Paul’s Damascus Road experience Acts 9

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who were brought to Jesus by the Holy Spirit said … AMEN !!! The Easter season, we continue to remember, commemorate the resurrection of Jesus, the ultimate event of the Christian faith, it is the ultimate event of the world. The resurrection is God the Father’s ultimate answer it decides where we will ultimately be. It is to remember Jesus’ final time with His disciples. It is the lead up to Pentecost. Pentecost is centered in Acts, our readings in this season are in Acts and also the final coming of Jesus in the Book of Revelation. Luke, describes in the Book of Acts, the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit reveals Himself. He is sent, as promised, by Jesus to His disciples. Does that mean to just the people, and there would have been men and women in the room when the Holy Spirit arrived, who were in that room? Or is this the time when the Holy Spirit starts everyone off at the same time. From there God brings us to Him, makes us His disciples, gives us our new birth, we are reborn in the “Spirit” who comes to those born in Him in order to guide us and provide for us.  The Book of Acts has come down to us with different names. None of Scripture is “titled” the titles were given when they were included in the canon. Some are obvious, Matthew’s Gospel is:   ευαγγελιον κατα μαθ’θαιον [1]   “The Gospel according to Matthew”. Acts, has a few names, you see them used in different editions of the Bible. “The Book of Acts”. The Acts of the Apostles, the Acts of the Holy Spirit, the Acts of the Holy Ghost, the Acts of the Paraclete. I know what you’re thinking, did he fire… oh, sorry, “you’re thinking” what is Paraclete. The Holy Spirit in Acts in the Greek is refered to as pneu,matoj a`gi,ou. What English word can you think of that starts with “pneuma”, pneumatics? Power tools powered by compressed air. I’m sure you are all familiar with the power of the wind. Try riding a bike in 15mph wind for an hour and a half. Wind can be incredibly powerful, those going to North Carolina will see the effects of wind there. I’ve been in Kansas after a tornado hit, saw destruction caused by a relatively minor tornado. Wind is destructive. But air/compressed air/wind can be very useful. Most of man’s commerce was conducted using wind power, back when the ships were made of wood and the men were made of steel arrrrr. Sailing ships powered by wind. The Greek word para,klhtoj which is only used by John in his gospel and 1 John. But the word is related to the Book of Acts, because we see “Acts” being about the Holy Spirit. The word para,klhtoj means “comforter” which is how John uses the word, it also means “advocate”, one who advocates for us with the Father, this also describes Jesus, who is also an “intercessor”.

For those who saw: “Paul the apostle of Christ”, movie saw a sharp presentation of what is described in today’s Acts passage, often called “Paul’s conversion on the Damascus Road”. For those who had a profound conversion experience, they often describe that experience as a “Damascus Road” experience.

I was, at best, nominally Christian. Wasn’t part of a church, kinda/sorta attended one church, a very old the congregation went back to shortly after the pilgrims, so it was also… well, let’s just say, not inviting, stereotypically aloof, very infocused. None of us were counseled, suggested to be a member of that church, frankly we felt little relationship to that church. My father was, at the time, just not interested, but interestingly enough said more than once, “they never even invited us to be a member”, which considering his antipathy I thought was a little odd. Were at best C & E, Christmas and Easter Christians and I can’t say I went to Christmas and Easter in the same year. The following is my Damascus Road, I am not comparing myself to Paul who God used to profoundly change Christianity and western culture, but this is my story: “It was in October mid-80s, we were out the night before until about 2am working a case, kind of nice out, no reason to worry about the weather. On Sunday since we had been out most of the night, the boat crews were sleeping late, then the SAR alarm ripped through the station, if people are asleep, hold it down a longer make sure everyone hears. I remember falling, most of my uniform still on, sliding into my boots, run as fast as I could.

On the way out, people are yelling at us 44!, 44!, meaning what boat to go to. The 44 Motor Life Boat is designed to go into heavy seas, up to about 50 foot, mostly to go out and recover persons in very immediate danger. Overnight the seas got very stirred up because of a large storm far off the coast, enough to really make the water rock and roll. After we passed Boston Light going south, seas were between fifteen and twenty feet high. We were getting rocked back and forth, doused with sea water, north of Cape Cod is significantly colder than south. Everything is an effort, we had to use lineman belts to move around the boat. High seas are deafening, communicating required constant yelling. Everyone but one guy was sea sick, my first experience with “dry heaves”. This was before the Coast Guard required real exposure suits, so we were getting hypothermic too.

It’s really miserable, what would normally take an hour, took over three hours to get where we had to be. The 44 wasn’t a fast boat, make it plow through 15 foot seas, it was much slower. At some point, I made a “vow” to God. If He got me out of this, I would go to church the next Sunday. I didn’t know what that meant, but, sometimes you don’t see a choice. After what took about 8 hours, we were back at Station Point Allerton, went home fell into bed, couldn’t stand the sight of food. Went to the regular job the next morning. True to my vow, I was at a church the next Sunday with Marge and our children Erica and James. From there God took me on a faith journey that has led to ministry and to coming here. Dr J Vernon McGee writes: “Paul recounts this incident [Damascus Road] twice more in the Book of Acts … We find him going over it again in his Epistle to the Philippians … [2] God does work in crazy ways. Speaking of the Coast Guard my big brother who I have known for forty years is watching his daughter dying of cancer. Your prayers for Marianne and her parents Jerry and Dawn would be most appreciated. The Book of Acts describes the birthday of the church, starting with Jesus’ ascension, the appearance of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, the start of many missions, especially Paul’s who is the most profound theologian of Christianity and most prolific writer in the New Testament. Where God the Holy Spirit moves and dwells in each of us in Jesus, where He moves and guides each of us in our Christian journey to the resurrection. Where we remember all who set in place the church. We remember the church and all the blessings we receive from the church and even in terms of renewing our commitment to the Body of Christ, the church of Jesus Christ that has blessed us and continue to bless us. The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom. Christ is risen! He has risen indeed Hallelujah

[1] http://khazarzar.skeptik.net/books/titles.pdf

[2] J Vernon McGee “Thru The Bible Commentary Acts Chapters 1-14” p 105

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