“Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in
– Acts 9:21
It was around the year 1920. There was a certain old farmer who lived with his family in the middle of nowhere. One day they climbed into their horse-drawn buggy and headed into the nearest big city to take care of some important business. When they got there, the farmer parked his buggy in front of a massive building. He turned to his youngest son and said, “Little Johnny, you can come with me if you want. But the rest of you stay here. We won’t be long.”
Johnny jumped at the chance to go inside the huge building with his dad. He’d never seen anything like it. Truth be told, neither had his dad. Inside, the receptionist directed them to the elevator that would take them to the fifth floor. The farmer and his son stood in front of the elevator, bewildered, watching the doors open and close as people got in and out. After a few minutes, they saw a little old lady shuffle into the elevator by herself. Once alone inside the elevator, she turned and faced the farmer and his son as the doors closed.
About 30 seconds later, the elevator doors re-opened, and the farmer and his son couldn’t believe their eyes. Before them stood a gorgeous young woman, who gave them a dazzling smile as she stepped out of the elevator. INCREDIBLE! A decrepit old woman went in, and a beautiful young woman came out. So, the farmer turned to his son and said, "Quick, boy—go get your Ma!"
That farmer was pretty shallow, wasn’t he? He wanted to trade his wife in for a newer model. It never even crossed the old codger’s mind to step into the elevator himself to become a better man for her. But when you think about it, you and I aren’t very different from that farmer. We work much harder trying to get the people AROUND us to change than we do trying to change OURSELVES.
Well, some two thousand years ago, a man stepped into God’s elevator and allowed himself to be radically changed: the Apostle Paul. In a matter of moments, Paul went from destroying churches to building them. He went from exterminating Christians to nourishing them. He went from hating Jesus to loving Him.
In Acts 8, Paul was a zealot who stood by, giving approval to the stoning death of Stephen, the first Christian martyr. From there, he set out to arrest as many Christians as he could, often campaigning to have them executed. Saul hated Christians with a passion. Because, from the bottom of his heart, he hated Jesus Christ—so much that he tried to eradicate the name of Jesus not only from the lips of Christians in Jerusalem, but from the lips of Christians around the world.
that all changed in Acts 9 when Paul met Jesus Christ. He was knocked flat on
the road to
I’d like to share three powerful life lessons we can draw from Paul’s transformed life.
Life Lesson #1: Even the greatest Christians have checkered pasts. No matter what you’ve done, no matter how far you’ve strayed from God, there is hope for you in Christ. If you’ll let Him, God will forgive you. God will save you. God’s grace is greater than our disgrace.
Lesson #2: God doesn’t just SAVE hell-bent sinners. He RECRUITS them to change the world. Even after you’re saved, Satan is very good at whispering in your ear, “You’re a nobody. You don’t belong at church. You’ve got nothing to offer. You can’t lead anyone to Christ. You’re useless!” And that’s when Jesus calls you to stand up and say, “Get behind me, Satan! Jesus Christ has filled my life with purpose, and I will do great things for Him, not because I’m great, but because He’s great in me. ‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!’”
Lesson #3: You have precious little time to impact the lives around you. So, hit the ground serving. Finish strong. Far too many Christians START strong and FINISH weak. Regardless of how badly you started your Christian journey, you can finish strong. Honestly, Paul didn’t start his ministry years very well either. In fact, as he saw it, he had been the worst of sinners. But he sure did finish well. Once he made up his mind to give Jesus Christ his all, he fought the good fight and finished the race strong. And so can you!
Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. Join us at Impact for Sunday services: in person at 9 a.m., or online at 10 a.m. on YouTube or Facebook. Dane’s latest book, “Called to Persevere: One Man’s Journey to Overcome Pain, Disease and Disappointment with God,” is scheduled for release on Amazon in October.