Changed by Christ!
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - June 29, 2014
*In today's Scripture, Paul and his mission team were in the city of Philippi. They had been guided to this region by a God-given vision, and the people were responding to the good news about Jesus Christ.
*But then a young slave girl began to follow the team around. This woman was a fortune-teller by trade, and she was very persuasive, because she was possessed by an evil spirit. Verse 17 tells us that as she followed Paul's team, she cried out: "These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.''
*Of course that statement was true, but the Lord doesn't need any help from the devil. And partnership with evil is the last thing God wants for His church, because it makes evil seem good. It disguises evil, and makes it seem innocent, much like a wolf in sheep's clothing. Jesus warned us about that in Matthew 7:15. Partnership with evil also puts a stain on the cause of Christ. That is why in vs. 18, Paul cast out that evil spirit.
*With this background in mind, let's start reading in vs. 19, thinking about how God wants to change our lives.
*We generally don’t like change. As Mark Twain once said, “The only person who likes change is a wet baby.” (1)
*Many times we think of change as a bad thing, and most of the change going on these days is bad. But change can also be good, especially when it's a change made by God. The truth is that all of us need some changes in our lives, and Jesus can give us the changes we need. Jesus Christ wants to change us! And today's Scripture shows us how.
1. First: The Lord wants to give us salvation.
*This Philippian jailer was saved! -- He was saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And if you have never trusted in the Lord, He wants to save you the same way. But let's take a closer look at how the Lord touched the jailer's life.
 First, Jesus touched his life with a crisis.
*We see this truth in vs. 26&27, where:
26. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed.
27. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself.
*That was because if the prisoners escaped, their punishment fell on the jailer. This was a real crisis for that jailer, and many times God will use a crisis to get our attention. You may be wondering why something bad happened, and often it's a mystery. But sometimes God is trying to break through a wall of indifference in our heart. And Church: We need to be sensitive to people going through a tough time, because that may open the door for us to tell them about Jesus.
*In 1912, John Harper of Glasgow, Scotland was the newly called pastor of Moody Church in Chicago, so he headed to America with his 6-year-old daughter, Nina, and her Aunt Jessie. John's wife had died when Nina was born.
*They were all excited to be on the maiden voyage of the greatest ocean liner ever built, -- the Titanic. When the ship hit the iceberg, Nina was saved in lifeboat number 11, sitting on her aunt's lap. Her daddy gave his lifejacket away, stayed with the ship, and began to witness to anybody who would listen. Pastor John was one of the 1,522 people who died that night.
*Four years later, a man at a church meeting in Hamilton, Canada gave this testimony: "I am a survivor of the Titanic. When I was drifting alone on a spar that awful night, the tide brought Mr. Harper of Glasgow, also on a piece of the wreck, near me. 'Man,' he said, 'are you saved?' 'No,' I said, 'I am not.' He replied, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.'
*The waves bore him away, but, strange to say, brought him back a little later, and he said, 'Are you saved now?' 'No,' I said, 'I cannot honestly say that I am.' He said again, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved!' Shortly after that he went down, and there, alone in the night, with two miles of water under me, I believed. . ." (2)
 In order to save us, God sometimes touches us with a crisis. -- And He touches us with a Christian.
*We see this truth in vs. 28, where Paul called out to the jailer with a loud voice, and said: "Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.''
*In the jailer's life, it was Paul and Silas. For the young man on the Titanic, it was John Harper. Who touched your life for the Lord Jesus Christ? Thank God for that person right now! And make up your mind that you will allow God to use you to touch somebody for Jesus.
 In order to save us, Jesus touches us with a Christian. -- And He touches us with conviction.
*We see the jailer's great conviction in vs. 29&30. There:
29. . . He called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.
30. And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?''
*You will never be saved until you come under conviction that you need to be saved.
 In order to save us, God touches us with conviction. -- And most of all, God touches us with the cross.
*Paul and Silas remind us of this truth in vs. 31, where they told the jailer: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.'' Then in vs. 32: "They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house."
*Paul and Silas told them all about Jesus Christ, about His sacrificial death on the cross, and His resurrection from the dead. They told them about the Lord's salvation, and how we can have a relationship with God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ.
*They told those people about turning to Jesus, and trusting in Him. And in vs. 34, everybody in that house did put their trust in the Lord. That's how they were saved, and that's how you can be saved today!
*Talk about a great change! Jesus wants to give us His salvation.
2. He also wants to give us a sympathetic heart.
*Jesus Christ wants to give us a heart that cares about other people, especially hurting people. Jesus wants to give us the kind of sympathy the jailer showed in vs. 33. There he took Paul and Silas "the same hour of the night and washed their stripes."
*What a change! Just a few hours before, the jailer had no sympathy whatsoever for Paul and Silas. He was quite content to throw them into the worst part of the prison, locking their feet in painful stocks.
*Back then, the jailer's only concern was making sure they didn't get away. But God changed him! The jailer believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, and he was saved. God changed his heart, and now he cared. That's why in vs. 33 he washed their horrible wounds.
God wants to change our lives. He wants to take away our selfishness, and give us sympathy for other people.
*In 1996, Readers Digest told the story of a young cancer patient named Katie Fisher. When Katie was 17, she entered the Junior Livestock Sale in Madison County, Ohio. Katie was hoping that her lamb would get a good price, because she had been battling cancer for months, with many chemo treatments and stays in the hospital.
*Before the lamb went on sale, Auctioneer Roger Wilson told the audience about Katie's condition. He hoped his introduction would push the price above the average of $2 per pound. It did, by a lot! Katie's lamb sold for $11.50 a pound.
*But then, the buyer gave it back, and asked the auctioneer to sell it again. That started a chain reaction. People bought that lamb over and over again; then gave it back for re-sale. They ended up selling Katie's lamb 36 times that day, and they raised more than $16,000 to help pay for her medical expenses. (3)
*I don't know if all of those people were Christians, but no doubt some of them were, and that was a Christian thing to do. It's the kind of thing God wants us to be doing more and more in life.
*Christ wants us to have compassion for suffering people because that's the way He cares for us. He wants to give us a sympathetic heart.
3. But the Lord also wants to give us a submissive heart, a submissive, obedient heart.
*The newly saved jailer was submissive to the Savior. He wanted to be obedient to Jesus, and that's why the jailer was baptized. Again in vs. 33, "He took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized."
*Those baptisms were acts of obedience from people who were already saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. The jailer and his family did not get baptized in order to be saved. They got baptized, because they already were saved.
*My mentor, Pastor Herman Savoie, made a great point years ago when he said: "If the jailer needed to be baptized in order to be saved, then he surely would have been baptized before he washed their stripes."
*Christians: We are baptized because of what has already taken place. Baptism is a public witness of the salvation we have already received by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. We are also baptized because Jesus told us to be baptized, and we want to be obedient. The Lord wants to give us a submissive, obedient heart.
4. He also wants to give us a serving heart.
*This newly saved jailer was happy to serve the Lord by serving other people. We already saw this in vs. 33, when he washed Paul and Silas' stripes. And now vs. 34 says: "When he had brought them into his house, he set food before them."
*The jailer was happy to serve. He was eager to serve the Lord any way he could! And as we have finished a week of VBS, I can't thank God enough for how the people in our church step up to serve the Lord! As long as we are in this world, there will be ways for us to serve the Lord. And Jesus wants to give us a serving heart.
5. He also wants to give us a satisfied heart.
*The saved jailer was satisfied with the Savior. He rejoiced in His salvation! Again in vs. 34: "Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household."
*That word "rejoiced" has the great word picture of someone jumping for joy, much jumping for joy! Sometimes as Christians we do get down, but the Lord wants to renew our strength and restore our joy.
*You may feel pretty worthless right now, but Chuck Swindoll reminds Christians how valuable we really are. Chuck said that common items can rise to the level of almost priceless, when they are "connected with someone powerful or famous. . ."
*And Dr. Swindoll asked: "Would you pay $21,000 for an old, plaque encrusted toothbrush? -- Someone did, because it was Napoleon's toothbrush. Hitler's personal car sold for over $150,000. Winston Churchill's desk, a pipe owned by C. S. Lewis, sheets of music handwritten by Beethoven, and many other items sold for many times their original value. Years ago, Sotheby's auctioned the belongings of Jackie Kennedy Onassis. Jackie's fake pearls, not real ones, sold for $211,500. JFK's set of old golf clubs went for $772,500.
*Exorbitant value was given to ordinary things, because they belonged to someone important. And I would like to remind you," Swindoll said. "You may be common, or you may feel common, but you, my Christian friend, belong to someone famous and powerful -- Jesus! Jesus, who is God, owns you. And because you belong to Jesus, you are infinitely more valuable than you ever would be without him. You are precious and priceless, so rejoice in the Lord!" (4)
*Beatrice Plum reported something else to boost our joy. It was the story of a little girl who came home from Sunday School. Her grandmother asked her how many had been in her class that day. And her granddaughter replied, "There were 15 of us, -- counting Jesus." (5)
*Rejoice in the Lord, Christians! -- He is here with us and in us this morning. And Jesus wants to change our lives in all kinds of remarkable ways. But it all starts with salvation. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. . ."
*You can call on the Lord to save you right now, as we go to God in prayer.
(1) Original source unknown
(2) Adapted from SermonCentral sermon "A New Year's Resolution to Keep" by Aaron Burgess - Matthew 28:19, and "It Will Be Beautiful in the Morning" - September 30 - Today's Suggested Reading: Acts 16:20–33 - Source: "From This Verse" by Robert J. Morgan - Thomas Nelson Publishers
(3) Sources: "BIDDING FROM THE HEART" - Reader's Digest - January 1996 - p. 88 - Source: http://www.churchchrist.net/Sermons/Love.htm - Also see SermonCentral sermon "When the Jailhouse Rocks" by David DeWitt - Acts 16:20-34
(4) Adapted from "The Common Becomes Priceless" from "The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart" by Charles Swindoll - p. 300 - Source: http://www.churchchrist.net/Sermons/Jesus.htm
(5) Adapted from "Counting Jesus" by Beatrice Plum in "Christian Herald" - Source: http://www.churchchrist.net/Sermons/Jesus.htm