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Win or Learn, There Is No Lose | Sunday Message (with Jonathan Laurie)

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
May 8, 2022 3:00 am

Win or Learn, There Is No Lose | Sunday Message (with Jonathan Laurie)

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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May 8, 2022 3:00 am

Pastor Jonathan Laurie visits completes this series in Acts, pointing out that Paul became an encourager during a trial. This serves as a reminder that nothing can stop God—not even the hardest of times. Listen in for good encouragement!

Notes

1. Paul the Counselor 

2. Paul the Encourager 

“A crisis does not make a person; a crisis shows what a person is made of, and it tends to bring true leadership to the fore.” —Warren Wiersbe 

3. Paul the Helper 

4. Paul the Preacher

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Hey there, thanks for listening to the Greg Laurie Podcast, a ministry supported by Harvest Partners. I'm Greg Laurie, encouraging you.

If you want to find out more about Harvest Ministries and learn more about how to become a Harvest Partner, just go to harvest.org. Win or learn, there is no lose. Our life is filled with change, transition, growth, obstacles, overcoming those obstacles, trials, more growth, more change, more adaptation, and just when you think you've got it all figured out, you die. Right? Right when you get the hang of the whole high school thing.

Oh, okay, I get it. This is the crowd that does this and this is who I should hang out with. This is where I fit in. This is my identity. Right when you get that all figured out and your classes and your schedules and everything dialed in, it's time to graduate. And now it's time for you to start a career and to find a family, right?

No pressure. Maybe you start a brand new job and after being there for a few months, your boss changes your position to an area you're not familiar with. You started off as a framer. And now he wants you to like supervise the whole job site and you're like, I know how to put nails in wood and screws in wood. I don't know how to supervise people and manage time and clocks and all of this stuff.

I don't know how to do that. Now you're a supervisor and you've been made an administrator. You're working behind a computer. Transition happens. Maybe you started off as a wife and now nine months and one day you're overseeing dietary and digestive schedules. Soon you'll be scheduling rides and sports practices and church attendance and family dinners, balancing budgets and upkeeping your living space. Shout out to all the moms by the way out there. Talk about an overnight transition, right? Absolutely overnight. Before you even have a handle on your own transition into motherhood or fatherhood, you are now helping your kids in their transition as they go to their first day of school.

Wow. That's a big one. They go to their first soccer game and then they go through puberty.

That's always fun. Then they're going through high school and you're like, wait, wasn't I just in high school? Now my kids going through high school?

I have a daughter who's going to be 17 years old next month. I'm like, what the heck is happening right now? Meanwhile, I'm like, where did my twenties go and where did all this neck and back pain come from out of nowhere?

I look at my pillow wrong and like I wake up with a frozen back. It's like, seriously, this is what happens in your mid thirties. It's crazy, but our lives, they are filled with transition. They are filled with change.

They're filled with new opportunities for growth. Something I have learned in my time on this earth is that we can't decide the hand that is dealt to us in life. We can't decide the things that happened to us. We can't decide what positive things come into our life. We can't decide what negative things come into our lives, but we can choose the way we respond to those things.

We can choose the way we respond to those things and the way we respond contains the potential for growth and maturity and perspective and sanctification, which is the process of becoming more like Jesus. Many today believe that they are victims of their circumstance. More people that I talk to than ever believe that this thing that happened in their childhood, this thing that happened in their life, tragic or not, is now the thing that defines them for the rest of their lives.

Well, this event happened, and so now I'm identified by that forever. I got fired from my job, and so now I'm just unemployed. I'm unemployed, and I can't find a job, and I guess I'm just, you know, unemployable. It's so hard. Or, you know, my father died at a young age, and so I had to work to provide for my family as a result.

You know what? That just messed everything up. I didn't get to have a childhood. I didn't get to have whatever else, and so that's why I am the way I am. My parents got divorced at a young age. My mom didn't hug me enough.

My hamster got ran over by a unicycle or whatever. Listen, I'm sorry. Truly, I am really sorry, and as pastors here at Harvest, we have people all the time coming to us, sharing their tragic situations, and our hearts break. Truly, when we hear the effects of sin, we hear the effects of living in this world, death and disease and hardship, and our hearts break, and we love to get to be shepherds and to come along these families and pray for them and ultimately point them to Jesus. But the reality is traumatic things happen in life, don't they? Traumatic things happen in life. Jesus himself, he said, in this world, you will have tribulation.

That's right. In this world, you will have tribulation, but he continues, and I'm so thankful that he does, aren't you? He says, yeah, in this world, you'll have tribulation.

He acknowledges it. He says, but take heart, because I have overcome the world. The New Living Translation renders that word tribulation as trouble. He's saying, you will have trouble, you will have pestilence, you will have cancer, you will have disease, you will have tragedy, you will have trauma, things that the world fears, they will come. That word Jesus used for tribulation is the Greek word thlypsis, which means pressed, squashed, distressed, right? I think another way that you could translate that is basically, this world will chew you up and spit you out.

That's the reality. This world is going to chew you up and spit you out. But Jesus says something interesting. He says, take heart, because I have overcome the world. What that means is that the hope of God is greater than the worst fears of this world. The hope of God is greater than the worst fears of this world. The hope of heaven is greater than the fear of death. And Jesus' resurrection, which we just celebrated a few weeks ago, gives us verifiable evidence that this hope is something that we can stand on. The hope of forgiveness is greater than the fear and shame of sin. Take heart, because I have overcome the world, Jesus says. And so when we are faced with something we do not like, something that makes us uncomfortable, whether it's in the workplace, in our neighborhoods, in our homes, in our own lives, we are presented with a choice, an opportunity. We can complain, we can wallow, we can pout, we can procrastinate, my personal favorite, or we can choose to trust God.

We can choose that God has a plan, and we can choose to trust Him. I saw a sports team all pile out of a 16-passenger van one time while I was at a gas station, and they're all getting out, getting snacks and stuff. And it was a girls' softball team, and I saw, you know, wherever they're from, they're traveling, and they walked in, and I saw the back of their shirt said something that really caught my eye, and I found myself agreeing with, and it's where I got my message title today. The back of their shirt says, win or learn, there is no lose. That's really good. You know, so many people, it's like, well, we lost, and you know, you tried your hardest, and well, you know, that's all that matters.

Okay, that's great. Or if you have a winner mentality, if you have the right mentality, you're going to look and say, well, we saw that they were better in this area, so how can we respond to it? How can we learn from our loss?

How can we learn from our failures so that we can become better and that we can, in the future, beat that team? I think that as Christians, the reality is, hey, win or learn, there is no lose. For us, yes, tragedies, whatever they come to us, we have the power that God has given to us through the Holy Spirit. We have the power to turn that tragedy into a triumph, to turn that weight into a wing, that thing, that bad hand in life, we can use that to minister to other people. I think of people like Joni Eareckson Tada, who is a quadriplegic.

She has used that pain, that suffering in her life, to tremendously impact people across the world, thousands of people to Christ. People like Nick Vujicic, who was born without arms or limbs. People that were dealt a bad hand in life, yeah, you think? This guy did not have any functional childhood whatsoever, any traditional one in any sense of the word, but God has used him in a powerful way, and he is so thankful that God is using his life. I think of men like my dad, who were born in really dysfunctional homes, you know?

No father to speak of, mother married and divorced seven times, boyfriends in between, exposed to things that no kid should ever be exposed to. He, by all means, should have been another statistic, but God intervened, and my dad has now used his story, he has used all of this pain, all of the suffering in his life, to use it for God's glory. And now, he has a platform to minister to other people that are going through the same thing, and he can say, hey, I'm just another beggar, showing another beggar where to find bread. You're hurting, I can show you where to find relief.

Jesus can do that for you. We have a choice. We have a choice.

We can choose to become bitter, or we can choose to become better through the power of the Holy Spirit. But the reality is, this isn't a softball match that we're all playing here, that we're trying to win. This is the race of life, and we are not competing with each other, we are competing with ourselves.

We're competing with ourselves. At the end of Paul's life, the man that we have so closely focused upon the last few weeks in our ACT study, he says these words in 2 Timothy 4-7. I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race.

I have kept the faith. Henceforth, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award me on that day, and not only to me, but also to all who have loved his appearing. We are all runners in a race, but we're not competing against other Christians, we're not competing against non-believers, we're in a race against ourselves. We're in a race against ourselves.

We're all in a wrestling match with me, myself, and I. We're all competing for a prize, for a crown, a spiritual trophy, and our opponent is us. It's our flesh. It's our flesh.

That is who we're in a race against. You see, we have a physical, sinful flesh that we were born with, that we inherited from Adam, thank you very much. Sinful and all the stuff that comes with it, death, disease, all that stuff, we got that from Adam. And as Christians, we also have a spiritual nature that we received from the second Adam, the Scriptures call Jesus, who we received from him.

And that nature shows us how to glorify God and to live in harmony with him and to be sanctified, to become more like Jesus. So, inside of every Christian, these two natures exist, and they are warring with each other. They're at odds with each other.

They're in competition against each other. Now, the question of the day is, which nature will win? Which nature is going to win?

You can answer that by answering this question. Which nature will you nourish? Which nature will you feed? You've heard the story of the boy that said, oh, the two dogs, you know, they're in a fight. The two wolves, you know, which one is going to win?

Which one is going to win? And the answer is the one you feed more. So, what are you sowing to? Are you sowing to your flesh? Or are you sowing to the Spirit?

There you have your answer. So, today is our last study together in the book of Acts, the upside-down life. And we're going to look one last time at yet another series of transitions that take place in the life of the apostle Paul. In Paul's life, he had so many transitions, the biggest one being that he went from literally a persecutor of the church to preacher for the church, from antagonist to apologist, from murderer to missionary.

The apostle Paul, I don't know if there's another person in the Bible who experienced transition, change, and obstacles more than him, more than him. So, when we last left Paul together, he had been arrested in Jerusalem for crimes he did not commit. He had journeyed all the way back to Jerusalem. He had a great gift that he had brought.

He had collected over the ancient world. He wanted to bring it to the believers there in Jerusalem. And as he arrived in Jerusalem, he was met with some obstacles. Ultimately, he was accused of preaching against the traditions of Judaism all over the ancient world. And he was accused of bringing a Gentile, a non-Jew, into the temple in Jerusalem during this time. Because of that, Paul was arrested.

Both of these charges were false. And for two years, two years of his life, he was in jail, awaiting trial after trial, being passed around to different leaders, from the religious leaders of the Sanhedrin, which were the Jewish leaders, to Governor Felix, to Festus, to Herod Agrippa, anybody and everybody who would hear his case basically heard it and then didn't want to make a decision. And so, in Acts 23, Jesus appeared to Paul right after he was arrested and told him, don't fear, don't be afraid, because you are going to testify of the things that you have seen and what I have done in Rome. And so, Paul knew that he was headed towards Rome. After appealing to Caesar as a Roman citizen, as was Paul's legal right, he was sent to Rome and this begins the final transition in the life and ministry of the Apostle Paul.

Rome would ultimately be the city that he would die in. The appeal to Caesar sealed his fate and we are going to see that as Paul experienced blow after blow, he was able to use each instance for God's glory and find peace in the center of God's will. My goal with our message today, as we go through these two chapters together, and we are going to jump around a little bit, so be prepared. My goal in this message is to direct you to see how Paul responded to his adversaries and his tribulations and transitions and each time he faithfully used them to glorify God, which brought the Apostle peace and a mission in life. How does that sound?

Does that sound good? Alright, let's read together in Acts chapter 27, starting in verse 1. I am reading from the New Living Translation today. And like I said, we are going to jump around a little bit just to condense these two chapters.

I want to try and do them justice, a lot of content to go through together. So buckle your seatbelts. Acts 27, starting in verse 1. When the time came, we set sail for Italy.

Paul and several other prisoners were placed in the custody of a Roman officer named Julius, a captain of the imperial regiment. Verse 5. Keeping to the open sea, we passed along the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, landing at Myra in the province of Lycia.

Verse 7. We had several days of slow sailing, and after great difficulty, we finally neared Canidus, but the wind was against us. And so we sailed across to Crete and along the sheltered coast of the island, past the Cape of Salmone. We struggled along the coast with great difficulty and finally arrived at Fair Havens near the town of Lacey. We had lost a lot of time. The weather was becoming dangerous for sea travel because it was so late in the fall, and Paul spoke to the ship's officers about it.

Men, he said, I believe there is trouble if we go on ahead. Shipwreck, loss of cargo, and danger to our lives as well. But the officer in charge of the prisoners listened more to the ship's captain and the owner than to Paul. And so they set sail up the coast for Phoenix. They left Fair Havens and set sail.

Skip down to verse 13. When a light wind began blowing from the south, the sailors thought they could make it. So they pulled up anchor, and they sailed close to the shore of Crete. But the weather changed abruptly, and the wind of typhoon strength, called a Northeaster, burst across the island and blew us out to sea. Now the next day, verse 18, as gale force winds continued to batter the ship, the crew began throwing the cargo overboard. The following day, they even took some of the ship's gear and threw it overboard. The terrible storm raged for many days, blotting out the sun and the stars, until at last all hope was gone.

Let's pause there. That brings us to point number one, Paul the counselor. Paul the counselor. Paul saw opportunities in each of these little issues and these storms and these hardships. Every opportunity he had, he used it for God's glory. He used it to build a bridge to his common man. It didn't matter that Paul had been arrested for two years, handed back and forth between the Jews and the Romans, or that he was held on false charges, or that he was actually the smartest guy in the room.

That wasn't enough for him to keep from humbly and lovingly sharing what was best for him and his shipmates. Yes, Paul preached to multitudes and God worked miracles through him. But Paul, excuse me, I don't know who Paul is, Paul cared about people. Paul cared about people and he cared about non-believers.

President Theodore Roosevelt said, people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. Paul didn't say, hey, I don't care what happens to this ship. My fate is sealed. I know that I'm going to Rome. If this boat crashes, it doesn't make any difference to me. No, he said, hey, this is going to be what happens. I have experience here.

I know what I'm talking about. This is, by the way, Paul's fourth shipwreck. Yeah, literally, four shipwrecks. That's a guy you don't probably want on your boat at this point. Four shipwrecks, literally, talks about three before he wrote, before Acts was written.

So this is literally his fourth shipwreck out of control. Crazy guy. But Paul cared. He cared. God had given him a heart to reach people from every walk of life. And we see him preaching and discipling in the book of Acts to people from really every continent known to man back then.

Africa, Asia, Europe, Arabia, every skin color, every walk of life, it didn't matter. Paul loved people. And he loved to minister to them.

And he loved to help them. And as it was late in the season for this journey to begin, it was going to be cutting it close to the cyclone season during these winter months, or rather these fall months we just read. And we know that now it was going to be dangerous for sailors. This is when the boats would kind of just stick close to shore. They wouldn't travel out very far, the Mediterranean. While it's a sea, it's not an ocean. It's not the Pacific Ocean or the Atlantic. It is a really large sea when you look at it on a map. And ships would get lost all the time at sea.

And they would never be heard from again. And so Paul knew this. He knew that it was getting dangerously cloned to the stormy season. And these storms, they can be just as intense as like a Category 4 or even a Category 5 hurricane. Crazy hundreds of miles an hour in winds just ripping everything together in their path.

They can be just as intense as one of these hurricanes, but just not as large of a footprint, not as big. And so Paul knew this. He went to the officer in charge. He shared it with them. The prisoners knew this. The sailors knew this. The captain knew this. Everybody knew that it was dangerous. But they decided to not listen to Paul and to roll the dice and to venture on a little bit up the coast towards a little harbor called Phoenix, which was a little bit better suited, I guess. They wanted to make the decision to be, you know, roll the dice and try and see what happens. So they started their journey.

As a result, the ship started off with a nice little tailwind. Oh, sea, Paul. You can imagine.

They probably look back. They're like, sea, you were just, you know, over-exaggerating. You were just a little too worried. Well, that was met immediately by the Northeaster, which proceeded to blow them into the sea, tossed into the sea, completely helpless, spinning out of control, crashing into waves, unable to see the stars or sun for weeks. For two weeks, this went on. You can imagine how horrible that would be, especially if you were one of those people to get seasick. Imagine this for two weeks in an old ancient first century ship.

No, thank you. Anybody in that situation would be seasick, and they lost hope. The people on this boat, they completely lost hope. Now, I find it interesting that the ship's captain, he did make a choice, didn't he? He made a choice. He could listen to Paul, or he could listen to the majority. Paul warned him.

He was, you know, issuing discretion. Hey, we probably should just stay here. This is a safer place to go.

We go up the coast, we roll the dice, it could be really dangerous. I don't think we should go. He decided not to listen to him. He decided not to listen to Paul, and he would listen to the majority. Now, I don't want to over-spiritualize this point, but I do believe there's a lesson here for us as Christians who vote and enter into the political arena. Paul cast his vote, didn't he? When he was on the boat, he knew what was right. He knew the reasons. He made his case for what would be best for everybody aboard that boat.

But his vote was outnumbered, and his opinion was ignored. Now, as Christians who have a biblical worldview, we so clearly see what is right and what is wrong, don't we? We literally have a book that tells us what is right and what is wrong, and it is absolute truth. We know what is helpful, and we know what is damaging to our country.

And at times, it seems like it's just a nonstop barrage of bad news, especially lately. And that is why it is important for us to cast our vote, to vote biblically, and to vote on the issues in our state and our local community elections and nationally by electing leaders who align with what we find in scripture. But when—yeah, that's right. But when Paul's opinion gets cast aside and the majority rules, and now everybody is suffering because the leadership chose poorly, let's look at how Paul reacts now to this fact in Acts 27, starting in verse 21. After they had been at sea for two weeks, twisting and turning, people just barfing all over each other, horrible scene, you can imagine.

Verse 21, no one had eaten in a long time. And finally, Paul took point. He called the crew together, and he said, men, you should have listened to me in the first place and not left Crete. You would have all avoided all this damage and loss, but take courage. None of you will lose your lives, even though the ship will go down. For last night, an angel of the Lord to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me. And he said, don't be afraid, Paul, for you will surely stand trial before Caesar. And what's more, God in his goodness has granted safety to everyone sailing with you. So take courage, for I believe God. It will be just as he said.

I love that. Skip down to verse 30. And then the sailors tried to abandon the ship. They lowered the lifeboat as they were going to put out anchors from the front of the ship, but Paul said to the commanding officer and the soldiers, you will all die unless these sailors stay aboard.

And so the soldiers cut the ropes to the life raft and let it drift away, verse 33. And just as day was dawning, Paul urged everyone to eat. He said, you've been so worried that you haven't touched food for two weeks. Now, for a bunch of guys to not eat for two weeks, this is pretty bad.

This is a bad storm, no question. You haven't touched food for two weeks, he said, verse 34. So please eat something now for your own good, for not a hair of your head will perish. And then he took some bread. He gave thanks to God before them all. And he broke off a piece and ate it, verse 39. When morning dawned, they didn't recognize the coastline, but they saw a bay with a beach and wondered if they could get to shore by running the ship aground, verse 41. And so they ran the ship aground, but they hit a shoal, some reef there earlier than they expected, and they ran the ship aground too soon. The bow of the ship stuck fast while the stern was repeatedly smashed by the force of the waves and began to break apart. The soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners right there to make sure they didn't swim ashore and escape, but the commanding officer wanted to spare Paul, so he didn't let them carry out their plan. And then he ordered all who could swim to jump overboard first and make for land.

The others held onto planks and debris from the broken ship, and so everyone, everyone escaped to shore safely. That brings us to point number two, Paul the Encourager. Paul starts this journey off as a prisoner. Nobody gives a rip about what he thinks.

Nobody cares about what his opinion is on things. And what does he end up as? The captain. He's literally commanding everybody aboard the ship. This is what we need to do. Tell those guys not to abandon ship.

Cut the life raft, whatever else. He is taking point, telling the commanding officers what to do, what the strategy was, what to eat, how to feel, everything. Warren Rearsby said, a crisis does not make a person.

A crisis shows what a person is made of, and it tends to bring out true leadership. Paul doesn't rant at everyone. He doesn't rant at everyone about how wrong they were and how stupid they were to not listen to him. He doesn't write scathing reviews on the captain's bulletin board, zero out of five stars, worst Mediterranean cruise ever. No, he doesn't do that. He doesn't challenge the voting system aboard the ship and demand a recount. He doesn't say, I told you so.

No. Paul encouraged them. He built a bridge. He earned their trust.

He earned their respect. The ship lacked leadership in the midst of this violent storm, and Paul was up to the challenge. Now, when we talk about transition and uncomfortable things in life, Paul saw the inconveniences and storms as an opportunity to bring others closer to God.

He starts by doing this by sharing God's word with them. The Lord had spoken to Paul, and Paul shares how a messenger from the Lord had visited him and told him that the ship and the cargo would be lost, but all the passengers would be spared and crash land upon an island. Imagine being ripped around at sea for two weeks, just twirling. You can't see the stars. You can't see the sun. You have no idea where you're at. You probably think that you're just floating out in the endless abyss in the ocean, probably heading towards Antarctica or wherever.

You think that all is lost. You think that everything is going bad, so bad that you haven't eaten for two weeks. That would be a terrible thing.

That would be really uncomfortable, wouldn't it? I've been on a few boats where we've hit rough seas, and it's not fun. I don't really get motion sickness. Some of you probably get motion sickness really easy, vertigo and whatever else.

I'm sorry. It's not fun. I used to get it so bad when I was a kid. It was the worst. If I didn't have perfectly smooth seas or I'd go anywhere, it was just I'd get carsick in the car, not fun. Thankfully, I've outgrown that, and it's not as bad of a deal, but man, I've been on a couple of cruises and boat rides, and there's nothing worse than being sick at sea. You just feel terrible. You have to lay down.

You never quite get over it. The person next to you gets sick, and then you get sick, and it's just like this trickle effect. Everybody is like, you don't even get seasick, but you see somebody else doing that, and it's just like you can't help but do it yourself, not fun. Now imagine two weeks of that. Literally, nobody's eaten for two weeks because they're afraid they can't keep anything down, I'm sure, and they're just so discouraged.

They're fearful of death. Imagine how refreshing it was for them to hear from the apostle. Take heart. Be encouraged. Everything is going to be okay because God gave me these instructions. It could change your entire perspective. It could change your entire worldview. It could give you hope, light at the end of the tunnel. Now as Christians, we are not called to boycott.

We are not called to post negative Yelp reviews. No other cause is ours than Christ. That is our cause. It is Christ. It could be that you vote biblically, and you are an agent for political change on your social media.

Hey, great. God bless you. I'm thankful that you do that. But maybe your next door neighbor who is 85 years old and her husband just died could use some of your attention, right? Some of your focus, some of that energy that you're pouring into social media, some of that energy that you're using, talking about the voting system, talking about the political arena right now.

They could use some of that energy, some of that attention, some of that affection because their husband just died. Bringing someone a meal, helping them mow their lawn, having a conversation with them, inviting them to church, giving them a ride to the airport, sharing your story on the ride there. Oh, hey, so what's your story, Bill?

You know, tell me about it. We've been neighbors for a long time. We don't really know each other.

Where are you from? Get to know them. This is how we as Christians can actually help change our world, the world we live in, our neighborhoods, our communities. And this is also the way we change the world by actually following the Great Commission. Go, therefore, into all nations. Go, therefore, by crossing the street to your next door neighbor, baptizing, making disciples, preaching the gospel, sharing your faith.

That's the Great Commission. You've heard us say this before here at Harvest, but we believe that the answer to America's problems is not a political one, it is a spiritual one. Because it matters not who is in the White House, it matters who in God's house. That is where our hope is. Not who's in the White House, but our hope is in God's house. Second Chronicles 7 14 tells us what the recipe is for saving our country. If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Friends, that's not going to happen by voting the right candidate in or out of office. That's going to only happen by revival. That's only going to happen by us taking the initiative to share our faith, to be an agent for spiritual change in our communities, in our neighborhoods, in our schools, in our workplaces.

We can do it. And so next we see that Paul encourages them by being a good example because he lives out what he believes. He's a good example and he encourages them because he, yeah, he encourages them, he shares God's word with them. Next we see that he is an encourager because he is a good example. He lives out what he believes. Not just telling everyone how they should act, but making sure his house is in order before telling others.

He is a wonderful example of a loving, patient, uncompromising follower of Jesus. And after he warns the commanding officers aboard not to let the sailors take the lifeboats and abandon ship, what does he do? He encourages them. He encourages them to strengthen themselves, to eat something.

He takes some bread. He breaks it. He gives thanks to God for it. He prays for it. He has a little communion service.

He hands it out to the guys, I'm sure, and they eat it. He was a witness for Christ. That was his main purpose in life. When others were wishing for safety, when others were trying to look out only for themselves and get on those life rafts and abandon ship, Paul was looking out for everyone, telling them to eat, how they could all survive. And then he didn't take credit for it all. He didn't take credit for the wisdom here and for what was about to happen. He directed it towards God.

God told me what to do. To him goes the glory. And as the boat finally crashed upon the shore, we see that because of Paul, again, all the prisoners are spared now. The soldiers were accountable for all of these prisoners. They knew that if one got away, that it could very likely, the soldier who was accountable for that prisoner, for that individual, would be killed if that prisoner got away. And so they were ready to kill the prisoners right there on the spot. They were going to take care of them.

But because of Paul, Julius, the commanding officer, said, don't do it. We're not going to kill them. We're going to let them all survive. So again, thank you very much, Paul, for your witness and for your testimony and for being that man on the boat because of him. Everybody's lives were spared.

And so what do they do? Everybody was ordered to jump in the water. Anybody who could swim, swim to shore. If you can't, hold on to some planks of wood from the broken up ship and they floated to shore. Now, I've got to say, as a surfer, this is not a stretch at all since we already know there are waves battering the back of the boat. It's breaking onto a reef and being an incredibly distracted person. I, of course, looked at the beach that is likely the place where Paul crashed. And ladies and gentlemen, what we have here is a ripping right hand point break that is probably about 100 yards long.

Perfect conditions if it was the right, the right swallow direction and the right wind. This is what these guys were writing. And as we see them, they have boards now, planks of wood. We very likely have the first case ever of people surfing in ancient history.

All the ingredients are there. You've got swell, you've got a point break, you've got boards, you've got guys riding the boards to shore. And so you better believe some went a little further than others. Did Paul hang 10? I guess we'll never know.

We'll wait to get to heaven to find that out for sure. But because Paul saw opportunity in the obstacles and the storm, he was able to bring further glory to God and benefiting Paul in the process. How was Paul able to be this way?

How was he able to have this perspective? Was he just pulling himself up by his bootstraps? Was he just having that, oh, just positive mentality, positive mentality. I'm just going to focus on good things and that's it.

No. Jesus talks about how to have a good life. In Matthew 7, he shares about the man who builds his life on the rock and he shares about the man who builds his life on the sand. He says, anybody who hears my teaching, anybody who hears the things that I say and practices them and does them, he is like the wise man who builds his house upon the rock.

But he who hears my words and doesn't follow them, he's like the foolish man who builds his house on the shifting sand and the wind came and the storm blew and great was the fall of that house. Paul built his house on the rock. He built his life on the rock of his salvation, Jesus Christ. That was what enabled him to have perspective, to have peace, and to have the leadership necessary in these situations. And as Christians, we can have that too. Paul saw opportunity in the storm.

He was able to bring glory to God and he was able to grow and benefit in the process as well. Let's bring this to a close now and begin to wrap this up. Acts 28, verse 1. Yeah, we just got done with the first chapter. Welcome to having to do two chapters.

Acts 28, verse 1. Once we were safe on shore, we learned that we were on the island of Malta. That's 580 miles away from the harbor that they just sailed from. They were trying to go like 20 miles, like 30 miles up to the next little Phoenix harbor. 580 miles.

That's pretty bad. Verse 2. The people of the island were very kind to us. It was cold and it was rainy, so they built a fire on the shore and welcomed us. And as Paul gathered an armful of sticks and was laying them on a fire, a poisonous snake driven out by the heat bit him on the hand. Now the people on the island saw it hanging from his hand and said to each other, oh, a murderer, no doubt. He escaped the sea, but justice will not permit him to live.

But Paul shook off the snake into the fire and he was unharmed. The people waited for him to swell up or to suddenly drop dead. But when they had waited for a long time and saw that he wasn't harmed, they changed their minds and decided he was a god. And near the shore where he landed was an estate belonging to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us and he treated us kindly for three days.

And as it happened, Publius' father was ill with fever and dysentery. And Paul went in and prayed for him. And laying his hands on him, he healed him. And then all the other sick people on the island came and were healed. As a result, we were showered with honors.

When the time came to sail, people supplied us with everything we would need for the trip. Point number three, Paul the helper. Paul the helper. After literally saving the lives of everyone on the ship, we see Paul helping.

He's doing his part. He's gathering sticks. He's getting wood because it would have been cold this time of year. There was rain and all that stuff happening. Everyone would have been soaking wet.

Water temperatures would have definitely been cold. And so they begin to build a fire. Paul's gathering sticks for it. He had just survived yet another traumatic life-altering experience, his fourth shipwreck. And he helped save the lives of everyone on board more than once. And we see Paul helping. He's serving.

He's not trying to preach a sermon or lecture everyone how they should have listened back at Fairhaven. No, he's helping grab sticks as fuel for the fire. And without warning, a deadly snake strikes Paul and latches onto his hand, just pumping venom into his arm. Now, I don't know if you've ever been bit by a snake, but it's pretty disturbing.

It is a weird thing. I've been bit by almost every animal. Lizards. I've been bit by dogs. I've been bit by cats. I've been bit by geckos. I've been bit by frogs, bugs, all kinds of stuff. Even I got bit by a rat. I had a pet rat, and it bit me.

That's pretty weird. That's not fun. Those really long front teeth, yeah, they sink them into your hand.

That's not fun. I've been bit by all kinds of stuff, but I'll tell you what. There's something about getting bit by a snake that just makes your skin kind of crawl. My son Christopher got a snake for Christmas.

Thanks, Dad. And when that thing bites, it bites, and it just moves its shoulder, its neck up, all weird, and it just kind of sinks its face into your hand. It's trying to eat you, and it's only the size of my finger.

It's so thin, but it's just something weird about a snake biting you. So Paul gets bit by this snake, but he doesn't die. He doesn't die. They're expecting him to die and to swell up and to keel over right then and there, but he doesn't. And they expect now, or they assume, rather, that, oh, he's a god.

He's not a criminal. He's a god. Now, I'm certain that Paul corrected them, as he did back in Lystra when was the other time they thought he was a god. They thought he was Hermes, and he corrected them.

So I'm sure that he corrected them. But even that, Paul used to his benefit and to help his fellow shipmates. It says that because of Paul, they were treated graciously, and they were sent on their way when it was time to leave with generous gifts.

They lost everything in the shipwreck, everything, their clothes, their cargo, the food, the supplies. Everything was lost in that shipwreck, and it says that because of Paul, they were given everything that they needed. Paul was a helper to those around him.

The deliverance from the sea and from the snake, his power to heal Publius' father and those who were diseased on the island, all these things won the favor of those around him, and he used it for God's glory. Paul was a helper. Let's look back at verse 11.

It was three months after the shipwreck that we set sail on another ship that was headed at the island, an Alexandrian ship with the twin gods as its figurehead, verse 16. And when we arrived in Rome, Paul was permitted to have his own private lodging, though he was guarded by soldiers. Three days after Paul's arrival, he called together the local Jewish leaders, and he said to them, Brothers, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Roman government, even though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our ancestors. And they replied in verse 21, We have had no letters from Judea or reports against you from anyone who has come here.

But we want to hear what you believe, for the only thing we know about this movement is that it is denounced everywhere. So a time was set, and on that day a large number of people came to Paul's lodging. He explained and testified about the kingdom of God and tried to persuade them about Jesus from the scriptures. Using the law of Moses and the books of the prophets, he spoke to them from morning until evening.

And some were persuaded by the things he said, but some others did not believe. In verse 30, for the next two years, Paul lived in Rome at his own expense. He welcomed all who visited him, boldly proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ, and no one tried to stop him. That is the book of Acts, 28 chapters, amazing things took place there, and that brings us to our fourth and final point, Paul the preacher. Paul the preacher. Over two years, a shipwreck, imprisonment, being lost at sea, Paul finally arrives in Rome. The port that Paul arrived at was about 125 miles away from Rome, and so they started their journey. They were met by believers along the way at the Forum of Appius and then at three taverns. But Paul had one mission in mind. After getting settled for about three days in Rome, after all of that journey, all of that craziness, he takes a little three-day vacation.

God bless you, Paul, you need it. And he called the local Jewish leaders together, and so he could preach to them about what had happened, hoping to lead them to Christ. And this guy was a juggernaut. He was nonstop. He was the terminator, literally, just completely undeterred, no matter what happened to him.

You know, he's getting shot with a grenade launcher, part of him is blowing off, but he melts back and he keeps going. He was unstoppable. He was unstoppable. God clearly had his hand on the apostles' life, but Paul was so zealous for the Lord, and he had such a heart for his common man, especially his fellow Jews, and he would not stop at anything to share his faith. Paul spent morning until evening explaining the scriptures, revealing Jesus throughout the Old Testament to anyone who would listen there in Rome. And while Paul was under house arrest, again, another thing that he did was he turned a hardship, a difficulty, being under house arrest, not being able to come and go as he pleased. He used that for a positive, because in that time he was able to write the prison epistles, Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon.

Amazing. And the book of Acts ends by leaving us at the end of the beginning. That's right. The book of Acts ends by leaving us at the end of the beginning. I mentioned earlier, you could say that while Acts has 28 chapters, that the 29th chapter is still being written 2,000 years later. And that is because the church continues to preach the gospel, it continues to proclaim the truth, and it continues to minister to a hurting world. And you know who its disciples are, you know who the people are that are making a difference? It's all of us.

It's all of us. We are doing the work still of the Apostle Paul, still doing the work of what Jesus has called us to do, doing the Great Commission, and we will continue to do it until Jesus returns. And we need to be doing it faithfully. We need to be making sure that as the series title of this series, the upside down life, we live an upside down life.

We live in a way that is counterculture to the world around us. That doesn't make sense because we are called to live in a whole new way to be human, and that is to follow the commands of Jesus and to change the world while we do it, affecting our communities, affecting our friends. And so, when we are faced with difficulties and we're faced with hardships and different things in our lives, we, like Paul, are faced with a choice and with an opportunity. We can become better or we can become bitter, like my dad has said, to sow to the flesh or to sow to the Spirit. Let me come back to a verse I quoted earlier in Acts chapter 27, verse 25, the Apostle Paul. He said, take courage, for I believe God.

It will be just as he said. Are you facing a hopeless situation right now? Are you facing something that you think you could never overcome?

Have you, like these people, lost your courage? Listen, you need to get your focus on God. You don't need an explanation from God. You need an encounter with God.

You need a revelation of God. That's because when we see God for who he is, we will see our problems for what they are. If you've got a big God, you've got small problems. If you've got a small God, you've got big problems, right?

Have you found that to be true? If we have a big God, we will have those problems put into perspective. If God is on the throne, if he is omniscient, if he's omnipotent, if he is all-powerful and we are aware of his presence in our lives, you will find your problems will be put into perspective.

Listen, you are going to get through your storm. God has not forgotten about you. When you think of Paul and the sailors in that ship just twisting and turning at the sea for weeks, surely they lost hope, surely they thought God has forgotten us, we'll never see our families, we'll never see anybody again except for these people next to me.

Barfing all over me, it's terrible. Surely they thought that all hope was lost but God had not forgotten about them because Paul and his friends were on that ship. God has not forgotten about you. Look to him and remember he is bigger than whatever storm you face, whatever transition you are going through, God can sustain you and give you hope in a hopeless situation. Now in closing, these promises are for believers only. Non-believers suffer as well as believers, that's reality.

Jesus said in this world you will have tribulation. Non-believers as well as believers will face suffering. But non-believers do not have the promise of Romans 828 which says God works all things together for good to those that love God and are called according to his purpose.

That's what we're told, that's the promise for the believer. He can work everything together for good. That doesn't mean he's going to take bad things and make the bad things into good things. No, it's always going to be a bad thing that your husband got cancer. It's always going to be a bad thing that your brother caught in a car accident. It's always going to be a bad thing but God can bring good things out of it and you can glorify God.

God only you can do this. Only you can bring something positive out of a bad situation. That is the hope for the believer. Paul said I believe God.

It will be just as he said. Do you believe God? Do you believe God if you put your faith in him?

If you put your faith in his promises today? Jesus said in John 3 16 for God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. If you put your faith in Jesus you will have eternal life. You'll have the hope of heaven and that hope of heaven will outweigh the fears of this earth.

The fears that will happen as you're watching your TV screen and all kinds of things are alarming and frightening. Listen we have the hope of heaven. We have the hope of being a big wonderful family reunion there together. That's the hope for the believer. Having a new life here on earth when heaven comes to earth it's going to be amazing.

We look forward to that. But before we get there we want to make sure we're doing everything we can to change the world around us to point people to Jesus. And that is the hope for the Christian though is the hope of heaven. So if you have not yet put your faith in Christ and you don't hope have that hope of heaven.

I'd like to extend to you an invitation right here right now to put your faith in Christ would you pray with me. Heavenly Father we thank you for this book. We thank you for the testimony we read the boldness of the apostles the boldness of the first century church. And Lord as we see the world around us today it seems that things have pretty much stayed the same.

In some ways they're better in some ways they're worse but the reality is it's still a fallen world and we're still living in a situation and things surrounding us that are uncomfortable and make us afraid. But Lord we know that we can take heart because Jesus you overcame the world. We love you we're thankful for the sacrifice that you made you died on the cross you rose again from the dead. And you proved that you are who you said you were the Son of God.

When you rose from that grave. And so now while our heads are bowed our eyes are closed we're praying here together there may be some who have not put their faith in Christ who have not asked Jesus to be their Lord and Savior who do not have the hope of heaven. Who do not have the hope of eternal life listen if you would like to have that hope here today I want to extend to you this invitation wherever you are watching on the screen here in the sanctuary out in the courtyard.

Harvest Orange County Harvest kulani wherever you might be would you just raise your hand up and I want to lead you in a prayer wherever you are raise your hand up and I want to lead you in a prayer. You're saying that's me I want to put my faith in Christ I want to know that when I die I'll go to heaven. Would you raise your hand up and I'll lead you in that prayer God bless you God bless you right over here in the front in the middle here in the back anybody else raise your hand up where I can see it. If you're watching at one of our other locations yeah I can't see your hand but God sees your hand and this is a way of you saying I'm standing yes Lord I'm making this public profession raise your hand up wherever you are and we'll pray together. God bless you God bless you anybody on up on the balcony yeah God bless you anybody else okay for those of you that raise your hand just I would just invite you pray this prayer out loud after me mean these words in your heart. And God will answer your prayer pray this dear God I know I'm a sinner but I know Jesus is the Savior who died on the cross for my sin and I turn from my sin now and I turn to you from this moment forward. Fill me with your Holy Spirit as I walk with you in Jesus name I pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-22 06:11:03 / 2023-04-22 06:32:17 / 21

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