The process of how Paul was transformed from a persecutor of Christians to a servant of Jesus Christ is recorded in Acts 9. While Paul was on his way to Damascus to take disciples as prisoners, a light from heaven flashed around him suddenly. The light was the glory of God, and it was brighter than the sun at midday. Then, Paul fell to the ground and heard a voice said to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Actually, Paul did not harm Jesus directly, yet he oppressed Jesus’s followers. Hence, God is sending us a clear message in this chapter: victimizing God’s children is the same as maltreating God. When Paul got up from the ground, he became blind. God sent Ananias to place hands on Paul to restore his sight. Paul was filled by the Holy Spirit, and not only did Paul’s eyes of flesh were restored, but also his spiritual eyes were opened. When a person’s spiritual eyes are covered, he/she is blind; that person is living in darkness because he/she cannot see the light of God. Many people claim that they have to study and understand God before they can believe in Him. This is a sign of spiritual eyes being blind. Our God is too great to be fully understood by any human. We need to believe and accept God first, then God will open our eyes. Only then can us live in God’s light, and know and understand Him. Let us not get the order wrong. Disciples in Jerusalem were afraid of Paul; they did not believe that Paul really was a disciple. Only Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. Brothers and sisters, let us remember that if we want to prosper, we need to forget what is behind. Joseph is a good example; he was sold to Egypt by his brothers, falsely accused by his master’s wife, and forgotten by the chief cupbearer, and yet, after all his unfortunate experiences, he named his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim (meaning forget and prosper). We need to put all the difficulties behind us in order to experience the prosperous God will bestow on us. Let us not be trapped by the pain and bitterness of the past, and don’t dwell upon someone else’s offence. If Ananias couldn’t forget Paul’s past, he couldn’t have fulfilled God’s will and restored Paul’s sight. If the disciples in Jerusalem couldn’t forgive and accept Paul because he once persecuted Christians, Paul couldn’t have spread the gospel to the gentiles. So, let us forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead. Remember, it is God who judges us. Now everyone is talking about freedom. Religion is a freedom; parents should never interfere with children’s choice of religion. This is a huge lie from Satan! If you know that your children will perish if they don’t believe in Jesus, will you still consider it a freedom for them to choose what they believe in? If you know how frightening is the judgment of the eternal God, you would not speak of religious freedom to your family. Either we live in the bright kingdom of God, or we live under the dark forces of Satan. The devil is a dark society. We need to escape the control of this dark society and live by the salvation of Jesus Christ.
Message by Elder Yeh / Summary and response by Jim Lin