Our hope is in Christ

Sunday, June 11, 2006

I taught the Sunday School kids this morning telling them the Paul's conversion story. In the midst of the storytelling, I myself became so amazed at how a Christian-hater who went all out to persecute Christians would make such a pronounced turn in his belief. The Damascus experience must be so real to Paul because one just don't change like that. It must be so real that Paul was so convicted that he became willing to even risk his life to preach the good news of Jesus Christ.

Acts 9:1-9 (NIV)
1Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest 2and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"

5"Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked.

"I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied. 6"Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."

7The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

One would wonder what went through his mind during these 3 days. God must have a purpose as to why he must go blind. He could have gone blind because he has seen the Lord (v.17, 27) but in blindness, God's purposes may be fulfilled as he was forced to be still and consider all that has happened. He could have been remembering the Scriptures and realising how Jesus is the fulfilment of the law. Whatever it is, he is a changed man, whom God has amazingly used to spread the gospel to Samaria and the ends of the earth.

God works in amazing ways, beyond our understanding and imagination. If we have been praying for someone to believe in the Lord, and yet feel that it all seem almost impossible, think again, think Paul. Think how God has transformed Paul from a persecutor into an apostle.

Acts 9:10-22 (NIV)
10In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision,

"Yes, Lord," he answered.

11The Lord told him, "Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight."

13"Lord," Ananias answered, "I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. 14And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name."

15But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. 16I will show him how much he must suffer for my name."

17Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit." 18Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. 20At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 21All those who heard him were astonished and asked, "Isn't he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn't he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?" 22Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ.

Picture by Maciek Pelc

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5 comment(s)

  1. One would wonder what went through his mind during these 3 days.

    Wow, yeah.

    If it's me, I am trying to find any reason at all to believe that I am not damned. The whirlwind of my mind is spinning memories into my eye of every time I KNEW that I was pleasing God. For the first time, I am seeing them in the light of that glorious Man Who just arrested me. I spend three days weeping and despairing of breath.

    Paul, though, might be more logical. I think you are right. He reasons that God has spared him, and begins piecing things together.

  2. I'm with Codepoke, I would be trying to figure out how or why God just didn't strike me dead.

    It gives real weight to the phrase, to whom much if forgiven, much is expected.

    God Bless

  3. 'is forgiven'... sorry for the typing

    God Bless

  4. Thanks codepoke, Doug for your thoughts. It is wonderful that God is gracious in all his ways.

    The whirlwind of my mind is spinning memories into my eye of every time I KNEW that I was pleasing God.

    How true ... many a times, we do act as if what we are doing pleases God not considering that it may not. A good example is the way we worship amidst the worship wars.

    to whom much is forgiven, much is expected.

    Yeah ... i never thought of it that way but very true. My first thought was "really?" because his love is unconditional. Nevertheless, with such forgiveness, we on our part must reciprocate with holy living, as what James has been driving at. Faith without works is dead.

    I have to be off to bed :) it is almost 1.30am now and I still have to made some last minute packing. God bless!