Unit: Extreme Savior!
Bible Text: Acts 9; Acts 22:3-21
Memory Verse: 2 Corinthians 5:21 “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things have passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Hi boys and girls! Welcome! This is the last of our Extreme Savior lessons, I hope you have been enjoying learning about Jesus and what an Extreme Savior He is! I hope every one of you has asked Jesus to be your own Extreme Savior, and to take away your sins, but if not, you can still do that today.
We’ve learned about Jesus’s Extreme Power, His Extreme Healing, His Extreme Loving, and His Extreme Saving. Today’s Extreme is “Extreme Changing.” Can anyone tell me an animal or creature that changes in an extreme way as it grows into adulthood? (Look for answers where the creature makes a metamorphosis, ie, frogs, toads, butterflies, moths) Butterflies are my favorite! They change from that ugly looking, creepy crawly caterpillar, into beautiful colorful butterflies while inside the cocoon. Its’ really amazing! But even more amazing than that is how Jesus takes an ugly old sinner, and changes him into a beautiful Child of God!
Our memory verse for today is “If any one is in Christ, they are a new creature, or creation! Old things are passed away, behold all things are become new.” 2 Cor. 5:17 Today’s story will give you an example of what that verse is talking about.
There was a man in the Bible named Saul. Saul was a very smart man. He was educated in the best schools of the day, and under some of the best teachers. He was trained to be a Pharisee – a religious ruler in Israel. Most of the Pharisees hated Jesus and His followers, and Saul was definitely one of these types of Pharisees. Sadly, Saul thought he was helping God by being against Jesus and Jesus’s followers. In Acts chapter 8, verse 3, it says Saul “made havoc of the church (meaning Christians) entering every house and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.”
Saul lived in Israel, and so he had known that Jesus had been crucified, but he didn’t yet believe it was for Saul’s sins. He didn’t yet believe that Jesus had risen from the dead on the third day. And he didn’t yet believe that Jesus was the sinless Son of God. What Saul thought was that these followers of Jesus were going around causing trouble, and he himself was going to put a stop to it!
Saul got some special letters from the High Priest – the most powerful religious leader among the Jews. The letters gave Saul permission to go to all the Jewish Synagogues in Damascus and arrest and persecute followers of Jesus. He would bring all those arrested back in chains to Jerusalem. Men and women! Some followers of Jesus had already been put to death for their faith, and Saul had been happy about it. He probably wanted to see that happen to the ones he would arrest too.
Boys and girls, was Saul doing what God wanted him to do? No. But sadly, he thought his works were right, and that God would be happy. God was not.
The Bible says we don’t come to know God by doing good works, even real good works. We come to know God by accepting His Son Jesus as our personal Savior.
Saul and some men who were helping him started off on their mission. As they were getting close to Damascus, suddenly there was a very bright light that shone down from Heaven, right on Saul! Saul fell to the ground!
“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” a voice called from Heaven
“Who are you Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, the One you are persecuting! It is hard for you to fight against the truth of who I am!”
And Saul answered “What shall I do Lord?” his answer immediately acknowledging that Jesus was the Lord, and all that He claimed to be. Jesus, Lord, Savior, Sinless, Risen, God. Saul understood now. And Saul believed.
The Lord said to Saul, “Get up and go into the city and you will be told what to do.”
The men with Saul stood speechless with shock because they saw the light and heard Saul talking to someone, but they couldn’t see who he was talking to, or hear who was talking to Saul. As Saul picked himself up off the ground, he realized he was blind! The men who were with him led him by the hand into the city. Saul remained there, blind, for three days. He didn’t eat or drink anything. He just prayed.
Meanwhile, God spoke to a believer in the city named Ananias in a vision. God said “Go over to Straight Street to the house of Judas. When you arrive, ask for Saul of Tarsus. He is praying to me right now. I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying his hands on him so he can see again.”
“But Lord,” Ananias exclaimed, “I’ve heard about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! And we hear he is authorized by the Chief Priest to arrest every believer in Damascus!”
“Go and do what I say, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the gentiles, and to kings, as well as to the house of Israel. And I will show him how much he must suffer for me.”
So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you may get your sight back and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Instantly, Saul received his sight and something like scales fell from his eyes. Ananias continued to tell Saul all that God had told him to. Then Saul obeyed God and was baptized.
Well, boys and girls, that was just the BEGINNING of the Extreme Changing of Saul! Just like when we first ask Jesus, the Extreme Savior to come into our heart and life and take our sins away, that is the beginning of the Extreme Change in us! Like the verse says, we are new creatures! But God also keeps on changing us as we grow in Christ, and as we learn more, and become more, like Jesus. We grow by spending time with Jesus through reading our Bible and praying, and going to church to learn more about God and His people. I want to be just like Jesus, don’t you?!
So did Saul! The Bible says he went immediately to the synagogues and started preaching about Jesus! WOW! Just three days before, he had hated Jesus and all of Jesus’s followers. That’s an EXTREME change! And it kept on. Saul, who later became known as Paul, became one of the greatest followers of Jesus who ever lived. God used him to spread the Gospel to other countries as a missionary. God also used Paul to write most of the books of the New Testament part of our Bible.
Have you let the Extreme Savior make an Extreme Change in you? The first step in doing that is to ask Jesus to forgive your sins and come into your heart and life. You can do that today.
If you’ve already asked Jesus to be your Savior, He still wants to continue to change you and make you more and more like Jesus every day. Will you let Him?
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