April 19, 2021
This morning I read the account of the conversion of Paul on the road to Damascus in Acts chapter 9. It reminded me of yesterday’s message about abiding in Christ as God’s children.
When we look at the life of Saul (pre-conversion Paul), we see a man that was very fanatical and zealous for his faith. He had the highest of training and education in spiritual matters. He was well respected by the religious leaders. He was willing to do what it takes to keep his religion intact in what seemed to be an attack from within.
Saul went to the High Priest and asked for papers giving him permission to go to the synagogues in Damascus and arrest any “People of the Way”…Christians. What he was trying to do seemed right in the eyes of man. He wanted a pure and holy faith.
But then he encountered Jesus. He became a child of God. He recognized that his zeal was misplaced. He needed to move away from the old ways and begin to pursue that which was made new. Saul became Paul and became one of the greatest evangelists of all time.
What is significant about this story is that a man left to his own ways over time does not become a better man. Saul would never become the man he became, apart from and encounter with Jesus Christ. Left alone to his own ways, the evil ways of man, he could do nothing else but be an instrument of the devil even though he thought his intentions were good.
But when Paul committed his life to Christ and began to abide in Him everything changed. We know the story. He was struck blind. He needed to wait upon the Lord to heal him and return his vision. He waited prayerfully for God to work. And immediately upon this profound healing Paul went to the synagogue and gave testimony to what God had done and who Jesus was.
Just after this short time of Paul returning to Jerusalem and having a short time of ministry, the narrative in Acts returns to the work and ministry of Peter and the other disciples. What happens to Paul?
When we turn to the book of Galatians, we see the answer to that question. It was 3 years from the time of Paul’s conversion before he went to Jerusalem. And then after a short stay in Jerusalem, Paul, then went to Syria and Cilicia. He began ministry in Judea to the Gentiles. Then, 14 years later, because of a revelation of God, Paul went back to Jerusalem to show his work amongst the Gentiles to Peter and the others. (Galatians 1-2)
The point of all of this is that Paul, for the great evangelist he was, understood what it meant to be a child of God and to abide in Christ. He needed time for his faith and ministry to grow into its fullness. But he didn’t just sit and study. He didn’t just wait until he knew enough to be effective. Because of who God made him to be, he was effective as a testimony for Christ from day one but he was always growing into the fullness of Christ in his life and ministry.
So, I ask the question I left you with at the end of Sunday’s message. Are you living as a child of God? And are you abiding in Christ daily. When we can answer in the affirmative to both of these questions, we will experience a holiness that God calls us to and victory over the attacks of the devil.
You are a child of God if you know Jesus as your Savior and Redeemer. Abide in Christ.
In Service to Him!
Wow! What a service we had yesterday. The Holy Spirit sure invested in guiding us throughout the morning. He is always with us, especially when we gather for worship. But sometimes the manifestation of His presence is overwhelming. That was the case yesterday.
It is such a joy to serve the Lord in a church that so many people are well connected with the Lord. I am not just speaking about salvation but also about growth in our relationship with Him. This leads to committed service to Him and the people around us as well.
I know that yesterday as we worked through 1 John 1:5-10, I was speaking to many who have already understood and adopted that teaching into their own lives. I am aware that so many in this congregation have vital and growing spiritual walks with the Lord. But I know from my own experience that it is easy to allow what we know to be true to become intellectual alone with little practice of the truth.
I believe that God in His infinite wisdom brought us all a reminder of truth yesterday. I believe that many, including myself, needed to understand just how important our intimacy with Christ truly is both to us and to Him. And He showed us that even the simplest of sin in our life that is not dealt with puts us on a path away from Him.
I count it a joy to walk this path with all of you this week. I started my day praying the very things I encouraged you to pray. I then prayed that each of us would recognize the significance of this commitment. I prayed that we would all experience a fuller and more complete walk with the Lord this week. I prayed that each of you would have an ever-deepening desire for intimacy with the Lord. I believe that He will answer these prayers.
Do something special this week. Remember the challenge to memorize 1 John 1:9. Also, be encouraged to spend that 10 minutes. But do one more thing. As you see what God is doing through this in your life, write it down. Celebrate how God is specifically working in your life by immortalizing it in the written word. Then share it with others. Encourage one another by sharing what God is doing in your life. Even share it with those who don’t know Christ. It may be just what they need to move a step closer to receiving the Lord.
I know that God is working. I want to hear the specifics about how he is working on your life.
May God richly bless you today and throughout this week.