Posted by: pastormikemcdowell | January 21, 2015

January 21, 2015 “Public Sinner Number One”

 “Here’s a word you can take to heart and depend on: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. I’m proof—Public Sinner Number One—of someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy” (1 Timothy 1: 15).

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Good Morning Great Friends!

When I was growing up, I used to watch a lot of Saturday morning cartoon shows…(come on, admit it…many of you did, too)! Quite often they would depict some outlaw described as “Public Enemy #1”.  As I read this passage from 1 Timothy, I became a little curious about the term and found this definition: “Public enemy is a term which was first widely used in the United States in the 1930’s to describe individuals whose activities were seen as criminal and extremely damaging to society, though the phrase had been used for centuries to describe pirates and similar outlaws. The phrase was later appropriated by J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, who used it to describe various notorious fugitives they were pursuing throughout the 1930’s.” Usually, the most notorious of these figures was classified as “Public Enemy #1. Among the criminals whom the FBI called “public enemies” were John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, Bonnie and Clyde, , Pretty Boy Floyd, Machine Gun Kelly, Ma Barker, and Alvin Karpis

To my knowledge, none of these criminals ever became a paragon of virtue. Most of them came to a deadly end, hunted down and killed by law enforcement officers who pursued them relentlessly. Hundreds of years before, another self-described “Public Sinner Number One” was on the loose and being pursued, not by law enforcement agents intent on killing him, but by Almighty God, intent on transforming him. His name was Saul, and he had made it his life’s mission to eradicate this new cult,the people of “The Way”…followers of Jesus Christ. Little did he realize that he was the one being pursued by Christ! He, who came to understand that he was, in fact, “Public Sinner #1”, was, by the grace of God, transformed into a spiritual dynamo whose ministry would spread the Word of the Cross throughout the world…its impact still felt to this day. He was, by the power of the Holy Spirit, made holy, set apart for God’s purpose and God’s glory, not by his own will, but by the will of his pursuer. On his own, he never would have accomplished what he did. God gets all the credit.

God is still the pursuer of the human heart. It is He and He alone who has the power to initiate and complete such an astounding transformation in a person’s life. Theologian Ian Thomas noted,

“The moment you come to realize that only God can make a man godly, you are left with no option but to find God, and to know God, and to let God be God in and through you.”   

Saul (Paul), thought he was “godly” in his persecution of this new Christian cult. It was not until he truly came to know God that he saw and understood his sinful human condition and the amazing transforming power of God’s grace and mercy. We all come into this world as “Public Sinner #1”, but by God’s grace, the moment you come to realize that fact and start running towards God and not away from God, you will understand what it means to be holy. Let’s pray!

Almighty Lord; Because of Your great love for me, You have pursued me all my life, that I might turn from sin and turn towards Your amazing grace. Transform me, Lord, that I might become an instrument of Your peace, redeemed and restored to that which You have created me to be. This I pray in Jesus’ Blessed Name. Amen!

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