Acts 22:1-6 (The Message)
Acts 22 1-2 "My dear brothers and fathers, listen carefully to what I have to say before you jump to conclusions about me." When they heard him speaking Hebrew, they grew even quieter. No one wanted to miss a word of this.
2-3 He continued, "I am a good Jew, born in Tarsus in the province of Cilicia, but educated here in Jerusalem under the exacting eye of Rabbi Gamaliel, thoroughly instructed in our religious traditions. And I've always been passionately on God's side, just as you are right now.
4-5 "I went after anyone connected with this 'Way,' went at them hammer and tongs, ready to kill for God. I rounded up men and women right and left and had them thrown in prison. You can ask the Chief Priest or anyone in the High Council to verify this; they all knew me well. Then I went off to our brothers in Damascus, armed with official documents authorizing me to hunt down the followers of Jesus there, arrest them, and bring them back to Jerusalem for sentencing.
6-7"As I arrived on the outskirts of Damascus about noon, a blinding light blazed out of the skies and I fell to the ground, dazed. I heard a voice: 'Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me?
(how sweet the sound)
That sav’d a wretch like me!
I once was lost,
but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
John Newton, wrote the well known hymn, Amazing Grace that told of his own transformed life.
Tonight at cell group we met, each with a story of our own--of where we've been and of where we might be if not for Jesus.
"I would wake up in the morning with a swear word on my lips," he said, "But now, I wake up thanking God I'm alive and praying that he'll be with me all through the day."
I hear so many stories, of a faith that isn't just an ideology but a powerful life transforming force.
"I wouldn't be here if I hadn't become a Christian. "
As the tears begin to fall I know what they mean and "here" is not about the geographic location.
Paul the apostle, took every opportunity to tell his story. It was so dramatic and no one could argue that "something" had happened to him on the road to Damascus.
John Newton...a slave trader who during a storm at sea, called out to God and began a journey of faith that would result in a transformed life.
Paul...a well educated Jew, zealous to wipe out the new cult called Christians who fell to the ground from a donkey and was never the same again .
Our cell group member, a young man whose life took a dramatic turn when he turned to Christ and whose dearest longing now is for his daughter to find Christ early.
Across our land right now there are hundreds of Alpha courses running, and thousands of Canadians are being drawn to this opportunity to explore faith.
Each one a story in the making.
Acts 26:12-15 (The Message)
12-14"One day on my way to Damascus, armed as always with papers from the high priests authorizing my action, right in the middle of the day a blaze of light, light outshining the sun, poured out of the sky on me and my companions. Oh, King, it was so bright! We fell flat on our faces. Then I heard a voice in Hebrew: 'Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me? Why do you insist on going against the grain?'
15-16"I said, 'Who are you, Master?'
"The voice answered, 'I am Jesus, the One you're hunting down like an animal. But now, up on your feet—I have a job for you. I've handpicked you to be a servant and witness to what's happened today, and to what I am going to show you.