Paul: God Changes Hearts Compilation

Paul: God Changes Hearts Compilation


This week we are talking
about the apostle Paul and you need to know
about him and here’s why. Besides Jesus, he’s
the most significant character, or most
significant person in
the whole New Testament. He writes half of the
New Testament books. And up until this point, we have
the twelve disciples of Jesus, fairly simple guys,
for the most part. We know they’re fishermen,
they’re the followers of Jesus. They go wherever he goes. And then they, kind of,
all the way to martyrdom
confess their faith. But then onto the scene comes this intellectual
giant, named Saul, who later is Paul. But Saul steps onto the scene. And he is a thinker. He is Jewish. He’s also a Roman citizen. Maybe because someone in
his family down the line was, worked in the army or
something like that. But somehow he has
Roman citizenship. So he understands
most likely Latin. He understands Greek. He understands the
language of the Hebrews. And so he can have
these conversations
around the whole globe. And he is the tool and the
instrument that God uses to reach the whole
globe, essentially. So where does it start for him? And why is he so significant? So Paul, which we know in
the Bible, is from Tarsus. And Tarsus, you’re probably
saying, “That does not
sound like Jerusalem.” It’s not. So Jerusalem would have
been like the main center
of the Jewish faith. And they had the
Diasporas, they call it. So people went out all to
these different nations. And they would set up
their own churches and
their own synagogues in these small towns. So when you hear about
it in the New Testament, Paul went and he preached
at the synagogue. This would have been,
kind of, the small Jewish
community that was there. Now if you’re not inside
the temple of Jerusalem, here’s the situation. You are no longer around
the scriptures in that way. You had to work somewhere else. And so they did that
in these synagogues and they would study
the first five books of
the Bible, the Torah. And they became experts. And we know this about Paul. Not only is he just
a Jewish person. Not only is he a Roman citizen. But he also comes from a family
that believes in Pharisaism. Which is he was a Pharisee. And what does that mean? This is not an official group. Like the Sanhedrin
or the Sanhedrin. This is kind of like
a watchdog society. A society that says,
“Okay, as Jewish people, are we living the rules
and the laws of the Torah? Are we doing a
good job of that?” So much so that he later
went to Jerusalem to
study under Gamaliel. They wanted him to be
like the ultimate Pharisee. So when he describes himself, he says, “I was circumcised
on the eighth day.” He says that he
followed all the laws. He was perfect on these laws. Flawless on these laws. And he was a Pharisee
and he was a zealot. We’ve got to talk about
that because that’s
really a foundation that identifies who Paul
is in the New Testament. So we’ve got to go back a little
bit in history to understand, kind of, the underpinnings
of why this makes sense. So imagine it was a time
where we have Moses. And Moses is speaking
and he’s teaching, but the people are tempted to follow the ways of
the unbelieving nations. And so one of these
instances, they are tempted
by the women of Moab, and the Moabites. And they are tempted
by the woman of Midian. And there’s an instance
where they have this And there’s an instance
where they have this
plague that’s affecting them
because they have so gone off plague that’s affecting them
because they have so gone off kind of away from
what God wanted. And here comes this guy with this foreign woman
that was totally forbidden. And he goes into his tent
and you can guess what was
happening in this tent. Well a guy named
Phineas takes his spear, goes to the tent, and puts it through
both of them. And you’re like,
“Okay, that’s pretty zealous.” Well, he’s a hero. The plague stops and
everyone recognizes that with zealousness, often
comes this idea of violence. Speed ahead about 1,300 years and it’s the year 167 B.C. There’s guy named, and he’s
the emperor, Anticus Epiphanes. And he has this idea that no longer are we
going to allow Jewish freedom of religion in any way. Instead, you only can
sacrifice to Zeus. So they go in, they
totally sack Jerusalem. And they, kind of,
take the temple. And they sacrifice,
literally, a pig. An unclean animal, on the altar. This so incenses, this so incenses the
people of Jerusalem, that the good solid Pharisees
and the people that said, “We have to stay
true to God’s Word,” that we have a revolt. And the Maccabean revolt. And the main player in that is a
guy named Judas Maccabeus, inspired by his father, who killed a priest who was
about to do an unclean
sacrifice on the altar. Inspired by his father,
Judas Maccabeus, the hammer, leads them to freedom and
eventually cleanses the temple. Why does this all matter? Because if you know
anyone who’s Jewish, they still celebrate a
holiday called Hanukkah. This is this celebration,
the cleansing of the
temple, 160 years. So, imagine these kind
of zealot factions of the
Jewish faith that say, “We have to remain true
to what God’s Word says.” Paul comes from that family. So much so that it influences
the way that he looks at things. So we’re going to talk
about that tomorrow. But before we get to that, I
think there’s a couple takeaways Even though Paul was zealous
to the point of violence, I think it’s always convicting, I think it’s always convicting,
when you look at your
own life and say, when you look at your
own life and say, “Have I been zealous for
the faith that I now have? Have I let Christ dwell in me and have I understood and
spent time in his Word?” So much so that I say, “People have to know about
it because God’s Word matters.” Or have I become indifferent
like the Hellenistic Jews at the time of the Maccabees? Or the Israelites, at
the time of Phineas? Or a lot of the Jews
at the time of Paul? Second question,
I think, is this. Have I looked inside to say, “God, I need time in
this Word to change, not just a nation,
but to change me.” And it starts with simple steps. God what do you
say about my life? What do you say about
my life is true? Help me find my value in Christ. And help me move forward
with a passion that says, “The world needs to know
about you because they
don’t know you yet.” Let’s pray. Heavenly Father,
Son and Holy Spirit, we look at Paul and we’re
overwhelmed, really. His life, itself, is
convicting because we see
the passion that he has. The desire that he has to be the
best Christian that he can be. But he finds, it seems, early
on, his value in what he’s done. Help us not find value in
what we’ve done but find value in what you have accomplished. We ask this in your name. Amen. Can the Gospel of Christ
accomplish the impossible? Let’s talk about it
in the life of Paul. So Paul, it’s Saul, and
later changed to Paul. So I’m going to just refer
to him as Paul from now on. So Paul is a believer
in the true God. He followed Judaism
to the nth degree. It says he excelled
above his peers. He was the Jew of
Jews, basically. He’s like this super-Jew. Everybody, he wouldn’t have
been fun to hang out with. I know that for sure. And he followed all the rules. And he did all the right things. And he was zealous for
the truth in purity. And to get rid of
anything that is bad. And anything that is muddling
the truth of God in this world. So he was very, very
serious about it. And then, to this point. So the Christian church, right
around this time, Pentecost, gets 3,000 new believers. This is a big deal. So we have Jesus
rises from the dead. And then 50 days later
there’s Pentecost. And then 50 days later
there’s Pentecost.
And it says, at Peter’s sermon, And it says, at Peter’s sermon, right around that time,
3,000 more believers come. This church is getting bigger
and bigger and bigger. And to the point
that it’s going out of Jerusalem to other
different places. And how does it go out to
other different places? This is how. So right around that
time, they elect different
people to help out. The disciples are doing
all kinds of different stuff. The apostles are doing
all kinds of different stuff to help the widows
and things like that. One of the guys they
elect is a guy named Stephen. Well Stephen was a
righteous man and upright. The Bible talks about what
an amazing guy he is. And he’s before the authorities, and it’s right there
he goes on trial. And during this trial, he
gives this whole history from Abraham all the
way to that moment. And he calls him on the
carpet for, basically,
you killed the Messiah. He calls them on the carpet that
this is what has happened. They get infuriated and his face is
glowing like an angel, it says, and they got so angry it says, and they got so angry
that they picked up stones. that they picked up stones. And they start to, like
literally, kill him, or lynch him with these stones. And what happens, is they said they laid
their coats down next to a young man named,
you can guess it, Saul or Paul. Here’s a couple other
quotes about him. But Saul began to
destroy the church. Going from house to house, he
dragged off both men and women. Meanwhile, the other spot. Saul was still breathing out
murderous threats against
the Lord’s disciples. And to the point that the church starts to spread because there’s
persecution in Jerusalem after this first
martyr named Stephen. And this church starts to spread
and Paul sees this, right? Just imagine, like, you’ve got a computer
virus on one of your files and it’s like somehow spreading to another file and you’re like,
“I’ve got to contain this.” And that’s what he says. So he gets permission
from the High Priest. He’s going to go all the
way to the city of Damascus. And he’s going to chase
down these believers,
the followers of The Way. And he’s going to
get rid of them. You know, drag them
back to prison. So he’s on his way there. This is the most zealous
guy you can imagine. And on his way there, I don’t know if he’s thinking
about like Ezekiel, and this picture of what
does God look like. But, either way, he is there. And he sees Jesus before him. And Jesus asks him
a simple question, “Saul, why do you persecute me?” And like a flip of a switch, it’s not really a conversion
in a traditional sense. Right, when I go through
and I teach people the Bible, I see people who
don’t understand, maybe they’re agnostic or
maybe they have no idea, or maybe they’re atheists. And they now understand
that Jesus is the Savior. Here’s a guy who would say
he believes in the true God. But now God is
going to change him. And so he goes to a
guy named Ananias. And Ananias is like, “I don’t
want to talk to this guy. This is Saul, right? The guy who kills people. And he’s chasing after people.” And God says,
“I’ve changed him.” All right, so he’s
baptized immediately. And this gives you an idea
of what kind of guy he is. Immediately, he goes out into Damascus and starts preaching
that Jesus is the Messiah. Well, people don’t like this. We don’t know the
exact order here. But he preaches immediately. This is the order I like. He goes to Arabia for a while
and he comes back to Damascus. And he starts to teach. So much so that the
Jewish people there don’t like it and so they say, “We’re going to kill you.” So they have to let him down in a basket during the night. So he goes to Jerusalem. What do you think he’s
going to do in Jerusalem? He starts preaching that
Jesus is the Messiah. And he starts arguing
with these Hellenistic, that means like influenced
by the Greek culture Jews. And he wants to
change who they are. And so they get
mad and they say, “We’re going to kill you too.” So the Christians
now, in Jerusalem, with all this tension of
persecution going around say to Paul, “Listen. You got to go.” I mean, just imagine if like your worst enemy right now became
the best friend. right now became
the best friend.
Or on the other end, your
closest ally right now Or on the other end, your
closest ally right now becomes one of the enemies. This is like the story
of Star Wars, right? The one who is closest
becomes the enemy. And how hard that would be. That’s what is
happening in Jerusalem. So they send Paul away to a place called
Tarsus, his hometown. And we’re going to talk
about that tomorrow. And we’re going to talk
about that tomorrow.
And how that really changes. And how that really changes. That time is significant. It’s almost a decade
that he spends in Tarsus. What’s our takeaway? Two things. Two things.
Number one is, Number one is, and on a lot of levels,
it can feel like God
kind of owes me a favor. But it doesn’t matter if you
were persecuting the church or where you’re at. Our own sinfulness means
that the only reason we
have a relationship with God is because of
straight, his grace. Here’s how Paul says it. For you have heard of my
previous way of life in Judaism. How intensely I persecuted
the church of God and
tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism
beyond many of my own age among my people. And was extremely zealous for
the traditions of the fathers. But when God who set me
apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace God has called you by his grace. That’s one. Number two is there is nobody in this world that you know who is more adverse
to the Christian faith than the Apostle Paul. And God did the impossible
and changed him around. Let’s pray. Dear Lord, You changed
Paul through your grace. You changed us
through your grace. Give us his zeal, his passion, to reach not just the
people that are close to us, our best friends, but instead
let’s reach out into the world where it seems like only your Word can change hearts and see those lives changed
around through the Gospel. So that they, then, just like Paul, can be
missionaries in the world. Amen. We’ve been talking
about the life of Paul. And we’ve been going through
a whole lot of history. And you’re like, “Okay, what
does that apply to me?” And I think this one is really,
really going to apply to you. Because, depending on what
you are facing right now, I’m sure you’ve got some kind of challenge, you’ve got something
ahead of you. And you’re like, “Is this what
God has in mind for me? Or does God have
bigger plans for me?” God, in this section that
we’re going to look at, is preparing Paul, I believe, to do such amazing things. So, God has already prepared
Paul in a couple different ways. First of all, he is
born in this family that
is very, very strict. So they would have understood
the scriptures very, very well. They would have read
the Torah regularly. They would have spent
time in the synagogue. They would have gone
through prayers. And you can even see
that, like in Corinthians. He’s taking Jewish
prayers and, kind of like,
applying it to Christ. And so he’s laying this
foundation and then he has this. He already finds
this zealous person. So he’s preparing
Paul in that way. He’s preparing Paul
in another way. In that, not only is he Jewish, but he’s a Roman citizen. And we know from other
places, and other sources, that some of the philosophers,
the Greek philosophers under persecution, had to
flee to different places. And one of those
places was Tarsus. So later on when he’s
talking in Athens, or he’s talking to the
Greek philosophers, it is not a surprise
that Paul is able to go
toe for toe with them. In fact, Paul is trained
under one of the great
rabbis of the day, Gamaliel. And so we have all these
things kind of adding up. Plus he’s an intellectual giant. He is able to lecture. He’s able to argue. He is able to
articulate his points. He knows Scripture from memory. He is able to preach. He is able to do amazing things. And suffer a great
amount of stuff. So, suffering, plus he’s Jewish, plus he’s Roman, he understands all
these languages. All these things are
coming to a head right now. So God takes this man who is
so against the Christian faith and so against Jesus and
totally flips him around. And you can imagine
that in your life. God has flipped around
every one of us. It’s really what repentance is. It’s the changing of direction. And he’s taken Paul and says, “I’ve got
a new use for you.” And so Paul’s excited, right? Remember, he went to
go preach immediately. And then he spends
time in Arabia. And then he goes back
and he’s ready to preach. He’s ready to hit it. And God says, “Not yet.” So people threaten to kill him. So people threaten to kill him.
So he leaves and he
goes to Jerusalem. So he leaves and he
goes to Jerusalem. And he’s ready to preach. He’s ready to go at it. And God says, “Not yet.” And my guess, in your
life is you’ve had plenty of moments where
you’re kind of like ready to go. And God says, “Not quite yet. I have some preparing to do for the bigger plans
that I have in mind.” We see this a lot in history. And then I want to get
to how God used that time. I was reading a Malcom
Gladwell book, this was
a number of years ago. But he talked about
the 10,000 hour rule. Which is basically to become
an expert in a field, you need 10,000 hours. Like, okay. So he game examples,
and it’s Malcom Gladwell, so it’s always a little bit of
a stretch and push here but, he said the Beatles, for
example, played 10,000
hours worth of shows. I read a book by Steve Martin, “Born
Standing Up”, if you’ve
ever read that book, he talks about all the
ground work that happened as a comedian and
testing these jokes and
doing all these things. And then the moment came. He said of wild success. And the problem was when
he’s at this high point is he can’t even test
his jokes anymore. Because he’s
supposed to be funny. That’s kind of a hard deal. Instead of practice,
practice, practice, go. This is how God does
this, I think, in the
Apostle Paul’s life. He now knows that
Jesus is the true God. And so, in Jerusalem remember,
he starts to preach. And he’s about to die. And so the Christians
there say, “Listen. You’ve got to go. You’re
such a hot button person. You’ve got to get out of here.” So they send him all
the way to Tarsus, in modern day Turkey. And he starts to
spend time there. What would he do there? We can only guess. But I would guess
a number of things. He spends time in
the family business. He’s a tent maker. And they take goat hair
and they make different
tents for, like, travelers. Because there’s no hotels. You have to kind of carry
your travel with you. Your tent with you. So I would guess he works
in the family business. Spends time in Scriptures connecting what
he knew from memory. Connecting what he
saw, like in Isaiah, “I’m a light to the
Gentiles,” right? And connecting that to
what is reality in Jesus. And sometimes that takes
one, two, maybe 10,000 hours. He is in, and maybe
you don’t know this, but the Apostle Paul,
from that moment is in Tarsus for roughly
eight to ten years. Eight to ten years, I’m
sure he was still preaching. I’m sure he’s trying to convert. Because we hear
about some churches. But, for the most
part, I would guess God was just using that
time for him to refine his skill and refine his understanding and to grow closer
and closer to him. Because the things
that God calls him to do and the suffering he
is about to embark on takes a deep, deep
base in Christ and an understanding
that this is absolutely true. And all the connections
to the Old Testament. So where’s the takeaway for you? Where God has you right
now I am not sure. But maybe God has big, way,
way bigger things for you. And this is just a time
of learning, right? It’s not leadership. And where we’re at in
life isn’t just mountain
to mountain to mountain. Sometimes there’s a point in
the valley where God grows us, that’s where the grass
is, someone just told me. And so fill up on God’s grace. Fill up on your understanding
of who Jesus is. Grow closer and closer to him so that you are ready
when the moment comes when God has bigger
things for you. Let’s pray. Heavenly Father,
Son and Holy Spirit, Thank you for Paul. We see an example of
someone who is zealous. And we see someone who has
so many things lined up to
prepare for a moment in time. So that he could be your
missionary, your instrument. We pray that we take this time,
if it’s a down time, seriously. So that we grow closer to you, that we grow in our abilities. So that when the moment
comes and we’re able to do that, we can shine. And not shine for our own glory but instead, you are a light
to the Gentiles and you can be a light to this world through our witness of you and what Christ has done
for each of us on the cross. We ask this in your name. Amen. If you know anything
about the Apostle Paul, most people know
about three things. Number one, that he was Saul and he used to
persecute the Church. Number two, that God converted
him on the way to Damascus. And three, that he did all
kinds of missionary journeys. We’re spending a lot of time,
kind of, in between. In these silent years where
God is preparing him and giving him time in his Word. So that he can
understand and grow. So that he can be the missionary
that God’s called him to be. So while he is doing
that, meanwhile, back on the ranch. So in Jerusalem there’s trouble. It is not going well. The 40s and 50s and 60s in
Jerusalem is not a good time. In fact, Jerusalem is
destroyed in 70 A.D.,
that gives you an idea. It is really difficult. And the Christian Church
is struggling to some degree. But they hear word of something happening. Remember that persecution
with Stephen and the
church started to spread? They call it the diaspora. So the church starts to spread. And there’s a place
called Pisidian Antioch. So up in this area they had a group of
Christians who were going,
you know, they were talking to the Jewish travelers
who travel by and they
started to understand this. This is a big town. Two hundred fifty
thousand-ish people. And in this town they’re preaching and
they’re teaching and slowly this church is growing. And soon some of
the pagan neighbors start to believe in
Jesus as their Savior. And it’s going and
going and going. And so the people in Jerusalem
start hearing about this
and they’re like, “Okay, we got to check this out. We better send some
people to talk.” And they send the nicest
guy ever, a guy named Barnabas, who’s like the “Son
of Consolation”, I
think is his nickname. He’s like the nicest guy ever. He’s like the nicest guy ever.
He goes there and he
witnesses what is happening. He goes there and he
witnesses what is happening. And what would he see? He sees a changed
community of people and he sees changed lives. And he says, “This
is the work of God.” So now what do we do? Like, this church is growing
and growing and growing. We’ve got to figure out someone
who can teach these people in this Gentile town about who Jesus is. And he has this idea. What about Paul? So Barnabas is the one
who goes over to Tarsus and recruits Paul to say, “Listen, I need your help.” Paul’s been on the
sidelines this whole time
working, working, working. And his moment of time comes. And he teaches for
about a year in Antioch. And he’s teaching and
he’s preaching and
things are going well. But then they hear
this prophetic word. Someone says, “There’s going to
be a famine in Jerusalem.” And this is
significant about Paul. This is why we’re
talking about it. Normally when you hear
about a famine, it’s like, batten down the hatches and
protect home court right now. But instead they say, “Let’s
take an offering because in Christ because in Christ
all these churches, the churches
now outside of Jerusalem, all these churches, the churches
now outside of Jerusalem, in Christ all these
churches are connected. So we’ve got to do
something about it.” And two, for the first time
ever we get this idea. Not only geographically that things are connected. But we start to see Paul
as someone who says, “It doesn’t matter if you’re
a Gentile or a Jew. It doesn’t matter if you’re
a slave or you’re free. It doesn’t matter if, you
know, all these things, all of that doesn’t matter. Because, in Christ,
we’re of the same family. And we have the same foundation. We’re all in the same temple. And we’re all, you
know, all of this is part of what Paul is
teaching that, in Christ, all these barriers
are taken away. And so they gather up this
money, they go all the
way down to Jerusalem. And they meet with, like, the
pillars of the Christian church. So, we’ve got James
who is the brother of
Jesus, the half brother. And then we have Peter and John. And so they’re all there
and talking about what
they’ve been teaching. And talking about, like, that
the lines don’t matter and Gentiles can hear
about the Gospel. And a thing that kind
of plagues and connects
Paul forever which is the sufficiency of Christ. You don’t need to become a Jew
in order to be a Christian. They agree on all this. But they say, “Here’s the deal. How about you take
care of the Gentiles and we’ll kind of take
care of the Jewish church?” And that’s what they agree upon. So Paul, for the first time
ever, this is making history. Because this did not
happen in that age. There are not, like, Confucius
missionaries going around. That’s not how it worked. There wasn’t Zeus
missionaries going around. But for the first time ever, a body of believers said, “Other people need
to know this.” And so Paul, along
with Barnabas, remember
the super nice guy? And a guy named John Mark, go to, I think it’s
Barnabas’ home place of
Cyrus, or Cyprus, sorry. And they start to preach
and they teach there. And when they get ready to leave
to go to a different Antioch, John Mark says,
“Hey. I’m not going.” And we don’t know the reasons. Maybe it’s because it got super
scary, and it did get scary. They went all the
way up to the top. They start to preach. People riot. I think he gets stoned and
then what does he do? He gets to the next town and
he starts preaching again. Like this is the zeal that
you see with Paul. So what’s our takeaway? The take away is
a couple things. Number one, that God can use you no matter where you’re at
to proclaim the Gospel. And number two, that God recognizes that in
Christ there are no barriers. We’re a connected church and there are no
socioeconomic lines. There’s no racial lines,
there’s no color lines,
there’s no gender lines. Instead, God is giving us
the ability with a message
that can reach all people. And so with the passion of Paul, let’s use that message
to get to the world. Let’s pray. Heavenly Father, You used
an amazing man named Paul. But now you can just
use average people like us. Help us look for opportunities
in our life so that we
can be missionaries. He invented real mission work but we can continue
this tradition of
the Christian Church. To look out for other believers. Look out for other people. Look out for the poor. Look out for those
who are in trouble. But ultimately, share the
Gospel, the only thing
that can change lives. That you lived and you
died and you rose again. And that we have a
relationship with you. Not because of what we’ve
done but because of Christ. We ask this in your name. Amen. Today we’re finishing up
talking about the Apostle Paul. And Apostle Paul, for a lot of
people, causes mixed feelings. And there’s a reason for that. Because of his
single mindedness. When you read, he literally
wrote half the New Testament. And when you read what
the Apostle Paul says,
it’s very specific. And it’s very, kind
of, life changing. Now that you’re a
believer in Christ, that means you change. Kind of think back to
his roots, when he was so
specific about what God says. He takes that seriously. And I think that makes sense
that we take that seriously. But he is so specific about
what it means to be a dad. He challenges us, right? What does it mean to be a mom? What does it mean to be a male? Or what does it
mean to be a female? And he challenges us to
say, what does it mean
if you’re a slave owner? And what does it mean if
you’re not a slave owner? What does it mean
if you’re free? Like what do all
these things mean? As a kid, and a child,
what as an employer? All of these things
are challenging. And all of these things push
us as a Christian to say, like, “What’s next?” And as a guy, I think you kind
of think about the life of Paul. I’m 100% sure I wouldn’t
want to hang out with him. He sounds kind of
miserable to be around. Not because he wasn’t
such a great Christian. But because he was. Just think about his
single-mindedness to the task. It says that once he understood
the Gospel, remember, he goes immediately into
Damascus and starts to preach. They want to kill him. He goes to another town. They want to kill him. He does that there. He studies for ten years. He teaches for a year. They estimate he traveled
10,000 miles on foot for his three, and possibly four,
missionary journeys. That’s not even counting
what he traveled on a ship. He’s dedicated to
a singular mission. And with all these
accomplishments, and starting all these
different churches, and writing half the New
Testament, you would think like,
that at the end of his life, as he faces prison, really, this
is ultimately what takes him. He goes and he goes into prison
once, which isn’t a big deal. Like, house arrest. But then later on the
Mamertine Dungeon in Rome, you can still go see that today. He’s in here and towards
the end of his life he
comes to this conclusion. It’s not about the
stuff that I have. I was listening to a story
and I could not find it. I searched and
searched and searched. I searched and
searched and searched.
But it was on NPR, or
something like that. But it was on NPR, or
something like that. But a woman was saying, I
thought she was from Australia. She was talking about
her grandfather. When her grandfather died,
they’re going through
his stuff in the closet and they get to the
back of the closet and
there’s this shoe box. And they open up the shoe
box and it had like four
Olympic gold medals in it. And she said, “I was blown
away at his humility because he never, ever mentioned this.” If this was me, and I even thought about
going to the Olympics, that would probably be
my starter for every
conversation I ever had. They’d be like, “Would you
like the regular oil change?” I’m like, “I was, almost
went to the Olympics. You know what I’m saying right?” Like this is how he’s, like
Paul at the end of his life has all these things. And as far as following
and dedication to Christ that would put him
towards the top. But he says very simply,
“For me to live is Christ. And to die is gain.” That’s it. In all this stuff, like if
God lets me still live, I’m going to continue
to proclaim him. And if I die, I’m with Jesus. And I think if our biggest
takeaway on this whole earth is: A. That God can use you. But, B. As God uses you and puts opportunities
in your life, it’s very, very simple. Do whatever you can to get
closer and closer to Jesus and I find that
God’s going to open the doors for you in your life. Let’s pray. Dear Jesus, You appeared
to Saul on the road to Damascus. You changed who he
was and you used him. Use us in that unique way. Help us look at all the
opportunities that you have. The gifts that you’ve given us. And, not that that puffs us up. But, instead, these are
gifts that you’ve given us. How can we use
these gifts for your church? How can we use these
gifts in the people’s
lives that we live with? And how can we proclaim
so clearly who you are? Because, ultimately, if
we keep living on this
earth, that’s fantastic. We get to give you glory. But if we die, we
get to be with you. So it does not
matter in the end. We push all that aside
and see what Paul
proclaimed so very clearly. The sufficiency of
you as our Savior. And that life doesn’t
really happen. And identity doesn’t happen
until we find it in you. We ask this in your name. Amen.

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