Rev. Dr. Ronald E. Braxton, Senior Pastor, Metropolitan AME Church
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Scripture Lesson – Acts 9: 1-11, Saul’s Conversion. The Blinding of Saul 1-2 All this time Saul was breathing down the necks of the Master’s disciples, out for the kill. He went to the Chief Priest and got arrest warrants to take to the meeting places in Damascus so that if he found anyone there belonging to the Way, whether men or women, he could arrest them and bring them to Jerusalem. 3-4He set off. When he got to the outskirts of Damascus, he was suddenly dazed by a blinding flash of light. As he fell to the ground, he heard a voice: “Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me?” 5-6He said, “Who are you, Master?” “I am Jesus, the One you’re hunting down. I want you to get up and enter the city. In the city you’ll be told what to do next.” 7-9His companions stood there dumbstruck—they could hear the sound, but couldn’t see anyone—while Saul, picking himself up off the ground, found himself stone-blind. They had to take him by the hand and lead him into Damascus. He continued blind for three days. He ate nothing, drank nothing. 10There was a disciple in Damascus by the name of Ananias. The Master spoke to him in a vision: “Ananias.” “Yes, Master?” he answered. 11-12″Get up and go over to Straight Avenue. Ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus. His name is Saul. He’s there praying. He has just had a dream in which he saw a man named Ananias enter the house and lay hands on him so he could see again.” The Message Bible translation
The scripture is one of a number of post resurrection stories of conversion of many people who either saw Jesus and believed, or whose eyes were opened to the truth of Jesus as a resurrected Messiah through the work of his disciples.
Jesus appeared for Doubting Thomas, the disciple who did not believe the report that Jesus was alive until he put his finger through Jesus’ side. Luke continues to tell the stories of conversion in the Book of Acts. There is the story of the conversion of the crippled beggar who had been begging for alms at the gate all his life, until he saw Jesus; there is the story of the conversion of the youth sitting by the roadside reading, but who did not know what he was reading until Phillip read to him; boy jumped up and shouted “Baptize me now!” Here in Book 9 of Acts, we have the famous story of the conversion of Saul, later called Paul, and the events on the “Road to Damascus”.
Saul/Paul’s story is a powerful story of the transformative power of God, through Christ, to reshape a life; the power to change the entire course of someone’s direction in life. It is rare for such a dramatic transformative experience as that of Saul/Paul. The story of your conversion may not be that dramatic, but it is as legitimate as Saul’s. Some of us have a “faith inferiority complex” because our conversion is not as dramatic as Saul’s. But God finds each of us “where we are”; God knows how each of us can best witness the transforming power of God, and some of us could not handle a dramatic witness as Saul’s. As the elders used to say: “Lord, let me get as close as I can bear.”
In the scripture, Luke tells the story of how awful Saul was to the post-ascension followers of Christ. In verses 1-2, we learn that Saul was a zealous persecutor of the disciples, “breathing down their necks…out for the kill”. The scripture teaches several lessons about what happens “When God Goes to Work in a Life”.
1. There is no life that is exempt from the transformative touch of the power of God. When God decides to work through you, there are no excuses. Whether you are an Anglican preacher named John Wesley, an Israelite named Esther, a freedom fighter known as the Black Moses, the son of a Baptist preacher named Martin Luther King, the son of a freed black slave named Richard Allen, or a poor black boy of single mother from a public housing project [named Rev Ronald Braxton], others can witness through the hand of Jesus touching YOU. Nothing and no one is too small, too big, too rich, too poor, too high, or too low that God cannot transform it.
2. When God goes to work in your life, you will never see life the same way again. In verse 8 of the scripture, Saul got up from the ground; his eyes were open, but he could see nothing. Ananias laid his hands on Saul, and suddenly he could see again.
There are a lot of folks living with their eyes open, but they can’t see God at work in their lives, and in the world. There are too many people suffering from an “eyes-wide-open-blindness syndrome.” Their eyes can’t see God, and their eyes can’t see the needs of others. On the healthcare issue, many people’s eyes are open, but they can’t see.
When God opens your eyes, He will show you new eyes, new hopes, new paths, new visions, new dreams. You will be able to do what you thought you could never accomplish. You will be able to walk through doors you never thought you could go through. You will see people differently – you will see joy, hope, missing power, potential for healing. You will suddenly see all the young boys and young girls losing their way, and you will reach out to them.
Ananias had no power of his own to open Saul’s eyes. He was but an instrument to send out the glorious power of a resurrected God. God opens eyes, changes lives, breathing through to a champion of the faith. It’s God, we don’t have the power on our own. It’s not until God steps in and puts his hands on your soul and opens your eyes, that we can see Jesus as our Lord. As the hymn goes: “What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought, since Jesus came into my life!”
3. When God goes to work in a life, it’s not a “cake walk”. It’s not a cake walk when God goes to work in a life; when you have to start dealing with your own sins. It’s not a cake walk standing up here preaching; it’s not a cake walk singing in the choir, after being careful about where you were last night. It’s not a cake walk calling yourself a Steward or a Trustee, while you’re living ungodly, shabby lives. It’s not a cake walk coming to church on Sunday, because when God goes to work in your life, you can’t go home and beat up on your spouse; you can’t cuss out everybody on your job. It’s not a cake walk to live standing for Christ. It’s not a cake walk, but if you let Him go to work in your life, God will touch you and He will walk with you the whole way through.
I keep on learning that when God touches your life, the lives of unlikely people from diverse backgrounds will rise up to heal, to help to provide. I got news for a lotta folk in here: Ananias didn’t want to have anything to do with Saul/Paul; he protested God’s telling him to lay his hands on that “no good scoundrel” Saul. But he did what God told him to do, and the scales fell from Saul’s eyes.
When God goes to work on you, He puts people in your life; He’ll surround you with folks who will pray for you, who will have your back. He’ll stand by you when the storms of life are raging; when the world has tossed you HE will stand by you. Amen
- Sermon Notes: Living a Marked Life
- Sermon Notes: Born in Debt
- Sermon Notes: When God Is Present
- Sermon Notes: When Mountains Loom Larger Than Faith
- Sermon Notes: God Will Show Up in the Rubble Places
Tags: Rev. Dr. Ronald E. Braxton, Sermon Notes