Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Straighten Up


Monday I shared Isaiah 42:16. I like it best in the NJKV.

"I will bring the blind by a way they did not know;
I will lead them in paths they have not known.
I will make darkness light before them,
And crooked places straight.
These things I will do for them,
And not forsake them."

This verse gives me hope for myself and also for those who are struggling in darkness, who do not know Jesus yet. Now is the time of salvation!

I love it when hands raise to receive salvation in church. I'm thrilled beyond measure. They're saved. But even more so, I get an amazing opportunity to sow into their lives. To help build a foundation for them through the New & Growing Believers class at my church.

As God opens their eyes, as light dawns, and crooked paths straighten, my eyes fill with wonder at the miracle I witness. Knowledge and wisdom take residence in their hearts, minds, lives. It's amazing.

My favorite conversion experience in the Bible is Saul (who became Paul). He held the coats of those who stoned Stephen, a godly man. Jesus Himself stood up. He did not stay seated.

He persecuted the Christians. Stripping families apart as he imprisoned mothers, fathers. And he says he was zealous about it. The worst of sinners.

And yet, in  Acts chapter 9, "Then Saul still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him for the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem." (verse 1-2)
 
Saul was on his crooked way to imprison those were of the Way (the Truth the life and the Way--the Way =Jesus, those who had entered through the way of the narrow gate.)

But on the road to Damascus, Jesus had other plans for Saul. Plans for hope and future. Regardless of his past. In spite of his past.

"Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"

"Who are You, Lord?" So blind. Yet not physically blinded at this point, but spiritually.

"I am Jesus…"

"Lord, what do You want me to do?" A genuine encounter with Christ demands a submissive response.

Jesus sent him to the city for further instruction. Right here in this moment, Jesus begins the lesson of faith. Not giving him but one instruction. Will you trust Me?

Saul arose and opened his eyes.

And he was blind. A physical picture to remind him of how blind spiritually he'd been. He had a good while to think about it.

And here is one of my favorite parts. Ananias. A man of faith. God appeared to him in a vision.

"Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying..

How absolutely fitting. How absolutely on purpose did God send Ananias to Straight street.

Ananias had a moment of melt down. Everyone knew how murderous Saul was against Christians.

"Go, for his is a chosen vessel of Mine…" Hallelujah! Hallelujah! God's chosen.

It was on Straight Street that Saul's crooked path, his crooked ways were revised, straightened out. It was on Straight Street, God removed the blinders from Saul's eyes and he saw.

For the first time in his life, he actually saw.

And he spent a few days there to be discipled. 

How important it is to invest in new believers. In growing believers. How important it is to know that when we're on a crooked path, when we feel blind. God has a Straight Street waiting for us.

What can you do to invest in lives of those who are just starting out? Who had invested time in your spiritual journey?

14 comments:

  1. This is so true! We have been given such a gift. Someone told us about the Savior, and that is immeasurable. But we can't leave people in the middle of Straight Street without a map of where to go next! We have to remember that we are called to make disciples, not converts.

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  2. I'm so glad you wrote about this today, Jessica. It's been a while since I've read about Paul's conversion. Even as a lifelong believer, I need to go to straight street every now and then. It's easy to go crooked in this world. :( Thanks!

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  3. I love that you shared Saul/Paul's story today...I just read about it earlier in my devotions. I'm reading "Between the Lines" by Bob Sorge...Rachel Hauck recommended it to me. And wow, in talking about Paul's story, Sorge says our God is a God of drama...he never misses the opportunity to do something dramatic to open people's eyes...which is certainly what he did with Paul. It makes me exciting about the story he's telling in each of us...and the way our personal stories will impact others's stories...

    Sorry, I went off on a tangent. But man, I just loved your post today!

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  4. Be there.

    It's really that simple, be there without judging, only gently guiding and pushing toward Jesus. :)

    Great post!

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  5. I learn something new every time I read these verses about Paul's conversion. Only trust in God, believe, and He will lead you where you need to go. Great post!

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  6. Paul's story is on of my absolute favorite in the Bible. I had missed the name of the street, however--too cool!

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  7. I love how you pointed out that Saul needed a believer to come show him the way. Such a picture of how the Church should be. It doesn't matter that we're all at different places in our journey--we are supposed to help each other out!

    And I appreciate you for investing in my spiritual walk and continually encouraging me to spend time with God every day. Love you!

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  8. One of my favorite ways to minister to new believers is in my MOPS group. I love seeing a mommy come into our group, learn about Jesus, and then see it spread to her children and husband. I also love Paul's conversion story in the Bible. Whenever I think of someone who appears to be a "lost cause" I remember Paul - and the amazing work of Jesus Christ in his life. There is always hope.

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  9. Great post! I love the story of Paul's conversion, and yes, I think "Straight Street" did not get its name by accident. ;-) Discipling new believers is so important as Paul's story demonstrates. What would have happened to Paul if Ananias had not been willing to go?

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  10. I didn't know that about the street name. Cool! Thanks for the great post, Jess.

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  11. LOVE this, Jess! Spiritual blindness is so much more dangerous than physical blindness. One is temporary. The other eternal. And that, my friend, is a terrifying thought.

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  12. I believe hugely in sowing kindness whenever I can. Saul's story was always awesome. I love the story of Mary the one who cleaned Jesus's feet with her hair.
    Great post, girlie!

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  13. Hi Jessica -

    I taught a New Believers class for several years. It was one of my favorite assignments. :)

    Thanks for commenting over at Jessica Nelson's blog.

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

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  14. Oh wow, this was so good and thought provoking. I love what you said...an encounter with Jesus demands a submissive response. So true!! I love your heart!

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