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Scripture
Acts 9:1-9

Open your mind and heart as you read the passage of Scripture aloud and then again quietly to yourself. Listen for God’s word to you.

Observation
In this passage Luke gives h i s a c c o u n t o f t h e conversion of Paul. Paul had been a bystander at the stoning of Stephen and had heard Stephen’s prayer at the moment he
died. What caused Stephen to act the way he had and to speak those words to God? In a frenzied effort to free himself from the doubt that now flooded him about these Christians, Paul went on he rampage. Yet no matter what was threatened or carried out, those who followed the Way of Jesus Christ faced everything with a serenity and bravery that was hard to explain.

Paul was determined to stop the Christian faith in its tracks. Receiving the necessary documents to travel to Damascus, he set out on his journey. Damascus was about 210kms from Jerusalem. The journey on foot would have taken a week or so. Paul was accompanied only by the officers of the Sanhedrin who would carry out the arrests he intended to make. This meant that, as a Pharisee, he would not talk to them. So he walked by himself along the road; and inevitably he would have spent a lot of time thinking.

The road passed through Galilee – where Jesus grew up and spent much of His time. Paul was
going through places where Jesus had lived and ministered. He wasn’t intentionally seeking
Jesus but would have been thinking about Him. As they travelled north, the road rose up the
slopes of Mount Hermon and Paul could see Damascus spread out below him. It was a beautiful, gleaming white city in a green plain. The Christian community in the city was significant enough to warrant Paul’s visit. His plan was to drag the believers back to Jerusalem. In that region the hot air of the plain rose to meet the cold air of the mountain range and there were often violent electrical storms as a result. It may have been that at that moment such a storm occurred when the lightning flashed and the thunder cracked. Instinctively, perhaps, Paul fell to the ground in response. Whilst his companions saw the light and heard the thunder it was not as dramatic for them as for Paul, for in that moment, Paul heard Jesus speak. At that time the rabbis believed that God no longer spoke as He had to the prophets, but the question Jesus asked was clear to Paul and must have been the last thing he expected to hear. Bewildered he asked who was talking. It must have been a shock when he heard the reply. (In some translations, including the King James Bible, Saul also asks, ‘Lord, what do you want me to do?’ but this is not recorded in every translation). Whilst Jesus was a fairly common name, Saul needed no further identification of the Speaker as the risen Jesus told him he was not persecuting man but God Himself!

Jesus told him to do two things in response to their conversation. ‘Get up and go …’ Paul obeyed
with the help of his companions. Paul’s plan on arrival in the city had been to wreak havoc
amongst the believers, fulfilling what he believed was his mission for God as a righteous Jew,
and a Pharisee. Instead, he was led by the hand, blind and helpless, waiting for Christ to speak
again and tell him what to do next. He sat for three days, neither eating nor drinking. Just waiting and listening. It was no longer Paul’s way but The Way – the way of Jesus.

Icebreaker:
Share an incident in the group when you made plans that were thwarted for some reason.
What happened as a result in the change of plans? Was it good or not? How do you feel
about it now?

Application

  • Paul asked a question every seeker of Jesus needs to ask: ‘Who are you, Lord?’ What
    question did you ask when you met Jesus as your Lord and Saviour and what did He reply?
  • How did the grace of God claim you? How did you experience God’s grace when you first
    met Him?
  • The other question some translations of this passage include in verses 9:5-6 is: ‘What do
    you want me to do, Lord?’ When did you last ask Jesus this question? What did He reply?
    What progress have you made in fulfilling His command?
  • How were you changed by grace? How would you sum up your life in one sentence since
    the grace of Jesus Christ came into your life?
  • How has the grace of God completed you? Who are you now as opposed to who you were before you met Jesus?
  • If you have never asked Jesus the questions Paul asked, or have not asked Him recently
    what He wants you to do, what has stopped you? Share with the group how the answer to this question makes you feel.
  • Stop now and pray together about these questions in whatever way you need. Pray alone; pray as a group; pray in two’s or three’s. Allow God to lead you and give Him time to answer. Share any responses you may receive. If no one hears an answer, be accountable to one another to report back next week and continue to ask God what He wants you to do.
  • How can the group help you with the struggles you have mentioned during this session?

Prayer
Pray for one another in regard to any further issues that have been raised during your discussion time, and in regard to other needs of the group.

Service
Continue to ask God what He wants you to do. Make sure you are on the right track (speak to
one another during the week for discernment if you need to). Then take the first step toward
fulfilling His command on your life, whether it is confirmation that you are doing what He wants
or a change of direction. Be accountable to one another.

Bibliography
Adeyomo, Tokunhoh, et al. Africa Bible Commentary. WordAlive Publishers, Nairoi, Kenya, 2006
Barclay, William. The Daily Study Bible. The Acts of the Apostles. The Saint Andrew Press, Edinburgh 1987

Acts Chapter 9

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