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Summary: This sermon is based on Chapter 9 of Charles Swindoll's book, Paul: A Man of Grace and Grit, by Charles Swindoll. We discuss the fact that like Saul and Barnabas, we need to be ready to obey when God calls for the changes in our lives and ministries.

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Introduction:

A. I want to begin this sermon with a statement from Peter T. Forsythe.

1. I believe he was right on when he said, “The first duty of every soul is to find not its freedom, but its Master.” (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Integrity Crisis, Thomas Nelson Pub., 1991, p. 22)

B. Back in the 1950s, when Christian Herter was governor of Massachusetts, he was running hard for a second term in office.

1. One day, after a busy morning chasing votes, he arrived at a church barbecue.

a. It was late afternoon and Herter was famished, because he had had no lunch.

2. As Governor Herter moved down the serving line, he held out his plate to the woman serving chicken.

a. She put a piece on his plate and turned to the next person in line.

b. “Excuse me,” Governor Herter said, “do you mind if I have another piece of chicken?”

3. “Sorry,” the woman told him. “I’m supposed to give one piece of chicken to each person.”

a. “But I’m starved,” the governor said.

b. “Sorry,” the woman said again, “Only one per customer.”

4. Governor Herter was a modest and unassuming man, but he decided that this time he would throw a little weight around.

a. “Do you know who I am?” he said. “I am the governor of this state.”

b. “Do you know who I am?” the woman said. “I’m the lady in charge of the chicken. Move along, mister.” (Bits & Pieces, May 28, 1992, pp. 5-6)

C. I love that story, because it beautifully depicts someone who truly knows their place and their orders and they cannot be swayed.

1. Whomever it was who put her in charge of the chicken and gave her the instructions to follow regarding the chicken, she was going to be true to that person and that person’s commands.

2. She is a good example for us to follow!

3. God is the one who is in charge and God has given us His instructions.

4. Will we be true to our God and will we be faithful to carry out His instructions?

5. I hope and pray that we will!

D. One of the primary responses that God desires from each one of us is obedience.

1. Our obedience should come as a result of our trust in God.

2. But one of the hardest things that often results from our obedience is change.

E. Just hearing the word “change” may cause all of us to shudder.

1. I know very few people who enjoy change.

2. Charles Swindoll wrote: Change “threatens our comfort, interrupts our routines, challenges our priorities, and introduces anxiety.”

3. Someone wrote: “It’s not so much that we’re afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it’s that place between that we fear. It’s like being in between trapezes. It’s Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There’s nothing to hold on to.” (Marilyn Ferguson)

4. I would add: Nothing to hold on to but God himself.

F. Although change is often good, it is rarely easy or pleasant.

1. Change often leads us down unknown paths filled with narrow passages and surprising turns.

2. No doubt the songwriter, Eddie Espinosa, understood the invaluable benefits of change when he composed the words to this song we often sing:

Change my heart Oh God, make it ever true.

Change my heart Oh God, may I be like You.

You are the potter, I am the clay;

Mold me and make me, this is what I pray.

Change my heart Oh God, make it ever true.

Change my heart Oh God, may I be like You.

3. I wonder if when we sing those words and ask God to mold us and make us, do we understand what that likely entails.

4. The process involved when God molds us and makes us into something different and better is uncomfortable and, at times downright painful.

5. If we, as the clay, remain in a moldable and flexible state, then reshaping is easier and less painful, but when we become hard and dried, then we are brittle and inflexible and the process of change is harder.

G. In our study of the life of Paul, we have watched closely as that remarkable man has faced many periods of change.

1. Let’s rewind and review the scenes in our mind.

2. On Saul’s way to Damascus to persecute Christians, a light came from heaven, and he was converted to Christ – how’s that for molding and making?

3. Saul was immediately led to live and serve among a whole new group of people – the very Christians he once persecuted became his family and colleagues in ministry – how’s that for change?

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