The Conversion of Saul
 But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest  and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.  Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him.  And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”  And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.  But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”  The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one.  Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.  And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”  And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, 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, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem.  And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.”  But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.  For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”  So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”  And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized;  and taking food, he was strengthened.
Saul Proclaims Jesus in Synagogues
For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. (ESV)
- Jesus changes us
Paul’s story is a dramatic example of what is true about everyone Jesus saves. Paul experienced a radical transformation so extreme that other believers were reluctant to trust it. How could the man who persecuted Christians now be preaching the Gospel? There is only one explanation: When Jesus saves us, he also changes us. Through faith in Jesus, we are saved from the consequences of sin and its power over us. This freedom from sin is found only in Jesus and always results in a radically different lifestyle.
- Faithful ministry often brings fierce opposition
Paul’s testimony and conversion served as a compelling example of the power of Jesus and his Gospel. He was also a vigorous Gospel teacher and preacher, which resulted in many people coming to faith in Jesus. None of this was welcomed by the Jewish leaders. In fact, as with Jesus, they sought to kill Paul in order to shut down the Church and its ministry. Though this type of extreme opposition is foreign to most of us, persecution is increasingly becoming a more normal reality for many Christians in our country. This is because faithful ministry is often met head on with opposition from the world. Nobody is indifferent to the claims of Jesus.
- Conflict outside the Church, peace within the Church
Twice in this text, Luke refers to murderous threats and attempts made against Paul. These threats were also intended to intimidate anyone who would support or agree with Paul and his ministry. Consequently, these threats, which were aimed at Paul, also hit the Church. However, the Church continued to experience peace and growth.
- How did the Church initially receive Paul? What changed their position?
- How has Jesus freed you from enslaving sins? What areas currently need growth in terms of obedience?
- What, if any, opposition have you faced as a Christian? What elements of the Christian faith currently bring the fiercest opposition from the world?
- How can the Church simultaneously face opposition and experience peace and growth?
Call to Worship
Deliver Me, O LORD
A Song of Ascents.
 In my distress I called to the LORD,
and he answered me.
 Deliver me, O LORD,
from lying lips,
from a deceitful tongue.
 What shall be given to you,
and what more shall be done to you,
you deceitful tongue?
 A warrior’s sharp arrows,
with glowing coals of the broom tree!
 Woe to me, that I sojourn in Meshech,
that I dwell among the tents of Kedar!
 Too long have I had my dwelling
among those who hate peace.
 I am for peace,
but when I speak, they are for war! (ESV)
Prayer of Confession
Lord, we rejoice that in you we find our hope. We have tried and failed to manage our lives. We have tried to guard what we say and don’t say. We have tried to serve selflessly. We have tried to contain our appetites and desires. We have tried not to judge or condemn. We have tried to control our thoughts. The harder we try, the more obvious it becomes we cannot attain perfection. We confess our sin and weakness to you. Help us to walk in righteousness forsaking all others and clinging to you in faith. We humbly thank you for forgiving our sins and washing us clean through the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Family Discipleship Weekly Resources
Family Discipleship Weekly Resources are tools for families to use to help connect Sunday’s sermon to the rest of your week, fostering conversations and habits of worship.