Happy Monday!! This weekend I had planned on getting out of the house, but it was just too cold to be out and about with the kids. We all just had a cold recently and I didn't want to risk the chance of anybody getting sick again, especially with JJ's doctor appointment tomorrow. I ended up using the weekend to clean, rearrange and catch up on my blog reading and commenting.
Week 42, was all about seeing how God can change the heart of the worst sinner and use him/her for the spreading of His word. You see, Saul hated Christians with a passion. He persecuted them to no ends. He testified against them to have them sentenced to death, threw them prison and even beat them severely. To say that he was on the path to Hell would be accurate. However, God had different plans for Saul.
He sent Jesus to appear to Saul and his friends one day. Jesus asked "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" (Acts 9:4). Of course, Saul was afraid and wanted to know who was it that spoke to him in such an loud, authoritative voice and had appeared to him as a blinding white light. When he found out it was Jesus, I can imagine Saul felt panicked and probably thought that Jesus was coming to seek revenge on him for everything he had done.
Jesus blinded Saul and told him to continue to Damascus and there he would find out the reason for Jesus' visit. I'm sure Saul never imagined that he would end being baptized, have his sight restored, his name changed to Paul and that he would become a disciple for Christ! You see, a man who once sentenced Christians to death had now been converted to the very thing he once hated so vehemently (Acts 9:20-22). All I can say is look at God work!
Paul (formerly Saul) then gained first hand knowledge of what the Christians he had persecuted felt. The Jews had it out for him. They tried on several occasions to kill him and even have him sentenced to death. In fact, Paul spends much of the book of Acts in and out of prison for preaching the word of God. With the conscience of the those who had rooted and had a hand in the killing of Jesus weighing heavy, anybody who preached about Jesus, especially the fact that Jesus was not dead, but had indeed risen on the third day, were not well received.
However, God was with Paul all the way. Even when Paul was in jail, God made it so Paul was able to see who wanted, still preach the word and live like he was still among the free. The best example I can give of Paul's jail condition from our society would be Martha Stewart. Paul might have been in jail, but God made sure he still had the same comforts he would have had if he wasn't in jail.
Paul's transformation from Saul hold an important lesson that we as Christians often times forget and that I was reminded of both in my bible study and in watching Joel Osteen last night. We get too hung up on people's sins. Joel Osteen used the example of how a lot of churches discriminate against those members who live the gay and lesbian lifestyle. They tell them that they can't be on the choir, they can't help with Sunday school, etc.
But here's the thing, God put us here to love, not judge. If God can take a man who was murdering people and turn him into a man who ended up leading hundreds of souls to Christ, certainly God can do it again with those who we often times consider lowly sinners. As Joel put it, "Love the person, not the sin." We've all fallen short of the grace of God. Some of us fall short of the grace everyday, but that doesn't stop us from getting back up.
Where we are right now in our walk to Heaven isn't necessarily where we're going to end up. And the Jews failed to see that about Paul, just we often times fail to see that about people who live a lifestyle some of us don't agree with. I for one can certainly testify to that. I've come a long a way as Christian. I too was once living a lifestyle that wasn't pleasing to God.
I lived as man and wife with my husband for years before we actually became man and wife. I knew what I was doing was wrong, but reasoned it ok in my mind because I had never really witnessed a successful marriage in my life. Marriage scared me. I had a child out of wedlock and got pregnant with my second before I was married too. But it was part of my journey to get back to God and I'm thankful for it.
God knows that we're hardheaded. That's why He invented forgiveness and sent Jesus. However, that doesn't mean we should be out there sinning for the sake of sinning. At some point, He does expect us to get on the straight and narrow and stay there. God won't be played for a fool!
Do you find it hard to NOT judge people who had a bad reputation in the past?
Week 44 Readings
10/28: Romans 4-5
10/29: Romans 6-8
10/30: Romans 9-11
10/31: Romans 12-16
11/01: 1 Corinthians 1-4
11/02: 1 Corinthians 5-6
11/03: 1 Corinthians 7