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Sunday, April 10, 2016

"A Street called Straight"

A straight street in Canberra

Today I once again had the privilege of sharing a Christian message with the Parkrose Nursing Home Congregation.

Below is an outline of the message and the order of service and also includes my communion address.

PARKROSE 10/4/16

Order of Service

Welcome and Call to Worship :   Psalm 32:1-5

Hymn: “Lord make me an instrument”


Bible Reading: Acts9:1-20  King James Version

Hymn:  “Jesus keep me near the cross”

Communion:  Geoff


Church Prayer:  Geoff

 Hymn: “I am the way the truth and the life” x2

Sermon:   “A street called straight”

Hymn:  “Amazing Grace”

Benediction and Vesper. “Now unto Him”

Bible Reading

Acts 9:1-20 

Saul’s Conversion

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord,” he answered.
11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

SERMON:         “A street called straight”

We live in an ordinary suburban  street .

We have been there for some years now and it is where we have brought up our children and our grandchildren visit often.

Over the years we have had many family gatherings and celebrations.

We have had a kid’s club meet there many years ago.

We have had Bible Studies.

We have had times of great joy and great moments of sadness.

We have shared many meals with family and others.

But it is a fairly inconspicuous street in the greater plan of Adelaide.

Probably the most prominent street in Adelaide City would be considered King William Street.

It has much the same location and prominence as Straight Street did in Damascus in Paul’s times.

Straight street was the longest street in Damascus and was perpendicular to another main street.

You can still walk down it today.

From the internet:

“Of all the ancient sites in Damascus, the Straight Street is the one that with greatest certainty we know St. Paul passed through.

2. The House of Judas

About 450 metres from the western entrance of Madhat Pasha Street( this is a part of Straight Street) , in a stretch covered with a large metal dome, there is a small mosque with a balcony in the form of a pulpit, which serves as a minaret. The mosque is called Jakmak or Sheikh Nabhan. It is here that the Christian tradition locates the house of Judas, the place where Saul remained for three days without eating or drinking (Acts 9,9). It is probable that here he was baptized at the hands of Ananias. The Christians of Damascus say that the mosque was built over the ruins of a very ancient church that commemorated the episode narrated in the Acts of Apostles. “

Not much is known about Judas who lived in this house but he was probably a Christian Jew.

Ananias was told to go there.

He might have known this Judas but consider if you were spoken to by God and told to leave your relatively safe suburban house to visit a house in King William street to meet with the main leader of ISIS how would you respond?

Or what if this story was unfolding in Syria today.

A city being persecuted by evil men.

And  you lived today in Damascus and you were told to go and visit this ISIS leader on Straight street.

You have witnessed their atrocities on television and even first hand.

Saul of Tarsus was just as deadly back then to Christians as the ISIS leaders are today in the current world crisis.

And how would you feel saying to this ISIS leader that “ Brother, Jesus sent me to tell you about Him so you can see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

“And you will be His chosen messenger.”

And would you be in awe when you saw the scales literally falling from this man’s eyes and a few moments later you would be Baptising him.

You would feel like you were in a dream I suspect.

Yet that is what happened when Ananias met with Saul who then changed his name to become Paul.

A vowed anti Christian who became one of God’s greatest apostles who spread the Gospel to the Gentiles and wrote much more of the New Testament than the other writers.

So in this story there are a number of elements.

These are the main characters.

Saul (Paul)


The men with Saul(Paul)


Judas(not Iscariot)

The Holy Spirit

We will talk about these people and the part they played.

Saul(Paul) was on his way to persecute Christians.

He had a fearsome and deadly reputation.

Jesus struck Saul down on the Damascus road and blinded him.

Jesus spoke to Saul and questioned him and his motives and in effect turned him totally around in his thinking.

Jesus spoke to Ananias in a vision while he was praying, and gave him definite instructions about Saul.

He told Ananias that Saul was especially chosen by Him.
“Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

He told him where to go and what to say and do.

The men with Saul(Paul) who took him to Damascus.

They must have been in awe of all that was transpiring. Somehow the message got through to them to take Saul to the house of Judas in Damascus.

Judas must have also been instructed by Jesus to take Saul in although we are not told this.

It may be that his house was chosen as he may well have had a suitable place for a full immersion baptism there. This was the form Christian Baptisn took place in the early Church and still adhered to by many denominatons today.

The Holy Spirit: Who healed Saul and took away his physical blindness and also his spiritual blindness.

We read this story and think how miraculous and yet if we have come to Christ most of the elements in this story would have been in our own conversion experience.

1.People with us on our journey. Family, friends, workmates.

The people who have supported us and walked alongside of us and opened their hearts and homes to us.

Who have dared to tell us about Jesus.

2 Jesus and the Holy Spirit convicting us of our need for repentance and forgiveness of sin.

Jesus who died on the cross for us.

The Holy Spirit coming to dwell in us to enable us to live the Christian life.

3 Our Baptism.

Paul was immediately Baptised.

Many Christians seem to gloss over the significance of Baptism but it was what happened immediately on Paul’s conversion.

He later wrote about the importance of our Baptism in

Romans 6.

Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ

“6 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

Straight was the name of the street where Paul was actually ministered to and converted by Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

You can still walk down this street in Damascus today. Well,hopefully,depending on what’s happening there at the moment.

He had got there from the wide way that leads to destruction.

We read this in

Matthew 7

“13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

It is wonderful that Jesus has reached out to us and touched our lives even though we were from birth heading along the wide way that leads to destruction.

But we have opted for the straight and narrow way or if not it is unlikely we would be here today.

Paul’s conversion was a miracle but no more than our own.

In reality all of us are no better or worse than Saul or Paul.

Like Paul we are pardoned and saved by the grace of God.

So how important is your street?

The place where you live.

Saul was Paul’s Jewish name. Paul was his Roman name he came to use mainly after his conversion.

We might ask why but it may be that he sought to be all things to all people.

His mission was the Gentiles, so by adopting a Gentile name he was possibly wanting to remove barriers to communication.

So where we live it is a good idea to make our friends and neighbours fell at ease in our presence.

In this place it may not be where you have spent most of your life but it is still a street or place where God can still perform miracles if we are open to Him.

Especially you might think in this small chapel as we worship together each week.

Jesus has been here with us today!

You may have felt His presence.

Did His spirit touch yours?

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

Communion talk

What we do at this time during our service we call meeting around the Lord’s Table.

It in effect is symbolizing what is known in the Bible as the Last Supper.

The last meal Jesus had with His disciples before His betrayal and crucifixion.

He has asked us to do this eat the bread and drink the wine to show the world, and remind the world and us, of what He has done and that He is coming again.

Because of this the Christian Faith has an amazing continuity.

This is hardly a meal spread before us but it is the forerunner of an amazing supper that we are all invited to.

It is called the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

We read about it in the book of Revelation.

The apostle John who wrote the book of revelation is reporting what he saw and heard in his visions while he was in exile on the Island of Patmos.

Revelation 19:6-9English Standard Version (ESV)

The Marriage Supper of the Lamb

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

For the Lord our God
    the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
    and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
    and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
    with fine linen, bright and pure”—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
And the angel said[a] to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”

You see the Church, of which we are members, the Christian Church, is also called the Bride of Christ.

We have been invited to this marvelous celebration sometime in the future.

“for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
    and his Bride has made herself ready”

We are only ready because of what Jesus has done through His  death and resurrection.

We celebrate in this small but very significant way each Sunday what Jesus has done for us.

For His Church which we are members of!

His Bride!

We have so much to look forward to!

We will give thanks.

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