Christmas was over, and for the most part, Bill Peterson thought everything had gone quite well. With that behind him, he thought he should start thinking about what came next. That is what he was doing when Stella came stomping down the stairs. “Resolution #27” Bill thought to himself, “Make it so Stella can't stomp down the stairs.”
“What are you doing?” snapped, “Writing Christmas thank yous?” “Resolution # 28 remember to write Christmas thank yous before summer is over.” Bill thought to himself and then turning to Stella, he said “You know what time of the year it is.” “Oh, yeah.” Stella replied, “It's that time of year when you sit down and make a list of New Year resolutions.”
“So, have you started yours? Bill asked. “Yeah.” Stella answered, “I've started mine. Do you want to hear it?” “Sure” Bill said, “What do you have on your list?” “Well,” Stella said, “The first thing on my list is to make sure I always get even with Harold.” “What!?” Bill gasped. “The second thing on my list” Stella continued, “Is to torture Harold at every opportunity.”
“Hold it right there young lady.” Bill interrupted her, “That is not the way we are to treat people, not even Harold.” “Who said Harold was a person.” Stella started to argue. “Not only is he a person, he’s your brother.” Bill reminded Stella, “Well, I don’t care.” Stella said, “He deserves it. He never hesitates to make my life miserable so I’m going to make his twice as miserable.”
“Does than mean you plan to be twice as bad as him?” Bill asked “Nobody can be that bad.” Stella snorted. “Well,” Bill said, “If you treat Harold like you are planning to, you’ll have to become just like him.” “I never thought of that.” Stella sighed. “Besides,” Bill added, “I thought Harold has decided to change.” “If you believe that...” Stalla scoffed, “I have some lake front property to sell you in the desert.”
“You don’t believe Harold will change do you?” Bill asked. “Never in a million years.” Stella said, “He will always be the same. Rotten to the core.” “This time he said he was going to let Jesus change him” Bill said sticking up for Harold. “Yeah, right” Stella scoffed again, “Tell me another one.” “Well, “ Bill went on, “How many bad things has Harold done since the sleigh ride?”
“A hundred!” Stella said with confidence. “Well,” Bill Bill said, “What are they?” “Well, uh, uh, uh,”Stella stuttered, “I don’t know but he had to have done something wrong.” “I thought you just said he did a hundred things wrong.” Bill questioned, “Did you see him do a hundred things wrong?” “Well, he's Harold!” Stella snapped “He had to have done something wrong.”
“Sounds like you need to make some change.” Bill said. “You know.” Stella snapped, “I don’t have to stand here and listen to all this talk of Harold changing. I’m leaving,” and then back up the stairs Stella stomped mumbling under her breath, “I don't need to change. I'm already perfect.”
And Saul approved of his murder. That very day the church in Jerusalem began to suffer cruel persecution. All the believers, except the apostles, were scattered throughout the provinces of Judea and Samaria. Some devout men buried Stephen, mourning for him with loud cries. But Saul tried to destroy the church; going from house to house, he dragged out the believers, both men and women, and threw them into jail. Acts 8:1-3 (TEV)
Can God change a person? We nay think of Saul the persecutor but we think more often of Paul the persecuted. They are one in the same but what happened? Let's look at his story.
But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" And he said, "Who are you, Lord?" And he said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do." The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, "Here I am, Lord." And the Lord said to him, "Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened. For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, "He is the Son of God." And all who heard him were amazed and said, "Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?" But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ. And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple.
Acts 9:1-31 (ESV)
There is a little more to the story if you want to read it all but you can get the point, Saul changed but the people didn't believe it. He changed because God can change a person.
- Ezekiel 11:19 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, (ESV)
- 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (ESV)
- Titus 3:5 He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, (ESV)
Change can happen, it can happen for Harold, it could happen for Stella, and it can happen for us if we are willing to let Him.
Here's Something To Ponder
- Are you willing to let Jesus change you?
- Are you willing to accept the change Jesus makes in others?