It is a joy to preach through the book of Acts! It is filled with examples and lessons that I need to learn and apply. As I continue to look at the “Acts of Acts” in this sermon series, it seems like each chapter has the apostles, or early Christians, involved in an act that we have a tendency to try to avoid. Yet it was these very acts of God in their lives that transformed a fledgling group disciples in disarray into a mighty force that turned the known world upside down with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We live in a time where we need such a transformation in the church and in the lives of the individuals who follow Jesus.
As we arrive in Acts 9 in our sermon series, we find Saul on his way to Damascus with the intent of persecuting and taking prisoner all who followed the way of Jesus. As he went, he had an encounter with Jesus and through Him experienced the Act of SAVE! Let’s look at some lessons we can learn from the example of the early church and Saul’s conversion.
- Sight: Saul began his journey with his sight set on wreaking havoc in the lives of any Christians he found. In order to experience the act of save, his sight needed to be changed. God focused Saul’s sight off of his traditions, trainings, and triumphs and onto Jesus! As Paul, Saul would later write that he had the best of all of this from man’s perspective but none of it had the ability to save him. When we begin to think we can be saved by holding onto our own traditions, trainings, or triumphs, we too need to have our sight adjusted by God! For us to experience the act of save, we must see God for who He is and realize the only way to be saved is through His son, Jesus. For us to be involved in taking the act of save to others, we must see them as God see them — loved and in need of God’s great mercy and grace, just as you and I are. When God calls you to grow in the Act of SAVE, recognize that to do so will require an adjustment in your sight.
- Accept: So, what happens when God brings about a disruption in your sight? You are left with a choice — accept the change of sight God offers, or reject it. The act of save requires that we accept Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life and that no one comes to God except through Him! Saul had to accept that his way of seeing things wasn’t accurate and that the instructions given to him by Jesus were to be followed. When we are obedient to God’s call to share the act of save with others, we too must accept that God has the power and desire to bring change to their life! Ananias appears to have had doubts about sharing the gospel of Jesus with Saul but did accept the command of Jesus to do so. It was through the obedience of Ananias that Saul is able to accept the message and be baptized into Jesus Christ! Accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior is vital to the Act of Save in your life and learning to accept the power of God to change people is a vital quality to help you grow in the Act of SAVE.
- Vision: While this may seem similar to the first point, the sight we need adjusted is ours but the vision we must take on is God’s! Our sight needs adjusted to accurately view what we see but our vision needs adjusted to accurately view what we cannot see! My good friend David often says, “God can use anyone He wants, whenever He wants, however He wants”, or something like that at least. To both experience and share the act of save, we must have the vision of that statement for ourself and for the people God calls us to take the message of Jesus to. When Ananias expressed his concern to God about Saul, God revealed to him the vision He had for what Saul would become. Saul, as Paul, would later write that “we walk by faith and not by sight”. He understood the act of save propelled him beyond what was seen and into accomplishing what only God could see possible. When we are growing in the Act of SAVE, we live with growing amazement that comes from exchanging our inabilities and short-sightedness for the ability and vision of the living God.
- Escape: Part of what makes the good news of the act of save such good news is the escape from the deserved punishment of sin. In the past, many people would come to experience the act of save in order to escape the eternal punishment of hell. While our current culture seems to often steer away from preaching and teaching about the reality of eternal separation from God as a result of sin, the escape from that punishment is just as real as ever for those who are saved. But we sell the act of save short if we don’t realize a broader, and current, escape that we can experience on a day-to-day basis — an escape from the power of sin and death! The act of save in Saul’s life not only brought escape to him from the punishment of sin, it also brought an escape to the lives of the Christians in Damascus from the sin he intended to inflict upon them. It was through this escape that we read the church enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened and encouraged by the Holy Spirit. When we spend time sharing the Act of SAVE with openness and fullness to all people, we proclaim an escape from the power of sin and death in life and in eternity.
So, how are you doing in living out and growing in the Act of SAVE? Do you look to God for needed Sight adjustments? Do you Accept the payment Jesus made to save you from your sin and accept He has the power and desire to save all who call upon Him? Are you willing to see God’s Vision for your purpose in His kingdom as well as the purpose of others? Will you enjoy and celebrate the Escape God offers from the power of sin and death? I pray that the act of SAVE expressed through your life will boldly show the world that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior!