April 8, 2018
Acts 9:1-19 Common English Bible (CEB)
Saul encounters the risen Jesus
9 Meanwhile, Saul was still spewing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest, 2 seeking letters to the synagogues in Damascus. If he found persons who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, these letters would authorize him to take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 During the journey, as he approached Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven encircled him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice asking him, “Saul, Saul, why are you harassing me?”
5 Saul asked, “Who are you, Lord?”
“I am Jesus, whom you are harassing,” came the reply. 6 “Now get up and enter the city. You will be told what you must do.”
7 Those traveling with him stood there speechless; they heard the voice but saw no one. 8 After they picked Saul up from the ground, he opened his eyes but he couldn’t see. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind and neither ate nor drank anything.
10 In Damascus there was a certain disciple named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
He answered, “Yes, Lord.”
11 The Lord instructed him, “Go to Judas’ house on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias enter and put his hands on him to restore his sight.”
13 Ananias countered, “Lord, I have heard many reports about this man. People say he has done horrible things to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 He’s here with authority from the chief priests to arrest everyone who calls on your name.”
15 The Lord replied, “Go! This man is the agent I have chosen to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and Israelites. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”
17 Ananias went to the house. He placed his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord sent me—Jesus, who appeared to you on the way as you were coming here. He sent me so that you could see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Instantly, flakes fell from Saul’s eyes and he could see again. He got up and was baptized. 19 After eating, he regained his strength.
He stayed with the disciples in Damascus for several days.
Hi Friends and Family,
Today we start a four part series titled “The Grind – Persevering In A Tough World.” Today we focus on what it means to answer your spiritual calling and how we will survive the trial and low spots in life. Our message is centered around Acts 9:1-19, and the life of Paul.
Be sure to visit us on the web at http://www.mtolivetcharge.org, and be sure to download our App from the App Store.
Thank you for supporting our ministry.
Pastor Harold Long
The Grind Part I of IV
Big Idea of the Series: This four-week sermon series guide details the importance of overcoming adversity and fighting for faith, even when life is difficult. By examining the life of the Apostle Paul, this series considers the call of every believer to share in Christ’s sufferings, to understand the value of contentment, to receive the necessity of joy amid grief, and to apply the quality of faithfulness to their daily walk with Christ. The goal of this series is to encourage and equip folks to persevere through the daily grind of school, work, and family with purpose and meaning.
Text: Acts 9:1-19
Topic: Suffering, Calling
Big Idea of the Message: Paul’s God-given destiny was marked with a call to suffer for Christ.
Application Point: Every believer is called to share in Christ’s suffering to some extent, so we need to be ready.
Sermon Ideas and Talking Points:
- Let’s start with a question, has your life been radically changed by Jesus?
- Is it possible you accepted Jesus into your life and chose to follow Jesus at such a young age that it has prevented you from every becoming truly lost?
- Saul was radically saved and transformed, making his way from a Jesus-hating legalist to a faithful, courageous Jesus-follower known as Paul. Initially, the Lord said he would “show him [Paul] how much he must suffer” for the name of Christ (v.16). What a welcome! Unfortunately, many people make a “decision” and get baptized to get out of the punishment of hell, but they don’t understand that becoming a Christian also requires them to lay down their lives for the sake of Christ—which sometimes involves suffering.
- Millennial’s, those in the generation born between 1982 and 2002, have been labeled as Generation Me because of their self-centeredness and materialism—a characteristic that tends to be the same regardless of race, ethnicity, or family social status. The concept of entitlement, the idea that one deserves things without having to work for them, has increased significantly, making this generation the most entitled group of people in history (Tom Jacobs, “Millennial’s: A Generation With Unrealistic Expectations,” 1 May 2013, Pacific Standard Magazine, <https://psmag.com/economics/millenials-a-generation-with-unrealistic-expectations-56761>). Just because this generation of youth is labeled a certain way doesn’t mean that Christians must follow suit. In fact, if we’re honest, we’d admit that we all can be tempted to entitlement—regardless of age. In that sense, believers should be ready and willing to work hard, even to suffer, because our worldview is determined by the timeless truth of the Bible, not the culture around us.
- Jesus promised that we would have a hard time on earth as his followers (see John 16:33). 33 I’ve said these things to you so that you will have peace in me. In the world you have distress. But be encouraged! I have conquered the world.” In fact, he said that denying ourselves and taking up our own cross is a requirement for following him (Matthew 16:24). 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me.
Often, this looks like staying faithful in the daily grind, the regular and unglamorous choices of being like Jesus:
- How we treat those who hurt us.
- Doing our best when no one is watching.
- Showing mercy and forgiveness to offenders.
- If we are called to suffer as Jesus did, we had better get used to the idea of embracing some pain.
- Expectations are half the battle. If we expect to suffer, to have to go through hard things and endure in faith to get through them, this will help us have the gumption and courage we need to fulfill our calling. But if we expect an easy and care-free life, we will set ourselves up for disappointment.
- “I read one time about how shipbuilders back in the days of sailboats would prepare the masts for their ships. They would go to the forest and find an appropriate tree, then they would clear out all the surrounding trees and leave that one standing, leaving it exposed to the wind and storms.
As the tree continued to mature, it would gain strength. The kind of strength it would need to be able to stand up in the storms at sea while holding a large sail.
But that tree would never gain that strength if it was just left among the other trees. It developed strength because of the storms.
I believe that if we build our lives on the solid rock of Jesus and his words, then when the storms come, we will not only survive, we’ll gain strength.” – Steve Smith
- As Christians we are called to face the grind and do so boldly and with faith.
- Jesus told us we would suffer, and to prepare ourselves for suffering.
- By following spiritual principals during and through the storms of life we become stronger and find we can persevere in the toughest off times.
- We discover by weathering the storms, God can use our experience for a means of strength and hope for countless others.