Acts 9:1-22; Jer.1:4-10 & Matt.19:27-30 ”
The Conversion of Paul”
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, Oh Lord, Our King, Our Strength and Our Redeemer! AMEN.
My brothers,and sisters,today we have real life drama! The most famous conversion in history!
We get a wonderful insight into the mind of God and His patience when it comes to winning souls,from Acts9:1-22,that we just heard. We should always look for God's thought patterns. I do this,and recommend this highly as an excellent way when considering the scriptures!...always
thinking to ourselves – “What is God saying to me personally!”
So, what is God saying to us in this section of the Bible and how do we put into practise what we learn? Let's see what we we glean together from the readings today?
1st THE CONVERSION OF PAUL- I say again this is the most famous conversion in history! Real life drama-not a soap opera!
When we look at the overview we see a man breathing fire against the people of Christ. To him they are apostate and to them he is a terrorist! They believe Jesus is the Son of God; he believes God cannot have a son!
This should be a familiar scenario if you follow the news to any extent!
But the believers and Saul are not the only players in this real drama. The Bible tells us that “He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.” And that greater one comes onto the scene amidst a blinding light!AND....
There is a voice which says, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
What an interesting statement! It tells us that Jesus identifies with and is affected
by the persecution of His saints. Though God lets things run their course in this age where Satan is not restrained, God knows all,sees all and no secrets are hid from Him!
Saul,like a raging bull,has made every effort to crush the Church. Now with warrants of arrest from the High Priest,he takes his anti- Christian campaign to Damascus. Damascus is about 150 miles from Jerusalem,and outside Jewish territory. The journey takes several days even with Saul striding ahead in haste. Suddenly...he is blinded by a light from heaven- the light of the glory of Christ! Saul is questioned by none other than Jesus,the Christ!
There are principles in the text which we can learn about. We see that Saul a persecutor of the brethren is given information about the error of his ways. He is informed that Jesus is the Messiah,that
He is alive and suffers with his church! He also has the power to intervene on behalf of Christians.
But the story does not end with Saul it ends with Paul because he is given the opportunity to repent and follow Jesus. God is not a respecter of persons,but anyone who repents from wilful sin,accepts Jesus as Lord of their life so we can be, and will be saved ! We can take it, as read ,that those in the middle east and elsewhere who persecute Christians will be given the opportunity to repent. It's up to them to take it or continue in their ways until death.
Saul repented and his name was changed to Paul to differentiate the new man from the old. Saul,who set out for Damascus as a proud inquisitor,is now led by the hand into the city. There God brings help,and healing,through Ananias ....a Christian, who
Saul would have thrown into prison.. yet,.now they are brothers in Christ!
This incident shows us that anyone can change and God will provide the best opportunity for them to do so. Therefore we should not write off anyone. Only God knows the heart and we should be like Ananias whom Jesus used to give back Saul his sight.
Spiritually .He has the privilege of seeing Saul healed,filled with Holy Spirit and baptised and used as an apostle and missionary!
Now Paul,a man of the book, could show others that Jesus was indeed the Christ. He gave up everything that he had before to follow Jesus considering the best things that he had as worthless in the light of his new understanding.
Now in Matt.19: 27 -30 Peter raises an interesting question, regarding those who give up everything for Jesus. What will they
have as a reward? What about us today...as 21st century Christians?
Notice it's what will we have if we sacrifice for the Gospel. It's not what will we have if we grab hold of everything we can; can everything we get; and then sit on the can to keep it for ourselves!
Figuratively,therefore, “What will we have if we leave everything to follow Jesus?”
This is what Jesus says:
In the age to come when JESUS sits on His throne those who followed Jesus will have positions of leadership over the nations. The 12 apostles will rule over the twelve tribes of Israel; that's true. ….But, as we know from Revelation, chapter 1, verse 6, and also in Revelation, chapter 5, verse 10 we all as first fruits are being positioned to be kings and priests in the kingdom of God.
i.e. true believers....We are now, as true
believers, “a royal priesthood”, as Peter says in First Peter, chapter 2, verse 9. So as believers, all of us as “A royal priesthood”, will have opportunity at times to sacrifice for the kingdom of God and when we do, Jesus says that we will receive back one hundred fold.
This not only refers to this life,of course, but Jesus says, we will also inherit eternal life,with Him!
So here we see that if anyone has had to give up houses, or brothers, or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for Jesus' sake, they will get one hundred times as much in this life.- In their new life in the church, they could find they are given keys,or that doors are opened to them for new relationships,responsibilities,privileges,whatever, that will far outstrip the ones that's y lost, all this when one- you and I, believe
and follow Jesus!
Try the formula for yourself....it works!
You have truly blessed relationships with people who have given themselves to the Lord. People God leads you to, where you find the peace of God just being in their company! Peace and joy that you did not get before you were a Christian!
You will find this happens when you look to God as your source of blessings and Jesus as your guide to living. Holy Spirit will be in you and surround you, and as David said, “Goodness and Mercy” will follow you all the days of your life!
All believers in Jesus will find this life exciting. As WE follow Jesus, “goodness and mercy” follow us!
Finally we consider matt.19;28-30
But there is a condition given at the end of
Jesus' statements i.e. many who are first shall be last and the last first!
What does Jesus mean by this?
Do you remember how Jesus said that the Pharisee who prayed ostentatiously in public to be noticed by men had all the reward he was going to get? He would get nothing from God!
In the same way, in the Church, those who work to have the pre-eminence before men rather than to serve God will find that in the kingdom they are at the back of the bus so to speak. And those they felt superior to, or treated as inferior will be elevated by God, who sees the heart and is not fooled!
James, chapter 4, verse 10; admonishes-“Humble yourself before the Lord and he will exalt you”
So, who wants to have the blessings of God because we follow His son Jesus Christ wholeheartedly? (Raise your hand!)
Well we can have His guidance every day as we read our manual- His Word ,The Bible,every day,and meditate on God's word. Remember, God promises blessings will follow!
My bothers,and sisters,as an Evangelist, I could not let you leave this Church ,without urging you to act on what you heard today,focus on God's word,and blessing others and like Jesus be blessed! He was never in need but always could have what He needed. [A new donkey; money for His taxes; a great catch of fish for using someone's boat, etc.]
So even though we might sometimes wonder and say, “what's in it for me?” Jesus says don't fear, your blessings will more than
compensate for what you leave behind for His sake,right now and forever.!
As a believer, no one can take that promise away from you.!
And so....I close this sermon with the grace.
“May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy spirit, be with us and remain with us all, now and forever.