Summary: This message allows us to discover how we can make an escape from the troubles of this world by identifying our struggles and identifying our escape route

Resurrection Encounters Part IX: A Remarkable Escape Acts 9:1-19 CBC June 10, 2007

The magician then said, "Sir, I am a professional. This is the Greatest Illusion. Besides, there are hundreds of witnesses, hit me as hard as you can right in the head with the hammer."

The man shrugged, did it, and the Magician went flying across the stage, hit the wall, and immediately fell into a coma. He was rushed to the hospital, and remained in the coma for years.

Ten years later, he came out of the coma, looked around, and said "Ta DA!!"

I have always been fascinated with magic and how they can make magical things happen. I have always found it interesting to read about Harry Houdini and his remarkable escapes from chains and locks while submerged under water. Last month at the block party we had the opportunity to witness the magical works of Steve Lindsay as he performed many marvelous tricks. And if you have signed up for lunch with us today you are in for a special treat as well as he will be sharing even more amazing tricks. And Steve if it is okay, let’s just put to rest this rumor that you are not going to make me disappear, right.

Well before we go and eat dinner together, I want us to look at a story in which we discover a man who makes a remarkable escape. It’s an escape that surpasses anything that Houdini could do or even David Copperfield or David Blaine. For it is a remarkable escape from a life of ruin to a life of freedom found in Christ. And it is an opportunity for all of us to look at our lives and discover if we need to make a remarkable escape from the chains and locks that are binding us together as well. So as we continue our study of Resurrection Encounters this morning I want us to look at the beginning of this remarkable escape and how you and I can experience a remarkable escape from the dangers of this life as well.

It is so important that we understand this remarkable escape that Paul will make. It is so important that Luke decides to record the story of how Paul escaped three times in Acts alone. I encourage you today to write down this ways that you and I can have a remarkable escape from the troubles of life.

The first thing that is needed in order to make a remarkable escape is:

1: We Must Identify Our Struggles (1-2)

Saul’s struggles begin very early in our passage. The very first verse of Chapter 9 shows how Paul felt about Christians. Now to understand this man named Saul, you must understand that he was a Jew. And not just any ordinary Jew. He was a smart Jew and he honestly believed that Christianity was getting in the way of Judaism and was a threat to Judaism and so he felt compelled to kill any Christians because he saw them as a threat to God and to Christianity. Now Saul was not just some deranged or craze person but was very religious, well educated, and ambitious person. He was passionate about his beliefs, he just believed in the wrong things. He was an up and coming star in his faith and he was one that said either believe in what I believe or I (Saul) believe that you should die. There was no wiggle room.

DO you really want to know what Saul was like? Let me share with you what Scripture first records about Saul. Flip over a couple pages to Acts 7 verse 58. Stephen the Martyr for Christendom was being stoned and we read that the executioners laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. So Saul was there to persecute Christians including Stephen. Turn over to Acts 8:1 and read what Luke has to say about Saul: Here, Saul does not just become a keeper of the clothes while the stone Stephen but chapter 8:1 says that he remained there and gave approval as to what they were doing and to Stephens death.

And it did not stop with that. Verse 3 of the same chapter tells us that after what Stephen had done, Saul was on a mission to destroy the church and went from house to house dragging people to prison.

So, he began his mission of persecuting Christians, and it consumed him.

It became his whole life.

All of us have struggles and if we are not careful they can cause not only us to suffer but others as well. For instance, it seems that I have a terrible struggle with telling good jokes. For some reason I just like silly corny jokes and I struggle because I can’t help but share them with others. For instance: did I tell you the one about the two olives. There were 2 magic olives on an olive tree. Than one day, there was a huge earthquake and one of the olives fell. Since they are magical, they can talk. The one still on the tree asks the other olive, "Are you okay?" The olive that fell responds with, "I’ll live." (Olive.... get it?)

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