Sermon in a nutshell: Acts 9:20-31 “New Life in Jesus”

Sermon in a nutshell: Acts 9:20-31 “New Life in Jesus”
In the Bible, we read the active ministry of Saul (His name is still Saul before it was changed into Paul)! Once he opened his eyes, Saul began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.! Can you believe that dramatic change? All 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? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.
What did make this change? Many times, you and I do things because (1) we had to, or (2) we are encouraged to do, or (3) pushed to do. . However, here Saul preached that Jesus was the Messiah because he had such a burning heart to share the Good News! He wanted to do it. He could not contain the passion in him! Jeremiah once said, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” but “his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.”(Jeremiah 20:9). That was the same heart that Saul had!
Tomorrow we are going to celebrate the Martin Luther King Day. Why did he do what he did? Because he had this burning heart for justice, Martin Luther King stood for the black brothers and sisters. First he participated in the bus boycott for a year in 1955. Then his participation in the social justice grew bigger and bigger. He worked not only to overcome injustice but also to build up an inclusive nation for all races! So his life was vision driven! For this dream for an inclusive country, he was willing to do anything and to sacrifice even his life!
Can we see parallel hearts here? Saul and Martin Luther King! Both were driven by a higher call! It was not a duty or a job. It was a call. When we have this calling we can endure all the hardships and difficulties. Read the Bible. “After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him, but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall” (Acts 9:23-25). We also know that there were numerous attempts to kill Martin Luther King and his family. If it was not for a call, it would be really difficult for anyone to endure all those persecutions and hardships.
However, when we are faithful to the call from God, we will have also partners and helpers. When Saul came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. When Martin Luther King risked his life, he also had many supporters and he could speak at the capital city of our country, shouting, “I have a dream.”
The Bible said that after Saul endured personal difficulties and achieved friendship with Christians, the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers. We see the same result from the suffering and life of Martin Luther King. Our country became stronger and healthier through the bus boycott and ministries for racial justice.
So, our question is this: Why do we do what we do now? What is the reason for all our actions and words? What inspired us? Last Wednesday, we had mission committee meeting. There, I saw burning hearts and sparking eyes. When they talk about Project Linus, Mary Spryer was fired up. When they talk about Guatemala mission, Doug and Betsy were in total commitment. When they talk about Shelter Meals, they were all in heated discussion how to continue the ministry for the homeless families. That is the Spirit that we want to invite in our lives. We want to share it with others. So, brothers and sisters, when you celebrate Martin Luther King Day, share also your passion with your friends and family members. Bring them to church! Let them be a part of this wonderful mission and ministry that make you hyper! Isn’t it a wonderful life that you want to share with your beloved ones?
1. What is the one ministry that your heart is burning for?
2. With whom do you want to share that calling?

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About biblepreacher

United Methodist Church Pastor. My wife, Hysung Hong Lee, is also a UMC pastor and my children are all grown and have their independent life. We have now empty nest. I and my wife are collecting some mission eggs now in that nest!
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