Summary: Paul was plunged into darkness and given sight when Ananias placed hands upon him. Every Christian has the ability to bring people out darkness... but how do we do it?
OPEN: A mother was busy making supper in the kitchen, and needing a can of tomato soup, she asked her 5 year old son to go into the pantry and get one for her. But the light in the pantry was out and he didn’t really want to go in there. "It’s dark in there and I’m scared" he said.
She asked again and he persisted. Finally she said, "It’s OK honey, Jesus will be in there with you."
So, the little boy walked hesitantly to the door and slowly opened it. Looking inside, he saw it was dark, and he started to leave when all at once an idea came. He peeked back inside again and called out, "Jesus, if you’re in there, would you hand me that can of tomato soup."
What’s happening October 31st?
That’s right – Halloween.
Halloween was actually celebrated hundreds of years before the birth of Christ. In the British isles, a group of people called the Celts observed a festival they called Samhain on Oct 31st.
But unlike today’s Halloween, theirs was no children’s holiday.
You see, the Celtic New Year began on November 1st. The fall harvest was complete and winter loomed. At this season of the year the Celts knew that the power of the sun was fading. For the next several months, darkness would prevail.
For the Celts this impending darkness was a fairly scary time.
It was especially scary because they believed that there was a something like a curtain that separated the living from the dead. And they believed - that at this time of the year - that curtain was at its thinnest.
On the evening of October 31, it was their belief that evil spirits and souls of the dead passed through this barrier and entered into the world of the living. And when the dead crossed that barrier they would torment the living. Crops might be destroyed, babies stolen, farm animals killed.
To appease these dead spirits, various sacrifices -including human - were performed the Celts. And food was left out for the spirits, hoping that this "treat" would prevent an evil "trick."
(based upon an article by Ken Klaus)
APPLY: Thus, Halloween originally began because people were afraid of the dark.
People generally don’t like darkness.
Darkness, too often, is a time when life becomes uncertain and even scary.
Knowing that darkness has this kind of effect on people, God has made us a promise.
* Isaiah tells us that the reason the Messiah was being sent, was to “open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon THOSE WHO SIT IN DARKNESS. Isaiah 42:7
* Matthew (quoting Isaiah) tells us that when Jesus came “the people LIVING IN DARKNESS have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned." Matthew 4:16
* Jesus Himself declared: "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will NEVER WALK IN DARKNESS, but will have the light of life." John 8:12
And “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” John 12:46
ILLUS: Some time back there was an atheist by the name of Hemant Mehta who gained some notoriety by trying to sell his soul on EBay He began to be invited by churches to come and share why he was an atheist. After one such visit, he observed:
"At one church I visited, some people were asked to write down how they felt before and after becoming Christian. They said things like ’dark and light,’ ’lonely and befriended,’ which got me wondering: Is being down or lonely or desperate a prerequisite to finding God? Do these people think that others who have not yet found God are lost, scared or miserable? Do I have to go through some sort of trauma or crisis before finding some ultimate meaning?"
Of course, Hemant didn’t understand that many people who become Christians do so because they have actually seen how dark and lonely life can be.
ILLUS: My sister Barbranne had lived a life of alcohol and partying. For 30 years of her life did a lot of things a “nice” person probably wouldn’t do. But eventually that way of living began to take its toll on her body and she became tired of that kind of lifestyle.
One of the things that made the most difference to her was that she literally threw herself into attending church and reading Scripture. She even bought a children’s Bible so she could understand the Bible in its simplest stories.
My sister had lived for so long in darkness and emptiness, the message of Scripture was literally one that spoke to her of light and hope.