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Prayer: The Secret Weapon of Evangelism - Life of Paul Part 84

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
April 30, 2021 7:00 am

Prayer: The Secret Weapon of Evangelism - Life of Paul Part 84

So What? / Lon Solomon

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April 30, 2021 7:00 am

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Okay about taking the Bible.

If you brought one, and let's open the acts chapter 24 were continuing in our study of the life of the great man. The apostle Paul, and I think many of us here remember the name Zoe Baird just in case you don't let me tell you about her 1993, President Clinton nominated her to be America's first female Atty. Gen. Ms. Baird was very competent Connecticut lawyer. Her husband were all was a faculty member at the Yale Law school. She had served in the Carter Justice Department she had served as the head of General Electric's legal department, and then she was also serving as the chief counsel for Aetna life insurance Company. At first Ms. Baird seem like a shoe with. In fact, in January 1993 when the Senate Judiciary Committee opened hearings on her nomination.

There wasn't one single senator on the committee who was on record as being against her nomination, but right in the middle of the nomination process. There was a surprise revelation and that is that Ms. Baird had hired to it, household employees, a driver and a nanny and had failed to pay the Social Security and the unemployment taxes for those two workers commonly referred to as the nanny tax and reported on schedule H of your 1040. Just so you know and and what's worse they were both illegal immigrants.

Well, she went back and apologized. She said she had left the immigration issues regarding these workers to her husband and it frankly she never even heard of the nanny tax and I am afraid it was too little too late.

Senators began publicly to speculate how they could put a person in part of it in a person it as the head of the Justice Department who had this little understanding of immigration laws and tax laws.

The public outcry was deafening. And though this whole thing became affectionately known as nanny gates you remember and enjoy February 1993 Ms. Baird withdrew her nomination that you know the question that that all of this raises is do we think Ms. Baird might've been telling the truth.

I mean, is it possible she really had never heard of the nanny tax. I think that's entirely possible friends before navigate.

I think a lot of Americans had no idea that they were obligated to pay these taxes for their caregivers, their gardeners, their babysitters their cleaning ladies there other household workers. I think it's very possible she'd never heard of it and so then how sad is this that here's a lady who missed an incredible opportunity to become Atty. Gen. United States because of some information she didn't even know about what today wanted to talk about a guy in the Bible. His name is Felix, who also missed a great opportunity. He missed the opportunity to have eternal life and go to heaven.

But the difference between this man in the Bible. Felix and Ms. Baird is that Felix knew everything he needed to know in order to grab that opportunity. And in spite of that he still didn't grab and we want to talk about. So how what really happened with him and them like what difference does that make in our life today and that's our plan to let me give you little background. Acts 24 before we dig in. Remember that here the beginning of acts chapter 24's the summer of 57 A.D. and the apostle Paul is in jail in Caesarea. Let me show you a map. Caesarea was the Roman headquarters of the Middle East.

It was located 70 miles to the northwest of Jerusalem, and Paul was in jail here for his own safety.

The Jews and tried killing twice in the last week. Once on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and then in a secret assassination plot in Jerusalem. And so, the commander of the Jerusalem Garrett Garrison the Tribune. They are Roman Tribune decided for Paul's own safety.

Need to get them out of town so we sending the Caesarea Gov. Felix and said to the Jewish leaders if you want to bring charges against Paul, you go up there to Caesarea and you see Felix and so that's where we left off on I want to begin here in verse one of chapter 24 so look with me. Five days later, the high priest Ananias came to Caesarea with some elders and a lawyer named Tertullian's and they brought their charges against Paul before the governor and after Paul was brought into her tall as the lawyer began to present his case before Felix. Here is how he opened his his opening argument. He said since we have through you attain much peace and since by your Providence Felix reforms are being carried out for this nation. We acknowledge this in every way and everywhere most excellent Felix with profound gratitude bio but that I might not weary. You further. I beg you to grant caused by your beneficence.

A brief hearing that Miami I interpret for you with this lawyer just said what he just said was blah blah blah blah blah blah blah that's what he just said what makes it worse is that what he said when even true when it's a little bit about Gov. Felix and Tony is Felix was appointed governor of Judea by Emperor Claudius. He served from 52 to 59 A.D. he was a former slave who had risen to power thanks to his brother policy was a very influential man in the court of the Emperor Claudius, but according to both Josephus the historian and the Roman historian Tacitus Felix was a brutal man and a ruthless man. Tacitus summed up Felix's life with these words, and I quote Felix exercise the power of the of the king with the mind of a slave."

In fact the truth is, the Jews hated it. They despise them, and with a passion, and they are the ones in 59 A.D. were going to send a group to Emperor Nero in Rome and convince Nero to remove Felix from office and exiling from the Empire. They hated this guy. So what that means is everything this lawyer said was just lawyer speak. That was in a bitter reality in it when he praised Felix for being such a friend of the nation of Israel was lawyer speak, which still goes on today here in Washington, which is still why we love these people will be lawyer so much… A little hard on the riddle for you. Do you know why New Jersey got all the toxic waste dumps in Washington DC got all the lawyers you know why the answer is because New Jersey got to pick first elevator as one of my favorite God. Well, that's verse five and we found this man the sister tall as valleys and bring his actual charges against Paul is with the lawyer says we have found this man fall to be a real past and a person who stirs up riots among Jews all over the world is a ringleader of the Nazarene heresy and even tried to desecrate the temple so we sees them and we were about to we were about to judge him according to our law. Yeah, they were beaten to death on the Temple Mount when Leslie is the Roman commander came along and took him out of our hands and ordered us to come before you by examining him yourself were sure you will be able to learn the truth about all these charges were bringing against him and all the Jews joined in the attack. Dr. Tullis makes three charges against the apostle Paul number one that he was a past who made trouble. Everywhere he went number two that he was the ringleader of the Nazarene heresy, which is how Jewish people referred to followers of Christ at the time of Paul, and finally number three that he had violated the sanctity of the Jewish Temple.

Frankly friends from a Roman point of view. None of these charges made a hill of beans were the difference.

Felix could care less about any one of these charges. In fact, as the Tribune, the Roman Tribune in Jerusalem wrote Felix. He said acts 23. I found Paul to be accused over questions about the Jewish law, but there was no charge against him that deserve death or imprisonment will in the next 11 verses the apostle Paul gets to defend himself and let me summarize them rather than reading all those verses to you. Paul says this number one. He says I am not a past. I'm not a troublemaker.

In fact, in Jerusalem, I was minding my own business I wouldn't bother anybody. What preacher when doing anything in the temple Monaco business number two. I am most certainly Paul told Felix a follower of the way the Christian faith, but were not a heresy. Actually, we believe everything that's written in the Old Testament, and finally he said I want you to know I never violated the sanctity of the temple about the Jewish people from Ephesus wrongly accused me of bringing a Gentile in and look around. Felix. They didn't even come there, not even here today to present their evidence because there is no evidence to present verse 22 than Felix because he was well acquainted with the way put Paul's accusers off saying when Leslie is the Tribune comes from Jerusalem.

I will decide your case. Meanwhile, Felix ordered the centurion to keep all under guard, but to give them some freedom and to allow his friends to visit him and tend to his needs. Felix suspended the hearing at this point, I think because he knew there were no charges.

However, he didn't release Paul for two reasons. Number one didn't want to offend these Jewish leaders whom we understand now then liking anyway. So we want to make a matter and number two he was hoping his verse 26 is going to tell us he was hoping Paul was going abroad for his freedom. Number of verse 24. Some days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla who was Jewish.

He simply Paul and they listen to him as he spoke to them. Paul did about faith in Jesus Christ and as Paul discoursed on the subjects of righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said that's enough for now go away for for the president and when I find it convenient. I'll send for you again at the same time, Felix was hoping Paul would offer them abroad, so Felix would send for Paul often look at this and converse with Paul would two years of past Felix was succeeded by Portia Spence this is Gov. but because Felix wanted to do the Jews a favor the left, Paul imprisoned now as we said earlier, the reason that Felix was replaced is because the Jews went to Emperor Nero and got them thrown out.

Becky would've been into exile from the Empire we are told by Tacitus, had it not been for the intervention of his brother's influential brother and the Bible tells us that he left Paul in jail to do the Jews a favor and we understand why now we understand that that makes perfect sense that he would try to mollify their anger not make them any matter by turning Paul was joy left him in jail. So here we are at the end of acts 24 now.

It's now the summer of fifth nine A.D. two years of past and Paul is still in jail as he has been for the last two years in the city of Caesarea, but he's not going to be there for long.

I will talk about that next week when we continue now. That's as far as we want to go today but it's time for us to ask our most significant question and so are you ready are you written now. This almost was going to be the last time you got to do it in here but it's the third from the last time you going to get to do it in here so make it worthwhile anyway. Are you ready 123 right is a lot. So what say all right.

I said whatever, but so what difference is any of this make to me.

Well let me see if I can help us understand that friends did you notice here in acts chapter 24.

How many times the Bible tells us that Felix heard about Jesus Christ and how many times he was challenged to believe in Christ.

Let me go back look first in verse 22. The Bible tells us that Felix was already well acquainted with the way even before the apostle Paul spoke to him here in acts 24 is a lot to be learned about Christianity. I don't know. Maybe he learned about it from his wife Drusilla who was Jewish. Maybe as a good if he was a good governor smart governor baby when he came first as governor he he made it a point to familiarize himself with all the religious turns and twists in Israel.

I don't know. But the Bible is clear that Felix already knew who Jesus Christ was, before he ever met Paul then look at verse 24, 25, the Bible tells us here that Paul had a private audience with Felix and his wife Drusilla where he talked to them about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come and Felix became frightened. I mean, it's obvious that Felix was understandable. Paul was telling him about the afterlife and his need for Christ and finally look at verse 26. Here, the Bible tells us that over the next two years Felix would send for Paul often and converse with him that what you think they conversed about. I me know when the apostle Paul, do you think they talk about financial planning, IPOs, world politics, and the desalination of the Mediterranean Sea.

I don't think so. Knowing the apostle Paul, I can guarantee you, no matter where the conversation started. I can guarantee where it ended and that is what Paul challenging this man that he needed Jesus Christ, and without Jesus Christ, the ramifications and eternity were going to be terrible for him. I can guarantee that and I went on for two years principal and I want you to see you say yet what is this Telefon you know what it tells me is it Felix was an arrogant foolish man, but I might be true but from the point I really want you to see here is that information alone is not the secret to bringing people to Christ.

Did Felix have information are you kidding two years of talking to the apostle Paul one on one. You don't think he had some information about Jesus Christ. Oh my gosh he had more information. You know what to do with about Jesus Christ. If information alone is what it took to bring you to Christ. This man would come across but he did because it's not just about information. You know, in 1983. My wife and I went Israel from our very first time and it was just Brenda and me and another couple who took us treated us to the trip were wonderful couple and the one of the things we did. We were Israel. As we were staying in Jerusalem that we decided to go to Masada. Down on the shores of the Dead Sea. About an hour and 1/2 drive and so we rented a private Israeli tour guide and we rode in his car now. Three people sat in the back somebody had to sit up front next to him as everybody voted that I should sit up front next to him so I did so arrived long. Got an hour and 1/2 ride down and back hour and 1/2 back and so was riding along. Eventually this Israeli tour guide turns to me and says so what you do for living and so I said well on the pastor of the church and I said but I'm Jewish and he said why would he talk about us and I'm Jewish.

I believe Jesus is the Messiah, he said, what evidence could there possibly be to support a conclusion like that. Well, that's why they put me in fluency and so I began talking to this guy went through Isaiah 53 in Psalm 22 and everything I could think up from the Old Testament.

You know it's interesting he had an answer a different way of explaining every single one of those verses in the Bible.

Finally I said all right, all right, what about Daniel chapter 9 I sit in Daniel chapter 9. If you do the math that's their you will come up with the exact year that the Messiah was killed as 32 to 33 A.D.

Who can you think of in 32 to 33 A.D. that died here in Israel who could've possibly qualified as the Messiah other than Jesus Christ.

He said well I'm sure there must be another way to explain Daniel nine and that I said were not explaining this is not theology. All were doing is multiplying and subtracting.

That's it.

If you want to go talk to my rabbi and I'm sure my rabbis got another way to explain as a friend. Unless your rabbi is going to redefine the laws of mathematics. There is no other way to explain it. And then he said this to me. He was… He said he said to me, and I quote, even if my rabbi doesn't have another explanation for Daniel my I'm still never believe in Jesus ever now the self-promoting was this man's problem information, lack of information dude I had given him more information. In that hour ride in the car, then 50 people needed to come to Christ and back I gotta tell you, when I came to Christ in 1971.

You could've taken everything I knew about Jesus and it wouldn't fill the thimble and I came to Christ because the secret, the coming of Christ is not information. It only takes a tiny bit information to come to Christ. What it really takes is a heart that's ready to do business with God and this guy's problem was not ignorance. It was stubbornness.

This guy's problem was nodding his head toward God. It was in his heart, and Felix had the exact same problem friends. This is what I want to talk to you about today. This is how this relates to you and me many times when we are seeking to bring people to Jesus Christ. We often put the focus on the wrong place and we need to understand that so often we just try to give a more more information.

We give them evidence that demands a verdict and when they read that. Then we give them more evidence that demands a verdict and we give them tapes and CDs and in books and with tracks and we try to get him a list of the Billy Graham on the radio or the television. Now there's nothing wrong with any of that propose what I'm trying to tell you is that the secret to people coming to Christ is not lack of information. The problem is not in their head.

It's right smack dab here in the middle of their chest and in what people really need is a heart that's been prepared by the Holy Spirit heart that's ready to humble itself before God, a heart that's ready to repent before God, a heart that's ready to yield to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in their life and the only way to produce that, heart change in a person is through prayer. How are we going to convince successful powerful sophisticated affluent, educated Washingtonians that they are spiritually sick, but they need to humble themselves before God that they need to to Geo control of their life to Jesus Christ, the answer is we are not going to convince only the Holy Spirit himself can convince a person of that and how do we bring the Holy Spirit's power to bear on people's lives.

We do it on our knees, friends, we do it in prayer. You know when I came to Christ in 1971, and I started hearing Christian him judo and across the Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine.

You know, stuff like that, you know, I knew those melodies I listened and I went – I know this all but we didn't sing those songs in the synagogue. I mean, I knew I had learned in the synagogue, so I tried to figure out where have I heard this all and as I scroll back in my memory. I remembered we had a lady in African-American.

A lady named Corley Goodman who came as a domestic worker for us. When I was two months old. She worked for my family until after I left for college and if you want a picture of what Corley look like she look like butterfly McQueen who played Mamie on gone with the wind. That's, what you look like so you got a mental picture Corley right now and I can remember as I thought back I could remember as a little kid while she was ironing while she was making dinner I could remember her humming these melodies.

I did not know the words, but I knew the two, and so I thought I'll bet you she's a Christian so I hitchhiked from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where was my dog Noah 85 pound German Shepherd. We hitchhiked up the Portsmouth, Virginia, and I found Corey's house and I knocked on the door. She came to the door and peeked the little you know Kurt very close my backup that you got remember I'd have big Afro out to my shoulder.

I love these in a tank top motorcycle boots and little goatee and an 85 pound German Shepherd at the door and she looked out and she didn't come the little I thought knocked on the door again and I yelled Isaac Corey's lot E with the goal but anyway and she came to the door. Geo left on still but you did and I said, she said, what you doing here and I said open the door and she did and I said I came here to tell you I give my life to Jesus Christ and she went what I said I'm coming to tell you I gave my life to Jesus Christ and she said to me you know she said. I've been praying for you and your family for 21 years. She said but honey I never thought I'd see the day you come to the store to store and I was back on his bed while I came in I spent several days with her and though you know I thought while I'm in town how to get my grandparents and my aunt and uncle and all my friends together there at all my Jewish friends tell him about Jesus.

Well now she wasn't sure that was such a great idea, but I was sure was I was about three weeks old, and the Lord that I was sure that once I explained to them. All these truths about Christ that I understood that they were going to line up you know to get sick and so I went off to this meeting and they say how to go in not so good. Not good at all. I came back from the meat like a little puppy dog with my tail between my legs and she sat me down and I'll never remember what Corley Goodman said to me I'll never forget rather what she said to me here.

I do remember I'll never forget what she said to me she said and I quote she said honey she said don't be discouraged. She said you don't talk people into following Jesus. You pray people in the following Jesus. That's an incredible common don't talk people to follow Jesus you praise him in the following Jesus Corley Goodman went to be with the Lord 1975 in 1976 my dad came to know Christ the week before he died in 1989. My only sibling, a brother came to know Christ and he still walking with Christ today, and in 1992. My mother the week before she died, gave her life to Jesus Christ. This lady prayed my entire nuclear family and the kingdom of God that Corley Goodman could not read. She could not write.

She could not drive an automobile, she could not even spell her own name. She made an X. But this woman could pray and she prayed my whole family and the kingdom of God friends and I want here to tell you that the most powerful evangelism that takes place is evangelism it's gone in partnership with prayer. I believe nobody ever comes to Jesus Christ, except that somebody is focusing the power of the Holy Spirit on them through prayer for me it was Corley Goodman. As far as I know she's the only person that prayed for me for those 21 years and my family for you, it might've been your mother or your father, your brother or your sister.

It might've been your girlfriend your boyfriend your husband your wife maybe one of your own children in might've been somebody at work for somebody in the neighborhood. But if you're here today and you're a follower of Christ. I can promise you there was somebody out there praying for you and focusing the power the Holy Spirit on your life and that's why your heart became ready to do business with God and folks now it's your turn to do it for somebody else is that one on sandwich saying I do.

But you know what you don't know the people that I'd like to see come to Christ there hopeless there hopeless you not to have 100 people praying for these people it would make any difference. Friends don't tell me that I want to hear that. I pray for my dad seven years.

I pray for my brother 19 years. I pray for my mother 22 years and it was nobody look more hopeless than my family and yet you know what all three of them came to Christ.

Don't tell me anybody's hopeless remember what Jesus said in Luke 18, he said, Jesus told a parable whose point is that we should pray at all times and never give up. Jesus died on the cross for that person that you're thinking about Jesus. Once that person to come to Christ, a lot more than you do. And Jesus is more anxious to answer your prayer than you are willing to pray it as long as that person's breathing and let me tell you it's too soon to quit praying for that person know inside the bulletin we gave you want to pull this out is a little yellow insert it says on the top. My top 10 list you say your lawn what the world is this will friends what this is is I want to challenge you to write down 10 people. The 10 people that you most want to see come to know Jesus Christ.

You know I did this years ago.

I have a top 10 list and let me tell you was on my list number one. My father number two. My mother number three, my brother, you know what's been interesting to watch over the last 34 years as I've been able to go down and check them off. My dad my mom my brother and friends. If you write some people down here and you'll stay faithful in prayer for them. I promise you in the years to come. You want to be able to take this listing go down. Check people off this list because they're going to come to Christ. Put this thing on your refrigerator on the mirror in your bathroom on your desk at work and pray diligently for the spirit of God to get these people's hearts prepared to do business with God, and you watch what happens now want to give you moment right where you sit to start thinking about who you want to write on this list and if you got a pen and you want to start right people on the list.

Some of you know already who you want to write on this list.

I want you to take a minute right now you get started doing while you're doing that. Let me say to those of you who were here that are not followers of Christ. Right now somebody's praying for you or you wouldn't be here today. I can promise you that. And you may not realize it, but somebody's praying that you become the answer to their prayer that you come to Christ if you're here today. Let me challenge you to seriously consider doing business with God friends. How sad is it that Felix had all that information and I would suspect missed him. How sad is that friends we don't want that to happen to you. We want you to take the information you've got, and to turn it into usefulness in your life by coming to know Christ and I hope you will think about that. Now I know you haven't had time to fill this whole list out in a couple minutes but friends don't go home and just throw this thing away. Don't go home and just forget about it. There are people's lives at stake in our prayers of the key so I want you to go home in a before the days over. That's my challenge to you, you know, sit down and at some point during the day. Take 10 minutes and say, for 10 names on here and I'm in a pray for these people every single day on the way to work, preformed, or my lunch hour, pray for before go to bed at night and I'm in a hold them up and ask the Holy Spirit to deal with them until they come to Christ. Either they're going to stop breathing in that small press operator for ominous stop breathing and that's why stop ratable because of the only two reasons I'll never stop praying for you. Watch what happens. Prayer is the secret weapon of evangelists. Let me close with a quote from the prima sub British preacher SD Gordon. Here's what he said and I quote he said the great people of the earth are those who take time and pray they don't have the time, it must be taken from something else.

This something else is important very important and pressing, but still less important and less pressing than prayer, then amazing quote and I know you don't have the time to pray.

Nobody does friends.

People who pray, take the time to pray they make the time to pray and that's what I'm challenging you to do make the time to pray for these people and you watch with the spirit of God is in their hearts sprig for Jesus. I want to thank you for the people who pray for us who know Christ here today. Some of us had godly moms and dads.

Some of us have brothers and sisters who came to Christ before us. Some of us had wives or husbands who prayed us into the kingdom of God or people at work. Whoever was Lord, thank you for those people and that they didn't give up on us as unlikely as we were candidates to come to Christ. Now granted, we might learn from that in that we might do the same for others.

Fathers we fill out these top 10 list and agree pray for these people.

May the result be that hundreds of thousands of people and of coming to Christ because were using the secret weapon of evangelism, not information, but prayer for Jesus honor these prayers were going to pray by convincing and convicting the hearts of these men and women were to write down on these lists that they need Jesus Christ and father.

We look forward to being able to go down this list and check off names of coming to the kingdom of God give us that joy. Lord as a reward for the commitment of our prayers make us bulldog in our commitment to pray for these people, and we ask these things in Jesus name. And God's people said amen

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