Freelance writer Lupie Riley DAMASCUS ROAD EXPERIENCEThought: The apostle Paul had a first hand experience with the Lord on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). He was also taken up to the third heaven and observed things that he didn't have words for and could not share what he had seen and heard (II Cor. 12:21).Could these encounters have given Paul the strength he needed to go through all the trials he went through to spread the gospel to the Gentiles? He was imprisoned and prisons back then were not nice places, beaten with countless stripes and frequently at the point of death, three times he received forty lashes, three times beaten with rods and stoned. Three times he was ship wrecked at sea, perils from rivers, perils from bandits, perils from his own nation, perils from Gentiles, perils in the city, perils in the desert suffering hunger and thirst with many sleepless nights and cold from lack of clothing. Which one of us can claim even one of these things in our efforts to spread the good news of Salvation? We are an ungrateful, spoiled people living in a nation with an abundance of all good things.However, the Word does tell us "Blessed and happy to be envied are those who have never seen Me and yet have believed, adhered to, trusted, and relied on Me. (Amplified Bible)." We are blessed when we put our faith in Christ believing in his redemption plan for all mankind without ever having a physical encounter with Him. Would we be willing to go through even a small portion of persecution for the faith? When we know that God promises a better world for us in the future I believe that would give us the strength, like Paul, to endure any trials for our Lord. That was Paul's hope that gave him the endurance to go on even after he was tortured for Christ. Is Jesus your strength and hope today? Maranatha Prayer: Father God, no matter what my day brings help me to draw from your love and peace rejoicing in that heavenly place you have prepared for all your children. AmenVerse: John 20:24-29 "But Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples kept telling him, We have see the Lord! But he said to them, Unless I see in His hands the marks made by the nails and put my finger into the nail prints and put my hand into His side, I will never believe it. v. 27 Then He said to Thomas, Reach out your finger here and see My hands: and put out your hand and place it in MY side. Do not be faithless and incredulous, but stop your unbelief and believe! Thomas answered MY LORD AND MY GOD!"