WHO CAN YOU TRUST?
I would like for us to take a few minutes looking at Saul’s amazing journey. Last week we read he was headed to Damascus to arrest, possibly even see to it the more radical Christians were put to death. But as he approached Damascus something happened. A bright light came from nowhere dropping Saul to his knees. He then heard someone other than those travelling with him talking. I am convinced they were out in the middle of nowhere when this happened. Not sure how many were traveling with Saul, but I cannot help but think they all looked at each other as if to say it was not me. Sometimes I wonder if we read these stories and do not fully accept or give credit for how incredible they are. Have any of you ever, when no one else was around, heard an undeniable voice talking to you? I have not. Would it get your attention if it happened? I would think so. Obviously, it had never happened to Saul before because it got his attention.
Once at Damascus, Saul went to a house God lead him to. God also spoke, as we saw last week, to Ananias. Ananias was told in a vision to go see Saul. Ananias wanted nothing to do with him, but he agreed to go. In part, he probably agreed to go because he thought he was dreaming. I will go and he probably won’t be there. This may have been what he thought. In fact, that is probably what he was hoping would happen, because he knew why Saul was coming to Damascus. Of course, we know it turned out just like Ananias was told in the vision. What an incredible series of events that was life changing for many people then and continues to be used to change lives today! From the verses we read this morning, we see what happened after he had recharged his batteries in Damascus for a few days. He suddenly was transformed from someone seeking out every Christian he could find to destroy to someone who suddenly was leading the charge for Jesus and we see what happened. Virtually everyone, both Christians and Jews, did not know what to think. In the course of just a few days he went from the most committed Jew seeking to stop these Christians who were deceiving the Jews to someone saying, “I was wrong, Jesus is the Messiah, you must accept and believe.”
When Saul returned to Jerusalem, we see the disciples did not trust him. They thought this was a trap, he was just trying to find the leaders and will arrest and kill them all. For a little while Saul had no one who trusted him. He was seemingly on an island all by himself. Have you ever had that kind of transformation in the way you think about things that led everyone around you to say, “What is going on with him or her?” Last week I asked the question, “Where are you and I on our journey with Jesus Christ?” Has that journey caused you to stop doing some things that make some of your old friends say, “What’s up with you?” Maybe not as instant a change as happened to Saul, but have you stopped doing some things and started doing others that have truly baffled everyone around you? Obviously, the thing about Saul is that he went full speed for whatever he was passionate about. First, as a committed Jew he was convinced Jesus was not the Son of God, then all of a sudden, changing literally overnight, to Jesus’ most committed supporter.
I do not know how dramatically any of you may have changed your attitude on something you once felt strongly about. Depending on how you once lived your life, some of us saw drastic changes when we became a Christian; others though may be less drastic. For those of you who had a major lifestyle and attitude change, what was the reaction of your friends and family? Were there those saying, “It is just a fad, give them a week or two and he/she will be their same old self.” Were there skeptics saying that it will never last or it is just a phase or even I do not know what kind of game you are playing but I hope you get over it soon? Those who know it is the right thing, were they also doubting it would last? Saul was greeted by all those same questions from both sides to the point that Saul, in just a few days, went from being one of the Jews seeking out Christians to potentially kill them to someone the Jewish leaders wanted to kill.
I do not know if any of you had such a radical change that your “old friends” went from your biggest supporters to your biggest enemies as Saul did, but we must be aware of the fact that if we speak out for Jesus we will not always be loved and embraced by the world around us. That is why it is so important to have a support team in a church and among Christian family members. There was a time seemingly Saul had no one he could trust and no one who trusted him. As we move forward as God’s children, I pray we will realize how much God loves us and how much he cares for each of us. And no matter what happens, just as Saul was never truly alone, we are never alone either. God’s encouragement to us as individuals and as the church are always available. As we read in verse 31 of Acts 9, the Church was strengthened and encouraged by the Holy Spirit. As a result, we read, it grew in numbers living in a respectful fear of the Lord.
We have no new announcements this week. Please refer to last week's post for them.