June 25, 2023
Message Big Idea
Every good story needs a bad guy! In the book of Acts, it seems like Saul is stepping into the leading antagonist role. But Jesus has different aspirations. On the Damascus Road, Christ initiates an utterly surprising life-change, turning the zealous and blood-thirsty Saul into a devoted disciple of the way. After the courageous and faithful involvement of another Jesus-follower, Saul comes away from this encounter with new sight, new identity and new purpose!
- Have you ever thought something would change your life? Perhaps a new job? Relationship? Infomercial product? Did that thing actually change your life for the better? Did it live up to expectations?
- Read Acts 9.
- Discuss/highlight the parts of this passage which intrigued you most? What stood out? Why?
- Share/reflect on key highlights or takeaways from the previous Sunday’s message (Key Points on next page). What jumped out at you as impactful and/or made you want to know more?
- What are some common forms of life change observed in the broader cultural context? Where is this messaging found? (Marketing and Advertising?) If someone wants to change his or her life, who is supposed to initiate it? Who’s involved in the process?
- What do people normally gain from secular life-change? What is the goal and purpose? Does it normally live up to expectations?
- How much has a secular view of life-change crept into how we understand it in the Church? Is it supposed to be viewed as a self-initiated process in which someone picks ‘picks him or herself up by the bootstraps?’ Is there such a thing as a ‘self-made’ Christian?
- Spend some time reflecting about the story of your life-change in Christ. How did Christ initiate that change? Is it similar to Paul’s experience (Acts 9:4-5) or more gradual? What state was your life in at the time?
- Consider Ananias’ role in Saul’s conversion. Who played an important role in your testimony? How did they display faithfulness and courage in their witness? How can you imitate that in your current season?
- Saul was changed in multiple ways after his conversion. He could see in a new way (Acts 9:18). He gained a new purpose (Acts 9:20). And he gained a new identity (13:9). Tell of how you experienced change in Christ. How did it change how you see the world, your identity, and your purpose?
Live It Out
- What one truth from this passage would you like to take to heart and act upon? How will this affect you?
- Who will you share this with this week?
Throughout the summer, this section will consist of four areas which will help prepare for the upcoming Sunday’s sermon: a scriptural read ahead, a commentary on the passage, a reflective exercise, and a weekly practice.
- Scriptural Read Ahead: Acts 10:1-11:18
- Acts 10-11 Commentary: Matthew Henry’s Commentary (https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/mhc/Act/Act_010.cfm)
(Note, commentaries are not without error. Prudent commentary use will lead one to have confidence where consensus exists across commentators while holding loosely where disagreement arises.)
Reflective Exercise: Spend some time journaling about your life-change story, the moment you encountered Jesus. Reflect on your life before that moment or experience. What changed afterward? How has it shaped your identity and purpose?
Weekly Practice: If you are more naturally a talker, intentionally seek out and listen to someone’s life-changing story. If you are more naturally a listener, intentionally seek out and tell someone your life-changing story.
Sunday’s Sermons Key Points:
In Every Story of Life Change…
- Christ is the Initiator
- God takes people as they are.
- a Jesus-follower plays a key role.
- a person gains a new ability to see.
- God grants new identity and purpose.