Read His Words Before Ours!
I watched a movie the other night about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. It was a hard movie to watch, mainly because all I could think about was the evil that humans are capable of. We, humans, can do so much good, but we can cause so much pain and so much hurt. I began to question God, “How could there be so many people with so much hate in their heart? How do we ever stop this?” I thought of how cold and hard the hearts of terrorists must be and I began to get a little scared. But God quickly reminded me that He can change even the hardest of hearts. He loved Osama Bin Laden. Woah. Jesus died for Osama Bin Laden and he needed Jesus just as much as we need Jesus.
The next day, I watched with the rest of America as a young American man came home after being detained in North Korea for over a year. I read comment after comment about how terrible Kim Jong-un is and the wretched conditions in North Korea. My heart grew increasingly heavy and I began to wonder, once again, what hope there could be in a man like Kim Jong-un ever coming to know the Lord. The Lord quietly spoke to me, “Remember, Kendra? I can soften the hardest of hearts.” And peace flooded into my spirit.
It is so easy to doubt that the Lord really can change hard hearts. We imagine people with horrible and vile intentions, or those addicted to different substances for years upon years. I think of cruel dictators, terrorists, people in the human trafficking ring, and parents who abuse their children…
but God can change the most broken people,
and He has changed incredibly broken people.
Paul was born as Saul and was a Jewish man, born in the large city of Tarsus, who studied the Old Testament profusely and cared deeply about upholding Jewish traditions. He was a Pharisee. He was an angry and bitter Pharisee.
He hated that other Jews were choosing to follow Jesus, leaving behind treasured traditions, sacred scripture, and Jewish law. He hated that these Jews-turned-Christians were mingling with Gentiles (non-Jews) and were practicing idolatry with these new friends.
It wasn’t right! It wasn’t fair!
He had devoted himself to two things: his trade of tent-making, and his religion. These people were walking away from Jewish traditions for some “lowly man” whom they claimed God favored enough to raise from the dead?! Preposterous!
The hatred Saul held in his heart for these traitors, led him to become one of the loudest voices in encouraging the persecution of the Christian Church. He spent his days traveling from town to town declaring that disobedient members of the synagogues should be disciplined through ostracism or flogging or imprisonment or death.
It would take something huge to change his heart of stone.
But something huge did happen.
God called Saul, changed his name to Paul, and used other believers to minister to and disciple Paul.
In Galatians 1:11-24, Paul quickly shares his testimony… he once was a man who persecuted Christians, but because of God’s great grace, Paul was now preaching to Christians. The Good News of Jesus Christ was so compelling that he was transformed from persecutor to preacher. Paul was transformed!
See, God has transformed the hearts of people who are stuck in their religion and traditions. The gospel is transforming. It is powerful!
The Good News that Jesus died to cover our sins, redeem us
and now He LIVES, is POWERFUL!
The gospel changes people.
It melts the hardest of hearts and the coldest of souls.
And if we have seen the gospel change Paul’s life, if we have seen how the Truth was so compelling, Paul HAD to share the Good News, shouldn’t we want to share, too?
Shouldn’t we long for people to know the gospel so they can be transformed,
just like Paul was… just as we have been?
Pray with me.
Pray for the people in your life who feel like they will never change.
Pray for the people who shut you down every time you ask them to go to church with you,
or who comment negatively on any social media post about Jesus.
Pray with me for those who are so stuck in their religion and traditions that they refuse to believe that all they need is Jesus.
And pray with me for the people who we often refuse to believe could ever change… dictators, political leaders, terrorists… the people a lot of us forget to pray for.
We should never stop praying for people who don’t know Jesus because the Gospel is so compelling that we must pray and we must tell others about Jesus.
Just as Paul did.
Because the Gospel is so compelling, people will be changed and they will be saved!
Just as Paul was.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!