Acts 26:12-20 New King James Version (NKJV)
Paul Recounts His Conversion
12 “While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,
13 at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me.
14 And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
15 So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
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.’
Paul’s Post-Conversion Life
19 “Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision,
20 but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.
Does our world need a change? For better? Do we?
--We have many blessings. Also many problems.
--Politicians promise change. God needs to do it.
--Jesus can change the world, through changed lives.
People say, "What can just one person do?" A lot.
--Jesus was just One. No other has changed so many.
--When Jesus changes us, we are changed for good.
A small girl was given a jigsaw puzzle of the world.
--Shortly, she had it all together - right.
--Amazed her father asked, "How did you do it?"
--She replied, "It was easy. On the back was a man."
--"I just put the man together right, the world then, came out just right. It was Washington's picture."
--What words of wisdom, "Put the man together right."
--It follows, "The world will come out right."
--Let's make our vision the God-Man, Jesus Christ.
History and experience show Jesus works for millions.
--When all else seems to fail. Jesus worked for Paul.
--Paul was well educated. Religious. A Pharisee.
--Zealous. Intolerant. Bigoted. No time for Jesus.
--He was on his way to get rid of Jesus' followers.
--Acts 26 tells how Jesus came, "at midday .. alight, brighter than the sun. I heard a voice" (V 13).
--He said, "Arise, I appeared to you for a purpose."
--It was Jesus converting Paul to be more like Jesus.
--Paul became so, as his life, letters, churches show.
Paul is on trial by the sea at Caesarea in Acts 26.
--Not for any crime. For his faith in his Messiah.
--At the stone amphitheatre where we've held service.
--Before a king and a governor, he told of the change.
--"I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision."
--Paul asks, "King Agrippa, do you believe?" Do you?
None can change us, our world, as the love of Jesus!
--As God, He "laid down His life," for our sin.
--As God, He "arose, alive forevermore," with proof.
--As God, He alone is able to save a lost humanity.
--It is Good News everyone can use to assure heaven!
In his book THE CALL, Os Guiness relates of a man who headed up the Federal Reserve Board, Arthur Burns.
--Burns was Jewish. And a mighty fine gentleman.
--He attended the White House Bible studies in 1970s.
--Many prayed, studied, and worshiped together.
--In surprise the group listened as Burns prayed.
--"0 God, may the day come when every Jew will come to know Jesus." The Bible study group listened!
--He continued, Guiness wrote, more surprisingly, "I am praying for the time when all who call themselves Christians, will come to know Jesus also."
--How is that for a prayer? "Come to know Jesus!"
--What a challenge to all who call themselves His!
--Are we sure we are Christ's? Living for Jesus?
What religion, laws, education, housing, jobs, cannot do, I say to you, Jesus can! If we follow Him.
Study St. Paul's life. Proud persecutor of others.
--Self-satisfied and self-righteous. Harbored hate.
--Proud and arrogant. Doing the rituals. But lost.
--He needed a change for the better. Jesus gave it.
On a dusty Damascus road, Paul got down in the dust.
--Blinded for days by the glory of God; was humbled.
--Jesus appeared. Spoke to Paul soul-searching words.
--"Why are you persecuting Me? I am Jesus .. whom you are persecuting" (Acts 26:14-15). Hurting God!
--Paul didn't realize he was persecuting Jesus!
--He thought he was getting rid of Jesus' followers!
--What does that tell us? Jesus feels our pain!
--When we suffer, for Him; Jesus suffers with us.
--The Sinless One who suffered for us, on the cross.
Jesus told him, verse 16, "I have appeared to you for this purpose to make you a minister and a witness."
--To open their eyes .. so they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me" (Acts 26:18).
Paul was aware of the miraculous change in his life.
--Jesus made it, and Paul never forgot to thank Him.
--It is why Paul never complained when he suffered.
--He remembered what he had lived, and caused, before.
I know this, Jesus has worked for me, a good life.
--I have no complaints, for God "works for good."
--As His Word says, Jesus promises, by His Spirit.
--In hardships, God has "never failed" to be near.
--"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new" (II Cor. 5:17). Gives joy, and peace.
When Paul met Jesus, he asked, "Lord, what do you .. want me .. to do?" (Acts 9:6). The change begins.
--Not Paul's will as before. Now it is the Lord's.
--Puts Jesus first. Others second. Self last.
--Friend, we don't believe any more than we live it.
--Paul began to live it! Proclaim it! Write it!
Suppose your life and mine was committed to Christ.
--Would it be any different? Would our world be?
May I tell you of a smelly, tired man out of prison.
--The largest prison in the world in Jackson, MI.
--One hot summer day, walked into my church office.
--Said he was just out of prison. I was alone.
--His bare feet showed through his shoes and socks.
--Hungry, thirsty, needy. Satan been defeating him!
--For too long. He needed Jesus and a change!
I listened to his story. Shared the story of Jesus.
--He took it in like a sponge does water, so eager.
--"I know I need Him. Can God save and forgive me?"
--He wanted to be, and was "born again" with joy.
I took him home. Got him food, shoes, clothes.
--Made some phone calls to business friends.
--Got him a job. Drove him to it. A happy man.
--They had a place for him to stay. He made good.
--Sometimes a person may disappoint; not this man.
--I baptized him. He joined church. Made friends.
--Met a Christian lady. Married. Watched him grow.
--What education, jobs, the world couldn't, Jesus did!
--God came in Jesus Christ, changed Him for good.
Over the years I saw what God can do, through him.
--He had tried the world. Jesus was so much better.
--My dear friend, where are you in life's journey?
--We're here to help you get the most out of life!
That man made the right choice; Jesus made the change.
--The kind of choice, that can change the world.
--To make us all what God would have us be.
If only we all could see this, and follow the Lord.
--Follow the Word of God. Filled with the Spirit.
--It would be a much different - better - world.
--One of peace. Joy. Kindness. Caring for others.
--Where everyone could be trusted, to be honest.
--In the town where I grew up, doors seldom locked.
--Neighbors cared about one another. Churches full.
--Jails almost empty: Youth growing up in the Lord.
--No police in schools, for classes began in prayer.
--Everyone got along well with one another.
--Not heaven of course. But different from today!
America needs to get back to God. Worship. Bible.
S.D. Gordon, pastor and educator wrote, "The greatest thing anyone can do for God and man is to pray. It is not the only thing; but it is the chief thing. I do not mean those who talk about prayer, but those taking time to pray. The great people of earth, today, are the people who really pray." Good counsel.
--My friend, prayer changes things. It changes us.
St. Francis of Assisi became known as a saint by his prayers .. and practice of the life of Jesus.
--Saints are not all in the Bible. In life, today.
--They are the ones "born again." Jesus changes.
--Paul commences most of his epistles, "to the saints."
--It is His followers, striving to be like Jesus.
--I want to be one of those. How about you?
Our world will change little for good, unless we do.
--And even if we change, we must work to seek others.
--To show and share Jesus, "The Light of the world."
--As He said, "Let your light so shine among men ..."
Outside of the Lord God, where is hope, joy, peace?
--You won't find it in the glitter of the world.
--Paul did his part to change the world, for God.
--Let's do ours. It begins with a simple decision.
--Get man right; the world will be.
Wilbert D. Gough, ThD., DD. 889