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Session 2: The Case of the Transformed Traveller- eye witness

Hi guys! How was your first night? It’s so much fun sleeping in these
awesome cabins right? So who solved our big puzzle last night? Wow –
I am super proud of you guys! Okay so who wants to tell me what clue
you learned from solving the puzzle? That’s right God’s Word has the
Power to Change. (Visual 1) The Bible is one of the ways that God can
communicate with us and how we can get to know him and his ways
better. That’s why it’s so important to spend time reading his Word and
becoming the best Bible detectives you can be!

And today’s mystery is all about the power God has to change each one
of us. This is The Case of the Transformed Traveller (Visual 2)

PRAY

First things first, we got to strap our detective hats on! When a
detective sets out to solve a mystery, an important first step is to gather
all of the clues. The first clue for today’s mystery starts right here in the
Bible- it’s the address for our lesson text. Today’s lesson comes from
Acts Chapter 9. (Visual 3) Okay so we can learn a couple of really
important details straight away from this clue.

Okay so first who can tell me which part of the Bible this story comes
from (The New Testament) Awesome!! Okay so now comes the trickier
question- what can we tell about this story based on the clue that it’s
from the New Testament? Great- this story is during the time of
Jesus. As we learned yesterday the entire Bible is about Jesus but now
we know that this lesson come from the time very close to when Jesus
actually lived. In fact the book of Acts is the first book in the Bible after
the Gospels- the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John tell us about the
Birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Acts tells us what happened
just after Jesus rose again. So we know this mystery will have a great
deal to do with Jesus!

Today’s lesson we are going to meet a man named Saul. (visual 4) He’s
our person of interest for this session. Saul was actually an eyewitness
to Jesus! Saul, as he was called at the time, and his parents were
Pharisees(visual 5) —That means that Saul was an important Jewish
leader of the time who strictly followed the Law of Moses. This means
they had a lot of rules for what they could or could not do. What this
also means is that Saul knew everything about the Bible (visual 6) See
much of the Old Testament is about a promise of a Savior. The Jews,
God’s people had been waiting for the promised savior for a
very very very long time.

I want to go back to the beginning for just a minute to help us


understand where Saul was at and what he and the Jews were looking
for. Now, I know you guys know the story of Adam and Eve and we are
going to spend just a few minutes talking about them, but I want to
point something very important out here- every time I open the Bible I
learn something new- God speaks to me in a different way- I’ve read the
first few chapters of the Bible probably a 100 times and you know what?
God points me to something unique each time I read it….. so while you
may know this story, I want you to put on your detective hats and
explore what new thing God has to share with you today.

In the very beginning God’s first people Adam and Eve lived with God in
peace and the Bible says they walked with God- Can you imagine what
their lives must have been like? (visual 7) They were living in the
perfect paradise. There was no death, there was no pain and they got to
spend time with God. But that all changed one day when then they
made a bad choice and disobeyed God by eating from the only tree that
God told them not to. Unlike Saul and the Jewish people living during
the time of Jesus- Adam and Eve had only one rule to follow and they
broke it!(visual 8) Their punishment was separation from God. The
moment that Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the tree, something called
Sin entered the world. Sin is anything you think say or do that breaks
God’s laws. Object Lesson 1 (white board) Can you guys help us to
identify some things you might know as sin? We’ll write them on the
board here. Great- you guys have identified a lot of things that are
sinful.

Adam and Eve broke God’s very first rule- don’t eat from this specific
tree. From that moment on, sin has been such a terrible horrible part of
life. The Bible tells us actually that all have sinned- that means every
single person born since Adam and Eve has sin (except Jesus- we are
going to learn all about the perfect Jesus a bit later today) That means
that you sin and that I sin. We all have probably done at least one of the
things on this board right? When we sin, when we do something
wrong, it requires a punishment and the punishment for sin is that we
have to be separated from God. Clue #1 See God built us to be in a
relationship with him, but He is perfect, 100% good 100% of the time-
that means he is Holy. (Object Lesson 2-use giant hearts on the white
board)

While God is Holy, we are covered in the yuckiness of sin. When we


have sin in our lives we can’t be near to God. This is exactly what
happened to Adam and Eve. Once they had sinned, they were not able to
live in the garden any more- they had to leave that perfect place and go
out in to the hard world. They had to work tirelessly now for their food
and their shelter. Their lives became so much more difficult and they
could no longer “walk with God” in the way they did in the garden. But
even as Adam and Eve were walking away from the garden, God had
promised that He would send someone to save them. He would send
someone that would solve this huge problem they and we have of our
sin separating us from God. Object lesson #2 Use elephant tooth past -
it’s like this- so we have Adam and eve living in a perfect place with God-
then they choose to sin and look what happens- sin covers all the rest of
us- we are born in sin and we are really drowning it- but God loves us
with what the Bible says is an ever lasting love and because he loves us
that much he had a solution to our sin problem- he was going to send
someone who would rescue us from drowning in our sins- He sent his
perfect son Jesus!

Ever since Adam and Eve were ejected from the Garden of Eden, the
Jews were waiting for the day when their Savior would come and rescue
them from the hardness of their lives- from this goo. By the time we
meet Saul in the Bible, God’s people are living in Jerusalem but under
the rule of a hard Roman empire. They don’t have a lot of say over their
own lives and they are desperately looking for a savior. But many of
them were probably expecting a king on a horse with a giant sword.
They were not expecting Jesus. Jesus came and said that he was the
answer and that God’s plan for them all was to trust in Him and love one
another.
Saul and Jesus lives during the same time. And Saul did not believe that
Jesus was who he said he was – the Son of God. At age thirteen Saul’s
parents sent him to Israel to learn from a rabbi named Gamaliel. For
five or six years Saul learned about Jewish history, he studied the
Psalms and the works of the prophets (visual 10) (what we now know
as the Old Testament). During this time, Saul learned how to debate
Jewish law to defend or prosecute those who broke the law. Saul went
on to become a lawyer, and was on his way to become a member of the
Sanhedrin (the Jewish Supreme Court of 71 men who ruled over Jewish
life and religion)

As a Pharisee, Saul was very careful to keep all of the rules of the
scriptures. The Pharisees had made even more rules for people to
follow and Saul kept all of these too thinking he was pleasing God. See
before Jesus came, the Jews thought that they had to work really hard
and follow every rule in order to earn favor in God’s eyes. What Saul
didn’t realize is that there was nothing he or anyone could do to wipe
away their problem of sin. Only Jesus could do that.

Jesus, God’s perfect Son, who came to Earth to take the punishment for
your sin. As He grew up, He never did anything wrong. Jesus is perfect
because He is God Himself. Like Saul- not everyone believed Jesus was
God the Son. One day wicked men put a crown of thorns on His head
and nailed Jesus to a cross. When they nailed Him to the cross, what
came from His hands and Feet? Blood! (Object Lesson 2-use giant
hearts on the white board again- add red heart)
The Bible says that without giving of blood there is not forgiveness
(Hebrews 9:22b) Ever since the first people lived on earth, God required
an animal’s blood be given as payment for sin. But, when Jesus came, He
became the once, for all time, sacrifice for sin. The Bible says that while
He hung there, God put the sin of all of us: all our lies, our meanness, our
bad temper. All of our sins were put on the sinless Son of God, while He
hung on the cross. Jesus died, He was buried but because He is God the
son, 3 days later, He came back to life. After Jesus rose from the grave
he spent 40 more days on this earth, teaching and telling of God’s great
love through His sacrifice. Because Jesus paid for the sins of the world-
including yours, all that needed to be done to receive forgiveness and to
be cleaned from the darkness was to trust in Him- that’s it- no more
animal sacrifices or earning your way into his good graces.
After those 40 days, Jesus ascended to Heaven- that means he went up
to Heaven and he left his followers a great mission- he said- you are to
go out and make disciples of all nations- that means that their job was to
go to the ends of the world to share his great love story and that’s
exactly what they did- they taught about God’s love wherever they went.
And they starting growing in numbers.

Now remember, Saul and his family did not believe that Jesus was the
Son of God and they certainly didn’t believe that he defeated the grave.
And as Saul learned more about the Jewish laws he became more
determined to get rid of Christians- those who believe that Jesus was the
Savior, the Son of God.

Saul became ruthless in his pursuit of Christian’s as he believed he was


doing it in the name of God. In Acts 8:3 we read, “He began ravaging the
church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he
would put them in prison.” !(visual 11)

Saul was angry at the people who were trusting in Jesus and following
Him. They were wrong! Saul thought. He thought punishing Jesus’
followers was pleasing to God. Saul went to house after house, hurting
the Christians by putting them in chains and in prison. He was
persecuting them- hurting them because of what they believed. By
hurting Jesus’ followers, Saul was going against God Himself and that is
sin, even though Saul didn’t realize what he was doing was wrong.

Many of Jesus’ followers heard what Saul was doing and escaped to
other cities. One day, Saul decided to go after the Christians who lived in
Damascus. Damascus was 175 miles away. (visual 12) It would take
at least 5 days to get there. It would be like you riding a donkey from
Greeley at the top of Colorado all the way down to Pueblo at the bottom
of our state. Saul and his men had to walk or travel by horseback or
donkey. That didn’t matter to Saul. He felt he must stop the Christians
from growing in number. He would bring them back to Jerusalem for
punishment.

About noon on the last day of his journey, as Saul and his men were
nearing the city of Damascus, something happened. A dazzling light,
much brighter than the sun, appeared suddenly in the sky near Saul. He
had never seen such a light! Listen to what Saul did; “And falling to the
ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you
persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you Lord?” And he said, “ I am
Jesus, who you are persecuting.” Acts 9:4-5 !(visual 13) Saul fell to
the ground and heard the voice of Jesus say, why are you persecuting
me? By hurting the Christians, Saul was hurting God Himself!

When Saul asked, “Who are you?” He heard, “I am Jesus, the one you are
persecuting.” Jesus was alive! Can you believe it?! Saul had an eye
witness account of Jesus. !(visual 14) He saw Jesus alive and in the
flesh just days after he was said to have been killed. God wanted Saul to
see that Jesus had truly risen from the dead! God was waiting for Saul to
believe Jesus had died and come alive for him too! Clue #2 Saul realized
he had been wrong. Something amazing happened to Saul. He had
spoken directly to Jesus! Now Saul was convinced that Jesus is alive, as
the Christians had said. He was a new person, a believer, just like those
he had persecuted. Now he was wiling to do exactly what Jesus wanted
him to do. Before Saul was against the Christians. Now he had become
a Christian!

The dazzling light disappeared. Saul slowly got up and tried to look
around. But he couldn’t see anything. He was blind! He had to be taken
by the hand and led into the city. Saul’s friends led him to the home of a
man named Judas. For three days Saul sat in Judas’s house without
eating or drinking. Saul prayed and waited. While he was praying, the
Lord showed Saul a vision, in this vision he saw that a man named
Ananias was going to come and help him. (visual 16)

Ananias, a believer in Christ, obeyed God and went to the house where
Saul was staying. He was willing to do what God asked him to do even
though it might have been a bit scary- Saul was after all hurting Ananias
friends.

When Ananias arrived at the house, he found Saul praying. Still blind,
Saul could not see Ananias but he heard his footsteps approaching.
Ananias walked over to Saul and placed his hands on him and
immediately something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes and he could see
again. He was no longer blind. (visual 17) How glad he must have
been to look up and see Ananias. When Ananias obeyed God, he
couldn’t have realize what great things God would do through Saul. Saul
whose name was later changed to Paul, became the greatest missionary
of the early Church and he wrote much of the New Testament. Can you
believe that? The man who was hurting the Christians now became their
loudest defender.

Saul now a believer began to preach that Jesus is the Son of God! People
were amazed to see and hear Saul, the one who persecuted Christians
now preaching about Jesus. It would be like the Joker rejecting his life
of crime and choosing to fight along side Batman for good. Saul a man
who hurt and punished Christians was now one himself. (visual 18)

Jesus changed everything! Clue #3 Object lesson # 3- Use the cute rope
illustrations He had the power to change Saul’s dark heart and Jesus has
the power to change your heart too! The Bible tells us we all go against
God; we all sin. That includes you. But in His love, God sent His perfect
Son, Jesus to die for your sin so you can be forgive. God’s Word says,
“because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe
in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Romans 10:9 That means if you are willing to turn from your sin and
believe in Jesus, who died for you and come alive again, you will be
saved from the punishment you deserve. You can be changed forever
just like Saul was changed- if you want to talk about what that means-
about how you can be changed like Saul was, please stay after this
session and we would be so happy to talk with you.

If you have already experienced this life change, if you have already
trusted on Jesus, you want to draw closer and closer to the Lord. There
are many way you can do this, but I want to share 2 with you today, first
is prayer. Prayer is just talking to God. You can pray anytime, anywhere
about anything. Many adults even are intimidated by praying, but really
it’s just like talking to your best friend. The other way you can draw
closer to God is through His Word. Remember what we learned
yesterday, the Bible is like our instruction guide for life. In it, you will
find so much more about God, who he is and what His plans are for you.
Every time I open my Bible, I learn more about God and my love for Him
grows.
We are going to give you some time today to focus on drawing closer to
God. At Camp we call it JAM time- that’s Jesus and Me Time (visual 13)
When we leave here from chapel, you are going to go find a quiet place
to take your Bible. Spend that time praying to God and thanking him for
this camp and all you have learned so far this weekend. Read through
the scriptures we just discussed or look in your field guide for some
more scriptures to look up. If you still have time, find the book of Mark
and start there. It’s a great book to start reading about God. The
importance of this time is to focus on your friendship with God.