Does it Matter What You Do with Your Life?

reActionSIntroduction

Saul was a chosen vessel.  On the road to Damascus to persecute Christians, Christ confronted Saul and revealed Himself.  It was this authentic revelation of Jesus in Saul’s life that caused an immediate revolution in Saul’s heart.  Saul saw the light.  He was forever changed.  The old things had instantly passed away, and everything became new.  Saul was delivered and God had determined to use this man to be the instrument that would, in effect, change the world.

Saul’s previous life had prepared him for this moment.  He was born into a Roman family and thereby a citizen of the most powerful nation of its time.  The Roman Empire was noted for its commerce and trade over land and sea, it provided the best schools and learning institutions of its day and the privileges of society were unmatched and only offered to its citizens.

Specifically, Saul was born into a Jewish family of the Diaspora.  In other words, as a Jew, Paul was familiar and in touch with secular society.  He knew the Greek language, identified Greek logic and understood the influence of Greek culture upon the lives of men.  Saul had a clear perspective of the world.

Being a Jew, Saul had a number of insights into the lifestyle of God’s people.  Saul was brought up in the synagogue.  He had a working knowledge of the Scriptures.  For as long as Saul could remember, he had been taught the traditions of old.  Even though he had a Greek intellect, he had the training of a rabbi and was inducted into the elite Jewish ruling counsel known as the Sanhedrin.

Now everything was different.  Everything was new.  Yet God would use all of these personal experiences of Saul to fulfill His sovereign plan.  Clearly, Saul was chosen by God to do an extraordinary work of ministry.

Much could be said about this man Saul.  I could identify his character and his conduct in order to learn from his example.  Excluding Christ, one could argue that there has been no better man to ever walk this earth than Saul.  Saul has an amazing story; Saul the murderer of the faithful becomes a miracle of faith.  This man that purposely persecuted the church prior to his conversion eventually would proclaim the hope of Christ in like passion.  God ultimately elevated Saul well beyond his own comprehension to a place of legendary status within church history.  Humanly speaking, Saul would author half the New Testament writings.  Therefore, it can be said that no man would make any greater contribution, have any greater influence or be of any greater value to the world than this man Saul.

Clearly Saul was someone special which had something special, but what about the rest of us?  Those of us that will never be center on the world’s stage, do we have anything substantive to offer?  Does it really matter what we do with our life?

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Remedy: Receiving the Gospel Cure

RemedySeveral hundred years ago, a great nemesis arose against the church in an attempt to silence the gospel witness of Christ. This adversary’s hatred of Christians was hot and his disdain for the church was strong. This formidable foe was unrelenting in invoking fear and trepidation upon Christian believers tempting them to compromise their faithfulness and quiet their visible response to Christ.

This opponent of the church was no back ally thug that crept about in dark shadows, rather this man was prominently positioned within the ruling class. He was extremely intelligent and highly educated. He had connections to high ranking officials. He had clout among those with authority and power. With his own drive, determination and ambition, he ultimately had a capacity to inflict great harm upon the followers of Jesus.

Therefore, he was bold in his action, daring in his vices and he made no effort to hide his destructive agenda to eliminate the church from this world. Therefore, much blood was shed and he tasted it in broad daylight for all to see. This man was not just a menace; this man was a monster that attempted to exterminate the church from the face of the earth!

Some people are pliable and easily molded, but not this man. His personality was cut from hard stone and iron. He would not bow to the established party line; he was inflexible and adamant regarding his own perspectives and religious positions. Therefore, his will was an unbridled force of destruction that no one could tame. So no one dared to stand in his way.

The whole idea that Jesus came to die on a cross was preposterous notion to him. The thought that Calvary was the answer to man’s problems (the remedy) was ludicrous. To believe that God would die on a tree was ridiculous blasphemy and anyone that suggested such was a heretic and they needed to die.

However, on one particular blistering hot day on a mission to put more Christian believers to death, Saul (better known to us today as the Apostle Paul, Saul once the greatest rival of the church), got saved.

Every conversion to faith in Christ is a miracle. When someone who is born in sin, shaped in iniquity, blind to truth, deaf to the gospel, dead to Christ and determined to go his own way comes face to face with the Risen Lord and enthrones Him as his personal Savior it is a miracle. However, when someone so antagonistic to the gospel comes to faith, it seems as if it is a miracle of a different degree.

Humanly speaking, everything was against Paul being converted. He was saved in spite of his heartless personality, in spite of the violence he perpetrated and in spite of the vindictive response to the message of the church. He was saved although he could not be reached with reason. He was saved though he was driven by burning hatred. Although he was “set in his ways” and possibly the last person we would ever think could be reached, Paul was saved.

The good news of Jesus changed everything and when Paul received the gospel cure he discovered the remedy. Jesus is the answer to all that ails you in life.  That is how Paul could boldly declare in the first chapter of Romans, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes.” (Romans 1:16)

The Personal Power of Redemption

Bulletin PicWe all love a good story.  In fact, Hollywood will spend billions of dollars each year producing films which bring stories to life.  Most modern day block buster’s cost over 200 million dollars each (one of the Pirates of the Caribbean cost 300 million) and what these movies do is tell a compelling story usually in 90 to 120 minutes.  They do that because the film industry is big business and they hope that enough people will be interested and pay good money to hear a good story.  In fact, the notable director, James Cameron has grossed almost 5 billion dollars in his films Avatar and Titanic.  I guess he knows the secret of a good story.

Maybe it is a quest of hope filled with suspense, tragedy and the overcoming of great obstacles.  Maybe it’s a storyline of love, intrigue and heartfelt romance.  How about a narrative with twists and turns that keeps the audience guessing and sitting at the edge of their seats.  These are the things (and perhaps many more like them) that sell us on a tale.  These are the ingredients that fascinate our minds and captivate our hearts.

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Be Holy in All Manner of Conduct

Simon Peter was a remarkable man.  Peter was a rugged man with a strong personality.  He was bold, sometimes brash while living a determined and daring life.  Like most of the Jewish population of the day, Peter lived off the land to support his family.  He lived in Capernaum with his wife and mother-in-law; it was not an easy life.

Therefore, Peter was a hard worker; a fisherman by trade he was accustomed to laboring on the water probably in a boat made of cedar and oak.  If you can imagine a vessel some 26 feet long, by 7 feet wide by 4 feet deep with a crew of 4 or 5 leather skinned men negotiating the Sea of Galilee, you can get a glimpse of what their days were like.

However, once Peter met Christ, everything changed.  It was Andrew, Peter’s brother and business partner, that led him to Christ and once that happened, everything in Peter’s life became radically different.  Simon Peter, became a Christ follower.

Peter had boldly confessed that he believed the Lord to be the Christ, the Son of the Living God and along his journeys with the Lord, Peter had witnessed too many astounding things to think any differently.  Peter was there when Christ raised Jarius’s daughter from the dead.  Peter was there when Christ beckoned him to step outside the boat and walk on water.  Peter was there to see the feeding of the thousands, the healing of the diseased and the teaching of the multitudes.  Peter was an eye witness to all the miracles of Jesus Christ and was present during the Lord’s transfiguration.

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Afraid of the Dark?

What are we afraid of? Perhaps that is a question that we do not really like to reflect upon.  It’s not that we do not have fears; it’s just that considering those fears causes great discomfort and we are people that thrive on being comfortable.  However, regardless of how we like it, man must figure out how to cope with the fears that confronts him in life.        

 

I could stand here this morning and try to list all the things which people fear, but I doubt I could exhaustively list all the fears of man for there are so many things that create uncertainty, insecurity and anxiety in life.  Although, as we learned last week, peace in life is possible, the reality is there are so many things that rob us of God’s peace and causes us to be afraid. 

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“I Can’t Take it Anymore! Give Me a Valium”

Robert Browning wrote, “The year is closed, the record made, The last deed done, the last word said, The memory alone remains. Of all its joys, its griefs, its gains, And now with purpose full and clear, We turn to meet another year.”

No doubt, we need no reminder that 2010 has come to an end.  We have all been made aware that a new day has dawned.  Ready or not, the New Year has come.  But somehow, I don’t think most carry with them the same sense of purpose and hopeful anticipation as Robert Browning.  It just does not seem to me that most Americans have embraced the coming of this New Year with “purpose full and clear” for our future is ambiguously shrouded in uncertainty.  Take the temperature of our nation and we will find that many express uneasiness about these troubled days in which we live and display a level of anxiety about the future.

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Seeing the Risen Christ: Exposition of Luke 24:13-32

Introduction

Christianity is distinguished by a book.  The New Testament is the basis for all Christian thought and practice.  For the Christian, these ancient writings of the early church disclose the complete revelation of Jesus Christ.  The New Testament must be read, studied and interpreted for the purpose of understanding, communicating and adhering to the principles found therein.  In the 24th chapter of the Gospel of Luke, the reader comes across a compelling narrative.  The scene of the story takes place on the very day in which the Lord Jesus Christ tossed off the shackles of death and resurrected from the grave.  Just outside of Jerusalem on the road to the village Emmaus, Christ encounters, engages and reveals Himself to two followers that had been overwhelmed by the significant events surrounding the Lord’s death, burial and resurrection.  Within the descriptive dialogue declared in Luke’s Gospel, the Christian believer of today has yet one more definitive piece which helps complete the Gospel account of Jesus Christ.  Therefore the aim of this paper is to explain and example why and how to appropriately expound a particular passage of interest.

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