My favorite character in the bible is likely Paul. Paul was an incredibly humble man just living on the grace of Jesus. If Paul would have worn printed t-shirts, I’m pretty sure his would have said “I love Jesus but I cuss a little.” I just picture Paul as a spicy kinda fella with a wide variety of sentence enhancers. I like him. God spoke through him to write the majority of the New Testament. This man Paul had a dark past. His story begins as a persecutor of Christians. He was a bad mamojama. He was on a mission and his mission was to imprison or kill all followers of Christ. Now isn’t it amazing that God used this same man to speak to us today? Yes, that’s our God – redeeming and restoring, using all things for good. You say “your things” can’t possibly be used for good, ahhhhh, I promise they can. In God’s hands all things can be used for good. Whatever hurt, loss, disappointment or failure you’ve been carrying around, God is asking you today if you’ll let him work through it for something good.
Acts 22: 6-7 gives an account of the very moment God changed Paul’s life. Paul says “About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ‘Saul! Saul! (that was his name then) Why do you persecute me?’
He was walking down a path, clearly the WRONG PATH in life, and God blinded him with a bright light and spoke to him. And from that day on, everything changed.
Have you had a moment in your life when EVERYTHING CHANGED? A moment when God stopped you in your tracks and got ahold of your soul and wouldn’t let go? Well that’s exactly what happened to Paul. And God changed him. He changed him from a persecutor of Christ to a crusader for Christ.
And let me tell you something, God is still in the business of radically changing lives. Maybe it’s your life that needs to be radically changed – oh he can do that! In Matthew chapter 7 we’re told about the two paths in life. Jesus warned us about getting on the wrong path which leads to destruction and if you follow the crowd or just drift through life, you’ll find yourself on that wrong path. Lord, if that’s us today, stop us here, put a roadblock in our way, blind us with your light so that we can get on the right path. Help us to see where our current path is leading us. Help us to see your way.
What do the two paths represent? They represents our choices. We always have a choice. Do the right thing or do the wrong thing. Make the choice that helps or make the choice that hurts. In everything we have a choice. Today, as you eat, you have a choice – eat something that will help you reach your goals or eat something that takes you further away from your goals. When speaking with your family, you have a choice – say something that builds them up or say something that tears them down. Two paths – are you on the right one?
Or maybe you’re listening this morning and you have a heavy burden for your husband or your son or daughter or another family member or friend. And you see them making all the wrong choices, wasting their life. Listen to me, IT’S NOT TOO LATE FOR THEM. All they need is one encounter with the light of God to shine on all those dark areas of their life and they can be radically changed.
And here’s the tough thing about it – our preaching and our nagging likely won’t be the thing that brings the change in their life. It will likely be our love. It will be our example. It will be God’s grace flowing through us. Today, don’t lose hope for him. Don’t give up hope on her. God has heard your cries and he is working. He is on the move. Continue to pray for God to meet them exactly where they are and use whatever and whoever he needs to use to stop them in their tracks just as he did Paul, and change their lives forever.
And oh, what God can do with someone who has a past. What God can do with someone who has been on the wrong path. Those are the world changers. Those are the stories that penetrate hearts. The modern day Paul’s.
Maybe it’s time you share your story. Yes, your story. The story of how you were on the wrong path, making the wrong choices, ruining your own life and mighty miserable along the way … then God stopped you and you changed. This week I attended the funeral of a dear friend I had the honor of mentoring. Her children shared how their mom had radically changed. She left behind a past of alcohol, bad choices, shame and regret, and took a totally different path. And with the past in the past, God used her life to impact so many for good.
Maybe you don’t have that story yet, but you know the path you’re on isn’t leading you to health and wholeness and the life you were created for. You can turn around today. You can get on the right path with the right choice to simply do the next right thing. And if you’re burdened for a loved one on the wrong path, you keep loving them and pray God would shine his light on them and literally stop them in their tracks. He does that, doesn’t he?