Even as Christians, we are still an imperfect people. We make mistakes.

  • Sometimes, the mistakes are unknowing or unintentional: we didn’t know what we were doing at the time. We were just plain ignorant.
  • Sometimes, the mistakes are a weakness of the flesh. While we have the best of intentions and spiritual desires, we were caught off guard in a temptation and, in a moment of weakness or passion, we gave in to sin. Afterwards, we really grieve over what happened, we condemn ourselves for it, because we knew better. We lament and regret our weakness.

Sometimes, however, the mistakes are willful and knowledgeable. We knew what we were doing. And we did it willfully and deliberately because we wanted to do it. We were, at that point, willfully rebelling against God’s law. We did what we wanted to do. And we didn’t care what anyone—including God—said about it. We sinned because we wanted to sin!


We don’t like hearing it and we don’t want to hear it. So let me say it once again. Sin has consequences. It brings us suffering. And the root cause of this sin and suffering is a selfish, self-willed, stubborn, rebellious, desire to do something we know is wrong and displeasing to God. It is this sinful desire that the Lord wants us to get  rid of.

Unfortunately, we’re not going to get rid of this sinful desire on our own choice or initiative because we love the sin too much that we’re not going to give it up or let it go on our own. God is going to have to force us to give up this sinful desire. He’s going to have to bring us to a point where we finally admit and decide that this one sin isn’t worth all the suffering and grief we’re going through. This is the change that the Lord wants to produce in us.


This theme of suffering brings me to our next principle of change. And the principle is this. IN ORDER FOR US TO CHANGE WE NEED TO LEARN FROM OUR MISTAKES AND PROFIT FROM OUR SUFFERINGS.

Now there are many different kinds of sufferings. There are many different reasons why God’s people suffer. But the one reason and cause for suffering that I’d like to look at today is the suffering that is the result of sin. It’s called chastisement or chastening. When we sin God chastises us. Hebrews 12:6-8 puts it this way, For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes each one He accepts as His child. (7)  As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as His own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father?  (8)  If God doesn’t discipline you as He does all of His children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really His children at all.

God loves His children. He loves you by name! And when you disobey Him He chastens you. GOD’S CHILDREN ARE CHASTENED AND DISCIPLINED WHEN THEY SIN. It’s definitely not fun or enjoyable. In fact, we hate it and we don’t want it. But God lays it on us because He loves us. Chastening is proof that God still loves us and we’re still His children!

Why does chasten us? Because CHASTENING IS MEANT TO CHANGE US. TO MAKE US MORE RIGHTEOUS. MORE OBEDIENT. It will do this if we submit to the suffering, learn from our sin, and choose next time to be righteous instead of sinful.

Hebrews 12:10-11 tells us,  Our human fathers correct us for a short time, and they do it as they think best. But God corrects us for our own good, because he wants us to be holy, as he is.  (11)  It is never fun to be corrected. In fact, at the time it is always painful. But if we learn to obey by being corrected, we will do right and live at peace.

Let’s look at how chastisement changed a stubborn, hard-headed fellow named Jonah who, not surprisingly, was a spitting image of us. 


Jonah was a prophet in Israel. And as a prophet, it was Jonah’s job to go to whoever and wherever God sent him to speak the message that God gave him to speak. On this particular occasion, God wanted Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach a word of warning and destruction (Jonah 1:1-2).

Now Nineveh was the capital city of Assyria. And Assyria was, at this time, the dominant world power. You could say that they were the rulers of the world. And it just so happened that Assyria and Israel were mortal enemies at this time. Assyria was Israel’s hated enemy #1. They fought several wars. And, within fifty years of Jonah’s ministry, Assyria would invade Israel and pretty much destroy Israel as a nation.

So when God told Jonah to go to Nineveh He was, in effect, asking an Israelite to go into the very heart of the heathen enemy and, as an enemy of the Assyrians, give these heathens a threatening message from a foreign God. It was, in the natural, a life-shortening recipe for disaster and death. Without God’s intervention, the prophet would never make it out of Nineveh alive. He would never see Israel again. His life was as good as dead and done. So what do you think Jonah did? Like a lot of us today, Jonah disobeyed God and ran for his life (Jonah 1:3).

Like I said, if you’re a true child of God, God isn’t going to let you get away with disobedience. You can run from Him and hide from Him. But God knows exactly where you’re at, where you’re going, and what you’ve got planned up your sleeve. And God goes right to work, making sure your plans don’t succeed. This is where your life starts to fall apart and one thing after another goes wrong for you.

Jonah 1:4-17 details how fearsome and awful God can be when you mess with Him:  But the LORD made a strong wind blow, and such a bad storm came up that the ship was about to be broken to pieces.  (5)  The sailors were frightened, and they all started praying to their gods. They even threw the ship’s cargo overboard to make the ship lighter. All this time, Jonah was down below deck, sound asleep.  (6)  The ship’s captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep at a time like this? Get up and pray to your God! Maybe he will have pity on us and keep us from drowning.” 

(7)  Finally, the sailors got together and said, “Let’s ask our gods to show us who caused all this trouble.” It turned out to be Jonah.  (8)  They started asking him, “Are you the one who brought all this trouble on us? What business are you in? Where do you come from? What is your country? Who are your people?”  (9)  Jonah answered, “I’m a Hebrew, and I worship the LORD God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”  (10)  When the sailors heard this, they were frightened, because Jonah had already told them he was running from the LORD. Then they said, “Do you know what you have done?” 

(11)  The storm kept getting worse, until finally the sailors asked him, “What should we do with you to make the sea calm down?”  (12)  Jonah told them, “Throw me into the sea, and it will calm down. I’m the cause of this terrible storm.”  (13)  The sailors tried their best to row to the shore. But they could not do it, and the storm kept getting worse every minute.  (14)  So they prayed to the LORD, “Please don’t let us drown for taking this man’s life. Don’t hold us guilty for killing an innocent man. All of this happened because you wanted it to.” 

(15)  Then they threw Jonah overboard, and the sea calmed down.  (16)  The sailors were so terrified that they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made all kinds of promises.  (17)  The LORD sent a big fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.

Well, Jonah was pretty set and stubborn about not doing what God wanted him to do. But suffering and chastisement have a way of changing a  guy’s  heart and making him whistle a different tune. Jonah gets swallowed by a whale or something really humongous. He should have died. But God miraculously kept him alive because He had a job for Jonah to do.

When Jonah saw how precarious his circumstances were the very first thing he did was pray (Jonah 2:1). In the midst of his sufferings and chastisement Jonah had a change of mind. He vowed that if God ever got him out of this fix he would obey Him, go to Nineveh, and preach to those heathen enemies of Israel (Jonah 2:9).

Jonah got things right with the Lord and, once he did,  God brought the suffering and chastisement to an end. The fish vomited Jonah out and the relieved prophet found himself on dry ground once again (Jonah 2:10).  

What was it that got Jonah to change his mind? What brought him to repentance and obedience? God’s chastisement.

Brethren, God’s out to change you. To change your heart, mind, affections and desires for sin. If you will not do that on your own, God will take over and force you, or get you, to change your mind about sin. How’s He going to do that? By chastising you and making you suffer quite miserably. Intolerably.

Do you have your mind bent on sin? Are you sure you want to disobey God and do things your own way? If so, then be ready to suffer for your selfish, sinful, stubborn mindset.  I guarantee you, like  Jonah,  it  won’t be pretty. You can be stubborn all you want right now. But I guarantee you, if you want to live you will eventually change your mind about sin and cry out to God for mercy, help, and salvation.

So do you find yourself in the whale’s belly right now? Is life falling apart for you? Like Jonah, turn back to God and pray. Apologize to Him and ask Him for forgiveness. Ask Him to give you a change of heart. To cleanse you and rid you of your sinful desires (1 John 1:9).

God still loves you! It may not seem like He does. But He still loves you. That’s why He’s made things miserable for you. But He doesn’t want you to be miserable for the rest of your life! He doesn’t want to kill you! He’s not against you! He just wants to teach you a lesson. If you learned your lesson, humble yourself and go penitently to God in prayer. I guarantee you you’ll feel better, you’ll find yourself standing on dry ground, and life will be sweet once again. God’s grace be upon you, dear friend, to abhor what’s evil and cling to what’s good and Godly.



THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS MEANT TO BE A LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE. Romans 8:29 tells us that we were predestinated—that is, long before we were even conceived or born, God chose us to be His children. And when He chose us to be His children He decided that we all should look like Christ. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Jesus, in essence, tells us the same thing in Matthew 10:24-25, The disciple is not above his master, neither the servant above his lord. {25} It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord.

In other words, the Christian life is all about growing and becoming more and more like Christ. THE LONGER WE LIVE THE MORE WE SHOULD BECOME LIKE CHRIST.

God, brethren, doesn’t want us to be the same ole person we’ve always been. Several months or years from now we’re not supposed to be the same person that we are today. I pray that all of us here today can honestly say that many areas of our life have been changed in the years since we first became a Christian.

Chances are, however, there are still one, two, or a handful of areas in our Christian life that have defied change. I’m talking about the nagging habits, the addictions, weaknesses, flaws, imperfections, the sin that we’ve kept hidden in the deepest, darkest recesses of our heart, that have heretofore dodged our half-hearted efforts at self-remediation or improvement. Even after all these years, there are still some aspects of our mindset, personality, emotions, behavior, lifestyle, and conduct that have remained unchanged.

So how do we change something that we don’t want to change? We love the sin too much to give it up. And we’ve got no intention of giving it up.

If we will not change, God will force change upon us. He has to—we’ve forced Him to—because we’re His children and He’s not gonna let sin destroy and damn us. If we will not help ourselves, God will help us. It won’t be pleasant or pretty. It’s gonna involve a lot of pain and suffering. But it works. Suffering has a way of changing us. It changes our mind and gives us a different, truer perspective of things.

Let’s look at how sufferings changed a guy who was remarkably very much like you and me.


There are different reasons for suffering. One of these is the law of sowing and reaping.


Galatians 6:7-8 warns us, Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. {8} For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

When you make the wrong decisions and do things that are wrong–you may not think you’re wrong, but you are in God’s sight; God is gonna let you suffer the natural consequences of your actions and decisions.

For example, if you decide to break into your neighbor’s house and steal a humongous diamond that they’ve hidden in a tin can; and you end up getting caught; then you going to jail isn’t God’s chastisement. It’s a matter of you doing time for the crime. It’s the law of sowing and reaping.

Now there are many different ways you can respond to your sufferings. You can get mad. Get bitter. Get even. Get delusional and proclaim your innocence. But none of these responses do you any good.

The only really good thing that can come out of your sufferings is if you choose to humble yourself, admit you’re wrong, and learn from your mistake. You can use your sufferings to change you and change your mind about sin.

Let’s look at how a young man who made a lot of terrible mistakes was able to turn his life around by profiting from his sufferings and doing the right thing. Generally speaking, YOUR LIFE AND YOUR LIFE’S CIRCUMSTANCES WON’T START TO CHANGE AND IMPROVE UNTIL YOU HEAD IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION AND START DOING THE RIGHT THING.


There once was a man who had two sons. The younger of these sons decided that he had had enough of the old homestead and farming as a way of life. He wanted to go out on his own, see the world, and get a taste of the good life that he felt he was missing by staying at home. So he went to his dad and asked for his share of the estate and inheritance (Luke 15:12).

Hebrews 11:25 tells us that the pleasures of sin are only for a season. They’re temporary and short lived. They don’t last forever.  The good times last as long as you’ve got money. And as long as you’re healthy enough to enjoy your sins. But when you run out of money, or when you get sick, you just can’t enjoy the pleasures of sin anymore—you’re too busy suffering and being miserable.

And that’s exactly what happened to the prodigal son. The bad times came and the young man was forced to live in a very different set of circumstances. He was basically worse off than he ever was, living at home.

Luke 15:13-16 chronicles the young man’s misfortunes:  A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living.  (14)  About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve.  (15)  He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs.  (16)  The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.


And this is precisely what the young man’s misfortunes did for him. When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! (18)  I will go home to my father and say, Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you,  (19)  and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant (Luke 15:17-19).

Of course, it takes a lot of humility and courage to admit you were wrong. You’re gonna have to swallow your pride, head back home, and apologize to your dad. But when you’re hungry and hurting, with no other options left; you do whatever you have to do to get out of your mess and return to some semblance of what your life used to be. The prodigal son had not only learned from his mistakes: he swallowed his pride, humbled himself, went home, and made things right with his dad.

Do you know what it was that brought this stubborn, selfish, self-willed, sin-loving man to his knees? Do you know what it took for him to wake up and do the right thing? The sufferings that he went through. THE LAW OF SOWING AND REAPING WILL CHANGE YOU FOR THE BETTER…IF YOU LET IT.

SUFFERING DRIVES US BACK TO GOD. It causes us to admit how so much we need God back in our life. We’re lost and undone without Christ. We can’t make it in life without Him.


Only God can give us life. Only He can fill our life with meaning, peace, joy, and fulfillment.

Unfortunately, we don’t know that—at least, we don’t admit or accept that—when we’re too gung ho on having our own sinful, selfish way.


So if you’re tired of suffering and want to be done with the heartaches and sufferings of sin, come back to God, get down on your knees, tell Him you’re sorry, and ask Him to forgive you. God’s waiting for you. You might think He’s mad at you and doesn’t want any part of you. But you’re so totally wrong! God sooo loves you still and He waiting for you to come back home to Him.

I pray these verses of Scripture will lead you back to God. Psalm 103:8-18 gives us a true picture of God’s heart and love for you. The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.  (9)  He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever.  (10)  He does not punish us for all our sins; He does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.  (11)  For His unfailing love toward those who fear Him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.  (12)  He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.  (13)  The Lord is like a father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him.  (14)  For He knows how weak we are; He remembers we are only dust.  (15)  Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die.  (16)  The wind blows, and we are gone—as though we had never been here.  (17)  But the love of the Lord remains forever with those who fear Him. His salvation extends to the children’s children  (18)  of those who are faithful to His covenant, of those who obey His commandments!

God is a gracious, longsuffering God. He will hear you, forgive you, and receive you. He will bring the suffering to an end. And you will get your second chance to do things His way. Brethren, learn from your mistakes. Don’t suffer in vain! Let your sufferings do something good for you. Let them change you and make you a better Christian. God bless you mightily! See you at home.



We’re here in Luke 9. I’d like to go fast forward in time. Six years have passed. Jesus has been crucified. He’s ascended to Heaven. The church is growing exponentially by leaps and bounds. But with growth comes persecution. The Christians in Jerusalem are persecuted. So they fan out from Jerusalem and go every which way, preaching the Gospel, and getting more people saved. One of these evangelizing Christians was a man by the name of Philip.

Acts 8:4-8 , Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.  (5)  Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.  (6)  And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.  (7)  For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.  (8)  And there was great joy in that city… Acts 8:12-13,  But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.  (13)  Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.

Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that the Samaritans were receiving the Gospel and receiving the very Lord who they once rejected, the apostles decided to send two of their own to oversee this blossoming ministry in Samaria. Guess who the apostles sent to Samaria. You guessed it. John the Beloved, the apostle of love.

Acts 8:14-17,  Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:  (15)  Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:  (16)  (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)  (17)  Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost… Acts 8:25,  And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.

John, who once wanted to call down fire from Heaven and fry these Samaritans, was now a changed man. He went to many villages of Samaria, loved those Samaritans, and fulfilled Christ’s ministry there—a ministry not of destroying men’s lives, but rather, saving them. Those who he once sought to destroy he now sought to save.

So how did John make such a drastic change from murder to life? IT BEGAN WITH, IT TOOK, A REBUKE FROM OUR LORD. Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. I’ve not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.

You see, we look at a rebuke as a very bad thing. We think it’s wrong to rebuke anybody. But a rebuke is a manifestation of God’s love for us. He loves us and He’s trying to set us straight and get us right. You do that with your children. And God does it with His too. If He was here in the flesh He’d rebuke us to our face. But since He’s a Spirit and not flesh and bones, God uses people to do the rebuking for Him. He’s given His ministers the right and duty to rebuke His erring people (2 Timothy 4:2). We in ministry have the unenviable task of rebuking people. It’s something we don’t enjoy doing. But we’ve got to do it whenever necessary because God requires us to blow the trumpet, sound the alarm, and warn God’s people about sin. God is serious about getting sin out of our life and out of the church (Ephesians 5:25-27). Why is that? Because sin will take us to Hell. In His love for us, God wants us to get rid of sin so that He can take us to Heaven. And one of the ways God rids us of sin is by rebuking us. No one likes it. But if we’re willing to humble ourself, hear the rebuke, and take it to heart, I guarantee you, like John, we’ll change for the better.

In closing, let me say that THERE’S GREAT DANGER WHEN WE’RE IN THE FLESH AND WE HAVE OUR OWN WAY. Consider this question very carefully. If Jesus had not rebuked and stopped John from calling fire down from Heaven, how many Samaritans would John have killed that day? Years later, how many Samaritans would have received the Gospel of Christ from fire-calling, people-roasting Christians? How many Samaritans are in Heaven today because God stopped an angry, vengeful John, changed him, and made him a minister of life and love?

Brethren, what’s it going to be with us here in church? Is it going to be life or death? How many people are going to get burned, how many people are going to get hurt and be driven away, before we decide we’re going to obey God and do things His way? WE CAN’T MINISTER LIFE TO PEOPLE WHEN WE’RE IN THE FLESH. WHEN WE’RE UNLOVING. We’ll kill, divide, and drive one another away. Is this what we want? Who wants to come to a church where people hurt one another? Who wants to stay in a church where people fight one another? May God stop us. May His rebuke change us and make us ministers of love and life.



How many of you can honestly say that you are not perfect right now? If you and I are not perfect right now, then it should not shock or offend us to be told that we still have certain blemishes and imperfections that the Lord is not particularly pleased with. God, my friends, is not content to see us live the rest of our lives plagued with the imperfections and sins that displease and disgrace Him. He wants us to change. And if we will not do that on our own—if we will not take the initiative and change what needs to be changed—then the Lord gets involved and He does whatever He has to do to get us to change.

One of the things the Lord does to change us is He rebukes us when we need it. You know what a rebuke is. It’s when someone reprimands or scolds us. Someone tells us to our face we’re wrong. When we do something that’s wrong or displeasing to God, God will oftentimes rebuke us for it.

He rebukes us by His Spirit speaking directly to us and convicting us of wrong. Most of the time, He uses people to rebuke us. Sometimes, it’s our parents. At other times, it’s the minister. Sometimes our teacher or professor corrects us. At other times, our employer or supervisor. Sometimes, the Lord uses our close friends to tell us we’re wrong. And at other times, the Lord even uses our enemies to point out the bad in us.

No matter who the Lord uses, it’s important for us to look beyond the person who’s chewed us out and understand that the Lord is behind the rebuke. It’s God who’s rebuking us. And He’s rebuking us because He wants us to change what’s wrong and get it right. And when God rebukes us we’ve got to humble ourselves, give heed to the rebuke, and let that rebuke change our wayward behavior.

I’d like to show you how our Lord’s rebuke changed the life of one of His disciples named John the Beloved.


Many of us know John as the apostle of love. If you read his First, Second, and Third Epistles, you can’t help but notice that John was bursting full of love. But what you may not have known is, John was not always the loving, compassionate person that he later turned out to be.

The most notorious example of John’s far-from-loving nature is seen in his encounter with some rude Samaritans. The time was drawing near for Jesus to be crucified. So He made His way towards Jerusalem. But He had to go through Samariato get there. Well, it was just about nightfall and the Lord and His disciples needed lodging for the night. So He sent some of His disciples into town to make the reservations. That’s when the trouble began.

Luke 9:51-53,  And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,  (52)  And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.  (53)  And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.

Now the thing that you’ve got to understand is this. Jesus was a very popular Man. People from all over the region came to hear Him and get a healing miracle from Him. But the only people who didn’t flock to Him was the Samaritans. You’ll never read about them being in Jesus’ audience because they just weren’t there.  [I am aware of one exception, that being the Samaritan leper who travelled with nine Jewish lepers in Luke 17.] The only time the Samaritans were in Jesus’ audience was whenever Jesus was in Samaria. But outside of Samaria, you won’t find a single instance of Samaritans being in the crowd. They weren’t welcome anywhere in Israel. But the thing of it was, there were sick, diseased, and demon-possessed people in Samaria too. They needed Jesus’ miracles too. They wanted to see Jesus too.

So when these Samaritans heard that Jesus was in the area, they got pumped up with excitement. The Miracle Worker was in town! It was time to call a community-wide healing campaign! Yahooooo!

But when the Samaritans heard that Jesus was just passing through; that He wasn’t going to be giving them time of day; they got riled up and decided right then and there that, if Jesus wasn’t going to stay awhile, He wasn’t going to stay at all. And with that, they promptly put up their “No Vacancy” sign.

Luke 9:54,  And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?

Now I fully believe that James and John really, truly, and sincerely believed that they could call down fire from Heaven and wipe out that whole Samaritan village. They’d never done it before. But they knew from Scripture that Elijah did it three times. You can read about it in 1 Kings 18 and 2 Kings 1. Anyways, James and John had been out with the other apostles working miracles on a recent evangelistic mission, Luke 9:1-6. And so, they were starting to get used to the idea of having the power to work miracles and signs.

Now what the Samaritans did to Jesus was just plain rude and inhospitable. It was uncalled for. They were wrong. And James and John, understandably, were upset and offended by the way these Samaritans treated their Lord. They wanted to wipe out that entire Samaritan village because these Samaritans were just plain rude.

Remember what I said earlier about God rebuking you when you do something wrong. Jesus turned to His disciples and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.  (56)  For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them, Luke 9:55-56.

Ouch! This was humble pie. Here were these two brothers, rightly offended by these Samaritans’ rudeness. They were trying to protect our Lord from being mistreated. You can imagine their shocked surprise and horror when Jesus put them in their place and took their fire away. I can imagine how hurt, offended, and humiliated they must have felt. It’s a wonder they kept on following Jesus to the very end. If it was us, we’d have likely quit following Jesus right then and there. “If that’s the way You’re going to do us, then good bye and good riddance! We’re out of here!”

But the thing about it is, Jesus was right. James and John were wrong. And because they were wrong, they needed to be set straight. Brethren, YOU CAN’T GET WHAT’S WRONG, RIGHT, UNLESS SOMEBODY HAS THE COURAGE TO TELL YOU YOU’RE WRONG.

Now get this. James and John really believed in their hearts that roasting these Samaritans was the right and appropriate thing to do. Doesn’t sound very Christian or loving does it?

This incident is such a potent warning and a graphic, picturesque reminder that  THERE ARE TIMES IN OUR LIFE WHEN WE THINK WE’RE RIGHT. REALLY, REALLY RIGHT. BUT UNBEKNOWNST TO US, WE’RE AS WRONG AS WRONG COULD BE.

Why wrong? Because we’re in the flesh. We’re letting our anger and emotions get the best of us. We’re not loving people. We’re hurting them. We’re not manifesting the fruit of the Spirit. We’re not walking or acting in the Spirit. We’re in the flesh. And WHEN WE’RE IN THE FLESH WE’RE WRONG. IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW RIGHT WE THINK WE ARE. IF WE’RE IN THE FLESH WE’RE WRONG. And do you know what it takes for us to see we’re wrong? The Lord’s words of rebuke…Ye know not what spirit ye are of. I’ve not come to kill and destroy, but to save.

Now nobody, including myself, likes being rebuked. No one enjoys it. It’s humbling and humiliating. We hate being rebuked. We regard it as a wrong and reprehensible thing to be rebuked. No one better do that to us! And when someone has the courage to rebuke us, we get mad, we defend ourselves, we maintain our right or our innocence. Then we get ugly and go on the attack, smearing the good name and reputation of those who dared to rebuke us.

But the thing about this kind of response to a rebuke is, it doesn’t help us any. It doesn’t change us. It only makes matters worse.

Here’s what God wants us to do. STEP 1, cool off. Regain your composure. Get back in your right mind. Anger is temporary insanity. You can’t think straight or see clearly if you’re angry. So you’ve got to calm down and get back in the Spirit. Then STEP 2, ask yourself why you were rebuked. Is there any truth, substance, or merit to the rebuke? Was it justified or legitimate? Is the Lord trying to get your attention? Are you really wrong? Once we’ve ascertained that it was the Lord who really rebuked us; then STEP 3 is, it’s up to us to admit the rightness, correctness, and appropriateness of the rebuke, confess our sin and our guilt; learn from our mistake, make things right, and work hard not to repeat that same mistake.

You see, if you don’t correct the mistake now, you’ll continue to make those same mistakes in the future. MISTAKES UNCORRECTED ARE SURE TO BE REPEATED. Brethren, you can break this cycle of needless mistakes by getting things right. YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR FUTURE BY CHANGING THE PRESENT. HOW DO YOU DO THAT? BY NOT REPEATING THE MISTAKES OF THE PAST.

You see, there are times when it takes a rebuke to correct and change us. And when we get rebuked we can’t get mad and take offense. We’ve got to humble ourself, receive the rebuke from the Lord’s mouth, confess our fault, apologize, and change whatever it is we need to change.

You see, as hated or as hurtful as a rebuke may be to us, this rebuke of our Lord was a perfect time for these disciples  to  learn  a  very   valuable  lesson  in public ministry—that lesson being, the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.

In other words, OUR MINISTRY TO PEOPLE–NOT JUST THE PEOPLE OUTSIDE THIS CHURCH, BUT THE PEOPLE IN THIS CHURCH TOO–DOESN’T INVOLVE KILLING OR HURTING THEM. WE DON’T KILL THE PEOPLE WE’RE SUPPOSED TO BE MINISTERING TO. WE CAN’T MINISTER LIFE IF WE MINISTER DEATH. I’m talking about being jealous and resentful of people; being cruel,  harsh, critical, condemning, judgmental, short, impatient, prejudicial, and intolerant of people. I’m talking about punishing people and calling fire down from Heaven.


You can’t minister life as long as you’ve got the fire. The stones. The guns. The knives. You’ve got to get rid of the instruments of death—the fleshly tongue, wicked thoughts, and sinful emotions—if you’re going to minister life.

What I’m trying to say is, the Lord’s rebuke may be hurtful at first. But if we just settle down and listen, we’ll see that the Lord is trying to teach us a very valuable lesson. He’s trying to change us so that we can be ministers of life and not of death.

Coming Up On My Next Blog Post, Part 2. The new John. What an awesome transformation! Be sure to drop by and see the change.



Many sermons have been preached on faith and the power of the spoken Word based on this familiar story of the Roman centurion. But instead of talking to you about the Roman centurion, I’d like to talk to you about someone who isn’t even mentioned in this story. I’d like to talk to you about one of our Lord’s disciples named Simon Zelotes, Luke 6:13-15.

Like the rest of the men who Jesus called to be His apostles, Simon had been following Jesus for a few months. There was something about Jesus that intrigued him and drew him to Jesus.

Now it just so happened that Simon was present on the mount that day when Jesus chose who would be His apostles. To what must surely have been his surprise, Simon found himself called, chosen, and numbered among the twelve men who were privileged to be Jesus’ apostles.

Now Simon was a Zealot, hence, Luke’s designation of him as Simon Zelotes. After the death of Herod the  Great,  his  son  Archelaus  was  given  rule  over Judea, Samaria, and Idumea. In 6 A.D., the Romans removed him from power and installed Roman Procurators or Governors to rule over these three Palestinian provinces. Pilate, who killed Jesus, was one of these Governors.

Now Herod the Great and his sons who succeeded him were not very good rulers. In fact, they were wicked, greedy, murderous, and irreligious. But they were Jewish. And as long as the Jews were ruled by Jews, the people, for the most part, were content to live peaceably under their Jewish rulers.

But when the Emperor started sending Roman Governors to rule over the Jews, that’s when troubles really started to flare up. The Jews didn’t want to ruled by heathens who didn’t understand or respect their religious convictions.

Anyways, when the first Roman Governor was installed, a Jew by the name of Judas, the son of Ezekias, led an armed revolt and resistance against Roman rule. Thus was born what later came to be known as the Zealots.

Now the Zealots were basically a liberation movement. The Romans considered them terrorists. But in the eyes of their Jewish countrymen, the Zealots were freedom fighters. They were not a Jewish army. That is, they were not organized, trained, armed, funded, sanctioned, or supported by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. They were not the nation’s army. They were not paid to defend the Jewish nation. The Zealots were strictly an independent, underground movement who fought for an independent Jewish homeland and Jewish state.

The Zealots believed that the use of force and all other means used to kill, harass, and drive the Romans out of Palestine were justified. The end justified the means. The pursuit of liberty justified rebellion against Roman rule. It was good and right, it was their moral duty, to kill the Roman infidels. They resorted to banditry, assassination of Government officials, and murder of Roman officers and soldiers. They refused to pay their taxes. They really gave the Romans a hard time.

The Great Jewish Revolt that began in 66 A.D. and culminated in the Roman siege and destruction of Jerusalem and  the  Temple  in  70 A.D.  was  instigated  by  the Zealots. In a very real sense, then, the Zealots were responsible for the destruction of Jerusalem, the Temple, and the death of over one million Jews who were trapped in the city  when the Roman General Titus laid siege to the city and subsequently destroyed it.

Anyways, back to Simon. Up until the time he first met Jesus and started following Him around, Simon was a Zealot. His heart was filled with hatred and malice towards the Romans. He was a trained killer. But now he’s a chosen apostle of the Lord. He’s sat at Jesus’ feet on the mount and listened to the Master teach about a radically different way of treating his enemies. Instead of hating and killing the Romans, he is now supposed to love them. When the Romans mistreat him he’s not supposed to fight back or kill. Instead, he’s supposed to be nice and kind to them and do good things for them.

Simon hears the Word. And not very long after he hears the Word, Jesus gives him an opportunity to practice the Word. Jesus leaves the mount and heads back to Capernaum where, lo and behold, we find a Roman centurion beseeching Jesus for His help. At the sight and sound of the centurion, Simon’s blood begins to boil.  His first reaction is to strike the centurion with his dagger and kill him. At the very least, he would argue vehemently with Jesus and try to stop Him from helping this enemy and oppressor of the Jews.

But Simon is strangely, unnaturally silent and still. He doesn’t interfere with Jesus’ intention to help the Roman. He leaves his dagger in its sheathe. He doesn’t do what a Zealot was accustomed to doing so naturally and spontaneously.

Simon, you see, is undergoing a change. He’s heard the Word. And, contrary to his feelings and murderous impulses towards this Roman, he’s dying out and letting the Word change him from being a Zealot to being a Christian. The Word is ridding him of his hatred and it’s changing him to be a peaceable lover of the very people he never imagined he could ever love. Wow! Isn’t that wonderful? O what the Word can do for us if we let it!


When God wants to change something about us He speaks a Word to us. He addresses that area of our life that He wants changed. Like Simon, He preaches us our sermon on the mount. That’s why it’s important for us to pray and read our Bible—so that God can speak to us and tell us what He wants us to do.

God also speaks to us through other Christians—especially the Pastor and other ministers. That’s why it’s important for us to hang around Christian friends and attend Church regularly because God speaks to us through other Christians too. Godly, spiritual people are a powerful inspiration for change if we hang out with them and listen to their counsel and advice.



After we hear the Word, God wants us to do, or obey, the Word. That’s why He gave us the sermon or the Scripture verse—so that we can obey it.

Now the thing about God is He gives us all sorts of opportunities to obey Him or put the Word into practice. In Simon’s case, God saw a need for Simon to minister to all people as an apostle of Christ. And in order for Simon to do that he had to get  rid of his hatred and animosity for the Romans. So the first thing Jesus does after He chooses Simon is, He preaches a sermon and teaches Simon about loving his enemies. Then the very next thing He does is He gives Simon a chance to practice the sermon.

Brethren, it works the same way for us today. God sees what’s wrong with us. And He speaks a Word to us so that the Word can change us and change what’s wrong about us. And, like Simon, in order for the Word to change us, we’ve got to hear it, receive it, and then obey it. Beloved, THE WORD CAN’T BENEFIT, HELP, OR CHANGE US IF WE DON’T OBEY IT.

To his credit, Simon made a decision to change. To put the Word into practice. To quit being a Zealot and start being a Christian. We need to make that same decision right now. As long as we postpone our obedience to the Word we will remain unchanged.  Brethren, could it be that the reason why we haven’t changed some areas of our life is because we’ve not obeyed the Word? GOD WON’T CHANGE US IF WE WON’T OBEY HIM OR HIS WORD.

Let me note one last thing about Simon. Simon didn’t have years and years  of  time  to  get his heart right and start being loving towards the Romans. He didn’t have the luxury of listening to years and years of sermons on love and non-resistance before he finally made the change, got rid of his hatred, and became a genuine lover of the Romans.

From all indications in Scripture, Simon heard one sermon. And shortly thereafter, perhaps the very next day, he’s given the opportunity to die out, restrain his emotions, keep his mouth shut, and keep his hands off his dagger. And do you know what? Simon succeeded! He changed! All on the basis of one sermon that he heard just a short time ago! Beloved, it didn’t take Simon years of time before he finally changed. He changed the very first time he heard the message because he chose to die out and obey Jesus’ word.

Friends, it doesn’t have to take us years of time before we finally change what needs to be changed. The sad fact of the matter is, we’ve already had years of time to make the change. It’s time for us to make the change now. God wants change now. We’ve had years and years of sermons. It’s time for us to do what we know God wants us to do.


There’s a real danger in not doing what you know God wants you to do. It’s called kidding, fooling, or deceiving yourself. James 1:22 advises us, But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. If all you do is hear, but not do, you’re deceiving yourself. You console yourself with the notion that your parents, preachers, and friends who disagree with you are all wrong. They just can’t see that you’re right. You get rid of a guilty conscience by convincing yourself you’re alright. There’s nothing wrong with you. You don’t need to make any changes at all.

It’s possible that some of you here today are in this unfortunate situation. YOU WON’T CHANGE AS LONG AS YOU’RE FOOLING YOURSELF. AS LONG AS YOU THINK YOU’RE ALRIGHT JUST THE WAY YOU ARE.

Your disobedience is dangerous because God doesn’t give you the right to call Him Lord if you’re not obeying Him. In Luke 6:46 He asks, Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

Jesus closed the sermon on the mount by telling us that DISOBEDIENCE IS DAMNABLE. He said in Matthew 7:21,  Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Are you willing to miss out on Heaven just because you want to have it your own way and live the way you want to live? NOTHING IS WORTH GOING TO HELL OVER. God’s been loving, forgiving, and longsuffering with you. He loves you and He’s given you lots of chances to get things right. But HE CAN’T TAKE YOU TO HEAVEN IF YOU’RE DISOBEDIENT TO HIM.


Now’s the time to make a change. Start dying out. Quit arguing with Jesus  and  the  Word. Quit giving in to the flesh. Quit  acting like the Zealot that you’ve always been. Obey God. Do what He’s telling you to do. If the Word can change a man so filled with hatred and murder, it can change any one of us! IT WORKED FOR SIMON. AND IT WILL WORK FOR YOU! May God bless the Word to your heart and change you.



THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS MEANT TO BE A LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE. Romans 8:29 tells us that we were predestinated—that is, long before we were even conceived or born, God chose us to be His children. And when He chose us to be His children He decided that we all should look like Christ. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Jesus, in essence, tells us the same thing in Matthew 10:24-25, The disciple is not above his master, neither the servant above his lord. {25} It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. In other words, the Christian life is all about growing and becoming more and more like Christ. THE LONGER WE LIVE THE MORE WE SHOULD BECOME LIKE CHRIST.

God, brethren, doesn’t want us to be the same ole person we’ve always been. Several months or years from now we’re not supposed to be the same person that we are today. I pray that all of us here today can honestly say that many areas of our life have been changed in the years since we first became a Christian.

Chances are, however, there are still one, two, or a handful of  areas  in  our Christian life that have defied change. I’m talking about the nagging habits, the addictions, weaknesses, flaws, imperfections, the sin that we’ve kept hidden in the deepest, darkest recesses of our heart, that have heretofore dodged our half-hearted efforts at self-remediation or improvement. Even after all these years, there are still some aspects of our mindset, personality, emotions, behavior, lifestyle, and conduct that have remained unchanged.


So how do we change what needs to be changed? WE MUST DIE OUT AND OBEY GOD’S WORD. In the words of James 1:22, we must not only be hearers of the Word, but doers also. Brethren, in order for us to change   we  must listen to the voice of God speaking to us, showing us what to do. And once He shows us what to do, we need to die out to our own desires, will, or way; and give heed to God’s Word. We need to obey God. CHANGE REQUIRES OBEDIENCE.


It’s like having a table, refrigerator, or pantry full of food. The food doesn’t do you any good if you don’t eat it. In like manner, hearing, having, and knowing the Word doesn’t change us until we eat the Word—that is, get it in our heart, take it to heart—and start putting that Word into practice.

THE WORD HEARD AND OBEYED CHANGES US. THE WORD UNOBEYED LEAVES US UNCHANGED. Brethren, could it be that the reason why we haven’t changed some areas of our life is because we’ve not obeyed the Word? Without obedience, we cannot, we will not, change.


This, brethren, is the principle. Now let’s look at how this principle changed a real life person in the Bible.


Jesus has chosen twelve men to be His apostles,Luke 6:12-16. He is greeted and surrounded by a whole multitude of people—many of whom were healed and set free from demonic oppression,Luke 6:17-19. Beginning with verse 20 Jesus preaches what has come to be known as His sermon on the mount. Among the many themes that He touches on is the need for His disciples to love their enemies, verses 27-36.

But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, {28} Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. {29} And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also. {30} Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. {31} And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. {32} For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. {33} And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. {34} And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. {35} But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. {36} Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful (Luke 6:27-36).

This Word of love was a very radical and unheard of approach to the treatment of one’s enemy. But Jesus nonetheless insists that all those who follow Him must be loving, forgiving, non-resistant, and kind towards their enemies.  He  closes  His  sermon with the now-familiar analogy of hearing and doing the Word.

And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? {47} Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like: {48} He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. {49} But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great (Luke 6:46-49).

Having finished His sermon on the mount, Jesus goes back to Capernaum. He is greeted by a delegation of Jewish officials who petitioned Jesus on behalf of a Roman centurion. The story is recorded inLuke 7:1-10, but I would like to read Matthew’s rendition of this encounter between Jesus and the Roman centurion.

And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, {6} And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. {7} And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. {8} The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. {9} For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. {10} When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel…{13} And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour (Matthew 8:5-13).

Coming Up On My Next Blog Post, Part 2. I’ll look at how obedience changed the life of Simon Zelotes. Stay tuned. I guarantee it’ll blow you away.



THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS MEANT TO BE A LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. God loved us and saved us as we were. But He doesn’t leave us as we were.

When God saved us He had a definite plan and goal in mind for us. And one of these goals is that we be like Jesus. Romans 8:29 tells us, For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. I started out by saying that the Christian life is meant to be a life-changing experience. God, beloved, is out to change us because He wants us to be like Jesus.

Now because all of us here today are not entirely like Jesus right now, then it should not surprise us to know that there are some things about ourselves that the Lord wants us to change. We can talk about certain  attitudes, thoughts, opinions, morals, beliefs, behavior, conduct, habits, lifestyle, relationships, friendships, and the like. The point is, there are some things in our lives that the Lord is out to change.

Now CHANGE CAN BE SHORT-LIVED. A perfect example is when a fornicator hears a really convicting message about his sin and repents of his fornication. The repentance lasts for several hours or days, until the next temptation comes around and he finds himself back in fornication.

The desire to change can be well-meaning. The intention, sincere. So many druggies and alcoholics have vowed to change, only to return a short while later to the drugs and alcohol that they still craved.


You see, as long as your heart is given to stealing, you’ll steal. As long as you love fooling people, you’ll keep on lying and pulling the wool over people’s eyes. You’ll do whatever you love to do.

But when you change your mind about fooling people, you’ll quit fooling people. When you change your mind about stealing, you’ll quit stealing.  YOU’LL DO WHATEVER YOU LOVE TO DO—EITHER GOOD OR BAD.


Here are some soul-searching, thought-provoking questions that I’d like for you to consider. How do we change something that we don’t think needs to be changed? How do we change when we think we’re alright just the way we are? How do we change our mind about some things when we’ve already got our mind made up?

I would like to share with you a series of messages that the Lord gave me entitled ‘PRINCIPLES OF CHANGE’. These principles are the Biblical truths that enable and empower us to change.  Chances are, you already know what most of these principles are. So, instead of rehashing things you already know, I’d like to show you these principles in action in the lives of Bible characters just like you and me. If these principles of change succeeded in changing people just like you and me, then we can be encouraged with the fact that—no matter how bullheaded or incorrigible we may be—these same Biblical principles can also change us. So without further adieu, let’s get started.


In order for us to change our minds about certain things that we just don’t think we need to change we need to have a life-changing, saving encounter with Jesus Christ. If we’re already saved, then we need to go to Him and  listen  to   whatever  He  says to us. The principle of change, simply put, is this. IN ORDER FOR US TO CHANGE WE’VE GOT TO MEET THE LORD AND SPEND SOME TIME WITH HIM.


A prime example of a changed life that results from a saving encounter with Jesus Christ is Saul of Tarsus. Now Saul was a very devout Jew. He was a Pharisee who was so committed to the Law of Moses and the elders that he came to have a murderous hatred of Christians. Why was that? Because Saul was firmly convinced that Christianity was a perversion of Judaism. In our day, it would be the same as saying that Christianity is a cult, it’s a false religion. Christ and His followers contradicted and violated many of  the laws that the Jews held to be sacrosanct. In Saul’s view, the only way to preserve Judaism from being corrupted and perverted was to get rid of, and kill, the Christians who were perverting it.  

Acts 9:1-2,  And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,  (2)  And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.

Now from his own standpoint, Saul believed he was right to persecute and murder Christians. He didn’t think it was wrong. He was doing the right thing. He reminds me so much of ourselves. WE’RE SO CONVINCED WE’RE DOING THE RIGHT THING. BUT, UNBEKNOWNST TO US, WE’RE AS WRONG AS WRONG CAN BE!

So what will it take for us to see we’re wrong? What will it take for us to change our hearts and minds about some things? It’ll take a saving encounter with Jesus Christ.

Acts 9:3, And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven.  God knows how to reveal Himself in such a way that the person knows beyond all shadow of a doubt that he’s met God. As a Jew, Saul knew that God and light were synonymous. The psalmist wrote in Psalm 104:2 that God covers Himself with light. When you couple the light with a voice from Heaven, then, for a Jew, this was pretty irrefutable proof that God Himself Is speaking directly to you.

(4)  And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?  Saul finds it strange that God would accuse him of persecuting him. Saul wasn’t persecuting God. So if this isn’t God talking to him, who is it? Saul decides to ask.

(5)  And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. By revealing Himself to Saul in this supernatural manner, and speaking to him from Heaven, Saul can come to only one logical, unmistakable conclusion: Jesus is God! You see, for the Jews, when a guy dies he doesn’t go up to Heaven. He goes down to Hades. But Jesus isn’t down there. He’s up there. And if He’s up there, then this can only mean He’s God because God’s in Heaven. 

I said earlier that God knows how to reveal Himself in such a way that the person knows beyond all shadow of a doubt that he’s met God. Here in verse 5 we see that God knows exactly when to reveal Himself and get a person saved.

Consider this. Saul was in Jerusalem during Jesus’ earthly ministry. I have no doubt in my mind that he saw Jesus in person when Jesus was in Jerusalem; and he heard Jesus teach when Jesus was teaching in the Temple. But Jesus and Saul never got together, one-on-one, like here at the Damascus Road, because it wasn’t God’s time. Saul was a Jesus-hater at this time and, if Jesus had a one-on-one with him, I’m sure Saul would have tried to kill him on the spot. He wouldn’t have succeeded because Jesus had to be crucified in order to fulfill prophecy. But still, Jesus isn’t going to give Saul a chance to kill Him in private—that’s why He never had a one-on-one with Him.

But now that Jesus is in Heaven, He gets His one-on-one with Saul because Saul isn’t in a position to kill Him and Saul isn’t in any position to argue or deny anything that Jesus is getting ready to say to him. Now’s the right time to get Saul saved. Notice Saul’s response. He doesn’t get off the dirt, look up to Heaven, shake his fists at Jesus, and call Him all kinds of dirty names. He doesn’t cuss Jesus out and blame Him for corrupting Judaism. The fight, the hatred, the murder, is gone. Why is that? Because Saul knows that the Heavenly Light and the Heavenly Voice are a God-thing. Saul is changing. He was so sure that Jesus was a false Messiah. For the first time in his life he’s coming to grips with the fact that he was wrong about Jesus. He’s beginning to see that all these disciples who he killed, arrested, and imprisoned were right about Jesus after all. Jesus is God! Saul now sees that YOU CAN BE SO SURE ABOUT SOMETHING AND BE DEAD WRONG ABOUT IT.

(6)  And he trembling and astonished. I laugh and lament within myself whenever I see someone get so haughty and in-your-face with God. When they meet the Lord—either here on Earth or before the Judgment Throne of God—they’ll hit dirt, like Saul, and they’ll learn to fear and respect the Lord. Talking about fear, some people respond best when fear is involved. Fear will get them to change or to get saved. If fear’s the only thing that will get you saved, God knows how to scare the dickens out of you and bring you to a point where you’re so afraid of your life that you want to give your life to the Lord. 

(6) And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? Saul went to Damascus knowing what he was going to do. He was going to arrest Christians and drag them back to Jerusalem to stand trial. But all that has changed. The important thing now is, What do you, Lord, want me to do? WHEN YOU MEET GOD YOUR HEART CHANGES FROM WHAT YOU WANT TO DO TO WHAT GOD WANTS YOU TO DO. YOU’LL WANT TO DO GOD’S WILL, NOT YOUR OWN. 

And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.  (7)  And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.  (8)  And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.  (9)  And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.

Saul’s encounter with Jesus changed his life forever. Acts 9:20-22 records Saul’s drastic turnaround, And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. (21) But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? (22) But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.

Look at how Saul’s heart, mind, and life were changed when he met the Lord. He was so sure of himself.  As far as he was concerned, Jesus was not the Messiah. He was not the Son of God. There was no way Saul was going to believe otherwise or change. Like a lot of us. Like a lot of your loved ones and friends who swear they’ll never believe in God or Jesus. But when Saul met the Lord and spent three days talking to Him, Saul had a genuine change of heart and mind. The Jesus that he once preached against and denounced now became the Jesus that he boldly proclaimed to be the Son of God.

A CHANGE OF HEART AND MIND, I’M SAYING, TAKES PLACE WHEN YOU MEET THE LORD AND GET SAVED. The Lord knows just what to say to open your eyes, convict you of your wrongful ways, and get you to change your mind. MEETING JESUS IS A LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE. THAT’S WHERE TRUE, LASTING CHANGE BEGINS. Jesus can change your heart. Your mind. Your life. But in order for Him to do that, you’ve got to meet Him.


Jesus’ first disciples were disciples of John the Baptizer. They were Andrew and John. Now because Andrew and John were disciples of the Baptizer, they were very well informed of the coming Christ. The Baptizer taught them well. One day, the Baptizer, Andrew, and John were standing on the banks of the River Jordan when Jesus showed up.

John 1:35-39,  Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples;  (36)  And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!  (37)  And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.  (38)  Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou?  (39)  He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.

Andrew and John spent the rest of the day with Jesus—talking to Him, listening to Him, finding out who He was, what He believed. By the time they were done listening to Him, they were convinced that Jesus really was the Christ. John 1:40-41,  One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.  (41)  He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.

The same thing happened to Philip and Nathanael. John 1:43-49,  The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me.  (44)  Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.  (45)  Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.  (46)  And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.  (47)  Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!  (48)  Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.  (49)  Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.

THE TIME YOU SPEND WITH JESUS HAS THE POWER TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE, YOUR HEART, YOUR MIND, YOUR BELIEFS. This principle of change is how Jesus’ first disciples became His disciples. They met Him, spent time with Him, believed Him, and ended up following Him. CHANGE REQUIRES CONVERSION FIRST OF ALL. THEN COMMUNION.


Could it be you haven’t changed because you haven’t met the Lord? Could it be you haven’t changed a whole lot because you haven’t spent a whole lot of time with the Lord?

You know, if you don’t like being with your wife, or if you can’t stand being with your husband; something’s wrong with you and your marriage. If you don’t like being with your kids, or don’t care to be around them; something’s wrong. It works the same way with the Lord. If you don’t like, or enjoy, spending time with the Lord, something’s wrong. Now’s a good time to get things right with yourself and the Lord. You can have the best year ever if you get back in sync with God.

So spend some time with the Lord, listen to His voice, and you just might be surprised at what He says to you. You just might change some things that you never thought needed to be changed or thought couldn’t possibly ever be changed. May God bless you, meet with you, and change you from the inside out.