Great Plains Daily Devotional for 1/12/2021

Today please be in prayer for

Rich Chrisman
Meadow Grove UMC
Tilden Faith UMC
Elkhorn Valley District
Bruce Phillips
Clearwater, NE UMC
Neligh UMC
Oakdale UMC
Elkhorn Valley District
Alice Shomari
Looking Glass UMC
Newman Grove UMC
Elkhorn Valley District
Bridget Gately
Norfolk First UMC
Stanton UMC
Winside UMC
Elkhorn Valley District

Today's Lectionary Text

Acts 22:2-16

When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic, they became very quiet.

Then Paul said: “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, as the high priest and all the Council can themselves testify. I even obtained letters from them to their associates in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.

“About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ‘Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?’

“‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked.

“ ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.

“‘What shall I do, Lord?’ I asked.

“ ‘Get up,’ the Lord said, ‘and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.’ My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me.

“A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there. He stood beside me and said, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very moment I was able to see him.

“Then he said: ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard. And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’

Today's Devotional

Now ... there’s your sign!! Paul certainly had an amazing and unexpected encounter with Jesus on the Damascus road. I wonder what his travel mates thought when all of a sudden Paul is talking to Jesus, and all they can see is the bright light surrounding Paul. Paul is asking questions so surely answers were required. They hear Paul asking the questions, but they do not hear the answers given by Jesus. Was it the WAH … WAH…WAH sound we hear the adults in Charlie Brown cartoons speak in? Or, maybe a rushing, twirling wind sound. The Bible tells us they could not understand the sound, but they did hear one. What did they think caused Paul to be sightless when moments before they were dashing down the road, on a mission from the Pharisees to go to Damascus to persecute these radical Jews who called themselves followers of Jesus? How could their “Holy Mission” come upon such calamity and their leader be struck in such a way that his sight is taken away? They must have been faithful companions because they proceeded to do as Paul directed and continued on the road they were traveling. I wonder if they wanted to turn around and go back to Jerusalem? Surely more danger awaited them down the road…after all, look what happen to Paul!
Now we find Paul sharing his testimony in Jerusalem. He shared with the Jewish mob his credentials as a Jewish citizen and spoke to them in their language about how he, an imprisoner and murderer of Jesus’s followers, came to salvation and was healed from the hatred he had for those he had persecuted.  His sins were washed away in his Baptism. He was chosen by God to witness all he had seen and heard to all people.

We today, are chosen to share the Good News with all people. We too are called to share our testimonies of faith so other can see the work the Lord has done in our lives, and what is possible for their own. At the beginning of each New Year, we are called to remember our Baptism. In our church we have celebrated our Baptism by going to the baptistery fount, dip our fingers into the water, and then place the sign of the cross on our foreheads. We are given a stone to keep with us to remind us of this recommitment to the Christ who saved us. We are refreshed in Jesus! We are called to use the gifts and talents he has given to each of us and BE the BODY of Christ in our homes, church, community, and world.

                                                                                    --Pam Bilyeu
                                                                                    Lay Leader Lyndon UMC, Lyndon

Prayer for Reflection

Father God, in this year of COVID, we may not be able to gather together to be a part of a reaffirmation celebration, but Lord you are always present with us. Refresh our hearts now. Forgive us of our sins, and bring to our remembrance our Baptism, made possible through the sacrifice made by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Send us out such as You sent out Paul and help us to be BOLD witnesses to help bring others to your saving grace. Amen


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