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Life Transformation

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Introduction

Good morning Myrtle Springs Baptist Church, I am a guest speaker since Ben could not be here this morning. Just kidding, its still me. I might have lost a fight with a hair trimmer last night. It was quite comical really. I am trimming my hair and doing my beard and all of a sudden the cut from the guard changes dramatically. When I get to the sides of my hair. Only to see that my hair looks a mess from being gapped. So, what do I do? I try to fix it without showing Katherine. Why? Well, let’s just say she has seen me with no hair and she prefers me with hair. I prefer me with a little hair myself. But, alas, there was no saving my hair and hear I am the hairless one.
I have always found it interesting how much hair can change the appearance of a person. Long hair, short hair, the style of the hair, all alter how we see a person. Changes like mine can be dramatic causing people to do a double take wondering what happened or in some cases it is needed and people say to themselves, or others, wow doesn’t their hair look good!
I think one of the best examples of this is in the movie Princess Diaries. You have this young girl who has big hair, big eyebrows, glasses. Let me be clear that there is nothing wrong with any of those things. Yet, for this movie, her appearance needs to be changed so she has her hair done and straitened, her eyebrows are plucked and shaped, she gets contacts and makeup on her face. There is a drastic change.
When a person becomes a follower of Christ, a sudden transformation takes place in that persons life as well. Much like my hair cut mess up, or a makeover can alter one’s appearance suddenly. Salvation alters a person suddenly but instead of it being a temporary thing, it is permanent.
This morning we are going to be in . The title of the sermon this morning is Life Transformation.
A couple of weeks ago we looked at specifically at the events of Philip with the Ethiopian. We also talked very briefly concerning Stephan and how he was the first martyr of the faith we have recording in Scripture.
At that trial and execution, is a man named Saul of Tarsus. In fact, he holds the coats of the men who did the stoning. He would then begin to persecute the followers of Christ in Jerusalem. His zeal became so strong that he here in Chapter 9 of Acts is seen asking for permission to extend his assault on the church. It is on this road that we will see a man radically transformed.

The Road of Life Transformation.

Acts 9:1–19 NASB95
1 Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, 2 and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; 4 and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” 5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, 6 but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.” 7 The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. 8 Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank. 10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 And the Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight.” 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem; 14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; 16 for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” 17 So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized; 19 and he took food and was strengthened. Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus,
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I would like for us to

There are three Aspects of Saul’s Salvation experience that need to be examined.

Saul Encounters Christ.

Acts 9:3–8 NASB95
3 As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; 4 and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” 5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, 6 but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.” 7 The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. 8 Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus.
Acts 9:3-8
Saul is a man on a mission to eradicate what in his mind is the plague of Christianity, a blasphemy against the one true God. He was zealous and desired to glorify God the best he could with his list of rules and do’s and don’ts. Yet, his zeal is misplaced and the Lord appears before him in His perfect timing!
Saul’s encounter with Jesus is one that is different from the average person. The resurrected Christ after ascension appears to Saul. Saul’s experience would have to be disorienting and stressful. He was persecuting the one’s who worshiped Jesus; yet, he now was faced with the truth that Jesus is both risen from the grave and reigning in glory!

2. Saul spends time praying.

Acts 9:11 NASB95
11 And the Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying,
After Saul experienced the appearance of Christ on the road to Damascus, Saul immediately was blinded but we also see that he went three days without food and drink which he remained in darkness.
Acts 9:9 NASB95
9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
This time to process what he just experienced is vitally important. It allows him to seek the truth. Saul desired to glorify the Lord. Saul’s faithfulness to his religion was out of a genuine belief that he was correct. Unfortunately for Saul, he had been deceived. Jesus’ appearance to him revealed the truth that Christ was the Son of God but He needed time to process the information.
We are far to impatient with people when we share the gospel message. We want people to immediately respond which is a great desire! Yet, we forget that many of our own salvation experiences were over many times being exposed to the truth and in same cases years of hearing the message as children.
No one learns through a single instance.
Josh Kaufman, author of The Personal MBA, explains that according to his research, the infamous “10,000 hours to learn anything” is in fact, untrue.
It takes 10,000 hours to become an “expert in an ultra competitive field” but to go from “knowing nothing to being pretty good”, actually takes 20 hours. The equivalent of 45 minutes a day for a month.
We aren’t expecting people to be experts in Christianity before conversion, we are asking them to respond to the truth and understand it which means committing to sharing Jesus regularly with them. Also, this real world example is for people who are working on a skill. But I believe this concept is very applicable to gospel conversions.
Thus, the impact the personal relationship has in gospel conversions is significant. If we rely on the pulpit alone it would take approximately 20 Sunday mornings for the person to hear enough to understand based off the concept presented by Kaufman which means we are expecting a lost person to sit in a sermon fully engaged in something they do not believe or understand fully. Obviously, this timing is different for each person, in many cases, this would be the lowest possible. Ultimately, it means that it is unrealistic to expect individuals to be saved regularly through simply the pastor’s pulpit ministry. It requires time and effort from all of us daily with the people we walk life with.
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Leading us to the final step on the road to life transformation in Saul

3. Saul receives the Holy Spirit.

Acts 9:17–19 NASB95
17 So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized; 19 and he took food and was strengthened. Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus,
Acts 9:17-
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It is important to remember this is not the first time Saul has heard the Gospel. In fact, Saul was present at Stephen’s stoning. It was upon this event Saul would receive permission to persecute the Christians in the region. I can’t help but believe that Stephen’s faithfulness proved foundational to the conversion of Saul. Thus, when he saw the Lord on the road and encountered Him. He responded in receiving the truth that Jesus was truly God.
Some have mistaken Saul’s receiving of salvation as the point on the road of Damascus; yet, this proves problematic because it is not until Ananias comes that he receives the Holy Spirit and is healed of his blind state.
Furthermore, it would be a misunderstanding of truth if we are to argue that Salvation is through osmosis or any other means than the presenting of the Word of the Lord to people. Paul reminds us that people have to hear the truth in .
Romans 10:14 NASB95
14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?
Therefore, we must be individuals who not only have received the truth from the Lord we are to go and share the truth as well which brings us to the second point which is...

The Fruit of Life Transformation.

Acts 9:19–25 NASB95
19 and he took food and was strengthened. Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus, 20 and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21 All those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, “Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” 22 But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ. 23 When many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted together to do away with him, 24 but their plot became known to Saul. They were also watching the gates day and night so that they might put him to death; 25 but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a large basket.
Acts 9:19-25
Acts 9:19–25 NASB95
19 and he took food and was strengthened. Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus, 20 and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21 All those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, “Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” 22 But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ. 23 When many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted together to do away with him, 24 but their plot became known to Saul. They were also watching the gates day and night so that they might put him to death; 25 but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a large basket.
Acts 9:19–22 NASB95
19 and he took food and was strengthened. Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus, 20 and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21 All those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, “Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” 22 But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ.

1. Desire to Fellowship with Believers.

Acts 9:19–23 NASB95
19 and he took food and was strengthened. Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus, 20 and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21 All those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, “Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” 22 But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ. 23 When many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted together to do away with him,
Acts 9:19 NASB95
19 and he took food and was strengthened. Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus,
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As followers of Christ, we should long and even get excited to go to church. Do you get pumped up when the doors open for worship? Are you truly excited to get to fellowship with other believers? If there is not a level of anticipation for corporate worship, then we have missed the mark. Joy and genuine excitement should fill us. The relationship we have with one another should push us to want to be together as often as possible. If corporate worship, Sunday School, and other fellowships together are more chore than joy, our hearts are not right and our ideals have been missed placed.

2. Desire to Share the Gospel.

Acts 9:20–21 NASB95
20 and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21 All those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, “Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?”
Acts 20–21 NASB95
1 After the uproar had ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and when he had exhorted them and taken his leave of them, he left to go to Macedonia. 2 When he had gone through those districts and had given them much exhortation, he came to Greece. 3 And there he spent three months, and when a plot was formed against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia. 4 And he was accompanied by Sopater of Berea, the son of Pyrrhus, and by Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians, and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia. 5 But these had gone on ahead and were waiting for us at Troas. 6 We sailed from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and came to them at Troas within five days; and there we stayed seven days. 7 On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered together. 9 And there was a young man named Eutychus sitting on the window sill, sinking into a deep sleep; and as Paul kept on talking, he was overcome by sleep and fell down from the third floor and was picked up dead. 10 But Paul went down and fell upon him, and after embracing him, he said, “Do not be troubled, for his life is in him.” 11 When he had gone back up and had broken the bread and eaten, he talked with them a long while until daybreak, and then left. 12 They took away the boy alive, and were greatly comforted. 13 But we, going ahead to the ship, set sail for Assos, intending from there to take Paul on board; for so he had arranged it, intending himself to go by land. 14 And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and came to Mitylene. 15 Sailing from there, we arrived the following day opposite Chios; and the next day we crossed over to Samos; and the day following we came to Miletus. 16 For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be in Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost. 17 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church. 18 And when they had come to him, he said to them, You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, 21 solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 “And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me. 24 “But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God. 25 “And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face. 26 “Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 “For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. 28 “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 “Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. 32 “And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 “I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothes. 34 “You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. 35 “In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” 36 When he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37 And they began to weep aloud and embraced Paul, and repeatedly kissed him, 38 grieving especially over the word which he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they were accompanying him to the ship. 1 When we had parted from them and had set sail, we ran a straight course to Cos and the next day to Rhodes and from there to Patara; 2 and having found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, we went aboard and set sail. 3 When we came in sight of Cyprus, leaving it on the left, we kept sailing to Syria and landed at Tyre; for there the ship was to unload its cargo. 4 After looking up the disciples, we stayed there seven days; and they kept telling Paul through the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem. 5 When our days there were ended, we left and started on our journey, while they all, with wives and children, escorted us until we were out of the city. After kneeling down on the beach and praying, we said farewell to one another. 6 Then we went on board the ship, and they returned home again. 7 When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais, and after greeting the brethren, we stayed with them for a day. 8 On the next day we left and came to Caesarea, and entering the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, we stayed with him. 9 Now this man had four virgin daughters who were prophetesses. 10 As we were staying there for some days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, “This is what the Holy Spirit says: ‘In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’ ” 12 When we had heard this, we as well as the local residents began begging him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14 And since he would not be persuaded, we fell silent, remarking, “The will of the Lord be done!” 15 After these days we got ready and started on our way up to Jerusalem. 16 Some of the disciples from Caesarea also came with us, taking us to Mnason of Cyprus, a disciple of long standing with whom we were to lodge. 17 After we arrived in Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. 18 And the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. 19 After he had greeted them, he began to relate one by one the things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 And when they heard it they began glorifying God; and they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law; 21 and they have been told about you, that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. 22 “What, then, is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. 23 “Therefore do this that we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; 24 take them and purify yourself along with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads; and all will know that there is nothing to the things which they have been told about you, but that you yourself also walk orderly, keeping the Law. 25 “But concerning the Gentiles who have believed, we wrote, having decided that they should abstain from meat sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication.” 26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day, purifying himself along with them, went into the temple giving notice of the completion of the days of purification, until the sacrifice was offered for each one of them. 27 When the seven days were almost over, the Jews from Asia, upon seeing him in the temple, began to stir up all the crowd and laid hands on him, 28 crying out, “Men of Israel, come to our aid! This is the man who preaches to all men everywhere against our people and the Law and this place; and besides he has even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” 29 For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple. 30 Then all the city was provoked, and the people rushed together, and taking hold of Paul they dragged him out of the temple, and immediately the doors were shut. 31 While they were seeking to kill him, a report came up to the commander of the Roman cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion. 32 At once he took along some soldiers and centurions and ran down to them; and when they saw the commander and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. 33 Then the commander came up and took hold of him, and ordered him to be bound with two chains; and he began asking who he was and what he had done. 34 But among the crowd some were shouting one thing and some another, and when he could not find out the facts because of the uproar, he ordered him to be brought into the barracks. 35 When he got to the stairs, he was carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob; 36 for the multitude of the people kept following them, shouting, “Away with him!” 37 As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the commander, “May I say something to you?” And he said, “Do you know Greek? 38 “Then you are not the Egyptian who some time ago stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?” 39 But Paul said, “I am a Jew of Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no insignificant city; and I beg you, allow me to speak to the people.” 40 When he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the stairs, motioned to the people with his hand; and when there was a great hush, he spoke to them in the Hebrew dialect, saying,
Not only is sharing the Gospel commanded to us, it should be our hearts desire to proclaim the saving truth of what Christ has done for us! If we are not talking about Jesus, but are more concerned about a television show, current politics, or a sporting event then there is no true taste of grace on our tongues. There is no amazement of what God has done.
Acts 20-21
We in America have turned Jesus from the the master to the product. A product of consumption one to three times a week in a building. He is not our God, nor is he our leader, instead he is our get out of jail card which we care not to share with our neighbor. Jesus is not meant to be hoarded, he is meant to be proclaimed!

3. Demonstrate Spiritual Growth.

Acts 9:22 NASB95
22 But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ.
Saul kept growing in faith, learning how to share his faith more effectively and walk with the Lord more closely. We see through his writings that Saul never stopped growing. He kept on chasing after the Lord. We also must keep strengthening our walks with the Lord. If we had our lives placed on these screens would people see someone who is walking closer to the Lord today than yesterday, last week, last year, 10 years ago? If not, we must answer the question why? Where did we go wrong and surrender that thing to the Lord.

4. Faithfulness leads to Persecution.

Acts 9:15–16 NASB95
15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; 16 for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.”
Acts 9:23–25 NASB95
23 When many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted together to do away with him, 24 but their plot became known to Saul. They were also watching the gates day and night so that they might put him to death; 25 but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a large basket.
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It did not take long for the suffering to come for Paul look at
Acts 9:23–25 NASB95
23 When many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted together to do away with him, 24 but their plot became known to Saul. They were also watching the gates day and night so that they might put him to death; 25 but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a large basket.
Suffering for the faith is synonymous with genuine faith. If there is no resistance to our faith, then we must ask “is our faith strong enough?” Jesus tells us persecution is promised to the faithful. In our world of easy going low to no persecution, especially in the south, have we lived so closely to the societies norms that we have failed to show Jesus to the world? Have we become so indifferent to the sins around us that we have lost our voice. True faithfulness leads to uncomfortable living in both us and others around us.
Pastor J. H. Crowell, when about sixteen, shipped on a sailing vessel, where he was the only Christian, in a crew of twelve. Before leaving his mother he promised to meet her three times a day at the throne of grace. So regularly he went below and prayed aloud. He thought he must. They threw wood at him and poured buckets of water over him, but could not put out the fire in his soul. Then they tied him to the mast and laid thirty-nine stripes on his back. Still he prayed. They tied a rope around his body and threw him overboard. He swam as best he could, and when he took hold of the side of the ship they pushed him off with a pole. At last his strength gave way, and, supposing they meant to kill him, he prayed that God would forgive them, and called out: "Send my body to my mother and tell her that I died for Jesus." He was then pulled on deck unconscious, but after some time came to. Conviction began to seize the sailors. Before night two of them were gloriously converted. Inside of a week everyone on board, including the captain, was blessedly saved.

The Distrust of Life Transformation.

Acts 9:23–31 NASB95
23 When many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted together to do away with him, 24 but their plot became known to Saul. They were also watching the gates day and night so that they might put him to death; 25 but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a large basket. 26 When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 And he was with them, moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 And he was talking and arguing with the Hellenistic Jews; but they were attempting to put him to death. 30 But when the brethren learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus. 31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.
Acts 9:26–31 NASB95
26 When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 And he was with them, moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 And he was talking and arguing with the Hellenistic Jews; but they were attempting to put him to death. 30 But when the brethren learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus. 31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.
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1. Unbeliever’s can be untrusting of believers.

Prior to his salvation experience Saul did not trust the disciples of the Lord. He was persecuting them after all. Non-Christians often struggle with understanding the why of Christianity. They do not see the need because they are blinded to the truth. Saul was blinded to this reality in his own life. His zeal for his religion is very similar to the zeal of the Islamic terrorists, atheists, and others who practice other religiosity. They are caught worshipping a false religious order or idea instead of worshiping and having a relationship with the true creator of the universe.
-19 records the words of our Lord concerning how the World responds to a follower of Christ in their natural being. Listen to these words,
John 15:18–19 NASB95
18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.
It is only natural for the ungodly to hate the godly. As image-bearers of Christ, we bring light into the lives of those around us which the wicked hates because it convicts them of their unrighteousness. Not only do believers face distrust from unbelievers,

2. Believer’s can be untrusting of the new disciple.

Acts 9:26 NASB95
26 When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple.
Saul is an extreme example of the distrust new believers can face. He had been the zealous prosecutor of the followers of Christ in Jerusalem. He left the region for Damascus and upon his return he now claims to be a follower of Christ. It is completely understandable for the believers to be hesitant to receive him into their fellowship. I think all of us in this room would understand their hesitancy.
For instance, imagine we are in a closed islamic country where it is illegal to practice Christianity. There is a great commander and religious figure in the town who has killed and jailed many brothers and sisters of the faith. He leaves to go to the next town over only to come back claiming he has seen the light of Christ and been saved. He is trying to seek worship with all the believers. How quickly would you be ready to bring the man who could bring death to everyone into the house of worship? Not likely. This reality is exactly what Saul is suffering from.
Thankfully, the stakes are not as high as life or death in our churches in America; yet, we are not exempt from the same prejudices. We often find ourselves questioning the conversion of those who come from “rough backgrounds” such as drug and alcohol addicts, the sexually immoral, murders, thieves, and the list goes on.
I am not saying that these individuals do not need accountability; we all need accountability. What I am saying is that the church must embrace these individuals who needed Jesus and have received him as Lord. They need to be discipled. In fact, that is just what happened to Saul. Look with me at the rest of this conversion experience of Saul.
Acts 9:27–31 NASB95
27 But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 And he was with them, moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 And he was talking and arguing with the Hellenistic Jews; but they were attempting to put him to death. 30 But when the brethren learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus. 31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.
Thank the Lord for the Barnabas’ in our churches who do not see past mistakes, skin tone, or situations. They see a person in need of fellowship and grab them up to be their advocate and discipleship leader. Barnabas argued for Saul’s acceptance into the fellowship presenting all Saul had done for the Lord since his conversion. I can see Saul kind of squirming a little as Barnabas is listing off the works the Lord had done through him. But it was all true and Saul was, as Jesus said, “a chosen instrument of Mine.”

Conclusion

Saul was set apart from the foundations of the earth for the purpose of God. All Saul’s sufferings which laid ahead, including being a martyr were in God’s plans for his life. Christ said, that he was an instrument to be used and that “he must suffer for My name’s sake.” Giving great weight to when Saul writes,
Romans 8:28 NASB95
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Conclusion

Christian
fill

Invitation

No matter what you are going through, if you are a child of God, God has a plan for you. He has called you for His purpose. Every single one of us have been called and set apart for kingdom work. Jesus has called you to selflessness for his glory. Saul gave up everything for Jesus when the truth finally was revealed to him. He walked away from his old life completely in order to pursue the King of Glory. How much more should we also do the same?
If everyone would bow their heads and close their eyes, we are going to begin a time of invitation.
Maybe you are hearing the gospel for the first time this morning or for the thousandth time but today you had your Damascus road experience. For the first time, you have seen the truth that Christ is truly the Lord who died for us. If that is you cry-out to him and simply pray something like this, Lord I admit that I am a sinner in need of your salvation, I believe you were truly the Son of God and you died and rose from the grave for my sins. I confess you as Lord. If you truly believe that, tells us
Romans 10:9 NASB95
9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;
There is nothing more beautiful than that when we start to sing if that is you I would love for you to come down so we can celebrate together this morning.
Maybe you have surrendered your life, but you have fallen to the trap of sin and you need to lay that sin at the feet of Jesus and declare victory over it.
Yet maybe you heard that God works all things for his the good of those who are called according to His purposes and you couldn’t help but think how could God work these things in my life for good. Possibly, you even have been thinking to yourself, “God why have you forgotten me? Do you see what is going on in my life?” Take hold of faith this morning brothers and sisters for the Lord does see your struggles and difficulties and he will use them for both His glory and your good. Allow this alter to be the place you lay all those burdens this morning.
Maybe you heard the Holy Spirit speak to you this morning that you need to lay your sin or frustration at the feet of Jesus this morning.
If you have heard the Spirit of the Lord speak to you this morning the time to respond is now. Please, do not delay.
Pray.
There is nothing magical with coming down to the front and
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