Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World

Strong and Courageous, Paul

September 14, 2020 Pastor Dave Tucker Season 4 Episode 15
Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World
Strong and Courageous, Paul
Chapters
Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World
Strong and Courageous, Paul
Sep 14, 2020 Season 4 Episode 15
Pastor Dave Tucker

A new directive from God which came along with a new name. This man went from Saul to Paul. Scales fell from his eyes and he could not only see from new physical eyes but also new spiritual eyes as well. Paul was so excited, he wanted to tell everyone!
Based on Acts 9:1-8.

Originally presented September 13, 2020 at St. Timothy Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Bedford, TX.

Show Notes Transcript

A new directive from God which came along with a new name. This man went from Saul to Paul. Scales fell from his eyes and he could not only see from new physical eyes but also new spiritual eyes as well. Paul was so excited, he wanted to tell everyone!
Based on Acts 9:1-8.

Originally presented September 13, 2020 at St. Timothy Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Bedford, TX.

STRONG AND COURAGEOUS, PAUL
Acts 9:1-8

         If there was ever a person who, by our understanding, was perfect in his ministry, it would be Saul. I mean, look at him! He was Da man! He had everything going for him! He was young and ambitious. He was pious and kept the letter of the law. Saul was going places. He loved his Jewish faith and was trained by the best rabbis. He was doing what he thought was God’s will, and those in his circle of friends certainly believed Saul to be more than qualified to serve God. You see, Saul was well on his way to becoming a prominent member of the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin, by the way, was like what we would call the supreme court today. The Sanhedrin were powerful, and offered a great benefit package to its members. If anyone deserved to be appointed to the Sanhedrin, it was Saul! 

         Saul felt that God was calling him to keep the Jewish faith pure and undefiled. However, there was this rag-tag group of ruffians, that, as far as Saul was concerned threatened the purity of the Jewish faith… and the group kept growing in numbers. These people believed themselves to be Jews… Yet, they were also followers of Jesus. This group of people would be seen in the synagogue on the seventh day, the Sabbath, and would be found early Sunday morning, congregated in homes, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus… Every Sunday, these people were celebrating Easter! Right now, you are saying, ummm… where is that info in the Bible? It’s not in the Bible, but rather in historical accounts from those on the outside! When you get home, I would invite you to Google, letters to Pliny, the Younger. These letters are what is known as the first historical documents that support the biblical accounts. The documents are letters written between a roman soldier and his understudy… and it gives us a bit of an insight on how the first followers of Jesus were perceived by Rome and how they worshiped. 

         Anyway, Saul was zealous for the Jewish faith, so much so, that he started persecuting the followers of Jesus. He felt that it was his God given task to weed out the rebels and restore order to the Jewish faith and nation. So, Saul went to the high priest asking for letters to be taken to all the synagogues at Damascus, stating that anyone belonging to “the Way” (interesting choice of words there) would be bound and taken back to Jerusalem for trial.

         It was on this road to Damascus that Saul had an encounter with Jesus… and his life was forever changed. You see, Saul wasn’t a bad person… He really wanted to serve God! He thought that God was blessing his efforts to bring God’s Chosen People back to the fold. Saul really thought he was following God’s call on his life! But on the road to Damascus, several interesting things happened to Saul in one life changing event. First there was a bright light… so bright it knocked him off his high horse! Not quite certain who this celestial being was, Saul asked the question, “Who are you Lord?” Jesus, himself replied to Saul, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting.” Immediately after the introduction another interesting thing happens, Jesus gives Saul a directive to enter the city and await further instructions.” After the light went away, Saul stood up and realized that he could not see!

         Paul’s entourage came beside him and lead him into the city. Paul waited for his ‘further instructions’ for three days. During that time, he neither ate or drank. He had a lot of time to think. “I thought I was following the will of God.” “Why did Jesus appear in this bright light? Could it be that I was wrong the entire time? Could it be that Jesus really IS the Son of God?” And if that is the case Saul was probably thinking of all the wasted time… and about all those people who were following the Messiah, that he had persecuted. If only he could go back in time and change his life choices up to that point!

         Now, back to Acts Chapter 9 starting with verse 10, another interesting thing happens… Listen to what scripture says:  Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.” The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, YEABUT! “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 

         A new directive from God which came along with a new name. This man went from Saul to Paul. Scales fell from his eyes and he could not only see from new physical eyes but also new spiritual eyes as well. Paul was so excited, he wanted to tell everyone! Only one problem… in verses 23-26 we discover that after this encounter with Jesus, the Jews wanted to kill him and the disciples wouldn’t let Paul be a disciple because they were afraid of him. Paul went from persecutor to persecuted. From a plush life with nothing but opportunities ahead for him… with benefits. To a life as a crazy Jesus follower… constantly on the run. Yet without Paul, the Gentiles would have never had opportunity to hear the gospel. And the thing that has me the most baffled? God literally caused the crisis that lead Saul to become Paul and follow God’s true calling on his life!

         Listen to Paul’s words as he describes his life as a Jesus follower…. It’s found in 2 Corinthians 11 starting with verse 24: Five times I have received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked; for a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from bandits, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers and sisters; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, hungry and thirsty, often without food, cold and naked. And, besides other things, I am under daily pressure because of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I am not indignant?”

         …I almost subtitled this sermon, you think you got problems! But listen, Paul continues: If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.”

         You see, God uses the broken and the weak for God’s kingdom work. Because the broken and weak understand that they are NOTHING without God. God takes the broken and the weak and, through Jesus makes them Strong and Courageous! 

         Journal Prompts: 

·      5 Daily Gratitudes

·      Has there been a time in your life where God changed your plan? 

·      If you could talk to the younger you about how your life would turn out, what would you say?

·      Has God spoken to you during this time of uncertainty due to Covid-19? What is God saying to you?