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Summary: Patience is needed to accomplish great things.

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Turning Points

Phil 3:5-6

In his 84 years, Thomas Edison patented over a thousand inventions. He is most famous for inventing the light bulb, but made more money off the alkaline battery.

Edison was a bulldog, unwilling to accept failure as a final outcome to his efforts. Before he successfully invented the alkaline battery, he failed 9000 times! Edison credited his success to hard work. "Genius is one percent inspiration," Edison said, "and 99 percent perspiration." No one will debate the fact that Edison was a hard worker. He built a laboratory beside his vacation home in Fort Myers, FL and he is known for sleeping very little.

He was unstoppable. On his 80th birthday he announced the formation of a company to do research to develop rubber. He was relentless. (From Fresh Illustrations)

Why did he work so hard? Was it determination? Was it will power? Was it discipline? No. I believe the key to Edison's success was his PASSION to invent. Determination, discipline and will power will only take a person so far, but passion is unstoppable!

Great people have passion-a force that consumes their lives and directs their energy. They are not always the strongest or the brightest of their peers, but they consistently outperform them. Their greatness cannot be explained by their education, privileges or talents, because their accomplishments always exceed their abilities. They are driven. Not by the spirit of competition or self-discipline, but by passion. This morning, you'll discover the origin of that passion. And, if you are willing to pay the price, you could leave on the path to greatness.

Saul of Tarsus was a man who kept his shoes shined and his brass polished. He played by all the rules and emerged as a qualified Rabbi. He gives his resume in Philip. 3:5-6"circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; [6] as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless."

But Saul's privilege began before his birth. He was of the tribe of Benjamin. Benjamin, you will recall was Joseph's little brother, he was the son of Israel's old age-the only one of the sons of Israel born in the promised land (Gen. 35:17-18). Perhaps Saul was even named after the first King of Israel, who came from the tribe of Benjamin.

Saul was born into a strict Jewish home and was blessed with a privileged upbringing. Adhering to the command God gave to Abraham in Genesis 17:12, Saul's parents circumcised him on the 8th day.

Saul did not turn his back on his heritage. He was a "Hebrew of Hebrews." The Jewish people have always been a misunderstood and persecuted people. Persecution forced them to the four corners of the earth. Wherever they went they retained a portion of their culture, but usually sacrificed their language. Saul was not a Hellenized Jew-he did not adopt the culture and the language of the Greek people. Though familiar with their language and customs, Saul retained the ways and the tongue of his people

Not only did he fight to retain the culture of his people, he actively fought against those who differed with his view. He was zealous in his beliefs to the point that he persecuted the church.

Saul was a Pharisee. Now, I know that today, the word carries a negative connotation because of their many conflicts with Jesus, but remember that Saul is giving his qualifications as a Jew in this text. The sect of the Pharisees began a couple hundred years before Christ with the intent of combating the Hellenization of the Jews and a desire to restore purity to their religion. They had a strong focus on keeping the law. The Pharisees turned the 10 commandments into 613 prohibitions, including 39 kinds of work that was prohibited on the Sabbath Day.

I know, I know-that sounds a little bureaucratic and extreme, but their heart was in the right place, even if their efforts were misguided. Their "aim was not prudery but piety." (Connick, 47) The Pharisees numbered around 6000 in Jesus' time, the largest of the Jewish sects.

A sparkling resume, but Rabbi Saul never achieved greatness, not until a life changing (and name changing) event-a turning point.

On the road to Damascus, Saul carried a writ giving him the authority to persecute Christians, but God had another idea. "And it came about that as he journeyed, he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; [4] and he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" [5] And he said, "Who art Thou, Lord?" And He said, "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, [6] but rise, and enter the city, and it shall be told you what you must do." (Acts 9:3-6 NASB)

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