Luke, in his account of Saul of Tarsus (Paul’s) conversion in Acts 9, gives us the external details of that conversion. Paul, in Philippians 3:4-9, shares the internal realities of his conversion. the change that took place in his heart, emotions, mind and will. He contrasts the surpassing value of knowing Christ with the vanity and emptiness and powerlessness of mere religion which he trashed as refuse and even excrement! His personal knowledge of Christ far surpassed what religion could do for him.
What did Paul gain when he put his trust in Christ and committed His life to Him?
1. The knowledge of Christ Philippians 3:8
We know God personally and intimately through our saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. We see everything as loss in comparison to the knowledge of Christ. Any allegiance is nothing compared to Christ.
We know Christ experientially; not just facts about Him. In John 10:4 Jesus likens that personal knowledge to a sheep knowing his shepherds voice.
In His prayer in John 17:3 Jesus likened eternal life with knowing Christ. Salvation is the personal experience of knowing Christ. That knowledge is a personal loving knowledge of Christ much like that of a husband knowing His wife and a wife knowing her husband. “In Him” Paul uses that little phrase 164 times in His epistles. That knowledge and intimacy is as intimate as a branch being in a vine and bearing fruit. John 15
2. The righteousness of Christ. Philippians 3:9
All his lifetime Saul of Tarsus had worked to try to attain the righteousness of God through his worthless self effort. He gladly gave up his stinking self-righteousness which Isaiah had described as “filthy rags”. Isaiah 64:6 Later, Paul wrote in Romans 3:19, “By the deeds of the Law shall no flesh be justified.” Read Paul tearful burden for His own people, the Jews, in Romans 10:1-4
3. The power of His resurrection. Philippians 3:10
He had long forsaken any power in the Law or in his flesh. God’s Law could not save him. It could only show him he was a sinner. His flesh was too weak to save him.
Christ’s resurrection power working in Paul gave him power to conquer temptation, serve Christ effectively, overcome trials and be a witness for Christ. That power, Paul tells us in Ephesians 3:20, works in and through us.
4. The fellowship of His sufferings Phil. 3:10
When Paul experienced sufferings as a Christian, he knew he was simply sharing in the sufferings of Christ and he felt highly honored. He knew, as Hebrews 4:14-16 teaches us, that Christ knew, understood and cared, for He fully understands personal suffering.
The world goes to the psychologist, psychiatrist or the pharmacist to find relief. We find that blessed comfort and relief in our prayer closet with Christ. We learn to lean on Christ in every temptation and in every weakness for we know that ” He Knows, He Loves and He Cares”.
5. The knowledge of Christ also enables us to obtain His glory.
One day we will leave these weak bodies of flesh and be glorified in His presence. No more Satan to tempt and taunt us. No more failure and sin.
Is it worth giving up your trust in self and putting your trust in Christ for salvation to have:
Peace with God. Romans 5:1
Purpose in living. Philippians 1:21
Daily victory over sin. I Corinthians 15:57
And joy unspeakable and full of glory? I Peter 1:8
THE DEVIL WANTS TO TRICK YOU!
JESUS WANTS TO TREAT YOU!
SATAN TRICKS US
Have you ever wondered why there is so much evil and unhappiness?
The Bible gives the answer in the first three chapters of Genesis. It tells the story of how God created Adam and Eve and put them in the Garden of Eden. Life was perfect and beautiful. There was no pain or sickness or death. They had freedom to enjoy all of God’s creation, except for one thing. They were warned not to eat the fruit of one particular tree, or they would die. The devil came to Eve and tempted her to eat the fruit. He lied to her and told her she would not die. Eve listened to the devil. She was tricked by his lies. She ate the fruit and gave some to her husband. Now they knew they had disobeyed God and were sinners.
God found them in the Garden trying to hide from Him. They were afraid and ashamed of their sin. God cursed them with sorrow and death just as He said He would if they disobeyed Him.. From now on everyone born into Adam’s race would be a sinner and inherit the curse of sin. That’s why all of us are sinners. That’s why we disobey and lie and say and do mean things to others. Not only were Adam and Eve cursed, but the whole earth was cursed. Romans 5:12,19 That’s why there are thorns and weeds. That’s why there are destructive storms, fires, floods and earthquakes. That’s why there is sickness, sorrow, pain and death. Romans 6:23 Romans 8:22.
JESUS TREATS US
But there is a bright side to this story. God loved Adam and Eve and He loves all of us who have inherited sin from our first parents. The Bible tells how God solved the sin problem. He commanded that innocent lambs be killed as an offering to Him to pay the death penalty for the sins of people. The problem was that those sacrifices had to be repeated continually. They did not change the hearts of the people. They went on sinning and offering their sacrifices. Then when God was ready He sent us HIS TREAT, His own beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to come into this world to be the LAMB OF GOD to die for our sins. It was a terrible thing that men did to Jesus, but God allowed it so the penalty of sins was paid in full.
God proved He was satisified with Jesus’ sacrifice by raising Jesus from the dead on the third day. Today He is our living Saviour.
Those who trust Jesus, receive God’s WONDERFUL TREAT of salvation. God forgives our sins and changes us so that we love Him and hate sin. He brings us into His family and promises us an eternal home with Him. Those who are TRICKED BY THE DEVIL listen to his lie that we can sin and get away with it. That’s an awful lie of the devil. No one ever sins and gets away with it.
Will you receive God’s treat by receiving His Son Jesus as your Saviour? You can do it right now. Say to God, “God, I thank you for sending your Son Jesus to die for my sins. Right now I want to turn from my sins and receive your wonderful TREAT of salvation. Help me to learn more about how to live to please you. Thank You Heavenly Father for saving me by sending Your Son to die for my sins and rise again from the dead. Thank you for giving me the Gift of eternal life simply by your grace through no work of my own. Help me to grow in my faith as I read and study Your Word, the Bible.
As a child, my mother allowed my brother and I to dress up in old clothes and a cheap funny plastic masks to trick or treat on Halloween.
We enjoyed Halloween with our kids the same way. Once I dressed up in a spooky mask and gown on Halloween and scared little children screaming away when they peeked in our parsonage window. Our son Dan one time climbed on the roof of our house in a spooky costume and hung over the roof and scared Halloweeners when they came to trick or treat at our front door.
Once in the distant past in a rural church we had scary Halloween party in a barn in the woods and everyone enjoyed it. We even pretended to operate on a deacon in a dark room and pass the internal organs around the room filled with screaming, scared people. For that party we had the little children playing milder games in another location.
Recently a friend and distant relative of mine sent me the following history of Halloween. With the rise of witchcraft and demonism in America, it has caused me to rethink and to have second thoughts about observing it. We still give out treats and tracts to the Trick or Treaters, but I am not going to promote Halloween as a harmless holiday anymore.
Here’s the article that was sent to me on the origin of Halloween by a trusted friend, Dr. Patricia Depew. She and her husband, Dr. David Depew
have involved in ministry together for many years,
“The origin of Halloween can be traced back to the British Isles almost 1300 years ago when men and women began to participate in Wicca. The word “witch” comes from this. They worshipped nature, the sun, moon and stars through chants and ritual offerings. Some were known as Druids. Eight times each year, the witches celebrated a “sabat.” This remains true today.
The ritual work and spell casting was always done on the eve of the “sabat.” Halloween is the most important of the eight “sabats.” It is on this night that witches believe spirits of the dead can come back through “Saman” (Shamhain-“SOW-EEN), “the lord of death and evil spirits” and enter a living body. Wiccans claim they do not acknowledge Satan, however, many former Wiccans confirm that the power of darkness, Satan is in control of what Wiccans do. The number of Wiccan is hard to estimate. One survey places Wiccans at about 900,000 worldwide . In America the number has risen from 8,000 to 134,000 since 1990. Many are involved on the internet or practice secretly.
One man who had been a Wiccan and is now a Christian, stated, “Halloween is not harmless. Satan has people in our modern era mimicking the witches and Druids of old. We live in a time when witchcraft is being revived, this is apparent in movies filled with witchcraft, television programs such as ‘Charmed’ and books like ‘Harry Potter’ are teaching witchcraft to millions.”
PRAY that God will help Christians to stand up against the darkness of Wicca and show the true dangers that can cause many to be taken over by an occult. It robs them of the joy of knowing God’s Way and Truth. PRAY that those involved with the occult WILL COME OUT of this terrible deception and darkness.”
Some relevant scriptures to consider:
3 John 1:11 (“do not imitate what is evil”)
Romans 12:9 (“abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.”)
Deuteronomy 18:9-14 (do not learn to imitate detestable ways, including spiritists, sorcerers and witchcraft)
1 Timothy 4:1 (don’t “follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons”)
I have written this, not to judge anyone or to throw cold water on your Halloween parties; but to think carefully what you want to pass on to your children about this questionable observance.
A lecturer, when explaining stress management to an audience, raised a glass of water and asked, “How heavy is this glass of water?” Answers called out ranged from 20g to 500g. The lecturer replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends how long you try to hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance. In each case it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”
Are you living under stress? I realize I don’t know what you are going through. And you don’t know what I’m going through, but guess what? I’m not living under stress. Let me tell you why.
I don’t hold that glass of water in my hand beyond my endurance. I’ve learned to put it down on the table before I am exhausted. Here are some ideas for living a stress free life and avoiding burn out.
1. Commit yourself and your day to God. Ask for His help and for His blessing on your day. Throughout the day as you come up against a seeming impossibility, just cry out to Him, “HELP!” He is right there to give you wisdom to solve the problem and His strength to help you carry the load. As I grow older God’s promise in Isaiah 40:28-31 becomes more precious to me. It’s one of my favorite. Read it, meditate on it and rejoice. It is God’s promise to YOU!
2. Stay ahead on your schedule. It has always been my habit to stay ahead on my schedule. I would never make a good boss, because as my wife says, “I want things done yesterday.” I have known of pastors who begin working on their messages for Sunday on Saturday evening- less then fifteen hours before they are to preach. I don’t know how they stand that kind of pressure. Perhaps they have no stress at all, but I doubt that I would want to sit under their ministry.
I am usually working on messages three to five weeks in advance. Thank God for computers. I can work on different messages throughout the week and can store them and go back to them day after day, changing, rearranging, adding and deleting- all without having to rip a sheet of paper out of my typewriter and starting all over again. That’s the way I did it for years. It’s so much simpler today. The files in my computer sure beat the four door file cabinets, filled with manila folders and stacks of material. By Monday morning each week my message for the following Sunday is finished and almost ready to preach. Oh, sometimes during the week I will make a few minor changes. On a few occasions I have totally rearranged a sermon on Saturday evening, but that is rare. The point I make is that I do not allow anything on my schedule to give me stress.
You see, the thing that brings stress is not the assignment or the responsibility, but it is procrastination and putting off doing what needs to be done. It’s having a deadline fast approaching and not being ready for the event. When you start an assignment early, weeks before it is due, there is no stress at all. Students, if your teacher gives you a term paper to write and it is due in one month or at the end of the semester, get started on it immediately and get it out of the way as quickly as possible. That way you avoid the stress of that unfinished assignment hanging over your head. The longer you hold it unfinished, the heavier it gets.
3. Cast your burden on the Lord. Stress is brought on by trying to carry out an assignment or responsibility that is almost more than you can bear. We’re all called upon to bear our own burdens. Galatians 6:5 Often multiple responsibilities coming together only add to the stress. In such times, I simply lean and rest on Jesus. He supports me and infuses me with His strength to meet the responsibilities. Each night as I prepare for bed, I cast my burden on the Lord, close my eyes and go to sleep. Next morning, after a good night’s sleep, I pick up that burden again and do what I can to carry out the responsibility or complete the assignment.
4. Each morning I make a list of things I must do. I check my calendar and list what needs to be done that day. Then I do what needs to be done and as I finish an assignment I take pleasure in checking it off. Each time I make that check mark, I am relieved of some of the weight that would eventually cause stress.
Here are some of the passages of Scripture that I have learned to lean on in times of great pressure. This is just a sampling of God’s promises scattered throughout the Bible. Read them, memorize them and draw on them when you find yourself under pressure. God will strengthen you, encourage you and keep you from burn-out. I am now 76. By His grace and strength, I’m still going strong in my pastorate and am enjoying some of the best years of my life. Will the burdens grow heavier in the years ahead? I expect they will, but He has promised to sustain me and He will sustain you.
RESTING PILLS Here’s a sampling. Take as needed and meditate on them. No chance of overdosing.
II Chronicles 20:15-22,
Read the Psalms daily to keep your heart in tune with God.
Read Proverbs daily to keep from getting into stressful situations with others.
Isaiah 40:28-31, 41:10-20, 42:1-4, 43:1, 44:3 45:2-3, 46:3-4, 53:5-6, 54:1-17, 55:1-13, 58:3-14, 61:1-3,
Jeremiah 1:4-10, 17:5-8, 18:1-4, 33:3
Matthew 6:25-34, 11:28-30
John 14:1-18, 14:27, 15:1-8, 16:24,
Romans 5:1-5, 6:14, 8:22-39,
I Corinthians 15:50-58,
II Corinthians 1:3-4, 2:14, 12:9
Philippians 4:6-7, 4:19
I Thessalonians 4:13-18
Hebrews 4:14-16 James 1:2-12, 5:13-16
I Peter 1:3-8 II Peter 1:2-11 3:8-15
I John 3:1-3 5:11-13
Revelation 21:1-4, 22:17
In his book Good News for Great Days,
Dr. Hawkins gives some very interesting
He asks us to imagine the whole earth’s
population reduced to 1000 people, all
residing in one city.
Viewed in this way, our blessedness
stands in stark contrast to the majority in the world.
Out of the 1,000 people, only 46 would be Americans.
The other 954 would represent the rest of the world.
Although they are such a small segment, 50% of all
the city’s income would be received by the 46.
Those 46 people would have an average life expectancy
of 75 years. The rest would live to be about 40 years old.
The 46 representing Americans would eat 70% more than
their daily food requirement, but 80% of the 954 others would
NEVER get a balanced meal.
“As a matter of fact,” says Dr. Hawkins, “the kitchen [garbage]
disposals of the 46 people would eat better than 80 % of the
city” (p. 214).
How we ought to thank our God! How we ought to pray
for our nation! How generous we ought to be toward
those who have so little!