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March 27, 2022 3:00 am
Paul was a man of conviction and character; he was in submission to his Lord Jesus.
Paul was the right man for the job.
Paul had grit. He was unwavering.
How to overcome discouragement:
Sharing our hope
God’s revealed will is found in scripture:
It is not if we will suffer, but when we will suffer.
It is also what we will do with our sufferings.
The greatest thing we can do with our suffering is to use it for God’s glory.
Paul served people because Jesus laid that foundation.
Paul went from a persecutor of the church to being persecuted for the church.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11)
1 Thessalonians 4:3
1 Peter 2:15
1 Peter 4:19
1 Peter 4:1–3
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Hey there, thanks for listening to the Greg Laurie podcast, a ministry supported by harvest partners on Greg Laurie encouraging you if you want to find out more about harvest ministries.
To learn more about how to become a harvest partner, just go to harvest.org and today we are can be looking at acts chapter 21 and 22 my message title if you like to take notes. It's a good idea to do that is overcoming discouragement, overcoming discouragement a few years ago I was out swimming on a pretty good size day there some good waves good sized waves out there. And this particular day I decided I wasn't going to go in body surf or surf like I normally did. I was going to go and take out my camera. I have a camera that has a water housing that goes inside of and I decide I was good to go take my camera rig out there and get some cool photos of some barrels and some surfers and stuff.
And for those of you that have ever gone and swam with one of these water housings you know just how cumbersome they are. It's it's really difficult to get out there and so especially when the waves are big.
It's interesting because the camera rig that in the housing. It's really heavy and so when you're swimming with it out of the water. It's heavy and it's kind of difficult to swim with, I would. It's under the water. It's extremely buoyant so it's actually not wanting to go very deep, so the buoyancy got that going and then it is the exact opposite of being hydrodynamic. This thing is shaped like a cinderblock okay so it's it's hard to swim with okay just leave it at that. And this day as I was cut out taken photos. You can have to be an interesting area to take photos and and be close to where the waves breaking sticking up for yourself in the danger zone a little bit and as I was taking photos I noticed that on the shore. There was a girl that looks like she was getting ready to come out and swim into the surf and right away I knew this girl had no business coming out into the ocean this day.
In particular, she wasn't wearing any fins which is a red flag. She wasn't wearing the right kind of paving suit.
She looked like she was just going for a dip and you know cheap. She probably did know a whole lot about the ocean but I see her kinda wall often waved her way into the water get to about waist deep and I just know that this is going to be trouble. So I asked to start calling out her like hey hey you need to go ahead. The waves are really big today.
You need to go in your you're not suited for this and now I obviously am risking looking like a jerk here right like oh I'm judging this girls ability to swim. The fact is lifeguards you guys that are lifeguards and anybody that lives over in Hawaii where there is big surf. You know that you have to do this you have to size up somebody's ability to go to the ocean because the fact is they're putting themselves and others in danger, so sure enough, this girl, she doesn't listen to what I'm saying is you probably things I'm just some jerk guy, you know, trying to make her feel bad will sure enough she comes out. She's now I'm seeing her and she swimming out into the surf zone and she's dog paddling. Okay, this is not this is not good. There's rip currents out there it's sucking people way out.
You gotta be able to fight and get your way in and I see her swimming to an area right know that there's some rocks. Nelson over there some some submerged stuff underwater that she is just in a bad spot so I start you know what I don't care anymore I'm swimming over tour and I'm like I'm been a really tell her hey you need to go in. I'm not trying to be me. This is not safe for you and so I knew that she was in over her head so I swam over to her as I'm swimming over tour a set on the horizon stacks up and it starts coming through and I go a whole boy this is good to be bad. Sure enough, right as I get is no maybe about 10 feet away from her.
The wave breaks right on top of her head pushes her down Shiite. You know I pop up right awakes. I dive down properly and I come up the back.
I don't see her and that she pops up about six seconds later about 30 yards further in towards the towards the beach and at this time. I realize okay I think she learned her lesson. She is now walking back in very defeated going back to shore, but I don't know about you but sometimes we know something that is not obvious to other people. It's it's easy for us to to sometimes see something that others are not seeing and it's hard to communicate that. Honestly, I don't really care if some you know that thing is really important. I don't care if I'm coming off polite, because if I'm trying to shove you out of the way of a speeding car get out of the rotors a train coming get all you know got the train tracks get out of the building owners car flyby. I don't care if you think I'm a jerk in the moment. I want to save your life. I want to help you, because you can't be mad at me if you want to live. For starters, right, and so when we see people doing something that we know they shouldn't be doing. It can be hard it can be hard to say things the right way can be hard to let them know you're trying to look out for their best interests. Sometimes we know something to be 100% true. And it is not obvious to other people and to them what we are saying makes absolutely no sense is that ever happened to you if you ever experience that you know something that is true in your sharing was on me that they don't know to be true and they don't really believe you, there's not really anything you can say to make them believe we rephrase that, how many of your parents right don't touch the stove son is high due to burn yourself reach of the hand towards us. All they want to experience it for themselves.
Sometimes, you can't prevent that will that sentiment of knowing that you know you know you know was experienced by the apostle Paul and our text today. The apostle Paul, in my opinion is the greatest example of a Christian ever recorded.
A. Without question, in my opinion I think that he is just he is the man the adversity he faced the challenges that he went through the boldness and the grit and the toughness that he had and an showcase to everybody around him. He is a remarkable man, no question. He was a man of conviction. He was a man of character.
He was a man ultimately in submission to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in our book that were studying been going over for the last few months the book of acts. The chapters 13 to 28. Over half of the book is primarily focused on the ministry. The conversion and the life of the apostle Paul talks about his three missionary journeys. His ministry companions the miracles God did through him the reception of the gospel to these pagan wicked cities that Paul preached and it was clear that Paul was the right man for the job Jesus works Ananias when Paul was converted in acts chapter 9. Jesus himself said these works Ananias he said go to Paul for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings to the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name Paul he suffered a lot. He did a lot of crazy things he experienced a lot of crazy things but he did it for God's glory. And he did it because he was in submission to Jesus. So now as we move into act 21 were going to see is that Paul's ability to travel across the ancient world is a free man would soon be coming to a close and it wasn't because he was ambushed, but is because he was faithful to the call the Lord Jesus had placed upon him and the Holy Spirit had given to him.
That is why Paul was ultimately arrested. He was being obedient to God is not because there was a riot that took place was because he went preached something that people didn't agree with his because he was being obedient to Jesus as he went to Jerusalem and we will see the Paul was obedient, even if it meant imprisonment, even if it meant beatings, even if it meant persecution and certain death. So it's read together in acts chapter 21 starting in verse one we give you a quick verse for contacts as we jump in here in acts 20 verse 16 says a Paul decided to set sail on past Ephesus, for he didn't want to spend any more time in the province of Asia he was hurrying.
We are told to get to Jerusalem if possible, in time for the festival of Pentecost.
Okay so now we know Paul is heading to Jerusalem and so we picked the story up in acts 21 starting in verse one and will be imparted from them and set sail. We came by a straight course to cause in the next day to Rhodes and from there to Pantera, having found a ship crossing to Phoenicia we won aboard and set sail and will become insight of Cyprus leaving on the left.
We sailed to Syria and landed it's higher for their the ship was to unload its cargo and having sought out the disciples. We stayed there for seven days and through the spirit they were telling Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.
Verse five when her days there were, and we departed, we went on our journey and they all with wives and children accompanied accompanied us until we were outside the city, and kneeling down on the beach. We prayed and said farewell to one another, then we went on board the ship and they returned home with Vic. The story of skip down to verse 10 with me here. We now see that Paul left tire and he went to La Mesa and then Caesarea by the sea and that's where we see him now in verse 10. While we were staying there in Caesarea for many days. A prophet named Agnes came down from Judea and he came to us and he took Paul's belt, and he bound his own feet in his hands and he said thus says the Holy Spirit. This is how the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles, while we heard this we and the people there urged him not to go to Jerusalem. Paul answered. What are you doing weeping and breaking my heart, for I am not only ready to be imprisoned, but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. While let's pause there. I want to reach you a more modern interpretation of modern translation of Paul's words here was he was he was challenged by Agnes told by Agnes and the believers there if you go to Jerusalem you're facing certain imprisonment. You will be handed over to the Gentiles. Paul said why all this hysteria. Why do you insist on making a scene and making it even harder for me. Listen, you're looking at this all backward. The issue in Jerusalem is not what they do to me, whether arrest or murder, but with the Master Jesus does through my obedience. Can't you see that here we see Paul's conviction on display.
We see his obedience to his CO his commanding officer on display. We see that he is listening. He is willing to do whatever it takes to be obedient to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ known times past, we saw determination. We saw courage.
We saw bravery we saw guts we saw dedication in the face of adversity had a word for that and I think we we've come a loss that somewhat today. That word is great grit. Paul had gripped he was unwavering. He had an enlistment from the Lord Jesus himself and Paul was not about to shrink back from it. He knew would face him in Jerusalem, but he also knew that he wanted to be obedient to his Lord about to read this passage and just been blown away by Paul's ability to follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit. This note, Paul being called to go back to Jerusalem and to go there. It would be like us feeling called by God to go to Iran right now and to go preached all of the political leaders in Iran in their Leno in their political offices. Okay, that would probably not be a great idea for us to go there and do that because we are going to be attacked were to be imprisoned were to be persecuted for our faith. I think of you and I felt that way we would probably just associate that we would will conclude that what that file actually was was maybe like a bad breakfast Preet or something you know I'm in a just chalk that one up to a food poisoning right. I don't think that's for me now will I don't want the Holy Spirit to lead me into persecution into the face of hardship.
I gotta say, I'm so attracted to help Paul so clearly into with God's spirit and God's will for his life and this brings us to our first point today. Number one obedience number one obedience, Paul's life was filled with suffering.
It was filled with suffering. It was filled with beatings and imprisonment. He was abandoned.
He was rejected he was slandered. He had multiple murder attempts made on his life and so how did Paul overcome suffering. How did Paul overcome discouragement or message title today number one. He was obedient. Obedience, we reach you versus 22 to 24 in acts 20 we see a little snapshot a little insight into Paul's mindset.
Here we read this there is another urgency before me. Now I feel compelled to go to Jerusalem and I'm not completely in the dark about what will happen to me when I get there. Paul says I do know that it will be any picnic for the Holy Spirit is let me know repeatedly and clearly that there is suffering, and imprisonment ahead, but that matters little. The apostle says what matters most to me is to finish what God started the job that Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone I meet. Know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God while Paul says it matters little. It matters little. Paul was a man on a mission.
He knew suffering was in store, but that didn't deter him. That didn't discouragement. He wanted to be obedient to his master, and so we see Paul being directed by the Holy Spirit and a very specific way in a very clear way and we ask ourselves how do we like Paul experienced the same thing. How do we experience direction. How do we experience that resolve that grit that the apostle had so clearly in a word, obedience. We are to be obedience. Now we think that Paul is some kind of spiritual robot righteous the spiritual juggernaut able to just go and accomplish all the God of supper for him not experiencing any emotion or doubt or concern, but we know that this is actually not true. Paul experienced tremendous discouragement he experienced depression. He expressed all kinds of emotions but Paul chose to not submit to himself or to his emotions or to outside influences. He chose to submit to his Lord Jesus we see fit.
Throughout the Bible, God has a plan for our lives is a purpose for our lives. He is a will, a desire for our lives.
That is truly the best thing for us, just as he did for the apostle Paul thousands of years ago. No so often. As a pastor I receive questions from people and one of the primary questions I get asked from people is is this God's will for my life. What should I do here what is God's will for my life. Who should I marry, should I take this job over, you know, out of state and pick up my family leave should I move should I sell my house right now, so my wife and I try no in vitro fertilization. Where should I live one is the right time to try and buy a house.
Is this a good time to buy a car. Once God's will four-wheel-drive her previous think right now would probably be a good time to be a previous owner of gas prices in another Chick-fil-A people ask all kinds of questions they really do want to know what is God's will for my life.
How do I know the specific will of God in my life.
These are all super important questions honestly. But I would say to you the before God reveals his specific will for your life, you need to make sure you are following the revealed will of God in your life.
The revealed will of God, which is found all over his word all over the Bible. Think of it this way.
If you are in a parking lot and you punch in the destination of Roy going on your phone in your maps app you're trying get your destination gets a navigation driver somewhere you don't know how to get to one of the first things that your phone will tell you to do is get to a road get to a road and then once you get to a road. It will tell you which way to turn it can't tell you what's in the parking lot because a lot of times your maps app doesn't know what's in the parking lots.
I can sell you all drive straight for 500 feet you might driving to the grocery store so it's saying usually get to a road that's kind of like what God does with us. Hey, before I reveal my specific will for your life, you need to get to a road get to a road of God's general revealed will, which is found in Scripture. I compiled a couple of really quick ones that will help you know what is God's will for your life here. Here's a few I will put these up on the screen says this first Thessalonians 434 this is the will of God, your sanctification that you abstain from sexual immorality.
Luke 923 Jesus said if anyone would come up after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. First Peter 215 for this is the will of God, that by doing good. You should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.
Ephesians 515 to 20 says. Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the spirit addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and everything to God the father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. These are just a few quick examples of what God's will is for your life revealed in Scripture.
You want to know God's unique will is for you who you should marry, what kind of car you drive, where you should go to college, etc. make sure you're following the revealed will of God in Scripture that's with the apostle Paul did they read this last one to you the might shake your world up a little bit first Peter 419. Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will and trust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing so.
Trust God while you suffer. I know there are some that are watching now that are suffering you are experiencing suffering you're going through something difficult, and I know that there's some who would like to know what is the secret to avoid all suffering right all hardship, all difficulty all pain I don't want to experience those things. I don't want to go to that. What can I do to never have that in my life while I'm sorry to tell you but I've come to believe that suffering is part of God's will for your life. That's right. I believe that suffering is part of God's plan for our lives. You see suffering it purifies us at least closer to God. It removes all other options from the table when we are looking for relief because your investments in the stock market. The car you drive, how much money you have in the bank, your college education. Your wife's beauty that drug experience, you may be looking forward to all of those things will not bring you hope when you're facing true suffering may give you relief they make, they may give you distraction for a moment, but so quickly.
It is clear they are not the answer. So our prayer should not be that God would prevent us from suffering because we just read that suffering is part of God's will and first Peter 419 know our prayer needs to be the God would give us a purpose in our suffering, our prayer needs to be the God would be near to us in our suffering and he would give us the endurance, the faith, the strength and the perspective to endure suffering. Peter said in first Peter 413 since Jesus went through everything the you're going through and more. Learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning away from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way is good stuff.
And then you'll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants. Instead of being tyrannized by what you want. I love this verse.
Writer you've already put in your time and that God ignorant way of life partying night after night, a drunken and prolific it life. Now it's the time to be done with it for good. I know that verse was for somebody there. Think of your sufferings is a weaning away from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Yes, suffering can be a tool suffering can be part of God's will for our lives. The apostle Paul said in Romans five we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who is been given to us for while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for us so it's clear that it is not.
If we will suffer.
But when we will suffer and what we will do with our sufferings. I read a book a while back about a gentleman is a was Victor Frankel, and the books title is man's search for meaning no Frankel was not a believer. He was not a Christian but he did believe in God. He was a Jew and what makes his story so unique and interesting is that Frankel was a Jew in Nazi Germany during World War II and being a Jew, he was sent away to the concentration camp Auschwitz word thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of Jews were murdered just for it because they were Jewish just because of their bloodline and Frankel reported many of the things that he experience in many of the things that he saw firsthand as a psychiatrist as a doctor and he reported on a number of them talking about how suffering had an effect on mankind and what it did, this horrific suffering and he said this and I quote, we must never forget that we may also find meaning in life, even when confronted with a hopeless situation when facing a fate that cannot be changed for what then matters is to bear witness to the uniquely human potential at its best, which is to transform a personal tragedy into a triumph to turn one's predicament into a human achievement when we are no longer able to change a situation we are challenged to change ourselves. While is really profound. I would concur with Dr. Franklin I would add that when we place our hope in God and not look at our suffering is something to escape or to endure, but to grow from and to help others. In spite of that is when our suffering ceases to be suffering and that weight becomes a wing. The greatest thing we can do with our suffering is to glorify God with it. In the midst of our suffering in the midst of our pain glorify God in that time, you can use it as a catalyst for tremendous spiritual growth is a bridge to speak of your hope when your nonbelieving coworkers ask you, how are you dealing with the cancer of your husband, how are you dealing with the disability of a child to speak of true hope that God gives you will blow people out of the water. This is not something that Juergen have to manufacture parts and oh yeah, God, you know, this is great. Every things great.
My life is so happy and I have these terrible things happen to me now of course not.
But God is going to give you what you need in those times were told in Scripture.
The God is near to the brokenhearted, you better believe that those who are experiencing those things experiencing those hardships, God is there with you and you will not have to fake anything you will be able to speak out of a a deep well of experience and spiritual truth.
You'll be able to share that with people us on something Juergen have to manufacture and is you do that is going to bless you and return being obedient to what God has called you to to speak of the true hope that God gives you suffering reminds us of three things three things that can be an encouragement to us. We are going to suffering reminds us, the state of our fallen world, reminds the state of our fallen world of this world is not our home.
This world is in fact going to come to a and someday reminds us that God is working in us. Suffering is an opportunity for spiritual growth. God is working in us and lastly the world is not our final home suffering reminds us of these things Paul says in Romans 818 for I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. So number one if you want to overcome difficulty if you want to overcome suffering number one be obedient, be obedient to what God has given to you to overcome discouragement, we ought to be obedient to God, and committed to God as our foundation.
Let's continue reading the verse 19 fax 21 Paul is numb come to Jerusalem. He's met with the leaders in the church there in Jerusalem and we see that we pick our story appear in verse 19 he says after greeting them. He related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. And when they heard it. The glorify God and they said to him you see brother how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed and they are all zealous for the law and here's where it gets a little bit discouraging again for Paul. He just reported all these amazing things just talk about the work that God did across the ancient world. And yes, they celebrated with them, but was also mixed with a concern. Verse 21. They been told about you and all you teach the Jews who were among the Gentiles to forsake Moses telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs.
What then is to be done, they will certainly hear that you have come due.
Therefore, what we tell you we found foreman for under eval.
Take these men and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads. Thus, all will know that there is nothing in what you they have been told about you but what you yourself also live in observance of the law.
So what happened here was there's a false rumor that is spread about Paul. This warm reception.
The Paul was given by the church leaders in Jerusalem, headed up by James the very half-brother of Jesus. They praise God for what happened and and and they were blown away to hear these wonderful reports Paul.
He been meticulous in his report, he would've been meticulous in his account of all that God had done all over the world and Paul also brought with him a sizable gift and offering taken up from all the churches to bring back to the believers in Jerusalem. But Paul's warm reception. As I mentioned, was mixed with concern. Heretical group who Paul calls the Judaizers had spread false rumors about Paul that he was telling the Jewish people abroad that they no longer had to follow the teachings of Moses, that they no longer should follow the customs of the Jewish people and they no longer had to adhere to the ritual valves of the Jewish faith observing feasts, following Sabbath regulations dietary restrictions circumcision now while this was not Paul's message. He deftly did not preach against those things.
Hit a larger goal. He wanted to preach the whole gospel to the whole world.
The Judaizers convinced back in Jerusalem.
The new Christians. The Jewish believers there and many of those that were in the church that Paul was an enemy of the faith, and that Paul was a heretic and he needed to be stopped, and the church leadership in Jerusalem. They knew these rumors were false and so they were trying to find a solution here, so they decided Paul.
The way the you could prove to everybody that you are not this man that there saying that you are you are not a heretic you're not saying to stop doing these things. Here's a solution going to the temple, presents an offering to the temple priest for the four men that were completing their Nazirite vow and show your respect for these rituals and customs. This is exactly what Paul talked about when he says in first Corinthians 922 the Jews I have become a Jew in order to win Jews to those under the law.
I become as one under the law, though not being myself under the law, that I might win those under the law. I do it all for the sake of the gospel that I may share with them in its blessing. Paul was being all things to all men. He was being a servant and doing what the church leadership had asked him to do that brings us to point number two serving others. That is what the apostle Paul did here to overcome discouragement. He served others. He was serving others. He did this thing that he didn't feel convicted about doing that he didn't feel he needed to do, but he catered to the weaker believers, and he catered to these people in and had to prove himself and so he served the church by doing this, Paul knew he was no longer under the old Jewish covenants. The God made with the people he no longer had to follow the dietary restrictions and attend the feasts and all that but he served the spiritually weaker believers by going with them. It was not sinful for Paul to go do these things, but it was no longer necessary. It was likely the believers in Jerusalem would've seen Paul is unclean ceremonially as well because he been around Gentiles for so long and so Paul's desire for humility and unity allowed him to be the bigger person here and he purified himself. He paid for them and completing their vows and offered a sacrifice.
Paul serve people because Jesus laid that foundation. Paul went the extra mile because Jesus modeled this so clearly in Matthew 20 Jesus says the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. When we face discouragement we face these things. Like Paul was having our name slandered having our our reputation marred one of the ways we can overcome that, overcome that discouragement overcome that suffering is like the apostle Paul and like Jesus, serve others to serve others. Note being a pastor at a local church and meeting so many people I got to know some pretty amazing individuals. I got to know one woman in particular who had gone through cancer and was going through chemotherapy and her name was Wanda Fletcher. I tell you what she was one of the most powerful witnesses for Jesus. I think I've ever met. The second time that she got cancer and ended up taking her life.
It far too young of an age but Wanda was an evangelist and she was an encourager and you couldn't keep her from doing either of those things. When she was receiving chemotherapy. The nurses coming into attend to her and help get the IV in her arm and all that stuff she would be witnessing to them talking about or hope in Jesus talking about what you learned in church that we can inviting them to church praying for them. Holding them by the hand, not letting them go until she could ask them a question and and pray for them and she let a number of people while she was going through chemotherapy to Jesus and they showed up at her funeral never meeting anybody else in her family and and just knowing that Wanda had passing and telling us and telling everybody there what Wanda had done it was just so clear this woman wanted as she had just the spirit of Jesus inside of her. She loved people she loved to be an encouragement and she loved to share her faith. Recently, I came upon an email from Wanda which she wrote 2013 two years before she went to be with the Lord and she wrote this to my dad.
I read it to you. She says Greg what a joy it is to wake up and know that God is blessed me with another day. And you also because my devotional has arrived. Speaking of his daily devotion he sends out Greg, thank you for saying strong in the truth of God's word.
This is pastor's appreciation this week. Pastors appreciation week and I'm so thankful that you follow his word and our wonderful leader of your flock. I have no need to go church shopping or hopping.
I praise my Lord, for the gift of you, Kathy, Jonathan and your extended family. Greg was so great to go with Jonathan this last week to skid Row on Saturday. He did a wonderful job sharing with all of us. I love that young man and think you and Kathy form he is so patient with me. Have a wonderful blessed day things for caring and sharing and going the extra mile for all of us. Here's an example of a woman who's going through suffering. She was hurting she had to use a cane and a walker everywhere that didn't stop her from getting around on skid row. This crazy area with people and drugs and all kinds of things surrounded by darkness going around letting her light so shine before men, she was praying for people laying hands on people. People are looking at her like you need to be sitting down usually delicious. I go you can't stop me. She loved it. She loved to share Jesus. I'll be running around the church. Sometimes on Sundays, making a beeline trying to get to somewhere something you know had to be done inside we shoot from one place to another and she would call to me from across the building. She would say Jonathan Jonathan I go ahead and look over hello hey Wanda if you I love you Ashley stop me for it.
How I look back and I'm so thankful that she did do that.
She did love me and she loved everybody she came into contact with. I just love the idea that now she's in heaven worshiping Jesus and I can just see Jesus walking from one side of heaven to the other. She's calling out to Jesus.
Jesus, I love you and she does. She loves Jesus and I'm thankful for people like Wanda because in the midst of their suffering in the midst of their pain, their hardship they want to be an encouragement to others. They want to serve others.
They want to tell others about Jesus, and ultimately her hope in Jesus, and know Wanda is with Jesus. So Paul. He was an encouragement he took the higher road here and he agrees to go into the temple and now we see what happens next in verse 27, when the seven days were almost completed the Jews from Asia seeing him in the temple. These were the Jews that literally followed Paul followed Paul everywhere he went and and kind of note slandered him and through one of the Boston and because riots can happen everywhere he went.
So these Jews from Asia saw him in the temple in Jerusalem and what they do is start of the whole crowd just like they had in the past and they laid hands on him, crying out, met Israel help.
This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law in this place. Moreover, he even brought Greeks into the temple and is defiled. This holy place for the previously seen troll from us the Ephesian with them in the city, and I suppose the Paul brought him into the temple and then all the city was stirred up and the people ran together they seized Paul. They dragged him out of the temple and at once the gates were shut and as they were seeking to kill him. Word came to the Tribune of the cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion.
So we see Paul's and some hot water here. He's got the whole city worked up into a frenzy, running together, throwing these false accusations out. It was insane. So much so that they were literally beating Paul to death. They were thrown blows out of their hidden him there kicking him. There were gonna drag him out of the city like they did with Stephen when they did the drug Stephen out and ate the stone. Stephen outside of the city gates know they're gonna do it right there on the spot in front of everyone. They didn't care who was around. But God intervened in a commanding officer of the Roman cohort, which basically is as a Roman officer in charge of 1000 Roman soldiers when he heard what was going on.
He came down and he stopped it with all 1000 Roman soldiers right spears drawn swords drawn whatever shields Roman armor glistening. It would've been a sight to see.
And there was Paul in the middle of it.
This moment right here marks again a transition in Paul's ministry no longer from this point forward. Would Paul walk the ancient world a free man. No longer would he be able to go and come as he pleased. From this point on an act. Paul is a prisoner and ultimately headed to Rome to stand trial.
This did not stop all entity did not allow it to slow his efforts and sharing the hope that was within him.
Paul overcame discouragement in his suffering through serving others, and that's how we too can overcome discouragement and suffering is by serving others and now we look at acts chapter 22. Starting in verse one of this will bring us to our third and final point, Paul begins his address. He asks the Roman cohort. If you can address the crowd. The people that are making these accusations against of the people are saying that he is a heretic and that he's he's blaspheming God these Judaizers everybody so up against Paul. So Paul begins his address. He agrees and he gets to share what is Paul do. He points to Jesus. He says this in acts 22, starting in verse one brothers and fathers here. The defense that I now make before you when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew language. They became even more quiet. Paul said this, I am a Jew born in Tarsus since Alysia brought up in this city. Educated at the feet of Gamaliel. According to the strict manner of the law of our fathers being zealous for God is all of you are this day I persecuted this way to the death. That is, the Christian believers binding and delivering to prison. Both men and women as a high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness from them. I received letters to the brothers and I journey toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished.
As I was on my way to and and drew near to Damascus about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. I fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to me, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me and I answered. Who are you, Lord, and he said to me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting a brings us to our third and final point number three. Paul was able to overcome discouragement and adversity and suffering by sharing his hope. Number three. He shared his help. Paul begins his response to the false charges of being a heretic and a blasphemer by doing what I pointing to his personal testimony of what Jesus had done for him. Paul went from a persecutor of the church to being persecuted for the church's life been radically changed and he wanted everybody and anybody around to know the hope of Jesus and to know that Jesus could do the same thing for them. He uses opportunity right here when he should have been making a defense. Maybe right instead he talks about his testimony and he uses this chance to share the hope that lied within them. First Peter 315 says honor Christ the Lord is holy. Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you, and yet do it with gentleness and respect.
Having a good conscience, so that when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. This is exactly what Paul did. Here Paul got to share his personal conversion in a very clear way in acts 22, starting in verse one, going all the way to verse 21 rock enough time to read through it today, but Paul shares his testimony with pin drop silence with total accuracy and eloquence.
Everybody there analyzing every word of Paul every pause that he took every breath that he had the analyze of all of there being critical of it. This was the first time that Paul was able to address the crowd back in his his old stomping grounds of Jerusalem literal stomping grounds. I don't doubt that Paul stomped on some people while he was in Jerusalem but you gotta admire the boldness of Paul. You gotta admire his directness, his ability to bring glory to Jesus. Even while he was supposed to be defending himself. He asked the Roman court can I make a defense of myself can I say something he says sure go ahead know if it was me, I would've got another you know, listen you idiots. I'm not the guy the you think that I am not doing these things these guys are making up these are the heretics. These are the guys you need to go after. No, Paul doesn't do that he shares his hope in Jesus. He shares what Jesus had done for him. So how can we find encouragement in our own testimony. How can we find encouragement. How can we draw from that sometimes we need to look back to see what God has done in our lives and recognize that it wasn't us the got us here but God himself doing a work in us making us a new creation conforming us into the image of his own dear son. The reason we can take comfort through in that is because in Philippians 16 Paul himself says I am sure of this, that he who began a good work and you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ, knowing that what God has started he will finish this and this brings great hope to the follower of Jesus Christ and also sharing with others what Christ is done in planting a seed or having a conversation about Jesus. It brings honor and glory to the Lord. So while you are suffering while you're going to the difficulty share the hope that you have in Jesus share with other people. Again, here the three points that we've run through today talking about how to overcome discouragement number one obedience that we would be obedient to God's will for our lives. Number two that we would serve others.
We would be the bigger person would see others needs is greater than our own. Number three. We would share our hope, our ultimate hope in Jesus Christ. Listen, you can have perspective in your pain.
I don't want to preach the God won't deliver you from your pain because we know that he can in heat. He often will do that he will deliver you from pain, he will deliver you from suffering and sickness and so forth.
But honestly I've read the Bible too much to believe that God doesn't have a purpose for us in our suffering. I believe the God's will for us is suffering in varying capacities. It doesn't mean that it's the reason for your suffering.
Just so you can grow but I do believe that it is the meaning of it. As we read in Romans 828 Paul says we know the God works together all things for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose for those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his own dear son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brethren listen that is what Paul is talking about here, God taking something bad and working it together for the ultimate good. He works all things together for good. Good things, bad things neutral things. He works all of these things together for the ultimate good for the follower of Jesus Christ and also Jeremiah 2911 were says I know the thoughts that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope to listen. You may want to avoid all suffering, you may want to avoid all pain and affliction and listen. Who doesn't everybody wants to avoid those things if possible. I don't believe that that's always in the cards for us. I believe this suffering is part of God's plan for our lives in the question we need to ask ourselves is what will we do with it, not why why God why it's okay to ask God why just don't expect an answer. What we need to instead ask ourselves is what what should I do with this.
As a result, what can I do with my pain as you find that purpose for your pain as you find that purpose for your suffering, you're going to find God's nearness, you find yourself glorifying God falling those three points being obedient to God's will, serving others, sharing our hope in Jesus that is going to help you endure these trials and go through these things. So as we close our service now and this message comes to an end. I just want to say that if there's some of you that may be watching in your so fearful of suffering your fearful of the things that can happen around you. Things that could happen to your family and you just feel so vulnerable. Listen, you're not alone. Not alone in this, of course, we are fearful of of a family member getting sick were fearful of something horrible happening in our lives will listen that is the hope of the Christian is the beyond this life. There will be a beautiful family reunion.
A heavenly reunion. We will see Jesus face-to-face. We will have our bodies made whole everybody that sick will be made well no be no Alzheimer's. There will be no cancer.
There will be no death or disease or disabilities.
Everybody will have their perfect and new bodies, and most importantly, Jesus is going to be there ready to get to see him face-to-face. That is the hope for the believer. For those of you who haven't put your faith in Christ. I'm not sure what to tell you I don't know what your hope is I don't think that there is any hope in the things of this world has to offer. But I can tell you without state beyond beyond the shadow of a doubt that if you put your faith in Christ. You will find the hope that you are looking for. You will find the perspective that you need to face these things and not just face them and get through them, but to conquer them and to grow from them and to help others in spite of them to listen if you like to put your faith in Jesus Christ today. I love to extend that invitation to you right here right now you can have the hope of heaven. In this moment. No kidding. All you have to do is call upon the name of the Lord make him your Lord and your Savior. Your master urine subservient to his will.
Your obedience to what he is called you to do.
That's what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. So if you'd like to do that. I'd love to lead you in a prayer you can pray this wherever you're out watching a yellow at home on your computer. Driving to work in your car wherever you might be.
You can pray this prayer just just pray this to mean it in your heart. Dear God, I know I'm a sinner but I know Jesus is the Savior who died on the cross for my sin and rose again from the dead. I make him my master I make him my Lord I make him my Savior and I turn for my sin.
Now I turn to you.
Fill me with your Holy Spirit from this moment forward in Jesus name I pray, amen. Everybody, thanks for listening to this podcast to learn more about harvest ministries follow the show and consider supporting it.
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