May 18 – Defining Moments – Paul

Read Acts 9:1-43

One of the things I enjoy the most about being a part of the body of believers at Grace Church is baptism.  It is so powerful to hear the stories of life transformation that has taken place in the lives of believers.  Everyone has a different story, but we all have one thing in common: 

Our lives have been eternally impacted by Jesus and we will never be the same.

Perhaps the most impactful conversion story I have ever read is that of the apostle Paul, which is recorded in our reading today of Acts 9.

The apostle Paul (then Saul) was a man bent on persecuting Christians. This chapter begins by telling us that Saul was “breathing threats and murder” against the followers of Jesus.  Just chapters before, we see Saul giving the consent to the murder of Stephen. This event was witnessed by and given the stamp of approval by Saul.

Saul was well versed in the Old Testament.  He was a Pharisee and was educated by Gamaliel, who was one of the most notable teachers of the Jewish Law.  But Saul wanted to stop the spread of this new religious sect known as “The Way”.  He wanted to devote himself to seeing those who were followers of Jesus persecuted, imprisoned, or even killed because of their faith.

While on a trip to Damascus to arrest the Christians there, he had a life changing moment.  An event that would not only change his life for eternity but also an impact so massive that we are still seeing its effect today.

During his journey, a light from heaven flashed around him and Saul heard a voice calling out to him “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”  Jesus stopped Saul in his tracks and made certain that he would never be the same again.

Jesus was no longer physically on the earth.  If you persecute followers of Jesus, you are persecuting Him.

Given the history of the persecution of the early church by Saul, it would be safe to say that the believers there would not have been very likely to trust Saul.  It would be as if Osama Bin Laden, who spent decades of his life terrorizing the United States, showed up in our country and claimed to be a devout patriot of the United States. 

Crazy. Very unlikely.

Yet, this is precisely what God did.  There was no going back to the old way of life for Saul.  At that very moment, his life was changed forever.  The passion he once had for persecuting the followers of Jesus was replaced with a desire to see all people (Jews and Gentiles) come to know the Way, the Truth, and the Life that is available in Jesus alone.

The man who once sought to destroy the church would now be a church planter.  He would be shipwrecked, stoned, and left for dead, beaten, imprisoned, and whipped for his faith.  The one who sought to stop the growth of the Christian faith now became its most important missionary. Saul would become Paul and would author the majority of the New Testament, preach, and teach the gospel and ultimately give his life for this faith in the one he once persecuted, Jesus.

Just as Jesus did the miraculous in Paul’s life, He can do the same with you.

Are you holding onto anything that you should surrender to Him? Are you in a place where you are able to be used by God?

If you open yourself up to God and His plan for your life, it’s safe to say the world could very well never be the same.

Nate Mills

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