Looking inside, he saw it was dark, and he started to leave when all at once an idea came. He peeked back inside again and called out, "Jesus, if you’re in there, would you hand me that can of tomato soup."
What’s happens October 31st? That’s right, Halloween. Halloween was actually celebrated hundreds of years before the birth of Christ. In the British isles, a group of people called the Celts observed a festival they called
theirs was no children’s holiday. You see, the Celtic New Year began on November 1st. The fall harvest was complete and winter loomed. At this season of the year the Celts knew that the power of the sun was fading. For the next several months, darkness would prevail.
was a fairly scary time. It was especially scary because they believed that there was a something like a curtain that separated the living from the dead. And they believed, that at this time of the year,
On the evening of October 31, it was their belief that evil spirits and souls of the dead passed through this barrier and entered into the world of the living. And when the dead crossed that barrier they would torment the living. Crops might be destroyed, babies stolen, farm animals killed.
To appease these dead spirits, various sacrifices, including human, were performed by the Celts. And food was left out for the spirits, hoping that this "treat" would prevent an evil "trick." (based upon an article by Ken Klaus)
"At one church I visited, some people were asked to write down how they felt before and after becoming Christian. They said things like ‘dark and light,’ ’lonely and befriended,’ which got me wondering: Is being down or lonely or desperate a prerequisite to finding God?
Barbranne had lived a life of alcohol and partying. For 30 years of her life did a lot of things a “nice” person probably wouldn’t do. But eventually that way of living began to take its toll on her body and she became tired of that kind of lifestyle.
One of the things that made the most difference to her was that she literally threw herself into attending church and reading Scripture. She even bought a children’s Bible so she could understand the Bible in its simplest stories.
In the first sermon of this series we found that many people are dissatisfied with their lives because God has set eternity in the hearts of men ( Ecclesiastes 3:11 ) . God has placed a knowledge, a feeling, an inner suspicion, in the heart of every man and woman who has ever been born, that there is more to this life than what we generally experience.
It’s almost as if He’s placed a hole inside of every person who’s ever lived that only He can fill. In the next sermon we discussed that God wants to fill that hole in our lives by giving us a special relationship. He wants to walk with us and talk with us… and be there for us.
there’s a problem. We can’t successfully have a satisfying relationship with God when our lives are burdened with guilt and shame. The stain of our past sins would always block us from getting close to God.
Since we were unable to remove that sin from our lives… God did for us. He came down in the form of a man and paid the price for every wrong thing we’ve ever done. He died on the cross and rose from the dead to give us life and light in our lives.
John 1:4 In him (Jesus) was life, and that life was the light of men. Now, I’ve said all that to bring us to our text this morning. The story from Acts 26 is the 3rd time that we’re told the account of Paul’s conversion. I’m convinced that nothing is in Scripture by accident.
Paul was told he was being sent to open their eyes so that they turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share among those who are sanctified by faith in me.' Acts 26:18 NET
Acts 9:4 NIV He (Paul) fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ 5 ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked. ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. 6 ‘Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’
7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 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. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.”
For three days Paul waited in Damascus blind. He must have been fearful, and praying for all he was worth. He knew that he had sinned against the Messiah that his people had waited generations for. He was afraid of punishment… he was afraid even for his very salvation.
God had blinded Paul for those three days as an object lesson. God intended this physical blindness to drive home the spiritual blindness that had symbolized his life to that point. And that object lesson was so powerful that Paul later wrote:
1 Timothy 1:16 NET But here is why I was treated with mercy: so that in me as the worst, Christ Jesus could demonstrate his utmost patience, as an example for those who are going to believe in him for eternal life.
God-sized hole in his life. And from that day forward Paul had a special relationship with God. Paul understood that Jesus expected him to help others gain that very same change in their lives. In fact, he realized that was the job of EVERY Christian.
Paul wrote to the Christians at Philippi: Philippians 2:14 NIV Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16 as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.
15 People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven.
So… how do we do that? How do we let our light shine? How do we “hold out the word of life” to people in darkness? As I studied this story out of Acts 26 , I saw some intriguing insights on this question.
1 st : I found that we have to realize that God has given US this job to do. He’s not going to do the job for us. It’s ours to do. He depends upon us to help others understand what they’re missing without Jesus.
Despite what some people may believe Paul was not saved on the road to Damascus. He was saved IN Damascus when Ananias obeyed Jesus and went to talk to Paul. Acts 22:16 tells us up to that point, Paul’s sins had not yet been washed away. Ananias had said “be baptized, and have your sins washed away”
3 rd : We need to realize the importance of telling others OUR story. You and I need to tell people
why we are Christians. We need to tell them what is so important about Jesus that we’ve been willing to build our lives around Him. Why we would sacrifice so much of our time to worship Him and honor Him.
I once read the true story about a woman who put this
ad in the local paper: "Lost 50 pounds! Selling my fat clothes, good condition, sizes 18-20." She was bombarded with phone calls, but nobody wanted to buy the clothes, they all wanted to know how she had lost the 50 pounds.
We can have a powerful worship service every Sunday The singing can be inspirational The prayers touch our hearts The preaching can bring you to your knees in repentance And the fellowship can be outstanding.
Acts 26:16 NET But get up and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you for this reason, to designate you in advance as a servant and witness to the things you have seen and to the things in which I will appear to you.
17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you 18 to open their eyes so that they turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'
called us to do. to open their eyes so that they turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God And if we fail in this responsibility, a lot of people will spend their lives in a very dark and uncertain life.
But, at this church, we so much believe in the importance of this charge that it is constantly a part of our worship service. At the end of every sermon, again and again and again, we offer a time for those who haven’t made that decision to belong to Jesus to step forward and allow God to change their life.