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October 11, 2019 1:00 am
It is not a surprise to any of you to know that it is one thing to begin something that is a whole different thing to finish it. It's one thing to go to the college of your choice and it's a whole different thing to graduate from that college.
It's one thing to make a resolution and it's a whole different ballgame to keep that resolution.
I mean, it is one whole thing to begin a relationship and is a whole different set of discipline and commitment to nourish and sustain and keep and maintain that relationship. It's always easy to begin but it is much harder to finish. It's much easier to start. Well, it's a lot harder to finish well. It doesn't take a great deal of discipline to be enthusiastic about the commencement of something, but it takes a real commitment to see it through. And as we come to the end of the book of acts we really come to a very intriguing ending for the book. It's not the kind of ending that you would expect after all this time that would be looking through it. Throughout the book of acts.
In fact, for most of the book of acts has been concerned with the apostle Paul, his conversion, his ministry, his successes, his persecution, his imprisonment, and you would think that as you come to the end of the book you would expect. That is gonna end by telling you what happened to the apostle Paul how his life ended but all of a sudden the book ends in chapter 28 versus 30 and 31. Here's how the book ends for two whole years.
Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to him badly and without hindrances. He preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ, as have the book in why would the book.
In this way, why is the book and without telling us what happened to Peter what happened to Paul what happened to Philip what happened to all these great preachers who were larger than life. None of that is here at the end you think the bookings that way. I've given it a lot of thought and I can with the conviction that it is this white because Dr. Luke inspired by the Holy Spirit is more concerned with the gospel than the preachers of the gospel that Dr. Luke was inspired by the Holy Spirit. He was more concerned with the power of the gospel to convert people to Christ then would be instruments that God uses to bring these people to convert. I wanted to hear your eye please listen to what I'm going to tell you there are many Christians and I am included who get so frustrated with our unsaved friends and we often think if I can have the key that unlocks their blindness.
This virtual blindness. If I only have just a little app that will make them see what I can see if I only have the right words for the right knowledge, the right experience. We could bring them to Christ. But I want to tell you this day that of the book of acts has taught us anything, it taught us this that only God can do that. It teaches us that all God requires of us is faithfulness. It teaches us of all that God is required of us in his willingness to serve his willingness to speak his willingness to be available as willingness to obey and God will do the rest. Today I want to show you hear from acts 28 several principles for your number that will unlock the secret for finishing well.
I want to tell you it has been my personal prayer. From that day back in February 1975 when I was ordained to the gospel ministry from ever the day when Ms. Bishop stood in the Cathedral in Sydney and said well you will you will you and I said yes I will. I don't think there was a time that I have not prayed that I would finish well is it's a lot easier to start and start well. It is much harder to finish well and I think the book of acts teaches us particularly here in chapter 28 some principles that if we truly take them to heart. Not just intellectually believe them relate make them the cornerstone of our lives. Our Christian lives.
They will help us unlock the secret for finishing well number one you must understand, comprehend, practice, and believe that obstacles will not hinder the plan of God. Secondly, that all objections will uphold the work of God unfairly that obedience will harvest the blessing of God to finish well.
You must understand, you must comprehend. You must practice in your life. Every single moment of every single day. You must understand that obstacles will not hinder the plan of God for your life.
One of the big key reason on the biggie is a slang word, forgive me for that, but one of the biggie reason why some Christians do not finish well is discouragement the moment they hit the wall. They give up the moment I face obstacles or problems or difficulties they give up because from the human perspective, the apostle Paul's life was filled with obstacles. It was filled with difficulties, some of them were humongous, some of them were home writing this obstacles in each obstacle that the apostle Paul faced in his life was designed by Satan to stop and kill his ministry to put an end to his ministry. Every one of these obstacles where planned by the enemy of his soul in your soul to destroy the work of God. Each obstacle was intended to hinder the plan of God for being fulfilled in the life of the apostle Paul in the life of the preaching of the gospel in those early days, persecution was a hindrance ensure that his fair share of those imprisonment were obstacles and he had seen his fair share of inside cells and prisons from Philippi to Caesarea being beaten and stoned and falsely accused were all hindrances and Paul had his fair share of that. Then there was the hindrance of his on fellow Jews that in one time he was so overwhelmed for love him.
He said if I end up in hell for eternity that helps my fellow Jews to be converted to Christ is willing to pay the price was a hindrance of the indifference on the part of the Romans, but through it all. The apostle Paul understood practice and believe that those obstacles cannot cannot cannot know the will of God.
He understood any practice them to believe that these obstacles come out hinder the plan of God for his gospel and for God's servant then means that they cannot find the power of God, they might try to grab him from speaking, but it cannot drive the power of the word of God and the plan of God. And that's why he was able to keep going in the toughest of the tough times that he was facing. How many of you know that there really a two sides to every obstacle that you face in life. There is a human side, your side, my side, and that is God's side.
You see, from the human side obstacles appear as huge from God's side that walks from your side obstacles appear as huge boulders, but from God and these are only stepping stones to get to the top of the mountain you got understand that from human side from your side obstacles a frustrating but in God's hand from God side there are mere instruments that he uses to sanctify you and bless you.
From the human side obstacles appear to be dead ends plates but from God and all the doors to get you to the destination. If you read my book of God is in control wise my life. Such a mess. You would've read about the obstacles on the hindrances in my life how each one of them were designed by the enemy to literally destroy my minister before began, but God in his mercy used these same obstacles as stepping stones to fulfill his purpose to fulfill his plan to speak with confidence to everyone of you who are facing insurmountable obstacle in your life today I want to speak with confidence only confidence in the word of God or confidence in the God himself who promised in his words, all of you are facing difficulties I wanted to listen to me because I'm gonna tell you stop seeing these obstacles from your point of view and begin to see them from God's point of stop dwelling on how huge and how big your obstacles are and begin to see how small these obstacles are and see how God can use these very obstacles. Bless you, and to use them to get to fulfill his plan in your life, start playing the tape recorder that is growing in your mind all day long.
Stop rehearsing these problems and begin today of seeing God's hand working in your life. This is the first secret to finishing well there we see here in the life of the apostle Paul is that he saw with confidence that obstacles will not hinder the plan of God.
But secondly he saw that objections will not hold the work of God. One of the greatest temptations to the 21st century Christians is to see people all around you becoming more openly and more vocally objecting to the truth of the gospel more openly and more vocally objecting to the true Christian faith in the greatest temptation when you see all of that is not to be intimidated. The greatest temptation is not to be silent or both. One of the great temptations for the Christians in the 21st century is not to be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
When people all around you are saying that all religion. These are reporting one people all around you saying to believe that Jesus is the only way is tantamount to bigotry his tent amount to hatred is tantamount to intolerance when people all around you saying that the Bible is open to all sorts of interpretation when people all around you are saying to love people is not to get another phrase about the lifestyle when people all around you are saying that God does not care so much about morality and sexuality as much as he cared about you accepting and respecting people's sexual preferences when people all around you. I'm bothered by such objections to the core of the Christian faith. That temptation is to stand firm and refused to go along to get along audit some depressing statistics this week and these were the latest scientific research by very respectable institution and it says this 13 2% of all born-again Christians in America do not believe in moral absolutes 15% of the non-Christians believe that there are moral absolutes were not doing much better and throughout the book of acts is see Paul was facing these objections is no objection from the Jews that objections from the Gentiles, objections from everybody and yet the reason why he finished well is because he understood that objections will not work of God. Every time Paul opens his mouth already had the vision. People immediately fall into two camps. Those who respond normally very small, and the majority of people not only reject the message but they want to shoot the messenger and in acts 28 when the ship is wrecked on the island of Malta. Paul suffered misunderstandings, false accusations, false assumptions soon as this megamillion visit to see how God has put his knowledge even in the minds and the hearts of the pagan that the understood. There is justice visit. This man escaped from the shipwreck, but he must be a criminal.
He must be a bad guy and that is why now he can escape the bite of the snake false perception but do not want his hand and not get swollen at all and he didn't get sick they be that the change of minds about them and they will worship him as a God when he goes and heals the father of the governor of the island that will worship him as God visited them replaced. I think you know this but little utility again people are fickle, more high up in the polls and asked that you plummet people are emotional roller coasters and that's why you cannot put your trust in people you love people, but you put your whole trust in God because when I love you in the next day they hate you people would be ready one day to canonize you if you say what they like you decide you do what they want you to do and then they are ready to crucify you and stoned to death if you stand for something they don't like.
But Paul understood that objections will not hold the work of God.
When Paul got the room the first thing he did.
He shared with his fellow Jews the truth about Jesus. He is the hope of all prophecies from Genesis to Malachi.
As he began to expound Jesus is the fulfillment of all the hopes and dreams of his people for 2000 years. The Bible said they objected: you that objections on objectors cannot hold the work of God.
Probably one of the hardest things for me as a pastor who deeply love and cares for the souls of people, one of the hardest things for me is to see someone or hear someone say I can't stand any longer against the current of my environment and therefore I'm going to give in the hardest things. The truth is none of us can stand in our own strength. None of us can stand without the power of God and none of us can stand without the strength of God. None of us can persevere without the power of the Holy Spirit who is indwelling in the process. So to finish strong. You must understand, comprehend and believe and practice that obstacles will not hinder the plan of God. We must understand practice and belief that objections will uphold the work of God. Thirdly, in order to finish strong.
You must understand practice and believe that obedience will harvest God's blessings and the blessing of God is one thing about the book of acts chapter 28 that I don't want you to miss the gospel that the apostle Paul preached, as it will told in his last two verses of the book versus 30 and 31 the gospel that Paul preached in acts 28 and the gospel that Peter preached in acts chapter 2 is exactly the same gospel was not a different gospel, because it was preached in different people by different person in a different environment in a different setting.
No, not a thing that Paul and Peter and Philip and James and all of the great men of God that we read about in the book of acts.
The one thing that they had in common is their obedience to preaching the truth of the gospel without compromising it without watering it down. It is the same gospel that was preached by Paul in 28 Peter preaching the day of Pentecost. In chapter 2. Today I hear people say I heard this from evangelical pastors that literally breaks your heart that I hear them say if you can make the gospel attractive to the culture. If you make the gospel palatable to society.
If you modify the gospel just a little weird to fit our day. If you translate the Bible in such a way that it can fit with the feminist agenda then people are going to respond. You know what I want to say I don't want you to know what I was, but I'll say this, they may respond, but they are responding to a false gospel yesterday. My flock to it, but they are flocking to entertainment. Yes, I might respond to it.
But there are responding to what appeals to the flash obedience might not be easy but it's the only way to peace, obedience might not be comfortable, but there you find your only comfort. Obedience might not be popular, but the only way to blessing is the only way to blessing obedience might not be hip, but it's only way to please God calls obedience might have led him into two years under house arrest in Rome and before that three years in Caesarea prison and you would say what a waste of time that obedience get Paul to government to prison. At least if he kind of compromise a little bit and winked at this and went to bed a little bit. It would've been out there preaching the gospel he would have another fourth missionary journey up brothers and sisters listen to me, that is not true at all. X falsehood in the prison in Caesarea. He was able to preach the kings and governors and the authority of the land and under house arrest in Rome.
Here are some of the most joyful, most peaceful, most exciting epistles of all the epistles that he was made of the Holy Spirit to write Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Seth in the second Timothy all written when he was under house arrest me tell you something when you are obedient you going to see God in control of your all of your circumstances are you going to see you going to discover that there's no time that's wasted. You gonna find that no effort has been misplaced that there is no sacrifice that is not being unnoticed by God. No obedience. That will not be blessed by God when you're obedient even knew prison will be turned into a pool picked because that's what happened with the apostle Paul from historical accounts and submit some of the pastoral epistles we know what the book of acts does not tell us about Paul's end, we know that is been released after those two years, and he traveled for two more years, possibly going to Spain as he always wanted to do and then come back to Roman A.D. 64, when Nero set fire to Rome and then accuse the Christian's falsely accusing them. Eusebius, the historian tells us that Paul was arrested during the time he was beheaded on the opinion way, but you see from God's perspective, the details of Paul's best was not important that the God didn't care.
Listen to at some hundred and 16 verse 50 precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. How did Paul die is not really important.
What is important is that he finished well. He finished well how you God is really important. What is important is that he was able to say literally few days before he faced Jesus face-to-face. He was able to say I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which is the Lord of the righteous judge will award me on the day I wanted to listen to the rest of that verse from second Timothy, this is not just only for me but for all who love his appearing.
The crown of righteousness. Henceforth is awaiting for you when you finish well. So if there's one thing the book of acts. Remind me again and again off the question that leaves me with this leaves you with this. How would you finish well will I finish well will you finish well will I understand when you understand the secret of finishing well to be that obstacles will not hinder the plan of God that objections and objectors will not the work of God, and that obedience will harvest the blessing of God. Thanks for listening to this message from Dr. Michael. You sat recently featured on leading the way. If you'd like to know more about us, please visit LTW.org.LTW.Ward