Friday, April 12, 2013

New Beginnings Part 2 "From Saul To Paul"

New Beginnings Part 2 "From Saul to Paul"

Bible Reading Acts 9:1-18
Text Acts 9:5-6
5  And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
6  And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

Review: We said “It is never too late to become what you could have been.” 
We shared that everyone needs a fresh start, a do over, a new beginning.
Whether you are a seasoned saint, a new believer, or you are just checking out this Christianity thing, there are times we just want to start over, and God allows that and makes a way for us  to begin again.

Last week we saw Mary Magdalene at the tomb experiencing a new beginning. 
She thought it was the end, she was at a point of utter despair, things couldn't get any worse in her eyes, but it was really just the beginning.
She couldn't see Jesus because she was blinded by her despair.
Jesus had to break in on her and manifest Himself to her, He whispered her name and her eyes were opened and she found out that instead of it being the end, it was just the beginning!

We see a similar pattern in our man this week.
Two names in the bible for this man, Saul, and Paul.  Saul was the BC name.  Before Christ.
Saul was what we would look at as the evil persecutor, pursuing Christians throughout the land, hauling them off to jail, watching as they are stoned to death, zealous in His persecution of the believers.

But the amazing thing is, if you would ask Saul, he wouldn’t see himself in that light at all.
·       He would tell you that he is a believer in the one true God Jehovah.
·       That He is zealous about the Word of God
·       That He is trying to eradicate this false doctrine that has sprung up
Looking back from our viewpoint we can see him accurately, but from his day and time it would look differently.  He was blinded by his self-righteousness and religion!

That leads us to ask the question, is it possible that we are blinded also?
The bible tells us that “Every man’s ways are right in his own eyes…”
That there would be those that say we preached in your name and did many wonderful works in your name and yet Jesus will say depart for I never knew you!

Self-Righteousness and pride are some of the most dangerous sins because you are blind to them!
If you rob a bank, you don’t afterwards ask “What happened?  Why do I have $5000 dollars in my wallet, I don’t understand…”
You know!
If you commit adultery, you don’t ask “Who are you?  You are not my wife or my husband!!”
You know!

But pride and self-righteousness conceal themselves from you.
They are like the cold sore virus, never completely eradicated, 60%-75% of the world carries it, and it hides at the base of your spine, and waits for a time of high stress, or excessive sun exposure, or tiredness to break out and make it’s ugly self known.

That is just like pride and self-righteousness!
·       They lurk within and blind us to Jesus calling
·       They hide and keep us from understanding the goading of God
·       They keep us deaf to the voice of God calling
So how can I identify it in my life?
There are some symptoms that you can look for:
·       Self-righteousness keeps us constantly struggling (because we are ever having to earn our standing with God in our eyes!)
·       Self-righteousness makes us easily annoyed with others (why can’t they live up to our standards?)
·       Self-righteousness makes us joyless (There is no enjoyment in a rat race mentality!)
·       Self-righteousness  makes us demanding

Compare that to the righteousness that Jesus gives us when we put our faith in Him and receive Him as our Savior:
·       Instead of struggle there is peace:
o   Rom 5:1-3  Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2  By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3  And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
·       Instead of being easily annoyed, there is longsuffering (fruit of the Spirit)
·       Instead of being joyless there is joy unspeakable!
·       Instead of being demanding there is understanding
·       Instead of being proud there is humility (you understand like Paul “there is no good thing in me”
·       Instead of worry in tribulation (What did I do to bring this on me? (which reveals the work for righteousness mentality)) You Glory in tribulation, because it is another chance for God to get glory from our story!

***Woodpecker started to peck on a limb at the same time that a lightning bolt hit the tree and flew away saying “Whoa!  I didn't know I had that much power in my beak!”

In Self-righteousness, whenever the goad of God, our conscience, begins to poke at our heart, we tend to crank up the machinery a little faster and DO more!  Hoping that will quiet that certain uneasiness that we are feeling.

It doesn't!  But it does make us deaf to God calling!

God had to break in on Saul just like He had to break in on Mary.

“Saul! Saul! it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks!”
Who art thou Lord?  What!? A religious nut, but he didn't know who Jesus was!
JW’s, Mormons, Catholics, Hindus, Muslims, and even some who claim Christianity but are Christians in name only!
Notice this:

Act 9:6  And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

But what did the scriptures say that he did?   RECEIVED!  RECEIVED SIGHT!  RECEIVED THE HOLY GHOST!

The “must do” was related to the calling God had on his life, not how to be saved.  As one man said, “Our salvation isn’t received because of our behavior, but because of our belief (in Christ)”

Saul had a new beginning! He was changed from a self righteous, proud religious man, into a humble follower of Christ! 

You can have a new beginning today also!