Summary: Part of the series on the building blocks necessary for a church to grow.
The old farmer claimed that he could command his mule with nothing more than a few soft words, no whips or prods necessary. She would respond, he claimed, with nothing more than gently spoken commands. So his friend down at the feed store asked for a demonstration. “Prove to me that your old mule will respond with nothing more than gentle language.” Out in the field they went the farmer, his friend, and the mule. As the friend watched, first in awe and then in horror, the farmer took a huge piece of lumber, a two-by-four about six feet long, and swung it with all his might, hitting the mule on one ear! When the animal stopped braying and bellowing and prancing around, the farmer then said, quietly, “Come here” and the mule came. “Sit”, and the whimpering creature sat. “Back up”, and she backed into the harnesses of a waiting plow and waited calmly for him to hook up. “You see? She’ll respond to a simple voice command”. However, his friend objected, “Whatever are you talking about? You said all you had to do was talk to her, but you hit her with this huge two-by-four! What do you mean, you just command her with words! That’s not what I saw!” “Oh, that,” said the farmer. “Well, first I do have to get her attention!” It seems to me that God often uses the proverbial two-by-four to get our attention, because without it we would not listen, nor would we follow. God has to do something dramatic, frequently, because we just do not notice that He is calling us. He is calling us to do something. He is calling us out of our mulish stubbornness and is summoning us to adjust our lifestyles. And we don’t even notice it until He smacks us hard. God desires the church to be a place where lives change, but the changes need to start with us. Some of us have to be hit hard to see what God is doing and what our response will be. Saul came in contact with God’s two-by-four in the form of a bright flash of light that most definitely got his attention. God’s wake-up call for Saul was a personal encounter out on the highway, a moment of truth that made Saul take notice and his life changed forever. Let us take some time now to discover how to be a place where lives change.
I. God calls each and every one of us to make major adjustments in our lives.
A. As the curtain rises on Acts 9, Saul was on a mission to Damascus.
1. Saul had been successful in driving out Christians from Jerusalem but that was not enough, he is still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.
2. Saul was a very zealous man who actually thought he was doing God a service by persecuting the church.
3. Saul seemed obsessed with the idea of totally wiping Christianity from the face of the earth, so he sought authority to continue this crusade in Damascus.
4. Had you stopped him and asked for his reasons, he might have said something like this:
a. Jesus of Nazareth is dead. Do you expect me to believe that a crucified nobody is the promised Messiah?
b. According to our Law, anybody who is hung on a tree is cursed.
c. Would God take a cursed false prophet and make him the Messiah? No!
d. His followers are preaching that Jesus is both alive and doing miracles through them. But their power comes from Satan, not God.
e. This is a dangerous sect, and I intend to eliminate it before it destroys the traditions that our people have been raised with.
5. Despite all of Saul’s education and religious upbringing he was spiritually blind.
B. Saul must have found it very hard to change. His personality had been shaped by his training as a Pharisee.
1. Let’s face it human beings by nature are quite resistant to change.
2. There are just some people who are inherently conservative. They don’t like change. They don’t want to embrace new things.
3. The fact is that change is inevitable and change must come.
4. Saul had been steeped in the legalism of that tradition. He was from a privileged home.
5. Saul was raised in the university town of Tarsus, where the great ideas of the Greek world were all around him.
6. Saul discovered that God has a way of getting our attention. God calls us out of the comfort zone to make major adjustments and to join Him in His work.
II. What type of major adjustments does God expect us to make?
A. When God confronted Saul, he was called to make a major overhaul in his life stemming from the fact he had been getting it all wrong.