Faithlife Sermons

When Jesus Stops By: The Best Story Ever!

Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 1 view
1 Timothy 1:15 NKJV
15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.
Today, we will conclude our series of [When Jesus Stops By], the subject of my message is, [The Best Story Ever!].
What makes a good story?
Who likes a good story?
There are different types of stories, or plots. One article I read discusses them:
Overcoming the monster.
Rags to riches.
The quest.
Voyage and return.
As I read that list, I can think of different stories I have heard that fit in each of these categories.
We have all been around people who are good story tellers. These are the type of people who can captivate us with their words. They can relay information in such a way that it is as though we were actually there!
Then we have been around those who tell stories and once they start, we kind of wonder, will the story ever end?
I absolutely love a good story. Personally, I have found that I like true stories than ones that are made up. I would prefer to watch a documentary of a real person than a movie created by Hollywood.
Part of the reason is, in made up stories, I often wonder, would that happen in real life. Also, not all stories have a happy ending!
On the other hand, when someone is telling a true story, they might conceal or omit certain details that they consider unimportant!
Personally, I love the details of a story. I want to hear where it happened, who all was there, what were the reactions of those in the room. I like the storyteller to paint the picture with their words!
That is one of the reasons I love the Bible. It is both true and descriptive. The Holy Spirit inspired the authors to provide ample details so we can place ourselves in the story.
We also have to remember that EVERY story in the Bible is TRUE, there is not fiction in Scripture.
Noah really did build the ark
Moses really did part the Red Sea
Elijah really did call down fire from heaven
Daniel really did sleep in a lion’s den
Jonah really did get swallowed by a fish
Peter really did walk on water
Jesus really did rise from the grave
The Holy Spirit really did empower the Church
We may call them stories, but that is not to say we believe they were false. In reality, the Bible contains the TRUEST stories ever written!
The authors do not leave out embarrassing or minute details. Instead, they tell it all. That was the case for the Apostle Paul. I want to look at what Paul might call the best story ever!
Paul tells what happens in his letters and Luke provides further information in the book of Acts.
I want us to see this morning what happened when Jesus stopped by Paul.
So far in this series, we have looked at when Jesus stopped by in the Old Testament:
With Abraham at his tent
With Jacob as they wrestled
With Joshua as he prepared to enter the Promised Land
With Gideon as he went into battle
With the three Hebrews as they went into the fiery furnace
How can we say that Jesus stopped by in Old Testament, years before His birth?
We believe in One God, made up of three Persons— Father, Son, and Spirit.
If in the Old Testament God appeared to someone, it couldn’t have been the Father, for no one can see His face and live.
It couldn’t have been the Spirit, for Jesus said we do not see the Spirit, but we feel Him.
Therefore, it was Jesus, in His preincarnate state, who came around to help those who desperately needed Him.
BUT, once Jesus came to earth, died, rose again, and ascended to heaven— HE STILL STOPPED BY to help people. I want to look at the first time Jesus stopped by Saul of Tarsus, or the man we know as Paul.
Every good story has three parts, this one does too. Let’s look at, [The Set Up], [The Confrontation], and [The Resolution].
Let’s begin
1. The Set Up
1 Timothy 1:12–13 NKJV
12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, 13 although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
In this portion of Scripture, Paul writes to Timothy to tell him the best story every. He sets it up by giving thanks to God. Then he discussed why he was thankful.
He sets up the best story describing what his life is like now and what his life was like then. He explains, I give God thanks because:
He strengthened me to His work
He considered me trustworthy
He appointed me to serve Him
For those who knew Paul’s work for God would view these three truths as a no-brainer. They all knew that Paul was faithful to God and diligently extended the Kingdom of God.
But Paul does not conceal the whole story. He tells what is, but then he focuses on what was. Before Jesus stopped by, he was a:
To appreciate Paul’s set up, we need to go back to the book of Acts and see who Paul was and how he persecuted the Church. For the first few years of the Early Church, God helped the believers.
He confirmed His word with supernatural signs and wonder. But persecution came to the believers, at the hands of the Apostle Paul.
The first martyr of the Church, Stephen, was stoned to death.
Acts 7:58 NKJV
58 and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.
Acts 8:1 NKJV
1 Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
Acts 8:3 NKJV
3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.
Acts 9:1 NKJV
1 Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest
Notice these three verses, what do we see Paul doing?
He witnessed the death of Stephen. Maybe I should rephrase that, he was an eyewitness to the murder of Stephen. He may not have thrown a stone, but he held the coats of those who did.
He came against the Church so strong that many believers left Jerusalem and spread throughout the region because Paul was throwing them in prison.
No one who knew Paul at THAT time would ever assumed that he would one day be the biggest proponent of Jesus. At the time, he arrogantly persecuted the Church.
To set up the best story ever, Paul describes who he is now, but then explains who he was then.
Hearing what Paul did to the Early Christians, most would assume that God would want nothing to do with him, but everything in Paul’s life led him to the moment Jesus stopped by.
When Jesus stopped by, the story continues and we see...
2. The Confrontation
1 Timothy 1:14–15 NKJV
14 And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.
Most stories would be boring without this element— the confrontation.
Confrontation means a meeting between opposing parties.
Paul was definitely an opposer of Jesus and anyone who followed Him. That had to do with his background. Paul was a Pharisee. He believed that in order for the Messiah to come, the Jewish people had to keep the Law to perfection.
For him, these new followers of Jesus set back the coming of the Messiah. He did not believe that Jesus was the Savior. So his opposition, while wrong, was done with pure motives.
He truly wanted the Messiah to come. What he did not realize was, He already came through the Man, Jesus Christ.
So Paul did everything he could. He was very confrontational. He persecuted and incarcerated Christians, but that was about to change, because Jesus was ready to stop by.
He recieved permission from the high priest to travel from Jerusalem to Damascus because he heard there were followers of Jesus there too.
Doing so shows that he was passionate for his cause. It was 135 miles from Jerusalem to Damascus. It would have taken 56 hours on foot to get there.
At some point, on the trip, Jesus decided to stop by.
Acts 22:6–11 NKJV
6 “Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me. 7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ 8 So I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ 9 “And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me. 10 So I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.’ 11 And since I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of those who were with me, I came into Damascus.
I wonder what all Paul and his traveling companions discussed on the way to Damascus. I can almost picture it in my head, Paul describes:
Just wait until I get my hands on those followers of this man Jesus. When I get ahold of them, they will regret ever following Him.
Whatever he said, Jesus determined this was the perfect opportunity to get ahold of Paul. A light brighter than the noon day sun began to shine and Paul was fell to the ground.
He had a confrontation with Jesus. Those around him did not hear the conversation, but Paul did. Jesus pointedly asked him, why are you persecuting me?
God humbled Paul for a specific purpose— to show him the Grace of the Lord Jesus.
Though Paul and Jesus had a confrontation, it was abundantly full of faith and love from God. He did so that Paul might come to find that Jesus truly is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
But Jesus’s willingness to confront Paul was not just for Paul. It was for everyone to know that Jesus came to save sinner. Paul told Timothy, trust, me I know this to be true, because I was the worst of them all!
The phrase faithful saying also means, nonnegotiable. We should not question, but we need to submit to the truth that Jesus came for the lost.
He came to save us from our sins!
The confrontation left Paul humbled, from that point forward, he did not focus on his mistakes, but on God’s grace.
Ephesians 3:8 NKJV
8 To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
He never got over the grace of God!
What an amazing story, Paul sets it up and then describes the confrontation. But the best part is...
3. The Resolution
1 Timothy 1:16–17 NKJV
16 However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
Paul wants the reader to know WHY Jesus stopped by. It was for Paul, but it was also for us. The resolution to the best story ever is that Jesus came for sinners.
Paul explains that his experience with Jesus was to be a pattern for the future. Paul is the prime example of his great patience for even the worst of sinners.
Now, anyone can look at Paul and see that if God could save him, the worst of sinners, God can save us!
The day Paul experienced God’s grace, Jesus told him the plan for the rest of his life.
Acts 26:16–18 NKJV
16 But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. 17 I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’
Think about this for a moment, Jesus stopped by Paul, for Paul, but also for us. He told Paul, sand on your feet and get ready to walk into your destiny.
I will use you:
to bring revelation to the lost
to see them delivered from Satan’s power
to see them forgiven of their sins
to become set apart through faith in me
That amazes me. God did not wait for a few years to show Paul his purpose, on the day he was saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, God informed him, I will use you as a pattern for the lost.
I firmly believe that when Paul wrote to Timothy, he thought about what Jesus did for him.
He tells the story by setting up who he is now, but he was not always that way.
Then he explains the confrontation, that God’s grace came when Paul was far from God.
He brings resolution to the story by showing that his life is a pattern, but as Paul wrote, he had to stop and give God praise.
1 Timothy 1:17 NLT
17 All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen.
He breaks out in praise to God who is:
Eternal— will never cease to exist
Immortal—He lives forever
Invisible—we cannot see Him, but we know He is real!
He declares HE IS THE ONLY GOD!
What inspired such praise?
Why would Paul conclude the story with praise?
Because he knew where he was without Jesus and he knew what Jesus did for Him!
Paul shares the best story ever. When he was far from God, Jesus stopped by to forever change the trajectory of his life.
But here is why I love this story— because Paul’s story is also our story.
That is not to say any of us have ever locked Christians in jail. We did not persecute the church to the extent Paul did, BUT, we can all take time to set up who we were.
We can look around this room and assume that those in this sanctuary were ALWAYS as holy as they are now. But the truth is, this is a sanctuary of people who WERE:
against God
arrogant in sin
far from God
At some point all of us needed salvation.
Then we had a confrontation with God. We fell under conviction. We came to the understanding that I can’t continue to live this way.
With such strong conviction, Jesus stopped by and was ready to SAVE US FROM OUR SINS!
And now, we have a resolve to keep praising our Savior who ALONE is WORTHY OF ALL PRAISE
It truly is a worthy of everything we have to give Him because He gave everything for us!
I was a lot like Paul, I was far from God, as far as a five-year-old can get, but Jesus stopped by and saved me from my sins. Now, I join with Paul in THANKING GOD FOR HIS GRACE!
So today, for everyone under the sound of my voice— each of us can have a story like Paul— the best story every.
All we have to do is repent of our sins, submit to the Lord, and let Him have His way in our lives!
Related Media
Related Sermons