Today we read these words from the Acts of the Apostles...
Saul fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him,
"Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
Today we encounter Saul, a man who experienced one of the most profound heart transformations in all of Scripture. The man who had ruthlessly ravaged and persecuted the Lord's beloved sons and daughters became one of God's greatest preachers and advocates.
At one point, Saul, filled with hatred and zealousness to protect his Jewish Heritage, sought official permission to pursue the believers who had escaped Damascus after Stephen's death and bring them back to Jerusalem to imprison them. If you want to know more about what Paul has to say personally about his background, read Philippians 3: 1-10 and Galatians 1: 13-17.
Don't you love those words? God interrupted Saul's plans because God had even greater plans in store for him. While on the road to Damascus, Saul witnessed a light from Heaven flash about him, a light so brilliant he fell to the ground. And in that moment, he heard that voice, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" The men with him stood speechless, hearing nothing but seeing its effects. And when Paul asked who was speaking, the Voice replied, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting."
Jesus instructed Saul to get up and head into the city for more instructions. As Saul gets up to leave, he realizes he is blind. For the next three days, Saul remained unable to see and did not eat or drink. The Lord put him in a place where he was dying to self. Letting go of what drove him for years. His heritage. His name. His identity. His intelligence. All would be brought low compared to the glory of his God.
This man who ruthlessly ravaged and persecuted the Lord's beloved sons and daughters became perhaps God's greatest preacher and advocate. Today I pray that each of us would hear that same Voice calling us to advocate and minister on God's behalf, as well!
+++ On Sunday we worship at 9:00am in the Sanctuary. We will be celebrating the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost and my message, "God Loves with Compassion" will have us looking at the extravagant love of God and how we are called to love, as well. Our worship will be "live-streamed" on the church's FaceBook page and then "uploaded" to our YouTube channel when completed. We will also be recognizing Father's Day this weekend as we acknowledge and give thanks for those who serve as fathers in our lives.
+++ Last Sunday we were blessed to award 2 scholarships to graduating High School students when we celebrated Sophia P. and Kelly J. in worship. And this week we sent off campership support for 5 of our young people who will be headed off to summer camp this summer! Thanks be to God!
+++ The deadline for articles for the July/August edition of our church newsletter is Tuesday, June 20th. Please have all articles into the church office by Tuesday. Thanks!
+++ The July/August edition of the Upper Room magazines are available on the table in the Narthex.
+++ Next Sunday, June 25th we will welcome Michael Passarelli, our new church accompanist. We hope you can be here to welcome Michael as he starts his ministry among us.
+++ And on June 26th we will welcome a mission team from the Susquehanna Annual Conference who will be doing mission work on the Onondaga reservation. These folks will be lodging here at Immanuel after completing their work each day. Please keep this group in prayer as they do this life-changing work on behalf of Jesus!
Make this day a great day and always be listening for the Voice of Jesus!