Coney Hill Baptist Church

Demonstrating God’s Love Together

Encounter and Change

Acts 9:1-19

Meanwhile, 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.

 10In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, "Ananias!"
      "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.


Intro:

In this series about discipleship we’ve been emphasising the process that the first followers of Jesus went through.  Albeit a fairly brief process, over a matter of weeks, but, in that time, they came to know, experience and learn about the significance and power of the resurrected Jesus and how he now held claim on their lives. 

But really it was all about a single decision, a moment of revelation.  For them then and for us now, it’s all about what we make of Jesus … our gut reaction to his presence.  If we are not moved, astounded, thrilled, challenged by Him, then all the training, experience and length of committed service in the world wont turn us into the disciples He seeks. 

This story, of the most powerful such encounter in history, reminds us that when confronted with the power of the risen Jesus, nothing need be the same again, everything is changed.

 

An Unlikely Disciple…

In almost every sense Paul was an unlikely candidate for such an encounter.  This was a surprise in every way! 

He was antagonistic, not sympathetic.

He was intellectual, not emotional.

He was well informed, not ignorant.

He was successful, not ‘needy’.

With such people today we still find it difficult and challenging … we are often anxious if the gospel is really necessary for such people, we find it difficult to envisage them accepting it. 

Yet the Jesus that Paul met, blew all that away … it wasn’t a question of whether he could find a window to fit him into his life, or if the finer points of a certain doctrine could be adequately worked through … he was pinned to the floor by the wonder and the glory … and, at the same time, by the realisation of the small, petty-ness of his own life up to that point.

That power is still there.

 

An Intervening God

Instead of going to arrest God’s people, God has arrested Saul.  He is calling the shots now, and Paul will never forget it … everything he would think, say, do and write from now on would flow from this moment.  God had shown himself to be:

The Glorious Father of Jesus…

A Powerful Protector of His People…

The Architect of a Purpose and a Plan that He will Fulfil…

One who Saves on the basis of undeserved Grace not Goodness…    

 

Knowing God means encountering Him, meeting Him.

 

Seeing to a Disciple’s Needs…

A Friendship … Fellowship with Ananias…

An Experience … of the Holy Spirit…

A Healing … of His body…

A Baptism … into a new Family…

A Meal … practical/physical consideration

 

Conc.

To be disciples we need that desicive encounter that pins us down, and which God's Spirit renews in us each day.  From that, in fellowship with others and through committing ourselves to His way, we might be able to receive, and offer, the healing and practical support and involvement that God longs for us.