From Saul to Paul – from bad to good.

Acts 9. 1-20

Saul’s Conversion

9 Meanwhile, 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.
10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord,” he answered.
11 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. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
15 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. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
17 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.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Saul in Damascus and Jerusalem
Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. 20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.


We find this story in the book of Acts. 
Sauls Conversion


Saul was a Bad man, a killer, a Roman Soldier, He persecuted Christians. Yet we find him here in the bible.

What about other people we find in the bible what were they like?

Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Peter….

Adam was a failure (Genesis 3: 17-19)
Noah was drunk (Genesis 9: 21)
Abraham was a coward (Genesis 20: 11)
Jacob was a cheat (Genesis 27: 19)
Moses was a murderer (Exodus 2:12)
Peter was a liar (Matthew 26: 70)
John and James the disciples of Jesus were big-heads (Matthew 20:22)

But what a difference after they met God.
They turned their lives around.

Adam was obedient eventually…
Noah was righteous, patient and godly
Abraham was faithful, leader and father.
Jacob was remorseful, and resourceful
Moses was a leader, deliverer, and a law-giver.
Peter became loyal (eventually) and a leader.
John the apostle, was a friend and loyal…

Just like Saul did.  He turned it around completely and instead of persecuting Christians, he began to save them.  So the bible is the story of flawed not perfect human beings.

It’s also the story of how God still used them, despite their flaws…

God doesn’t want us to be perfect, just willing and available.

My email address begins with? squarehalo
Everybody says that’s a funny email, why squarehalo, well before I was ordained, before I became a priest, I was looking for an email address I didn’t want anything boring so I ask my friend and we sat and thought about it, she also knows I like angels.  So she said what about square halo I asked why square, she said because I wasn’t perfect and I still needed my edges rubbing off. 

I’m still not perfect, I still do things wrong, but God still uses me.  But I can come to God and say I’m really sorry and I’ll try not to do it again.  God doesn’t say well Michelle I’m sorry you should be perfect by now. I won’t forgive you. 

The thing that seems to be a clear is that God doesn’t pick out the especially worthy or the especially good. God seems to pick out people who are ordinary. People with just as many problems, personal failings and skeletons in the cupboard as anybody else. Ordinary people much like you and I.

Maybe God uses ordinary people so that when we see the extraordinary things that God is able to do through them, we’ll know it was God and therefore that there’s hope for us too!
 
I’m not saying that if you follow Jesus that all your problems will be over and that life will be wonderful, all chocolates and roses. I’m sure Paul had plenty of days when he thought he’d have been better off back as a Roman soldier.  We all have those days when we wonder what we have got ourselves into.

But what I am saying is that God wants you to follow Jesus, just as you are. He will take all the good things in you and use them in ways you can’t imagine. 

I wonder if Saul thought when he set out that day, that Jesus would change his life and use all his good characteristics to save Christians and not persecute them?

If Jesus can take people like Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Peter…. And use them, then what can he do with you?

All Paul had to do was to stand up, and believe in Jesus, and stumble along after His voice and see what happened from there.

Jesus is always looking for volunteers, and he can never have too many…

Everyone can do something for God.

Even a baby – who smiles gives lots of pleasure to those who see his smile.

I wonder if the children could do any of these?

1.   Give up T.V. and your game station for one day, spend time doing things for others.

2. Collect toys for a children’s charity.

3. Take part in a charity walk to raise money

4. Bake cakes for someone that lives by themselves.

5. Paint or draw a picture for your grandparents or family member and send it to them.

6. Make a get well box for a friend that is sick.

7. Write out a special prayer for your school and teachers.

8. Start a jar of kindness, and put in it ways to be kind. Take one out every day and do it.

9. Listen and don’t argue back.

10. Open the door for people wherever you go.

These are simple ideas that any child whatever their age can do.  Some of them they could do as a family.  Re-enforce that by doing these acts that we are working for God.  God doesn’t ask us to do anything that we can’t do but uses the things that we can do. 

Perhaps you could turn this into a summer challenge.
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About Michelle Bailey

Reverend Michelle Bailey is the Rural Officer for the Bishop of Brecon and Swansea  She previously worked in Children's Ministry and was ordained in the Church of England. Her blog includes ideas on presenting concepts of faith to young children to the age of eleven and furthering faith development in an educational context. Michelle currently lives in Wales and is also developing a rural ministry blog.
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