near this man’s chariot. The guy was reading the prophet Isaiah and wanted to know what it meant. Philip proceeded to teach about Jesus from those very words.

In the end, the man believed in Jesus and was baptized. So a Spirit-led, Scripture-focused life can lead to helping others come to faith in Jesus.

If that’s true, then let’s focus on doing both today. We may help someone change their mind about Jesus. And even if we don’t, our lives will be better for it.

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Dillon Burroughs is the author or co-author of numerous books and is handwriting a copy of the New Testament in 2011 at HolyWritProject.com. Find out more about Dillon at Facebook.com/readdB or readdB.com.

Matthew 7: Seek and You Will Find


7
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Matthew 7 includes both words of judgment and words of encouragement. Jesus condemns the religious leaders of his time for their hard-hearted response to him. He encourages his followers to instead ask and receive; seek and find; knock and the door will be opened.

This is certainly not a blank-check request, contrary to the teachings of those who promote a prosperity gospel message. Other places in Matthew (and elsewhere in the Bible) make clear that following Jesus is costly; it is not a money-making scheme. But we are told Jesus hears our requests and answers favorably according to his will.

This same sermon by Jesus that tells us how to pray also tells us what to expect when we pray. Jesus does not tell us to jump through hoops or “get yourself together” before he responds. He simply says to ask.

Elsewhere in the Bible (by James) we read that we do not have because we do not ask. When we do ask, we do not receive because we ask with selfish motives. But Jesus answers the prayers of those who pray according to his will, seeking his glory rather than their own. There is much to be learned here, vastly more than can be expressed in one blog post, but the summary is this: Jesus said he will answer if we ask.

Are you asking? If not, why not start now? Let me know how God answers you today.

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OTHER NOTES: Yes, as mentioned yesterday, I am now into Mark’s gospel, over ten percent of the way through the New Testament’s 260 chapters. I’m not sure how long I’ll keep up this pace, but it’s encouraging to hear from many of you along the way expressing your kind words at my attempt to draw attention to God’s Word by writing it out word-by-word. The stack of pages is growing!

I’d also like to thank Patheos.com for partnering with me on this journey. As of yesterday, they have begun featuring this “Holy Writ” blog on their main page. Since Patheos is one of the top spiritual sites on the Internet, this is a tremendous blessing to me. I continue to express my appreciation to the team at Patheos for their efforts.

More of you are starting to share these posts on Facebook or Twitter. Thank you! I would encourage you to continue to do so. You can also leave comments on the blog itself. These allow others outside of your Facebook world to see your thought and is a big encouragement to me.

Finally, if you know of anyone else who has recently handwritten the Bible or in the process of doing so, please let me know. I’m looking for other modern examples of this practice, but have only found one or two so far. I’m sure someone else out there is doing this and would love to know about it.

Thanks for enjoying the journey together!

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Dillon Burroughs has written, co-written, or edited over 60 books, including the upcoming devotional work Thirst No More (October 2011). He served as an associate editor for The Apologetics Study Bible for Students and is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary. Find out more at DillonBurroughs.org.


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