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Come along to our annual combined Thanks Giving service on Sunday September 4!

Devotion

Weekly Lift

#108. The most important change.

Bruce Stanley

June 27, 2022


The most important change: Conversion

Conversion is a word that can mean different things in different contexts. For footballers, it's the extra points for kicking a ball through some posts after scoring a try. For home renovators, it could be the conversion of a garage into a granny flat. For investors, it might be converting currency on the exchange. It's always, however, about change.

In Christian language, it's about converting the heart, soul and mind. It's about a change that happens through the work of God's Holy Spirit to change our eternal direction. Saul's conversion is one of the most radical in the Bible. Listen to a few verses that give us the radical picture of this conversion change in Acts 9:

Acts 9:1, 3-5, 19-21

BEFORE:

1Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.

DURING

3As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”5“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,”he replied.

AFTER

Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. 20At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 21All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name?

Before, he was arranging for Christians to be killed. We even watched him hover over Stephen in chapter 7 when Stephen was stoned to death for his Christian faith.

Then Jesus appears to Saul and reveals himself to him as Lord.

At once, Saul does as he is told, and as soon as he can, he is in the synagogue teaching the truth of the gospel he once stood against.

Even his name is changed - from Saul to Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles.

There were two significant changes here:

First, Saul's whole heart, soul and mind is changed and Jesus is now Lord of his life.

Second, God deploys the second phase of his plan - to reach beyond the Jews in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and extend His mission to the rest of the Gentile (non-Jewish) world. (See Acts 1:8)

Acts 9:15

15But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.

Radical changes.

Life-changing. Mission-changing. World-changing.

Let me ask you a personal question in response to seeing this huge change in Saul's life:

With all the changes that have happened in our world over the past few years, has your passion for this world mission of Jesus changed?

I think it is very easy to lose the passion for the change in our lives that mean the most. It's very easy to adapt and change to the needs of the world around us, and often too easy to forget the biggest change in our lives and in our world - Jesus' death and resurrection, and his mission to rescue a world from sin and death.

What grabs me the most about Saul's conversion is that it takes hold of him immediately and from that point on, he is unstoppable for the purposes of God. Despite the rapidly changing world he was living in - the force of the government, the uncertainty of life - Saul/Paul continued with that gospel focus at the forefront of his life.

This is conversion. A change in our heart, soul and mind that changes us forever.

In the midst of all the changes around us, have we lost some of the passion to respond to the greatest change in our lives?

Have we lost motivation to read our Bibles or pray? Have we lost the urgency of coming to church to meet together, or the urgency to share the gospel with friends in some small way each week?

Have we been so distracted by the changes of the world that we have lost sight of the biggest change the world had ever seen on that cross 2000 years ago?

If we have, let's recognise that and ask for God's help to be reminded of the conversion he has done in our life, and respond to that every day.

Prayer

Lord God, heavenly Father, thank you for the life-changing work you have done in my life. Please may this change be at the forefront of my thinking and actions every day. Remind me each morning of the work you have set aside for me in the way I speak and act and think in this world. Despite the many changes in our world today, may I always be reminded of the biggest change you have made in this world through Jesus, and the need for our world to know this gospel truth.

Amen.

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    St Philip's Eastwood Anglican Church

    Cnr. Shaftsbury Rd & Clanalpine St, Eastwood NSW 2122

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