Sermon & Small Group Resources
This is the twelfth sermon in our series on the book of Acts on “The Conversion of Saul”. Preacher: The Rev’d David Browne. Bible Reading: Acts 9:1-31
Next Steps this Week
BIBLE READING: Acts 9:1-31
eanwhile, 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.
Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus.
At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.
After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him, but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.
When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews, but they tried to kill him. When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.
SMALL GROUP QUESTIONS
CONNECT: What ‘Gospel Opportunities’ has God placed before you this week?
Have you ever had a ‘Damascus road experience’ that totally change your ideas about something?
What sort of things (fear, passion, greed, family) do you think motivate the people on your front line?
READ Acts 9:1-9
Why was Saul travelling to Damascus? What was he trying to achieve?
What sort of emotions do you think Saul would have felt as he encountered Jesus along the road?
What do Jesus words in vv.5-7 tell us about Jesus' relationship with his disciples?
Why do you think Saul fasted for three days in Damascus? What do you think he was doing?
What could you say to someone today who wants their own ‘sign from God’ like Saul had?
READ Acts 9:10-19
Who do you identify with more in this story so far, Saul or Ananias? What would this experience have been like for them?
What do the Lord’s words in v.15 tell us about his plans for Saul?
What can vv.17-19 teach us about making disciples and bringing people into the church?
How might you need to change the way you see the people around you in order for you to become a disciple maker like Ananias?
READ Acts 9:20-31
How does God redeem Saul’s bad qualities and use them for his good purposes?
What was the crux of Saul’s evangelistic messages (see vv.20-22)? How are people responding?
Why was it difficult for Saul to join the church in Jerusalem? What makes joining a church difficult today?
Why do you think the early church experienced such rapid growth? What lessons can we take out of the Acts series, as we commit to being disciple makers this year?
APPLY This Week: Who are the people in your life who, by their own admission, would never become Christians? How can you be praying for them and reaching out to them this week?
Loving Lord God, thank you that you changed Saul’s heart and that you are changing our hearts. Help us to love and trust you with the people you have put in our lives. Help us to love our neighbours, pray for our enemies, reach out to those who hate us, and welcome new disciples with open arms. Amen.
On Your Frontline This Week: Invite a colleague, neighbour or friend to come along to an Easter service with you. Be they skeptical, indifferent or mildly interested, it is a great opportunity to introduce someone to Jesus?
FOCUS Weekend Away
As we seek to grow as Disciple Makers, we’re going away for a weekend (May 31 - June 2) to Coolum Beach. This is going to be a great time together, with people of all ages and from all three congregations. As you think about growing in your living out of the Gospel, please prayerfully consider coming along. For more info and to register: stbarts.com.au/focus
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