Sunday, September 13, 2015

THE REAL ISSUE

What's the real issue?

As a new believer in Jesus Christ, Paul was on trial for his belief,
standing before the court he makes this plea:

Acts 26:9-11 - "I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And I did so in Jerusalem.  I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them.  And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities"

Paul understood the rage and anger that was now directed toward him, for before his encounter with Christ, he had done the same things that his accusers were now doing to him.
He had hunted and tracked down those who believed Jesus Christ to be Messiah with that same 'supposed' devotion to God, thinking that God was pleased.

Persecution and condemnation

Persecution and condemnation is being aimed at Christians today in ways we have not seen before.  As American citizens, we have been blessed to have the choice to worship God freely.


Throughout the world  we are seeing individuals being targeted simply because their faith in God offends someone else's belief.  The God who created us gives us freedom of choice.  When we choose Him, we choose life; when we choose to turn from Him we are choosing death.
Turning from God leads us into a path of destruction that brings addictions, bondage, fear, and all manner of things that squeezes life out of us.  Choosing God's plan, however, frees us to be all that we were created to be!


Take a second look...

Romans 9-10- "You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."

We are called to love our neighbor as ourselves, and to do good to those who persecute us, if we are to be true followers of Christ.  And who is our neighbor? Everyone.





Is it possible to be sincere and be sincerely wrong in your beliefs?  When Paul took a second look at his motives, he found that he was wrong.





  It's your turn... What are your thoughts?

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2 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. It is certainly possible to be sincere and sincerely wrong in your beliefs. People have changes of heart every day.

    The question becomes how drastic a change of heart is it?

    Often, as American Christians, our biggest concern on Sunday is where to eat lunch after church. We can't imagine someone watching our every move, and waiting to take us to jail after church.

    In other parts of the world, folks are risking/willing to risk jail and /or worse for simply worshiping our same Lord.

    In Acts 9, we read about Saul of Tarsus' conversion. It's a fantastic story. And it seems to suggest that the more dramatic the conversion to following Christ, the more suffering one must endure for being a Christian.

    in Acts 9:6 The Lord has had enough. He tells Saul (in the King James, New King James, and Young's Literal translations - in verse 6)


    Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” Chuck Swindol has written a great piece about what goads are and how this suggests that the Lord had been working on Paul previously, but Paul had resisted LINK: http://www.jesus.org/early-church-history/the-apostle-paul/how-did-paul-kick-against-the-goads.html

    (With the exception of our blind brothers and sisters in Christ) Imagine being blind for 3 days! That would certainly get your attention, don't you think?

    Saul must have been amazed, terrified, and confused, and so were the men traveling with him.

    AND, let's not forget about Ananais. He's the disciple whom the Lord told to go to Damascus, that is go to Straight Street in Damascus and go to Judas' house, and ask to see Saul of Tarsus...yeah, that same Saul of Tarsus who has been hunting down folks like you and throwing them in prison in Jerusalem for being followers of Jesus.

    Ananais, who was simply trying to be a disciple without getting caught by someone like Saul, must have had some quick soul searching to do. In fact, he questions the Lord:

    13 Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” (Acts 9:13-14)

    Then God tells him in no uncertain terms... "15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” Acts 9:15-16

    (To his credit) Ananais went, and entered the house and called to Saul, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

    So Saul/Paul had his thing going on, God showing himself strong to him. Ananais had his own thing going on, God had personally used him to call the man who would go on to become one of the greatest evangelists for Christ. And there were other witnesses who had the privilege of witnessing all this first hand. Do you think any of them needed any convincing that God was real, and that he gave power to those who trusted and believed in Him?

    Where does that leave us?

    Are we radically changed like Paul (a new creation in Christ), ready to spread the good news of Christ to everyone we meet, no matter what the consequences?

    OR

    Have we been chosen by God to deliver His messages to those whom he has drawn unto himself (through no merit of our own)?

    OR

    Are we mere spectators of what God is doing in the world today, ready to vouch for God if called upon?

    OR ...OR ...

    "Nice Sermon, Pastor. See you next Sunday. Y'all want Chinese or Mexican??? Somebody better decide something quick or we'll be waiting in line behind the Baptists."

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