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.
In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord,” he answered.
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. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
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. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
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.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
The Pharisee Saul was an ardent and fully devoted follower of God. He was ‘all in’ pursuing what he absolutely believed to be God’s will. It took a dramatic encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus to change the Pharisee Saul into the Apostle Paul.
Few of us need to have our life so radically altered, but all of us need to be open to the new direction God may be sending our lives. When we lock our minds into our ideas, we may actually be a hindrance to the kingdom. Proverbs 14:12 reminds us:
There is a way that seems right to a person,
but its end is the way to death.
EPIC helps us to learn how to listen corporately to God speaking into our lives.
The EPIC workshop is about change, but not just any change. Our goal is to pursue Holy Spirit lead change. This is best accomplished when the whole church prays and listens together.
As you think about your life, what do you sense God wants you to keep doing? Is there anything God wants you to stop doing? Do you sense there is something that God wants you to start doing? What about these same questions for your church? Healthy Missional churches can usually identify something they have stopped doing in the last 3 to 5 years. How about yours?