Randall Caselman

Bella Vista Church of Christ

09/9/2018P.M.

 

Jesus Changes Lives

The Call Of Saul To Be Paul

 

Acts 9.1-31

 

In our lesson this morning…We noted a man who was a most unlikely convert to Christianity… Matthew Levi.  He was a Tax Collector... And in the eyes of his Jewish brethren... He was The worst of sinners.

 

Well... There’s another such man in the New Testament.

 

By his own admission...Paul said... He was the worst of sinners... Chief among Apostles.

 

Church... This is the good news about Christianity...

• We can change...

• The worst can become everything God wants in us.

 

It’s called conversion...The crucifixion of the old man... And the creation of a new individualOur becoming a new and different person.

 

Listen to these scriptures that promote the possibility of such Life changes.

 

In John 3.3 & 5 Jesus speaks of being born again... Remember that?.. I tell you the truth,unless a man is born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of God... No-one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.

 

Romans 6.4 reads… We were buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if the old self was crucified... We should no longer be slaves to sin, because we have been freed from sin.

 

Romans 7.6… By dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.

 

2 Corinthians 5.17… Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

 

Galatians 6.15… Circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation... A new life.

 

Ephesians 4.22-24…You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God…Like Jesus… In true righteousness and holiness.

 

Colossians 3.9 & 10 tells us… Since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator…In the image of jesus.

 

The good news is that God will help us in this life changing process.  In fact God specializes in such procedures...Giving us a fresh start and a new beginning… With a new heart… attitude and mind.

 

Listen to Ezekiel 11.19 & 36.26… I will give you an undivided heart and I will put a new spirit in you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.. So, rid yourselves of all the offences you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit.

 

WOW…  THAt’S WHAT I WANT!!... A new heart!… A Jesus heart!

 

With these scriptures in mind… Let’s look at a New Testament example of God’s power to change lives… God’s power to create a new heart at work.

 

I think we will all agree that Paul is another great example of such life changes. Perhaps Paul was the greatest opponent of Christ and Christianity. He saw Jesus as a false Prophet, and Christianity as an enemy of God and the Law of Moses. He believed Christianity could lead to the downfall of the Jewish people.  As a pursuer and prosecutor… Of Christians… Paul was responsible for the beating and death of many.

 

Scripture says… Christians were punished as a result of his personal testimony.

 

Acts chapter nine is about Saul… Later to be Paul’s Conversion...His new life.

• A stanch Jew becomes a Christian.

• A murderer becomes a new life advocate.

• One dead in sin becomes dead to sin.

• A persecutor becomes a Proclaimer.

Wow what a change!

 

Church… Listen to me… If this Saul of Tarsus… Can become Paul the Apostle… Then any one of us can experience a new life in Jesus christ.

 

We have some in this audience tonight that need to be converted... That need to have sins forgiven and the gift of God’s indwelling by repentance and baptism.

 

Perhaps some of us may be out-of-duty… We need to rededicate our efforts to more completely follow Jesus

• We need to come home...

• Start over...

• Restart our on-going sanctification process.

 

Maybe others of us just need to exclude that sin that so easily besets us... Entangles us.

 

Perhaps we just need to… Find our place… Our ministry… In the church… This church… And put our… Time... Talents...Treasure... & Energy… to work in the Kingdom of Christ according to His truth.

 

Question!!

Wouldyou… Like Paul… Want to experience a new life in Christ?

Let’s scan this narrative and see what we can learn

about initiating this new life process… READY?...

 

First... Like Paul… We must see things as they really are.

• See ourselves as sinners.

• See Jesus as the one who can forgive us.

 

On the Damascus Road... God blinded Paul so that…

his eyes could be opened to see things differently...

• See things as they really were.

God interrupted his life...So he could see God and His will in the light of Jesus and His ability to change our life.

 

Church...

• What traditions...

• What old ways...

• What old sins...

• What harmful old habits...

Are we holding on to?

Does God need to interrupt our lives… Does He?

 

Sometimes... God must interrupt our lives to get our attention? Is He interrupting our lives right now for this very purpose?  If so... Are we learning anything or are we resisting Him?  Sobering thoughts... Amen?

 

We will not… Cannot… Become that which we cannot or will not see… Visualize… In our minds.

 

If coming here on Sundays is just a church thing without any vision of… What we need to be… Should be… Could be... Then His calling... will not ever change our lives.

 

But for those who really want to…

    • conform into the image of Jesus...

    • Those who want to have His… Heart…Attitude… Disposition… and Behavior.

This worship and preaching is a time of visualizing just what changes we need to make in order to be more like Him.

 

Do we come here allowing Jesus to change us… or Do we come herE to affirm our own self-righteousness?... There is a world of difference!!

 

Indeed…  If God can change Saul of Tarsus... Think what He can do for us.

Catch a glimpse for a moment what God can do… For... With... By... Through… Us... If we will just allow Him to mold and reshape us into the image of His Son.

 

Secondly... Conforming into the image of Jesus takes time.

Godliness…Becoming like Jesus… takes time.

 

In the case of Paul it took a lifetime

 

• We hear him say in Philippians that... He had to forget his past and press on… Strive… Toward the goal to which God called him.

 

• To the Corinthians...Paul said... I must buffet my body daily... To bring myself into subjection... So that after preaching to others... I myself might not be disqualified for the prize... I must die daily.

 

I want you to look around this auditorium… Pick out the most Godly people you know in this church… Do you have some individuals in mind?

 

Now… Knowing this… They did not become spiritual giants overnight... It has taken years…

• It takes time to be good fathers.

• Time to be loving mothers.

• Godly marriages take time.

• Godly family takes time.

• Forgiving others takes time…

• Finding and pursuing our ministry takes time…

• Conforming into the image of Jesus takes time... A lifetime.

 

Indeed…Jesus changes lives… But it takes time… It’s not an instant process!!

 

The Psalmist has God telling us... Be still and know that I am God.

 

Patience... Not being in a hurry... Is one of the fruits of the Spirit.

• Godliness...

• Righteousness...

• Becoming a disciple of Jesus...

• Developing a relationship with God and His people… Takes time.

 

Always being in a hurry is of the Devil… It’s a sickness!!...

• This Devilish hurry sickness is destroying our families.

• It destroys our worship...

• It destroys our relationship with God.

• It destroys our efforts to have a Jesus attitude and disposition.

 

Thirdly... Having a Jesus heart demands the right environment.

Verse 19 tells us that… Paul joined himself with the disciples in Damascus.

 

Let your eyes fall to verses 26-27... When he came to Jerusalem... He went to the disciples.

 

We must know tonight that becoming like Jesus is almost impossible when we continue to run with the wrong crowd.

 

Scripture tells us that...

evil companions...

• evil communications...

• evil associations...

Corrupt good morals.

 

You can’t grow oranges in Alaska…

You don’t learn about and see examples of democracy in Leningrad…

You don’t find forgiveness and salvation outside of Jesus.

 

Do we want to be like Jesus?... Do we really?... If so... We must, we must associate with good Christ-Like people.

 

Church... I need your help...

• I need you to stand beside me... Encourage me… Lift me up… And forgive me when I fail.

 

• I need you to take me by the hand… Show me… Lead me… In paths of righteousness.

 

Number four… Becoming like Jesus demands an attitude of REPENTANCE.

After his Damascus Road experience... Paul spent three days in repentance and prayer.

 

We cannot become like Jesus without becoming changed people.  We are fooling ourselves when we think we can be born again… And just go on living like we have always lived.

 

Look at verse 20... At once... WHEN?... Immediately... Paul began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.

 

At once Paul exhibits a changed life…

• A persecutor becomes a Proclaimer…That’s repentance!

• Again… An oppose becomes a proponent… That’s repentance!

• A murder of Christians becomes a maker of Christians… That’s repentance!

• One dead in sin becomes one dead to sin… That’s repentance!

• One who was the worst of sinners… Becomes the greatest of saints… That’s repentance!

• The chief of sinners becomes the chief among the Apostles… That’s repentance!

 

Paul tells us that we are raised from our baptism to a new life.

 

Indeed... The greatest testimony of the church today for Jesus and Christianity is the changed life of our membership… Can I say that again?... The greatest testimony of the church today for Jesus and Christianity is the changed life of our membership…

• Are we living for Jesus?

• Can people see Jesus in us?

• Have we changed our heart?

• Has that heart change resulted in a change in our behavior?... ARE WE CHANGED PEOPLE?

 

Finally… Becoming like Jesus… Demands that we share Him with others.

Verse 20 tells us Paul begins immediately to take a stand for Jesus... Preaching Jesus!

 

In our lesson this morning... Matthew Levi gave a party... Inviting His friends to meet Jesus.

 

Church... If we were brought into a court tomorrow for...

• Being a Christian...

• A Disciple of Jesus...

• A Baptized Believer...

• A New Person…

Would there be enough evidence to convict us?

 

Jesus said... You are either for Me or against Me... You are either drawing men... women... And teens into the Kingdom… THAT’S EVANGELISM!... Or you are scattering them... abroad… Running them off.

 

There is no middle ground in this matter of evangelism.

 

Someone says… Well… I’m not really evangelistic!!!... Well… We’d better be!!.. Better Be!  Because Jesus said… You‘re either for Me or against Me… No remaining neutral.

 

Like Paul... we are to let the world see Jesus in us.

 

No. No. I’m not talking about having all the answers to people’s religious questions…

• We’re talking about living the life…

• Walking the walk…

• Making a difference where we are.

Note that Paul didn’t immediately go into all the world… But he did go into all HIS world. Jesus is asking us to make a difference where we are.  Tell the ones we know about Jesus and Him crucified.

 

Notice with me now… What happens when we become like Jesus... Having His… Heart... Mind... Attitude… Behavior... Verse 31… At the very end of our text... Then the church throughout Judea... Galilee... And Samaria...

• Enjoyed a time of peace... Unity was the rule rather than the exception.

• They were strengthened in the faith.

• Members were encouraged by the Holy Spirit.

• They grew in numbers.

• They lived in awe and reverence... Toward the Lord.

 

The good news tonight is this... If God can change...

• Saul the Jew into Paul the Christian.

• A persecutor into a Proclaimer...

• An opposer into a proponent...

• A murder of Christians into a maker of Christians...

• One dead in sin to one dead to sin...

• The chief of sinners into the chief of Apostles...

Then He can change us... AMEN?

 

You can begin your journey to having a Jesus heart… tonight...Right now?

• Become a child of God by…Faith... Repentance... Confession of Jesus... And New Testament baptism...Immersion in water... For the forgiveness of your sins.

 

• Some of us... Perhaps all of us... Need to confess or faults… And ask the church to pray for us and with us.

 

Today is the day of salvation... Now is the time… The right time… To let Jesus began to change your life!!!

 

Do just that… As we stand and sing this song together…