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ABLE to “Do Church”

Apr 19, 2020
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Encounters with Jesus – Saul
In Acts 7 we see the stoning of Stephen. A young man named Saul approved of his execution. Saul was a pharisee and well known for his part in persecuting the church. We know that he (Act 8:3) “was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison”. He was an enemy of Jesus Christ and feared by many.
This is the same man (Paul) that went on to write over half of the New Testament!
In Acts 9 we see that he is continuing this angry behavior as he travels to Damascus. On his way, he sees a bright light. “And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Saul was blinded for 3 days, and he didn’t eat or drink anything during that time.
Ananias was a faithful follower of Jesus. Jesus told him to go to see Saul and lay hands on him so that he might receive his sight. Ananias was honest with the LORD about his uncertainty in this task. But Ananias went anyway. When he found Saul he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately he regained his sight. “He arose and was baptized; and taking food he was strengthened.”
Saul immediately began proclaiming Jesus in the synagogues. We see that the disciples didn’t really believe he was a convert and the Jews wanted to kill him, so he escaped through an opening in the wall and left Damascus.
What we learned this morning is that Galatians 1-2 show us some more of Saul’s story. He spent 3 years in Arabia and another 14 years in the “school of hard knocks”. That is 17 years before he is commissioned and truly accepted as a disciple of Jesus Christ. During that time he: received 40 lashes minus one 5 times, beaten with rods 3 times, shipwrecked 3 times, in danger from: rivers, robbers, his own people, the Gentiles, in the city, in the wilderness, from false brothers. He was often without food, often cold, and a host of other challenges!
This 17 year period was Saul’s “pause”. God refined him, shaped him, and Saul used this time to ready himself for the work ahead. Through Saul’s example, we are challenged to:
1. Don’t waste the space – Don’t let this pause be in vain. Let God shape you for what is next!
2. Don’t give up on the Saul’s in your life – God has miraculously changed millions of lives. He can…and will…do it again! Oh, and don’t give up on yourself. He is still changing you too!
3. Be an Ananias – He was honest with God about his fears, but he was obedient. God used him to influence history!
What is happening with the church at this time? Acts 9:31shows us that it multiplied!
To Discuss Today:
1. What are some things that you are doing (could do) to ensure that you do not “waste the space” of the quarantine? We saw several examples of people being the church. What will you do? (Remember, there is no “small” thing. It all matters!)
2. Dream for a minute. How can this quarantine, that has caused the world to stop, lead to a great revival in our own country and around the world? Do you want to be a part of that? What is the risk? What is the reward? (remember Ananias)
3. We see in Acts 9:31, “So the church…had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.” The church had peace, fear of the Lord, and comfort of the Holy Spirit. Ask for these things in your life.
Pastor Patrick