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March 9, 2021 9:00 pm
Technical Bible if you brought one. Let's open it to acts chapter 20 were to be continuing in our study of the life of the great man.
The apostle Paul and I want to start today with a quote. So here's the quote as a child I was encouraged to tell the truth and I did. Dishonesty is a thief of time of energy and of product we must remember and teach our children and perhaps our political figures this one essential the truth shall make you free" go wow that's a great quote who said that was it done Abraham Lincoln. He say that or Billy Graham.
Maybe he said that Mother Teresa maybe she said that no no wasn't the person who said this was Martha Stewart's yard truck who was we all know went on trial this past week in New York for securities fraud and obstruction of justice. Joining a long list of other corporate executives who lately have gone on trial accused or convicted of unethical and criminal behavior that you know folks. This lack of integrity that were seeing in the corporate world is not unique just to the corporate world, even in the Christian community here in America we got our problems.
We started with Jim and Tammy Baker.
And then of course there was Jimmy Swaggart and then there were the prime time exposes on television of people like Robert Tilton and Larry Lee another televangelist and of course much in the news lately are the child sexual abuse Clinica situations with some Roman Catholic priests in the result of all of this is that people here in secular America. I have begun to take student to seriously wonder about this thing we call the Christian faith.
We have been seriously discredited in our question for today is how can we as sincere followers of Jesus Christ. People don't cheat others out of money. People who don't abuse children. People don't carry disease in the front seats of our car and have AK-47s in the basement.
How can we restore, reestablish our credibility. The credibility of Jesus Christ. The credibility of the Christian faith in the eyes of a secular world that considers all of us a bunch of hypocrites.
How do we do that while the answer is very simple. It's by being people by living lives of personal integrity, and that's what I want to talk to you about today because that's what the apostle Paul going to talk about today as he finishes his speech to these Ephesian elders that we've been studying someone to give you a little background. Remember, here in acts chapter 20 that the apostle Paul is on his third missionary journey, finishing it up is on his way back to Jerusalem with an offering with money that the Gentile churches in Greece have collected and sent to the poor believers in Jerusalem. He's working his way south down the coast of Turkey, and he's come to the city of Miletus not far from the large town of Ephesus, and here he invites the leaders of the church in Ephesus, the church, he started to come and meet with him at Miletus. Knowing it's the last time you'll ever see him here on the face of the earth. When they arrive. He gives them a little speech.
It's a speech that we been going over for the last few weeks. It's a speech in which Paul lays out for them. The principles that shaped his life and drove his ministry and meeting the man that he was and the servant of God, that he was not been telling you the last few weeks that if you really aspire to be a man of God, a woman of God, a great servant of God.
The principles here in this little speech on the most significant principles anywhere in the Bible for you and me now. We covered four out of the five and they are number one.
The principle of obedience to God. Principle number two absolute surrender to God's will.
Principle number three a passion for sharing Jesus Christ with all the people number four a passion for God's written word and finally today were going to look at the last principle and finish the speech up the principle of personal integrity. So let's look together. Acts chapter 20 verse 32 Paul says, and now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who belong to God. I have coveted no one silver or gold or clothing you yourselves know that these hands of mine supplied my own needs as well as the needs of my companion now acts chapter 19 tells us that the apostle Paul spent almost 3 years in the town of Ephesus building the church there from 54 to 57 A.D. and what Paul is talking about here is that during the time he was there he worked for a living. He he he supported himself and he supported his entire team of 6 to 12 people by making tents while he was there in Ephesus and that's what he's talking about in verse 35 he goes on to say in everything I did. I showed you that by working hard in this matter. We must help the we noticed Paul not only use the money he earned to support himself and his team. He also gave money away to the week to the poor to the needy people in town. Remembering the words of the Lord Jesus himself said it is more blessed to give than to receive that what Paul says in verse 35 that he worked hard, he's not exaggerating.
Remember we said in acts 19. Let's review Paul's daily schedule in Ephesus from 6 AM till 11 AM. The apostle Paul made tents and sold them in the marketplace.
Then when everybody else went home to take a siesta because it got too hot to work in the middle of the day. The apostle Paul when instead and taught the disciples every day in the school of Taranto's. He taught them the word of God, then from 4 to 6 in the afternoon after teaching for five hours he went from house to house acts chapter 20 verse 20 tells us this talking the people counseling with people praying with people trying to lead people to Christ and then he went back at 6 PM and worked until 10 o'clock at night making and selling tents again because that was the custom in Ephesus after the heat of the day.away they open back up again in the evening, down in the marketplace that this was a grueling schedule from 6 AM to 10 PM every day that the apostle Paul For almost 3 years while he was in Ephesus. She said a lot. I don't understand me why in the church people there get together collect some money and help this poor man. Why are they giving some support so we didn't have to go out and kill himself like this every single day. Well, the answer is they draw the answer is they wanted to give them some money he wouldn't take it.
Is that why not will for the same reason he wouldn't take any money when he spent a year and 1/2 in Corinth working for at the supporting sill and he tells us of the answer here in first Corinthians 9. He says watch look on the screen. He says in verse six. Is it really necessary that I must work for a living.
Whoever serves as a soldier at his own expense, who plants a vineyard and doesn't eat from its fruit. Even the Bible says this, Paul says you shall not muzzle the ox volleys treading out the grain. The Bible even says it will let the ox have a little bit of the fruit of his labor Wally's work.
So then Paul says, since I have sewn spiritual seed among you, that is, I came to the town I preach Jesus first.
There I started the church. I let all you guys decries since I did that.
Is it inappropriate that I should reap material support from you. Don't I have the right to be supported by you believers in Corinth while I'm there ministering the word of God will of course you have that right.
Paul verse 12, but Paul says I did not use this right. I didn't use it in Corinth when I was there for 18 months and as we just going say in acts chapter 28, in use it in Ephesus when he was there for three years. The Bible tells us that that he worked for a living and all of these places and didn't take advantage of a God-given right that he had to be supported by the church there and you, so why, why would he do that but here's the answer verse 12. I did not use this right look so that I might in no way hinder the spread of the message of Christ to say what in the world you mean by that friends what he means is that even in the days of the apostles. There were people who were convinced that this Jesus Christ thing was just a big hoax and that Paul was a big scone artist and all he was trying to do a separate people and their money.
Now Paul knew as long as people felt this way about him.
They were never going to listen to what he had to say and he also knew the only way to change these feelings. The only way to change this kind of thinking was to be a person and to live a life of such obvious personal integrity to live a life that was losing and dripping with such personal integrity. That is, Peter says, first Peter 215. He would put the silence the ignorance of foolish men.
This is why this is important for us to know. This is why the apostle Paul never allowed the churches he started, he never allowed them to pay his expenses while he was ministering in that town ever.
I mean think about it if you're a scam artist and you refused to take money from people who were trying to give it to you. You are either the dumbest call man to ever live or maybe you're a person of integrity with the sincere motives that you say you have and if that's true with and maybe I'll listen to what you say, friends, this is what the apostle Paul trying to get across to these Ephesian church leaders. What is trying to get across to us simply that the personal integrity of the messenger has everything to do with how people respond to the message. Let me repeat that the personal integrity of the messenger has everything to do with how people respond to the message and so this is the fifth great principle that the apostle Paul shares with these church leaders. He says to them. If you guys want to be mighty servants of Christ like. I am if you want to see God use your life in awesome ways like you Judaism use of my life. There are some nonnegotiable's friend and they are number one obedience to God. You gotta do what God tells you to do number two, you gotta have absolute surrender to God's will, whatever that might be nonnegotiable. Number three. You gotta have a passion for sharing Jesus Christ. Everywhere you go.
As John Wesley said, you gotta see the world as your parish number four. There's gotta be a passion for God's written Word in your life and number five and finally you got to be a person whose life drips and loses personal integrity.
That's as far as we want to go in the speech today. We finished it because it's time for us to ask are really important question and I know you're saving some your energy for tomorrow because it's the first day of the workweek that you're not going to work tomorrow so you might as well use it up today. So here we go ready 123 you go is a lot.
So what okay so the apostle Paul worked hard all okay so we had a lot of integrity so yada yada was ever going to present make them online. Well it's make that connection. A week did you see this week that the Salvation Army received the gift did you see that they receive the gift of $1.5 billion from the estate of Joan Kroc, the wife of Ray croc, the founder of McDonald's that is was only part of the estate that was divvied up this past Tuesday, the actual total estate total somewhere between two and $3 billion.
Friends can you imagine having a net worth of two to $3 billion. What you could have, you know, if you thought or two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles article for receive on had $2 million of you thought of it right thought of it and that's why he had well you say yeah that you're right Lon, it's a lot of money having money is great while it is limited give you an interesting verse from the Bible, Proverbs 28 six. It is better to be a poor man, and walk with integrity then to be a rich man whose ways are crooked is the Bible against people be enriched no, but what the Bible is telling us here is that the most important commodity for follower of Jesus the Christ of Giovanna were Jesus Christ to have is not money, it's personal integrity now friends before we go on.
Maybe we should take a quick moment and defined integrity source are all talking about same thing. What is integrity well and give you definition integrity means doing the right thing in the right way for the right reason. Let's take that apart integrity means doing the right things that will yell on that's problem in our relativistic world today. It's kind of hard sometimes to know what the right thing is well past anatomy answer that tell you he really is and friends.
Psalm 19 verse eight says the precepts of the Lord are right, and if you want to know what's right in any given situation in your life. Let me tell you what to do. You take the commands of the Bible and the principles of the Bible and you superimpose them on your situation and I promise you the right thing to do will quickly bubble to the surface. For example, the word of God calls us to tell the truth to respect authority. To be honest and upright in our dealings with other men and women to be faithful to our spouse to be people of full disclosure who don't engage in deceit and manipulation to speak well of other people to forgive people who've heard us to refrain from revenge to do onto others as you would have others do unto you, and on and on and on. These are the right thing that the Bible tells us that we should do. Integrity means doing the right thing in the right way. Second of all, you know, we just celebrated this year, the 31st anniversary of Watergate and Watergate Pres. Richard Nixon and his pals were trying to do right thing. They were trying to get reelected down Washington that the right thing, but the way they went about doing it left a lot to be desired breaking and entering, burglary, wiretapping violation of client campaign finance laws, sabotage, conspiracy, perjury, obstruction of justice and abuse of power that would we call these people men of integrity who did all of this, of course not.
Why it wasn't that they were trying to do the right thing. It was the way they went about doing it, see friends. Integrity means that were just as careful about how we do something as the something that were trying to do and third integrity means doing the right thing in the right way for the right reason and what's the right reason. First Corinthians 1031 whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. We can do the right thing and we can do it in the right way but of her doing it for the wrong reason for doing it with the wrong motive for doing things simply to be noticed by people to be honored by people to get prestige and notoriety in front of people to advance our own glory our own reputation and build our own little kingdom that is far as God is concerned, these are still not acts of true integrity. Integrity is doing the right thing in the right way for the right reason. And Paul tells these Ephesian elders and is also telling you and me in the 21st century. As followers of Christ, that we can never become men and women of God. We can never see God use our life to the absolute maximum until we get serious about the issue of personal integrity known closing today. I kinda want to give you three practical out workings of this three-way three corollaries if you will as to how this issue of integrity works out in our lives as followers of Christ. Here's the first practical outworking number one is that integrity means doing the right thing when nobody knows what you and God you know we all have the opportunities you do. I do, to do the wrong thing to live to cheat and steal to deceive to manipulate when we know that nobody else in the whole world, whatever found out about it only we in God would really know their friends.
Integrity means it when we get those opportunities. We don't take that. We still do the right thing even if we in God are the only two people were ever going to know about several years ago I was leaving a footsteps Paul tour and we were in Greece and it was going great and we went to Athens I mean Athens is a pretty important city in Paul's missionary journeys and we checked in, and Athens. This particular year the guys who run the chores for me.miss the opportunity to state the greatest hotel in Athens may be the greatest hotel. One of in Europe. It's called a grande a Bretagne and it's right in downtown Athens in this hotel is all well over 100 years old.
Winston Churchill stayed here, Franklin Delano Roosevelt stayed here of Princess Di stayed here. I mean, this place you walk in the lobby and you feel like you've gone back to the British colonial era you know what I'm saying. I'm not like I expected Gunga din to come around the corner at any minute. Some of you people don't know who Gunga din is due you because your because you're too young, but well I think I gotta think somebody else. But anyway, Gunga din, I thought might come walking around the corner so anyway I check in my room and I get in the room that I opened the closet and here is this role and in this row was just unbelievable and I want to show you Mark disrobe here it is an output disrobe on and I mean this thing weighs about 5 pounds and it was perfect. I mean it like it was tailored for me.
It's got this beautiful crest on here of a grande Bretagne, an output disrobe on and I said oh my gosh I love this row. All my gosh so I started going you know if I put disrobe in my suitcase and took it home. These people will probably never even know.
And if they did when they can do they gonna come to America looking for me to get a rollback and it honestly crossed my mind to do that. You say I'm I'm really long. That's terrible girlfriend. Let me just say if you never ever thought about taking anything out of the hotel room usually taken you.
Come on up there right now you start preaching and those in the audience and listen to you on just be honest with you, it did cross my mind and of the Holy Spirit, whispered in my ear and said long integrity means doing the right thing when only you and me know about like should, all right. You're right, God, you're right. So I folded it up at the end of my stay I put my suitcase when I went down the front desk. I said I have a robe in my suitcase and I need to pay you for an idea, so I got home I got out the shower and put on the new robot so excited and I walked out.
I said to Brenda what you think looks comfortable crest on it and everything in the first thing she said to me, is did you pay for that row. Yes, I paid for the row she said you have proof do you have a receipt and I don't know I don't have a receipt but I promise you are paying for the row so easy for me. Integrity means doing the right thing when only God and me and Brenda know that I did the right thing. Anyway, that's integrity and knowledge take disrobe.
Don't lose this okay that's integrity now. Second, practical outworking is integrity means doing the right thing even when it's hard to do I think of Abraham, God said, Abraham Genesis 22. I want to take us on, your only son, whom you love taking to the mountain where I show you and sacrificing as a burnt offering man can imagine how hard that would be and I'm convinced Abraham at that Angel would not appeared and stopped Abraham unconvinced Abraham would kill the son that was the right thing to do to obey God.
But how hard would that be and friends.
This is the second practical outworking that I want to tell you about is that whenever we are confronted with any situation. I can promise you that the right choice. The choice that has true integrity associated with it is always the hardest choice to make. That's why most people make that choice. They listen of being a person of integrity was easy everybody be one and you can be sure that given any situation. The hardest choice is going to be the one that's got to integrity associated with.
That's just the way it is third and finally integrity means doing the right thing even when it costs us something and it always does friends. Almost without exception, we take a stand for integrity were gonna pay a price. Hey because of integrity. Joseph went today to jail for 13 years in Egypt because of integrity.
Daniel went into the lion's den because of his into their integrity. Daniels three friends went to the fiery furnace because of integrity. Ruth ended up as a poor immigrant with her mother-in-law in Israel because of integrity. The apostle Paul work from sun up to sun down for three years in Ephesus. Integrity is going to cost you something, but I got great news for you.
First Samuel 230. God promises those who honor me, I will honor back and you see God honor Joseph in the honor Daniel in the honor. Daniels three friends in the honor group any honor. The apostle Paul because integrity honors God and God honors it back in. So here's the point. Yes, integrity may cost you something in the short run but friends always win in the long run because you activate God's promise where he says to what has integrity, honor me and I will supernaturally honor you back in a way that goes way beyond any price you ever paid to do integrity, not Otto. I golf every once in a while, you know, maybe some of you golfers I'm terrible I'm absolutely terrible, but I know good golf when I see it, and I know a little bit about golf and I know that one of the greatest golfers of all time was a fellow named Bobby Joe Bobby Jones in 1925 lost a major.
The U.S. Open, by one stroke when he called a penalty on himself that no PGA official was even able to confirm that he tell you what happened in the last round Bobby Jones hit a ball in the woods and when he went the woods and found that it was lying on some leaves and he stood as he addressed the ball and touched his club behind the ball in the leaves the ball spontaneously rolled 1/2 turn backwards. That that's a one stroke penalty. He didn't do it intentionally.
He made no contact with the ball. No one else had seen it, not even his own caddie saw the ball roll, but after hitting it. He came out of the woods went to the PGA official nearby reported that it happen and insisted that he be assessed a one stroke penalty and he lost the open by the one stroke penalty. He assessed himself. Later, when he was asked about a Bobby Jones said that he didn't regret doing it. He reserved he deserved no special credit for enforcing the rule on himself and he said he would rather lose a tournament with a clean conscience than when it was a dirty well let me tell you the rest of story. In 1925 Bobby Jones have been playing on the tour. The tour for 12 years. He'd only won two majors and 12 years and was thinking about given up golf. He was discouraged.
It seemed like he could never win the majors. He'd always thought would always happen any collapse after he did this in the U.S. Open and lost its. He went on in the next 4 1/2 years to win 11/15 majors. Nobody is ever done that. He also in 1930 did something that even Tiger was had never done. He won all four majors in the same calendar year. Nobody before since has ever done that and then he retired hated God honor Bobby Jones for that one stroke penalty did he change his career completely around and you know God's honor didn't stop when his golf career stop Bobby Jones had a little private tournament that he used to invite friends to every year. He designed the course and even invite his buddies to come down and play with them down in Augustine Georgia and that little tournament that Bobby Jones started went on to become the most famous golf tournament in the world we call it today. The Masters hated God honor this guy's life for that little one stroke penalty. You Betty did, but what did God say those who honor me what all on and you know I know many of you in unless I miss my guess, your friends, many of you here today are facing some tough choices in your life where you got integrity on one side is going to cost you something, and it's the hardest choice she got in on the other side. You got all the easy decisions to make and I'm here to challenge you choose integrity. All right, it's gonna cost you all right. It's not easy but friends when you act with integrity, you activate the promise of God in your life that those who honor me, I will honor choose integrity and what is integrity means. It means doing the right thing in the right way for the right reason, even when nobody knows but you and God even when it's hard to do.
And even though it cost you something. These are the kind of people to Jesus Christ want you and me to be. If we claim to be his father. Melanie close by saying appear here today and you never trusted Jesus in a real and personal way and maybe one of the things that's really hanging you up is that you knew a follower of Christ once who did something really dirty really nasty really shady and and then after sour you on the whole Christian deal then let me say to you understand how you feel and I'm certainly not justifying with that person did, but folks don't don't don't forget that if you look deep enough into the life of any follower of Christ you're going to find cracks in our integrity. Hey, we were perfect we would need a Savior. Remember that the trustworthiness of the Christian faith rises and falls not on the perfection of the followers of Christ. But on the perfection of Jesus himself, and until you find something wrong with Jesus, believing the Christian faith works. The Christian faith is real and it's trustworthy and severe here today and you had that happen. I personally apologize to you for whatever that person did to you. I feel bad about that and I'm sorry for that but don't throw the baby out with the bath friends as long as Jesus Christ is a person of impeccable integrity and he is in the Christian faith still stands as real and strong and I hope that will help. Let's pray together showing what Jesus, thanks for talking to us today about what it takes to become a woman, a man of God. Thanks for reminding us that these principles we been talking about the last few weeks that there are nonnegotiable and that if we really want to become men and women like Paul and see you use us like you did. Paul and we've got to take these principles with absolute seriousness father.
My prayer is that you would change our life because we been here and we been learning these principles and it by the power of the Holy Spirit you would bring our lives around and alignments with these principles that we won't be perfect but God make us consistent and in this area of personal integrity. I want to pray for people today were facing some tough choices and I ask God to give them the courage to choose integrity.
Given the fate to know you're going to keep your promise that those who honor you. You will honor and help them choose integrity. May we be people here in this town we who claim to follow Christ who dripped and loose with so much personal integrity that this town stops and is willing to listen to the message that were carried father change this town because you change our lives and we ask you to do this for your glory and honor in Jesus name we pray. Amen