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Acts 9:1-9 NASB
Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of
the Lord, went to the high priest,  and asked for letters from him to
the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way,
both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.  And it
came about that as he journeyed, he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly
a light from heaven flashed around him;  and he fell to the ground,
and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"
 And he said, "Who art Thou, Lord?" And He said, "I am Jesus whom you
are persecuting,  but rise, and enter the city, and it shall be told
you what you must do."  And the men who traveled with him stood speechless,
hearing the voice, but seeing no one.  And Saul got up from the ground,
and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by
the hand, they brought him into Damascus.  And he was three days without
sight, and neither ate nor drank.
Few people's lives illustrate the word "transformation" like Saul of
Before his encounter with Christ on the Road to Damascus, Saul was the
poster child for Judaism. If they had elections for that sort of thing,
Saul's peers would surely elect him as the "Most Valuable Member" at his
Synagogue. They would do so because of his pedigree and his zeal.
Paul did not convert to Judaism, he was born into the faith. In fact,
as a member of the tribe of Benjamin, the aristocracy of the Race. Benjamin
was the son of Jacob's old age from his favorite wife Rachel. He was Jacob's
favorite son and his descendants lived their life with a special pride
in their ancestry. Saul was as proud to be a Benjamite as an American would
be proud to discover they descended from George Washington or Abraham Lincoln.
Saul had more reasons to be proud than his lineage, he was a righteous
man. From a child, Saul was raised to be righteous. His parents circumcised
him on the eighth day, just as the law prescribed, and unlike other Jews
who became Hellenized under the reign of Rome, his family retained the
distinction of speaking Hebrew, their mother tongue. They were "Hebrews
As Saul matured, he became a Pharisee. Because of the conflicts Jesus
had with the Pharisees, we often have a negative connotation about Pharisees.
But to a Jew, there was not a higher goal to attain than to be a Pharisee.
They were "separatists," adherents of the law who sought to live blameless
lives before God. During Saul's time, they were about 6000 strong in Jerusalem,
the largest and most influential religious party within Judaism. Saul was
blameless in matters of the law. In other words, Saul wasn't just a "blue
blood," or a person with pedigree, he was living out his destiny, to be
the best Jew he could be.
Not only was he living out his destiny, Saul was zealous to destroy
those who would threaten the way of life he was born into, he devoted his
life to destroying those who perverted Judaism with claims that the Messiah
came, was crucified and rose from the dead.
One afternoon, Saul was traveling to Damascus to round up any people
belonging to "the way," bind them and bring them back to Jerusalem where
they would receive a fair trial before they were executed. On the road,
he didn't meet anyone belonging to "the way," but he did meet someone who
claimed to be "the way, the truth and the life"-he met the resurrected
A bright light-the bright and morning star-blinded him, and Saul dropped
to the ground. Disoriented, Saul heard a voice from heaven asking why he
was persecuting Him.
Saul would never be the same. The blinding light, helped him to really
see. Saul left his life as a Pharisee and converted to "the way." Before
he died for his faith, he became a church planter, establishing the very
churches he worked so hard to destroy.
His life was transformed. In an instant.
Sometimes, that's the way it works. God turns a person's life around
instantaneously. That's what happened with Craig.
Actually, Craig's name could have been named Leroy Brown, because he
was the baddest man in his whole town. Craig didn't just use drugs. He
didn't just sell drugs, Craig was a drug enforcer-the guy that collects
money from dealers who don't pay the supplier. He was one bad dude.
Craig lived on the outskirts of town with his wife and three children
in a 24-foot travel trailer. When his children made a decision for Christ,
Pastor Richard came out to his trailer to see if he could baptize them.
Craig refused to come outside to talk to the preacher, so Richard asked
if he could come inside.
Craig was wearing dirty blue jeans, had long greasy hair, tattoos all
over his body and a permanent scowl on his face. This has got to be
the meanest man I've ever seen, the pastor thought, what am I doing
here? There was no place for the Pastor to sit. Craig sat in his chair
and the preacher stood.
Pastor Richard worked up his courage and said, "Your children made a
decision for Christ down at the church this week and we'd like to baptize
them." Craig's answer was short, but not so sweet, "No, we're Catholic."
We'll, that's that, the Pastor thought as he left the trailer.
But Richard didn't give up. Instead he developed a friendship with Craig.
A few weeks into the friendship, Richard shared the plan of salvation
with Craig. Craig's answer was "no," but he did agree to let his kids be
Richard didn't stop trying.
It took some doing, but Richard convinced his buddy Craig to go to a
Promise Keepers event with him in Stockton, CA. Under the conviction of
the Holy Spirit, "bad, bad Leroy Brown" gave his life to Jesus. That was
on a Friday, the next Sunday, Pastor Richard baptized him.
"Everybody knows what he was," Richard said, "and now nobody can believe
what he's become." Today he's clean and sober, has a legitimate job and
always has a big smile on his face. Everywhere he goes, he talks about
Jesus. (Fresh Illustrations, http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)
His life was permanently transformed, by the same one who confronted
Saul on the road to Damascus.
Just like He did with "Judy."
Judy slipped into the service late and took a back row seat in the small
church on Hilton Head Island. Her cheeks were hollow, her skin was leathery
and she had a distant look in her eyes-like nobody was home. Judy looked
old for her age. Years of drug abuse robbed the twenty-six-year-old of
her youth and vitality. She needed help, so she turned to the Lord. At
first, she fidgeted in her seat, but soon, she sat still and listened.
When Christ saved her, He turned her life around. She didn't just forsake
her past lifestyle, she began ministering to those she knew from her former
life. The first person she led to the Lord was someone she introduced to
drugs in her "other" life.
I wish, I could tell you that Judy is busy spreading the gospel today,
but I can't. Eight months after her conversion, she died in a tragic accident.
She shared her small bed room with her Saint Bernard dog. The dog, and
her space heater used up all the available oxygen in the room and she died
in her sleep.
Her death, tragic as it was, was not it vain. "At the funeral," her
pastor said, "homosexuals and drug addicts attended. Her death opened the
door for us to minister to her friends at the funeral and afterward." (Fresh
The Apostle Paul wrote: For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
(Philip. 1:21 KJV) For the eight months Judy lived after her conversion,
it was for Christ, and we she died, she gained an inheritance that was
fit for a child of the king.
The transforming power of the resurrection can turn a persecutor of
the church into a church planter and a drug enforcer into a spiritual man
who prays with others, and a person who gets people hooked on drugs into
a person who gets people hooked on Jesus.
And sometimes that transformation takes place in an instant.