You are on the brink of a transformation that will cause you to do what you could not do, to be what you could not be, to see what you could not see, to hear what you cannot hear. This altar is going to do for you, what a phone booth did for Clark Kent.
John Calvin said the Rebirth: "By the phrase ’born again’ Jesus means not the correction of one part, but the renovation of the whole nature. Therefore, it follows, that there is nothing in us that is not sinful; for if Reformation is necessary in the whole and in each part, corruption must have been spread throughout."
C. S. LEWIS "We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive."
C. H. MacKintosh wrote: “God’s grace is magnified my man’s ruin. The more keenly the ruin is felt, the more highly the grace is valued.” The most joyful converts to Christ you will ever see, are the ones who have come to realize how utterly lost and helpless they were without Him.
In his poem, The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost wrote "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference."
There’s been a great change, since I’ve been born. . .
I. SHY SAUL
A. 1 SAMUEL 10:6
And the Spirit of the LORD will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.
II. SLAUGHTERING SAUL
A. 2 CORINTHIANS 5:17
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
B. PHILIPPIANS 3:13-14
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
III. SUCCESSFUL SUPPLANTER (JACOB)
IV. MARY MAGDALENE
V. JAILED JACOB
A. Jacob Koshy grew up in Singapore with one driving ambition: to be a success in life, to gain all the money and possessions he could. That led him into the world of drugs and gambling, and eventually he became the lord of an international smuggling network. In 1980, he was arrested and placed in a government drug rehabilitation prison in Singapore.
He was frustrated beyond endurance. All his goals, purposes, dreams, and ambitions were locked up with him in a tiny cell, and his heart was full of a cold emptiness. He was a smoker, and cigarettes weren’t allowed in the center. Instead, he smuggled in tobacco and rolled it in the pages of the Gideon Bible. One day he fell asleep while smoking. He awoke to find to find that the cigarette had burned out, and all that remained was a scrap of charred paper. He unrolled it and read what was written; “Saul, Saul Why do you persecute me?”
Jacob asked for another Bible and read the entire story of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. He suddenly realized that if God could help someone like Saul, God could help him, too. There in his cell he knelt and prayed, asking Christ to come into his life and change him. He began crying and couldn’t stop. The tears of a wasted life washed away his pain, and God redeemed him. He started sharing his story with the other prisoners, and as soon as he was released he became involved in a Church. He met a Christian woman, married her, and is now a missionary in the Far East where he tells people far and wide, “Who would have believed that I could find the truth by smoking the word of God?”
VII. FINE FINNEY VIII. TROUBLED TEDDY
Miss Thompson taught Teddy Stallard in the fourth grade. He was a slow, unkempt student, a loner shunned by his classmates. The previous year his mother died, and what little motivation for school he may have once had was now gone. Miss Thompson didn’t particularly care for Teddy either, but at Christmas time he brought her a small present. Her desk was covered with well-wrapped presents from the other children, but Teddy’s came in a brown sack. When she opened it there was a gaudy rhinestone bracelet with half the stones missing and a bottle of cheap perfume. The children began to snicker but Miss Thompson saw the importance of the moment. She quickly splashed on some perfume and put on the bracelet, pretending Teddy had given her something special. At the end of the day Teddy worked up enough courage to softly say, "Miss Thompson, you smell just like my mother . . . and her bracelet looks real pretty on you too. I’m glad you like my presents."
After Teddy left, Miss Thompson got down on her knees and prayed for God’s forgiveness. She prayed for God to use her as she sought to not only teach these children but to love them as well. She became a new teacher. She lovingly helped students like Teddy, and by the end of the year he had caught up with most of the students. Miss Thompson didn’t hear from Teddy for a long time. Then she received this note: "Dear Miss Thompson, I wanted you to be the first to know. I will be graduating second in my class. Love, Teddy Stallard." Four years later she got another note: "Dear Miss Thompson, They just told me I will be graduating first in my class. I wanted you to be the first to know. The university has not been easy, but I liked it. Love, Teddy Stallard."
Four years later: "Dear Miss Thompson, As of today, I am Theodore Stallard, M.D. How about that? I wanted you to be the first to know. I am getting married next month. I want you to come and sit where my mother would sit if she were alive. You are the only family I have now; Dad died last year. Love, Teddy Stallard." Miss Thompson went to the wedding and sat where Teddy’s mother would have sat, because she let God use her as an instrument of encouragement.
IX. MONEY MASON
There is a new pastor in Atlanta named Mason Betha. He recently celebrated his one year anniversary pastoring a church of about 100. But Reverend Mason hasn’t always been a pastor.
He was formerly known as the rapper Ma$e, “the flashiest and most pleasure driven performer on… the Bad Boy record label.” His transition from bad to good was rather abrupt. He didn’t switch to gospel music or gospel rap—he left the music industry. He broke with friends and associates and gave away lots of the possessions that shaped his persona: a Range Rover, a BMW, a Mercedes convertible, and a diamond encrusted Rolex worth more than most American homes. He also left a huge contract with Bad Boy Entertainment and Arista Records.
There was no great “emotional experience.”
Mason says of his turn around: “I was just sitting in a hotel and decided I can’t do this no more. People be looking for this big explanation. But when it’s God’s time, it’s God’s time.”
Are you looking for some rock bottom experience or emotional high before you make your turn around. “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…” (Psalm 95:8). When it’s God’s time, it’s God’s time.
XI. STUBBORN STEPHEN
A. Stephen Olford is without question one of the great Preachers of the World:
Son of a missionary to Africa. Did not want to go through the trials and tribulations of a missionary.
Was mistreated by Christians in England and rebelled against God.
Studied to become an engineer. Developed a new carburetor and got into racing motorcycles.
Remembers his mother praying and weeping for him. Injured in a motorcycle accident and was given two weeks to live. Refused to see the pastors who visited him – still rebellious.
Received a letter from his dad sent three months earlier with the following message: “Only one life ‘twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
Stephen’s response: “Lord, if You will heal my body, I will serve You anywhere, any time, and at any cost!” God healed Stephen! And his life, has been used by God all because of a sincere prayer I will serve You anywhere, any time, and at any cost!”
X. SIPPING STEVE
XI. NARCOTIC NICKY
XII. TRAVELING THIEF
John Wesley was a popular evangelist in early America and often rode from one church to another to preach. On one such journey, stopped by a highwayman who shouted, "Halt, your money or your life."
Wesley got down from his horse, emptied his pockets to reveal only a handful of coins. He even invited the robber to search his saddlebags - which only carried his books. In disgust, the thief was turning away when John Wesley cried "Stop, I have something more to give you."
Puzzled, the robber turned back. Wesley then leaned towards him and said "My friend, you may live to regret this sort of life in which you are engaged. If you ever do, I beseech you to remember this: ’The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s son, cleanses us from all sin.’" The robber hurried silently away, but Wesley got back on his horse & rode on his way praying in his heart that the word might be fixed in the robber’s conscience.
Years later, at the close of a Sunday evening service, a stranger stepped forward and earnestly begged to speak with John Wesley. Wesley recognized him as the robber who had stolen from him so long before, but now he was a well to do tradesman and better still, a child of God. Raising Wesley’s hand to his lips he affectionately kissed it and sad in deep emotion, "To you, dear sir, I owe it all." Wesley replied softly, "Nay, nay, my friend, not to me, but to the precious blood of Christ which cleanses us from all sin."
XII. SUICIDAL SIMMONS