Sunday 28th June

Life of Paul – Persecutor

Today we are starting a new series, looking at the life of Paul. This week we will be looking at Paul being a persecutor, and how God can even use those working against him.

To start, lets read Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done,
    the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields with fire.
He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.’

 The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

As we come together to focus our minds on God, may that be our experience of God’s presence with us. Even with all the things going on around around us, we may experience that.

Song: Blessed be your name

Reading: Acts 9:1-17

That was quite an experience for Saul, and as I was thinking about this, I was thinking there were a number of people in the Bible who witnessed God in spectacular ways when God said He was in that place. I was thinking of Jacob who went to sleep with a stone for a pillow and he had that dream of the stairs going up with angels going up and down from heaven, and he said ‘the Lord is in this place’. The same with Moses, his experience at the burning bush – he saw the bush burning and heard the voice saying ‘take off your shoes, for the place you are standing is holy ground’.

I’m sure a lot of us have experienced times, maybe not in quite this way, but where we have really felt the presence of God and have really felt that God was in that place. That was the experience of Paul at this time. Sometimes it’s good to remember those times when we have really felt the closeness and presence of God. I’m sure Paul with all the trials and persecutions he went through, he remembered the times when God was so tangibly real to him.

As we go forwards, and think about what we have coming up in our life’s, even in just the next few days, God is with us. Wherever we are, God is here, in this place.

Song: This is the place (holy ground)

Song: How great is our God

Sermon

The next song is reflecting on what we’ve been thinking about, what God is talking about in terms of our attitudes towards things, or how God is moving us forward in this time. May be be open to what God is saying to us.

Song: Open the eyes of my heart, Lord

Blessing

from Numbers 6:24-26

The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face towards you
    and give you peace.

Next Week

We’ll be looking at Paul being part Roman, and looking at how God’s timing allowed Paul to travel easily. The reading will from Acts 16:1-15