Summary: Every person deserves a new beginning!
THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS AND A NEW BEGINNING
"1 Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” 5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” 6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” Acts 9:1-6.
Saul was a devout Jew, of the tribe of Benjamin, but in his misplaced zeal for God, he persecuted the church. Indeed, Saul believed he was doing the right thing. But he misunderstood God. In Acts 9:1 he is described as “breathing threats and murder” against the disciples of Jesus Christ. He went from cities to cities, where he sought to arrest believers and to bring them to Jerusalem to be condemned. One day, as he marched down the road to the city of Damascus, in zealous pursuit of the believers there, he experienced a destiny changing encounter. Saul’s encounter with Christ turned him into a disciple, and he also received a call to a specific ministry. After the encounter, his mission was to bear Jesus' name to the Gentiles, before kings and to the children of Israel. Instead of persecuting and arresting the believers in Damascus for believing in Christ, he now tells others to believe in Him. The man who had come to Damascus with a commission to afflict the Christians there was now commissioned to bring light to the Gentiles. Saul was now devoting the rest of his life to serving the church he once tried to destroy. He became the most determined of the apostles, suffering physical pain, persecution, and finally, martyrdom. Despite the inglorious past of Saul, God was still willing to use him for His glory! Saul received a new beginning.
A FRESH START:
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17.
Regardless of our past, we too can become God’s instruments of healing, deliverance, hope, restoration, and reconciliation. We can accept God’s gift of love and go ahead to show love to others. We all have a past! It might be a past of emotional, physical, or self-abuse. Maybe yours is a history of failures or something completely beyond your control. Perhaps you’ve fallen into sin or finding it difficult to break some habits. Maybe you’re a church leader who should have helped a new believer grow in their faith in Christ, but you didn’t. The truth is, we all have a past. Everyone makes mistakes! But it’s never too late to have a fresh start when you're in Christ.
'YOUR' DAMASCUS ROAD ENCOUNTER:
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" Romans 3:23.
Since the fall of mankind, every human has been born with a sinful nature. That’s why Jesus Christ came to earth, died in our place, and rose again to conquer death and sin. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4. Today He provides salvation as a gift to all who will take it. Romans 6:23. When we come to Him humbly, confess our sin, turn away from it, and seek His ways, we experience a total change. An encounter with Christ on our Road to Damascus transforms us!
Figuratively, the Road to Damascus means having a life-changing encounter with God. It's to make a turn-around from a set path to pursue an entirely new one. Encountering Christ on our Road to Damascus is to wholeheartedly turn to Him in genuine repentance and faith. It's to experience a genuine conversion. The Road to Damascus moment is turning away from dead religion and self-righteousness. It's turning one’s back to the system of the world. The Road to Damascus experience is a radical change of mind, affections, and will. It's a decisive break with old patterns of sin and the embracing of new life in Christ. Evidence of conversion is the desire to be instructed more in the Word of God and the willingness to obey. True conversion comes with the thirst to participate in all that enhances fellowship with God. A man or woman who is genuinely converted is not a habitual sinner. The life of a true convert is marked by a desire to pursue holiness and walk in obedience to God’s Word. A genuine convert does not harbor hatred but displays forgiveness, love, and compassion. A convert remains in the truth and perseveres in the faith. A converted person lives a life that has been reborn in Christ. A genuine convert desires to serve and help others. A genuine and true convert hopes and longs for the return of the Lord Jesus.