Summary: You are who you are, very, very, specifically, so God can use you in His particular circumstance. Don’t be ashamed of your background, or where you come from.
Note to reader: I have hot-links to various subjects in this sermon. The document with the active links can be found in PDF form at this web address: http://www.firstpresanchorage.org/Sermons.htm (The sermon is titled the same, "Role Reversal"), the links are not active in this document. May our Lord Jesus empower you as you write your sermon for your congregation. -Peter
Who are three people mentioned the most in the New Testament?
The truth is, the more times a person is mentioned in the NT, the more significant they are to the NT.
OK, who is mentioned the most?
If your guess was Jesus, you are right. Jesus is mentioned, 1275 times in the NT. That’s an easy one.
Second, would be Peter who is mentioned 176 times; But Peter is also known - as Cephas 4 times, and as Simon, 33 times.
Third would be the Apostle Paul, mentioned 202; But he is also mentioned as Saul 32 times.
Saul later changes his name to Paul, and so in the NT, Saul and Paul are one in the same. Saul is one of the most important people in the NT, so important that he ended up writing a good portion of the NT.
Saul was a Pharisee and his father was a Pharisee. He was from the Hebrew tribe of Benjamin. Unlike many Jews of the day, Saul was a Roman citizen, something that would help him greatly as he traveled the Roman Empire. He was not originally from Palestine like the rest of the Apostles, but was from Tarsus, located in what is now present day Turkey. Tarsus is a very old city, it was about 1000 years old when Saul lived there.
Though Saul was born in Tarsus he apparently spent most of his life in the Jerusalem area, perhaps arriving at a young age to be educated under the Rabbi Gamaliel - one of the greatest of rabbinical teachers of the day. We know that Saul must have been one smart cookie as the rabbis of the day would generally only take a total of about 12 students.
Saul was a contemporary of Jesus and Saul was probably at the Temple for his education when Jesus visited the Temple at age 12. Though Jesus and Saul never met during Jesus’ ministry on earth. We saw a couple of weeks ago that Saul was introduced to Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. Jesus appeared to him, knocked him to the ground and blinded him - Saul later became a believer in Jesus Christ, then known as a follower of “The Way,” now known as, Christianity.
All of this background made Saul the perfect person to spread the Gospel to those who were not Jewish by birth - the Gentiles. A Gentile is simply a person who is not ethnically Jewish, that’s pretty much all of us here.
God uses all of Saul’s life, both the positive and the negative, to build him into the person he needed him to be. God took Saul, all he was, even the passion he had against Christians, God took all Saul was, reversed his direction and then made him into the man he wanted him to be.
God takes all of your life experience, thing events you are proud of and the things you hope no one will ever find out about, God takes everything in from your life, then reverses your direction and then uses everything that happens in your life to make you into the woman or man He wants you to be.
Don’t be ashamed of your background, or where you come from. You are who you are, very, very, specifically, so God can use you in His particular circumstance. See, when you give your life over to Jesus Christ, you do not start your new life in Jesus Christ from zero. All that has been in your life has molded you into who you are - and God takes advantage of your past. The good, the bad, ad the ugly.
When Katie and I were in Seminary years ago, we were broke. So we did whatever we could to get by. One of the things we did was housesitting for people in town when they were on vacation. What we looked for most, was folks who would let us use their washer and dryer while we stayed there. The washer and dryer in our apartment building used a lot of quarters for a small load of laundry.
So we placed ourselves on the list at the Seminary of people willing to house sit. We stayed at some very nice places and people were, very generous - Then there was Mrs. Taylor. I’ll never forget Mrs. Taylor. She sounded just like Julia Child. It was amazing.
At that time in downtown Princeton, people usually paid 20 - 40 dollars a day for a person to house sit. Mrs. Taylor offered, 2 dollars a day, I negotiated her up to 5 dollars a day - and we could use the washer and dryer.