Saturday, 10 October 2015

Daily Reading: Acts 9v1-31 'You can't fight against God and win'

The bible is one epic story of a battle. But it's not a battle between just a goodie and a baddie it's the battle between God and Satan. Every event you read of in the bible is part of this battle, and Revelation, along with other apocalyptic books, pull back the curtain and shows us the battle raging throughout history.

In Acts we drop in on this battle. In 1:8 Jesus gives his disciples their mission: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." That mission has started but has been met with opposition and a key figure in that opposition is Saul. Saul hates Jesus' followers, this isn't lighthearted rivalry like between two opposing sets of fans. Saul hates Christians and wants to wipe them out, he stands approvingly watching Stephen be stoned to death for his faith in Jesus and he is part of a great persecution that breaks out against the church.

(9:1-2) he gets letters from the high priest so that he can arrest Christians wherever he finds them and put them in jail in Jerusalem. Saul doesn't believe Jesus rose again and he sees the followers of Jesus as a threat to Judaism, and so he sets out to wipe them out. But fighting against God is dangerous.

Saul has his plan but more importantly God has his and there will only be one winner. So as Saul travels and gets near to Damascus he meets the risen Jesus. Suddenly a light flashes from heaven and Saul hears a voice. Saul gets it straight away, it is God speaking just as he had to Moses in the Old Testament. Saul expects the voice to identify himself as Yahweh, maybe even use the name I AM. But here's the biggest shock what does the voice say?  "I am Jesus..." Saul's world is turned upside down in that moment. Jesus who he thought was dead, Jesus whose followers he's been persecuting and arresting and throwing in prison is alive and he speaks as God speaks to his people.

And Saul finds out he hasn't been persecuting a fraud, he hasn't just been persecuting a group of people or a religion, but he has been fighting against God himself. Saul is led into the city blind and humbled, there are no threats, no arrests, no persecution. For three days Saul fasts.

You can't fight against God and win. It is vital that we understand that, no-one has ever won in a fight against God. Don't fight against God, if you hear God speaking to you listen to him.

I remember the night I came to trust Jesus. I'd always gone to church, but lived a double life, one way on Sunday and at youth group a totally different way at school. But when I realised I had to trust Jesus for myself or face a lost eternity I tried to fight it. I spent all night telling myself Jesus was about to come again, you see my logic went like this, the bible says no one knows when Jesus will come again so if I say he's coming he can't come because no one knows. Pretty dumb! But in the early hours of the morning I realised I couldn't live my whole life like that and I went to my parents and chatted with them about it, I asked Jesus forgiveness and trusted him. You can't fight against God and win.

But here's the second thing when other people oppose us or laugh at us for following Jesus they aren't just fighting against us but against God, father, son and spirit. Saul had been attacking the church but Jesus takes that personally. "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting." If as Christians we find ourselves being persecuted we need to remember that they can't fight against God and win.

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