Saul’s Conversion Acts 9
Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and 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. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord,” he answered.
The 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. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
Then 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.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Today’s service is a little bit different to other ones over recent weeks
As Today we’re thinking about fathers –
In fact, I want to think a little bit wider than that …
I want to actually think about male role models in our lives
and for many of us it might be our dads,
but that’s not the case for all of us –
maybe our dad isn’t around so it might be grandad,
that inspirational teacher or youth worker,
a family friend, or an uncle….who’s been a great encouragement to you.
but whoever it is – today is a great opportunity to recognise their part in your life and to thank them…
So I’ve been wondering – who do you look up to? Who inspires you, encourages you?
I asked some of our children and young people that question – let’s find out what they said…
As a child, when I first moved to Northern Ireland with my mum and my 2 sisters
– there was one man in particular whom I met a church
and he became someone very important to me and my family.
He was my minister – Jan Taylor. Sadly he’s no longer with us.
But this man was kind, and caring and full of fun –
and the reason I went to church,
the reason I discovered Jesus and why I am doing what I do today.
I’m sad I never really got to tell him that, but one day I will!
But, The bible is full of male role models, men who were like fathers to others–
for example Barnabas who encouraged John Mark,
or Joseph – Jesus step dad who brought him up as his own son –
helping him grow and become the person God was shaping him to be.
There are lots of people we can learn from, but one of my Favourites is a man called Paul –
So instead of a bible reading today let’s watch a short video from saddleback kids about Pauls life. (you can read all about Paul in Acts chapter 9, and much of the New Testament)
I love this story of Paul and although Paul wasn’t a dad –
he became a great role model to lots of people,
especially two young men called timothy and titus whom he called sons of the faith.
These men’s lives were shaped by God who used paul and his teaching to transform so many!
I love that Paul wasn’t perfect! None of us are…
not the role models we look up to, not even our dads are perfect.
Were all very human who make mistakes –
so we need to be careful that we don’t look for perfection in our fathers, or male role models – or we may be disappointed.
But I love the fact that although Paul started out as someone who detested Jesus and all his followers – but then encountered God and was transformed –
in fact – you cant help but be transformed when you encounter Jesus – we read about it all the time in the new testament.
Paul actually became the person he was trying to destroy…
I love that no matter what mistakes we’ve made,
or how much we’ve messed up – we learn and see in Paul’s life that God’s forgiveness is there for us all nothing can separate us from Gods love!
Because like Paul – God sees something in you – he sees the purpose of your life, he sees the person you can become with his help.
Today as we think about role models –
I want to ask you a question –
not who do you look up to, but who looks up to you – are you someone’s role model?
Are you setting the example you should be setting (this question is for all of us, not just dads!)
I dare you to be courageous like Paul and to step out in faith and see what purpose/what adventure god has planned for your life.
God is our role model – the perfect father!
So I asked some of our children and youth to describe the characteristics of someone they look up to, a role model in their life! this is what they had to say:
Some of us have a great relationship with our fathers and some of us really struggle
But over the years I’ve come to know and trust my heavenly father to be the perfect father.
And here’s a few of the reasons why:
God is trust worthy – Proverbs 3v5 says to trust in the lord with all of your heart, we shouldn’t depend on our own understanding. Jesus always trusted his father God even when he wasn’t sure about what was going to happen to him – he followed Gods plan anyway. ) have you stepped out in faith and trusted God with your life?
A source of encouragement – throughout the bible God want to encourage us… in fact he wants to help us to live the best life possible! Jesus tells us (in john chapter 10 verse 10) that he has come so that we might have life – life to the full… a life to the full is one that is in relationship with God the father and allows God to lead us. (God’s word always encourages and helps us but I find that sometimes I need to hear it from people too…. And ive found that god often brings people across my path when ive needed to hear an encouraging word! – who can you encourage?)
He’s always there for us – even in the difficult times God is always there for us – I love that even when Jesus was finding things difficult he knew he could always retreat and find some where to spend time alone with his heavenly father – Gods word promises us that God will never leave nor forsake us! If you’re struggling can I encourage you to run into your heavenly father’s arms – he loves you very much and is always there waiting for you!
Finally, God the perfect father – always has our best interest at heart! Sometimes we may not like what God wants to do in our lives, but it’s all back to knowing gods heart is always for us… if he won’t give us something we’ve asked for, or asks us to go or do something we’re not comfortable with – we need to remember he sees the bigger picture – he only wants to give us good things… he wants us to live a great life – full of joy, and peace and kindness and all the fruit of the spirit – he wants to shape us… but he asks for us to be patient and to trust…
So today, on father’s day – as we celebrate those amazing male role models that we have in our lives… let’s not forget our heavenly father who loves you very much and wants the best for you… you can trust him! I hope that you do!