“Where are we going, Greg?”
“We are on an adventure!”
That is my way of telling you…I am lost. You see, I am pretty good at a lot of things, but directions are definitely not one of them. Thankfully, these days there is technology like a GPS (Global Positioning System) which helps direct you with maps and voice commands and if you are like me, it also tells you how to get back on the right path if you go the wrong way.
As a family, take a moment and discuss, “Have you ever been lost, or gone the wrong way before? How did that make you feel?”
Today, as we continue looking at the story of the early church, we are going to examine a man who was going the wrong way. But it wasn’t about him being unable to read a map. No, it was about him going the wrong way in life. This man, named Saul, thought he was serving God, but in fact, he was doing the exact opposite.
Today’s Bible Passage: Acts 9:1-20
Materials needed for activity: A needle, a small magnet, a cork (or something else that will float in water), and a non-metal container to hold water in (adult supervision is required to make sure you do not hurt yourself with the needle!).
As a family, take your Bible and read Acts 9:1-9
In verses 1-2, we are introduced to Saul. We are told he was threatening very violent action against the Lord’s disciples – the people that followed Jesus. At this point in time, Saul is not a nice man at all. We know that he received letters of authority from the high priest to take with him to Damascus. This meant that he would have the right to look for Christians and if he found them, he would have the authority to arrest them.
A Good Question: Why does it say that they belonged to “the Way”? (v.2) Aren’t they called Christians?
The original term that Christians called themselves was followers of “the Way”. This was because Jesus himself said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14:6). The name “Christians” is first used in the city of Antioch, and the name itself means “followers of Christ”(Acts 11:26). As time went on, the name “Christian” stuck, while followers of “the Way” stopped being used. When the Bible mentions followers of “the Way,” it does refer to Christians.
We then read that a miracle occurred! While Saul was on the way to Damascus, a flash of light comes from heaven, and Jesus speaks and appears to Saul. Jesus reveals to Saul that he was not serving God by doing this, he was persecuting Jesus! This is because when someone persecutes the Church or Christians for their faith, that is the same as persecuting Jesus. Jesus tells Saul to get up, go to the city and there he would be told what he must do. The men with Saul were also in shock, for they heard the voice but didn’t see what Saul saw (v.7). When Saul stands up he can’t see, so he has to be guided into the city.
Saul’s blindness also points to how he was living his life at this time. He thought he was serving God, but he was blind to what God was actually doing. This incredible encounter with Jesus would change everything for Saul.
Thinking back to the question I asked earlier, talk about “How did you find your way after being lost or after taking a wrong turn?” What would you do to make sure you don’t go the wrong way in the future?”
Now as a family, read Acts 9:10-16
We are now introduced to Ananias, who was a disciple of Jesus (a Christian), living in Damascus. God came to him in a vision and told him to go and lay his hands on Saul and his sight would be restored. But Ananias is concerned, because he knows who Saul is, and that he had come to arrest him and other Christians. However, in verses 15 and 16 we read that God has a very important plan for Saul:
1. Saul was going to share the good news of Jesus with Gentiles (anyone who isn’t a Jew), and also to kings ruling over kingdoms. (v.15)
2. Saul was going to learn a very difficult lesson about serving Jesus (v.16)
While Saul had planned his life to go one way, God had a very different plan for Saul and He was going to make sure that Saul would learn to go the right way.
A Good Question: Why did God say that Saul must suffer? Isn’t suffering a bad thing?
Suffering is painful and no one likes it, but at times it can be important. If you go to a doctor and he says you have to get a needle, it hurts but it is for your own good health. Or, if you want to grow stronger, you might exercise, which can be exhausting and make you sore; but in time, you will grow stronger. This is same idea here. As a follower of Jesus, we must obey God and His Word all the time. Jesus showed us that the right way to live is to love God and love others, and this is more important than doing only what we want to do for ourselves (Matt 22:35-39). At times this might be hard to do, but if God tells us to do something, it is always the right thing to do. Jesus himself lived this out by doing only what God the Father told Him to do (John 6:38), even to the point of dying on a cross. (Philippians 2:8)
Now, as a family, read Acts 9:17-20
Saul became a completely new person! Now, instead of going against Jesus, we read that he received the Holy Spirit, his blindness was cured and he was baptized, meaning that he fully committed himself to Jesus. Then, after regaining his strength, he went out and immediately shared the truth that Jesus is the Son of God!
This story is incredible for many reasons, but today I want us to consider how we are living our lives. Are we really going the right way and following Jesus? Or do our actions show that we are lost and need help? Remember, Jesus saved us by dying on the cross and forgiving our sins, so even if we are lost or seem far away from Him, He is calling us back and wants to guide us along the right path. If we commit our lives to Jesus, we will be completely changed and we never need to be concerned, because He will always be with us and will always leads us in the right direction!
Activity: Make your own compass!
If you look at a map or a compass, you will see four letters, (N, S, E, W). They stand for the directions, North, South, East and West and they are used to help people navigate in the right direction. A compass works by using the magnetic field that surrounds our planet and it has helped people find their way around for a very long time! Today, you are going to make your own compass to help you to navigate in the right direction.
Here is a reminder of what you will need:
A needle, a small magnet, a cork (or something else that will float in water), and a non-metal container to hold water in (adult supervision is required to make sure you do not hurt yourself with the needle!)
1. What you must do is rub the needle with the magnet several times (the more the better) but you must make sure you always rub in one direction. This way, the needle will become magnetized.
2. After that, you can put the needle on the cork (or floating device) and put it on top of the water in the container.
3. If you hold the container still, you will see the needle slowly turn and point. If you have done it correctly, it will point North!
4. Carefully take the container and turn it around, or if it is small, walk around with it. When you stop, the needle will go back and point north again!
If you want to see a video of how to do this, check out the Youtube link from hooplakidz Lab
Have a blessed day