The Church Alive: Living to Learn
We will be discussing the elements that bring a Church to life.  This is the single most significant aspect of Church life and cannot be overlooked. The fundamental concepts that we will be discussing are very basic, but like any foundation, if it is not firmly established it may crumble under the pressure and stress that the building places on it. 
Living to Learn
As followers of Christ we recognize that we will continually be challenged to conform to the image of Christ.  This is something that is very unnatural for anyone.  As we lean on God’s Word we will begin to learn about who God is, who we are in light of who he is, and what He is accomplishing within us. In other words, the life of a follower of Christ is wrapped up in learning who we are in him.  That is what brings true living.  The Christian is always living to learn.
What is a Learner?
A learner is someone (especially a child) who learns (as from a teacher) or takes up knowledge or beliefs.
Young children have an innate characteristic. Simply put they have an insatiable desire for knowledge. From the moment of birth children begin a quest for knowledge that surpasses adults. They actually are living to learn. They must learn the basic fundamentals of life: how to eat, walk, communicate their needs, and to be a member of society. In many of us that voracious desire becomes dormant.  Salvation awakes the childlike nature we all possess and compels us to become learners of a new way, God’s way. Living a life surrendered to God and transformed by His Word leads to learning more about self, family, and friends in light of God’s deeper desires…true life comes from learning about who God has creating us to become.
Brief History of the Apostle Paul
Saul was born about the same time as our Lord. His circumcision-name was Saul, and probably the name Paul was also given to him in infancy "for use in the Gentile world," as "Saul" would be his Hebrew home name. He was a native of Tarsus, the capital of Cilicia, a Roman province in the southeast of Asia Minor. That city stood on the banks of the river Cydnus, which was navigable thus far; hence it became a center of extensive commercial traffic with many countries along the shores of the Mediterranean, as well as with the countries of central Asia Minor. It thus became a city distinguished for the wealth of its inhabitants.
Tarsus was also the seat of a famous university, higher in reputation even than the universities of Athens and Alexandria, the only others that then existed. Here Saul was born, and here he spent his youth, doubtless enjoying the best education his native city could afford. His father was of the straightest sect of the Jews, a Pharisee, of the tribe of Benjamin, of pure and unmixed Jewish blood (Act_23:6; Phi_3:5). We learn nothing regarding his mother; but there is reason to conclude that she was a pious woman, and that, like-minded with her husband, she exercised all a mother influence in molding the character of her son, so that he could afterwards speak of himself as being, from his youth up, "touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless" (Phi_3:6).
We read of his sister and his sister's son (Act_23:16), and of other relatives (Rom_16:7, Rom_16:11, Rom_16:12). Though a Jew, his father was a Roman citizen. How he obtained this privilege we are not informed. "It might be bought, or won by distinguished service to the state, or acquired in several other ways; at all events, his son was freeborn. It was a valuable privilege, and one that was to prove of great use to Paul, although not in the way in which his father might have been expected to desire him to make use of it." Perhaps the most natural career for the youth to follow was that of a merchant. " But it was decided that... he should go to college and become a rabbi, that is, a minister, a teacher, and a lawyer all in one." According to Jewish custom, however, he learned a trade before entering on the more direct preparation for the sacred profession. The trade he acquired was the making of tents from goats' haircloth, a trade that was one of the most common in Tarsus.
When his preliminary education having been completed, Saul was sent, when about thirteen years of age, to the great Jewish school of sacred learning in Jerusalem.  He was a student of the law. Here he became a pupil of the celebrated rabbi Gamaliel, and here he spent many years in an elaborate study of the Scriptures and of the many questions concerning them with which the rabbis exercised themselves. During these years of diligent study he lived "in all good conscience," unstained by the vices of that great city.
After the period of his student-life expired, he probably left Jerusalem for Tarsus, where he may have been engaged in connection with some synagogue for some years. But we find him back again at Jerusalem very soon after the death of our Lord. Here he now learned the particulars regarding the crucifixion, and the rise of the new sect of the "Nazarenes."
For some two years after Pentecost, Christianity was quietly spreading its influence in Jerusalem. At length Stephen, one of the seven deacons, gave forth more public and aggressive testimony that Jesus was the Messiah, and this led to much excitement among the Jews and much disputation in their synagogues. Persecution arose against Stephen and the followers of Christ generally, in which Saul of Tarsus took a prominent part. He was at this time probably a member of the great Sanhedrin, and became the active leader in the furious persecution by which the rulers then sought to exterminate Christianity. But the object of this persecution also failed. " They that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word." The anger of the persecutor was thereby kindled into a fiercer flame. Hearing that fugitives had taken refuge in Damascus, he obtained from the chief priest letters authorizing him to proceed thither on his persecuting career. This was a long journey of about 130 miles, which would occupy perhaps six days, during which, with his few attendants, he steadily went onward, "breathing out threat and slaughter." But the crisis of his life was at hand. He had reached the last stage of his journey, and was within sight of Damascus. As he and his companions rode on, suddenly at mid-day a brilliant light shone round them, and Saul was laid prostrate in terror on the ground, a voice sounding in his ears, "Saul, Saul, why persecute me?" The risen Savior was there, clothed in the vesture of his glorified humanity. In answer to the anxious inquiry of the stricken persecutor, "Who art thou, Lord?" he said, "I am Jesus whom you persecute" (Act_9:5; Act_22:8; Act_26:15).
Galatians 1:11-24 
11 I want you to know, brothers and sisters that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. 17 I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus. 18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. 20 I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.  21 Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. 22 I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they praised God because of me.
Three Elements of a Learner 
Learner of God’s Word – Study
Phylacteries - Study
SPECIAL DRESS OF THE PHARISEES The Pharisees in their religious garb took two articles of dress, which were worn by other Jews and emphasized them in a special way until they became their distinctive apparel. One of these was the phylactery. It was a little box of metal, or bands of parchment, which was fastened to the hand or forehead by straps. It contained passages of Scripture referring to the Passover and the redemption of the first-born from Egypt. The custom was based on certain Scriptural admonitions (Exodus 13:9, 16). And the Jews still bind them upon their arms and foreheads. The other special feature of the Pharisees' dress was the blue fringes placed at the corners of the mantle, as the law of Moses commanded (Numbers 15:37,38; Deuteronomy 22:12). The Pharisees had unusually broad phylacteries, and very long fringes (Matthew 23:5). It was for this proud use of these things without an appreciation of their value, that JESUS condemned them so severely.[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands] 
Learner of God’s Ways – Prayer
1 Thessalonians 5:16-19
New International Version (NIV)
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Learner of God’s Will – Obedience
1 Thessalonians 5:16-19
New International Version (NIV)
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
If Paul, one of the most influential, spirit lead, men during the early church, needed time to learn to hear God’s words, pray to God for direction, and discern God’s Will he can serve as a great example for each of us. 
How would living an authentic life devoted to learning to be more like Christ every day change your lifestyle? 
Are you living to learn more about Him each day? Why or Why not? 
How could or does your life reflect the image of God?  Does it reflect Him more today than a year ago?  If it does, is this an indication that you are living to learn? 
What can you do today that will help you become a person that is Living to Learn?