The Road to Change

Before Paul was known as an apostle, he was known as Saul of Tarsus—a persecutor of Christians. Due to his zeal in the Jewish religion, he dedicated his life to trying to eradicate Christians. As a Jew, he saw Jesus as a liar and the Christian movement as a threat to his life as a Jew. With each Christian that died, or was tortured into turning against Christ, Saul believed he was doing the work of God and protecting God’s people.

In Acts 8, it mentions that the persecution against Christians became so great that many Christians fled from Jerusalem. Saul was at the front line of that persecution. He was not satisfied with Christians just leaving Jerusalem, he wanted them either dead or to turn against Jesus. Therefore, he got permission from the chief priests to pursue them into other cities. So he chased after them to Damascus.

On his way to Damascus, he was breathing out threats and slaughter to the disciples of Christ. When he was almost to Damascus, he was confronted by Jesus. The Bible tells us that a light shined from the heavens around Saul, and all he could do was fall to the ground. Then a voice spoke to him, and asked him, “Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Saul likely knew who was speaking to him, but he asked the voice who He was.

And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

Acts 9:5 NKJV

The picture portrayed by the Lord here is an ox who is rebelling against his master, so the master pokes him with a prick which was a sharpened stick used to rouse the ox to perform the act the master wanted. In this act of rebellion, the ox was only hurting itself. It was at this point in the conversation with the Lord, Saul came to the realization that like an ox kicking the prick, he was working against God and hurting himself. For the past several months, Saul had been sinning against God.

In his desperation, he asked Jesus was he needed to do. The Lord told him to go into Damascus and wait and he would be told what he needed to do. Saul got up ready to go into Damascus but he was blind. He had to be led into Damascus by those who were travelling with him and had witnessed these events. He was blind and did not eat nor drink for three days.

While waiting for the next set of orders, Saul sat prayed. Then the Lord shows himself to a disciple named Ananias. He told Ananias to go visit Saul and give him the next set of orders. When Ananias visited Saul, he told Saul that the same Lord who visited Saul on the road to Damascus, came and visited him also and wanted him to give him a message. The message Ananias gave to him was how to fix the sins he had committed against God.

Ananias told Saul,

And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’

Acts 22:16 NKJV

This message was very direct. It showed the urgency of the situation and how to fix the sin problem. I want you to notice something about this situation. At this point, Paul still had his sins.

  • Despite a personal visit from Jesus, he still had his sins.
  • Despite confessing Jesus as his Lord in front of witnesses, he still had his sins.
  • Despite and obvious period of sorrowful repentance, he still had his sins.
  • Despite his sincere praying for 3 days, he still had his sins.

It was not until he was baptized that his sins were washed away. By doing this, he was calling upon the name of the Lord. This phrase means that Saul is calling on the authority of God to perform a work that only he can perform—washing away sins. Being baptized was Saul submitting to God’s chosen process for forgiveness of sins and therefore calling on the authority of God.

Saul arose and was baptized. He was changed from a zealous Jew who persecuted the Church of God to an ambassador of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.From there he lived a life dedicated to preaching the gospel. He proclaimed the glorious gospel which saved him and he knew could save others.

The conversion of Saul can teach us several things. It can teach us that just because you are religious and think you are doing right—you may be wrong. It is important to pair zeal and knowledge (Philippians 3:4-8; Romans 10:1-3). It can teach us the plan of salvation. Salvation comes from God through Jesus Christ. Saul took several steps which were necessary for his salvation. He changed his belief system and started to believe Jesus was the Son of God. He confessed Jesus as Lord before men. He repented of the sin he committed while a zealous Jew who persecuted the Church. He was baptized for the remission of sins calling upon the name of the Lord. Finally, I believe we can learn that God is capable of cleansing those who are persecutors, blasphemers, injurious, and full of sin and using them for His glory. We see a brilliant picture of this in the story of the transformation of Saul.

Based ona sermon given by Jeffrey Wells at Concord Church of Christ on 3/13/19.

Jesus—Priest and King!

For generations the Jewish people had looked for the prophesied Messiah. Each generation prayed that the Messiah would come during their time and for years the people were disappointed. Each time the Jewish people were placed under the bondage of other countries (Assyria, Babylon, Rome) the Jews prayed for their salvation through the promised Messiah. To the Jewish people, the Messiah meant salvation, redemption, and power for the all of Israel. They wanted a kingdom that would be the world power for eternity.

When David was king over Israel, God made a covenant with David, that His seed would be established over His Kingdom forever (See 2 Samuel 7:12-16). After God made this covenant with David, he wrote about this Messiah in the context of a powerful anointed king (See Psalms 2). He wrote of a person who would be given all of the kingdoms of the earth as an inheritance, God would give Him everything. The picture painted in Psalms 2 is a Messiah who is all powerful and able to conquer any and all who challenge Him.

Later on, David wrote of the Messiah:

The Lord has sworn
And will not relent,
“You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek.

Psalms 110:4 NKJV

In this statement it would seem that the Messiah would be a priest, God had promised this and it would not change. In the Old Testament, you can read about God’s priests during the time of the law of Moses (see Leviticus 16). They were the only ones who were able to enter into the most holy place of the temple (where God dwelled). They were the ones who would offer sacrifices for the people’s sins.

Under the law of Moses the king and high priest could never be the same person.  Both being a king or high priest depended on genealogy. The kings were from the tribe of Judah and the line of David while the high priests were from the tribe of Levi and the line of Aaron. 

So which would the promised Messiah be? Would He be a King who is over all things or a Priest who is able to approach God and offer sacrifices for sin? At first this seems like a major contradiction, but God promised that the Messiah would be both perfectly.

Take the silver and gold, make an elaborate crown, and set it on the head of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Then speak to him, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, saying: “Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place He shall branch out, And He shall build the temple of the Lord Yes, He shall build the temple of the Lord.
He shall bear the glory, And shall sit and rule on His throne; So He shall be a priest on His throne, And the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”

Zechariah 6:11-13 NKJV

The Messiah was prophesied that He would build the temple, bear the glory, and sit upon the throne as both King and Priest. This shows that God’s servant, the Branch, is going to sit on His throne in the temple not under the law of Moses, but He will be King and Priest under the New Covenant.  God’s servant, the Messiah, will be both King and Priest by the decree of Almighty God and not because of human genealogy.  The office of king and priest will merge in Him because of the decree made by the holy God.

If you look back at the passage from Psalms 110, David wrote that He would be a powerful King that sat on His throne, but also a “Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek”.

Before the law was given to Moses, the Bible records that Melchizedek came to Abraham and blessed him.  Melchizedek was both a king and priest.  He was the king of Salem and at the same time a priest of the most high God (See Genesis 14:18). This means that the promised Messiah would also be able to sit on a throne of power and authority, but also approach God to give sacrifice for sin.

After Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph took infant Jesus to the temple to present Him to the Lord. At that time, two different people (Simeon and Anna) stopped and praised God because of Jesus. Simeon called Him the salvation of the Lord, and Anna told all those who were looking for redemption about Jesus (See Luke 2). They knew that Jesus was the promised Messiah!

In Acts 2, after Jesus had died, been buried, and raised from the dead, Peter proclaimed that Jesus had been raised up to sit on His throne (See Acts 2:30,33)!

If you look in Hebrews 5, you will see that the writer proclaimed Jesus as the Priest and King according to the order of Melchizedek!

And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, called by God as High Priest “according to the order of Melchizedek,”

Hebrews 5:9-10 NKJV

Then in Hebrews 10, we see that Jesus did exactly what needed to be done to be both King and Priest!

But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

Hebrews 10:12-14 NKJV

He approached God and made a blood offering (His own blood) which would compensate for ALL sins, forever. Then He sat down on His throne as the great and all powerful King.

Jesus was the answer to the Jews’ prophecies and prayers for salvation and redemption. He is also the answer for our salvation and redemption today! Because of what He did in His sacrifice, He is the perfect Priest and the perfect King— He is the promised Messiah.

Based on a sermon given by Lynn Stiles on March 3rd, 2019 at Concord Church of Christ.

“Stir What Ya Got”

Many years ago, Mr. Ralph Dreesen was the State Advisor and Supervisor for Agricultural Education. He gave an address that was titled “Stir What You Got” , teaching about how to realize the potential of the students placed in your class that particular year. The idea of using what you have to do the most good is very similar to what God does with us.

What talents, gifts or skills do you have?

  • Can you lead songs? Then lead songs.
  • Can you lead a prayer? Then lead prayers.
  • Can you teach/preach God’s word? Then teach/preach.
  • Can you visit the sick and widows? Then make visits.
  • Can you welcome people to the assembly?  Then provide welcomes.
  • Can you visit with neighbors or classmates about God? Then evangelize.

The Bible is full of stories of people who risked it all to accomplish the task God had given them.

  • Noah built an ark to save his family and animals as directed by God.
  • Moses led a nation out of slavery.
  • Gideon led 300 men into battle against 135,000 Midianites.
  • David fought Goliath armed with only a staff, a sling and five stones.
  • The Apostles took the gospel to the uttermost parts of the world despite tremendous persecution and death.

You might say “Well, I’m not as good as they were…” You may or may not be. But God is still God and Christ will equip and strengthen you to complete His tasks.

7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 
11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

Ephesians 4:7, 11-16 (NKJV)

Christ has provided us with the gifts or skills we need to accomplish the tasks God has assigned to us! Christ descended to the earth to live as a man, He provided the gospel to mankind, He established the Church and died for our sins.

Paul identifies some positions that were established by Christ. These positions were established for three reasons:

  • To help us to become complete.
  • To help us to be doers of the work.
  • To edify one another.

The expected end result: To be unified in the faith.

We are not to be as children who are naïve and easily influenced. As Christians, we are to speak the truth in love and continue to grow in all spiritual things. We are also called to work together, like many members of body, to accomplish God’s will (see 1 Corinthians 12:12-31)

Have we identified/examined our gifts? Are we using our gifts? Are we developing and improving our gifts? Are we using those gifts to serve God?

Are you “stirring what ya got?”

Based on a sermon given at Concord Church of Christ by Danny Wells, an elder from East Main Church of Christ in Stratford, OK on 2/24/19.

Taking the gospel across the world!

Jesus came into this world to save sinners. Before Jesus ascended into the heavens, He commissioned His disciples to continue His work here on earth. He told His disciples:

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

(Matthew 28:19-20 NKJV)

Jesus put the gospel message into the hands of his followers and told them to proclaim this plan of salvation starting in the regions of Judea and Samaria then take it through the ENTIRE WORLD!

For the past 2000 years Jesus’ disciples have been proclaiming this gospel message across the globe, diligently trying ensure that every person has the chance to hear about Jesus and His power to save. Today, the gospel of Jesus Christ continues to be preached and the borders of Jesus’ Church expands every day.

Sources. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0via Wikimedia Commons.

Yesterday at Concord Church of Christ, we had the opportunity to have Michael McCorkle give us an update on some of the work that is being done in Nigeria. Church of Christ Nigeria has been an organization devoted to spreading the gospel in Nigeria for over 30 years. There are several people involved with making regular visits, helping establish new congregations, developing existing congregations, preaching the gospel, and making sure needs are being met. In fact, there was news that on the next trip a licensed optometrist is planning to go and perform some eye exams and perform some treatments!

Nigeria has a very large population with approximately 196 million people, it is the most populous country in Africa. The nation is divided religiously with nearly half being Christian, nearly half being Muslim, and the rest normally practice an indigenous religion. With that type of population comes many difficulties such as persecution and poverty.

Much like the Christians in the first century, Christians in Nigeria may suffer persecution. Some Christians have been denied water at the local water well from other religions who own the well, the other option is 6 miles away. The impoverished state of most of the Christians makes it difficult to have needed medical procedures and sometimes the basic necessities of living.

There is great need for our family in Christ in Nigeria. Many of those needs are being met, but there is still a lot of work to do. Prayers are greatly appreciated!

We praise the Lord as he blesses us physically, mentally, and most importantly spiritually. The brethren of Nigeria are very appreciative of the financial help of the American brethren but most importantly the prayers that are given up on our behalf.”

The gospel of Christ continues to change people lives in Nigeria every day. In Nigeria you will find Christians who praise God for His saving power and yearn for eternity in heaven with the Father and the Son. Praise God for this fact!

My question for you is are you a disciple who is devoted to carrying the gospel message to the entire world? The gospel is just as powerful today as it was 2000 years ago, it can save people from their sins and give a powerful eternal hope. If you are devoted to carrying out this commission, God bless you. If you wish to devote yourself to such a work there are several things you can do. You can start by praying for the work, for the Church across the world, you can pray for your family in Nigeria. If you wish to help financially, you can click the link attached for the Church of Christ Nigeria website. This link can also offer you more information on getting in touch with some of those directly involved and can answer questions.

I am encouraged to know that the gospel continues save people across the world. I am encouraged to know that the borders of the Lord’s Kingdom continue to expand across every nation. I praise God for these things and I pray that this news has encouraged you.

For more information on Church of Christ Nigeria, please visit their website:

Who Do You Say That I Am?

During His ministry, Jesus had been preaching, performing miracles, and had done many amazing things. He wanted His disciples to tell Him what people were saying about Him, more specifically, who they were saying He was.

13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”… 16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

(Matthew 16:13,16 NKJV)

Today, there are lots of things that people say about Jesus. If you took a survey of random people in the world, what would they say about Him? Some would say he was a liar, some would doubt he ever existed, some would say that he was a good man, and some might say He was a prophet.

Imagine Jesus asked you that question today, what would be your answer? Hopefully, you would answer the same answer which Peter gave, “He is the Christ, the Son of the living God!” The truth is, just because you say that you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that does not necessarily mean that you truly mean it. What speaks even louder than your words, is your actions. For example, you may tell someone that you love them, but if your actions do not also demonstrate this love, it does not mean anything. This is why we are told to love in action (see 1 John 3:18).

How do your actions respond to this question? Do they say you only see Jesus as the Christ, when things are good? Do they say you only see Jesus as Christ if you have sinned and need mercy? Or do your actions proclaim Jesus is the Christ on a daily basis? If you believe Jesus is truly the Son of God and therefore your Lord, it will change every aspect of your life. It will change your desires, it will change the way you love, it will change how you speak to others, and what you do for others. Jesus said that when your actions changed by service to Jesus, others will be able to see the light of God in your actions, and God will be glorified (see Matthew 5:16).

As you go through this coming week, when you encounter your coworkers and friends I encourage you to think about and answer Jesus’ question with your words and your actions: “Who do you say that I am?” If you truly believe that Jesus is the Son of God, then obey Him and make Him the Lord of your life. Show others that He is God, tell others about Him and the impact He has had on your life. Show your love for Him for His sacrifice for you on the cross and the other blessings you have through Him.

Based on a sermon from Nathan Springer at Concord Church of Christ on 2/10/2019.