Scripture: Acts 9:1 Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 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. 3 Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 5 He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”

Observation: As many of you know, the Saul in our passage had been a harsh persecutor of Christians before this encounter with Jesus. Afterward Saul became Paul, apostle to the Gentiles (non-Jews). It was Paul who wrote many of the letters in the New Testament and was perhaps the most important Christian leader in the first couple of centuries after Jesus’ ascension. Talk about a 180 degree turn around!

Application: We’re starting a new year together and one thing I know for sure – 2017 will hold some surprises. Probably both good and bad. I used to worry about this sort of thing because I don’t like surprises, especially nasty ones. I would do my best trying to predict what was around the next corner. I figured if I could anticipate difficulties I could avoid them or at least mitigate them in a meaningful way. Soften the blow perhaps. But I’ve come to learn that’s often a waste of time because the greatest difficulties in life tend to be things you never see coming.

Since we cannot predict the future it’s easy to feel helpless, but there is something we can do. We can do our best to seek the Lord who knows all things. By keeping close to the Lord (through consistent reading of scripture, prayer, worship, and so on) we can be confident of our ability to weather whatever storms life may bring. Let that truth wash over you this morning, especially if you might be one who tends to worry. The Lord is our rock and our salvation!

Prayer: Lord, as we enter 2017 give us grace to stay close to you, for in you we can deal with the surprises life brings. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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