Sunday, June 22, 2014

What it Takes to Turn Around

In this post:  Paul's mission - changing course in midstream - turning from dark to light

Let’s talk about change.  Paul started out preparing for life as a Pharisee, the spiritual leader of the Jewish faith at that time.  He zealously enforced Jewish laws and customs.  Then one day, an angel appeared to him and told him that he needed to change direction.  His mission was to now spread a message in opposition to the Jewish laws and customs he had been defending.  Paul is an example of courage and humility because he changed direction in front of all the people who knew him.  

Paul describes his God-given mission to King Agrippa … "To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me." Acts 26:18

I’d like to spend this post looking at Paul’s mission in depth.

What does it take to open someone’s eyes? 
I have offered advice and been ignored.
I have led group discussions which were lively, given a challenge question, and come back next week to follow up and no one had taken the challenge.
I have spoon-fed the tastiest morsels and seen the baby spit them out.
Lots of people knew Paul and they may have been reluctant to believe him and listen to his message.

The right question and a desire to know the answer causes eyes to open and ears to listen.

How does someone turn from darkness to light?
Sometimes a passerby has a lantern
Sometimes a new idea throws light on an old problem
But always turning from darkness to light is a choice
It requires swimming against the current
shaking off the chains of old habits
washing off layers of grime and avoiding dirty places

Source:  Flickr
How does someone escape the power of Satan?
Satan tries to prevent us from choosing
He tells us lies and we believe them - “Satan seeketh to turn their hearts away from the truth, that they become blinded and understand not the things which are prepared for them.” (D&C 78:10)

He makes us fear the very thing that would set us free — honesty
He tries to keep us from accepting responsibility for our mistakes
But he can’t keep us from choosing to leave his sphere of influence
There is no Earthly hell where God will not come and rescue us if we ask for His help.

Nehemiah 1:9-10
 ”But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there.

10  Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand.

How did Paul show the people that they might receive forgiveness?
I think Paul’s strongest case is made when he showed that God gave his own Son for us, so why wouldn’t he give us forgiveness when we turn to Him.  (Romans 8:31-32)

And what does it mean to be sanctified by faith?
Paul uses the example of Abraham in Romans 4:16-22.  Abraham placed his faith in the promise that he would be a father of many nations even though he and Sara had never had children.  His actions show that he was “fully persuaded” especially when he obediently took Isaac up to the top of the mountain.  His faith gave him the strength to be obedient even when obedience defied logic.  The sanctification came as he trusted God time after time with his life, his wife and his possessions.

"I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:” 
Deut 30:19

It's ok to change especially if you realize that your mission is taking you somewhere other than what you had planned.  Happiness is living your God-given mission.

Challenge:  Choose to leave Satan's influence by repenting of one sin today.

A Song about Turning

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