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May 22, 2020 7:00 am
Good morning everybody. Hey how are you thanks for being here today hey I want to study the Bible today. So let's take a copy of the Bible. Hope you brought one that's open it together to the book of acts, chapter 16, acts chapter 16 were to be continuing today. In our study on the life of the great man. The apostle Paul here. I would think a little survey okay and others accountable raise your hand sort of survey. How many of you guys here. Took English in high school, raising well of course you did. Now do you remember some of that incredibly awful nasty stuff they made you read in high school English like Beowulf remember that I'm 40 years later I'm still trying to figure out what Beowulf has to do with anything to deal with real life. Remember the Canterbury tales. All they were terrible. Member Shakespeare anything and everything. I could never figure out what the world was going on with that guy had about the great Gatsby was that terrible or want and all I can say about all that stuff is thing God forklift no Johnson went on.
I don't know how automated without well there was one thing they may be read in high school that actually are, like it was called the Iliad by Homer and remember the story Paris. This guy was a prince of Troy came over to Greece and stole away this princess.
Her name was Helen and he took it back to Troy well old Greek army mobilized to go to get her back and they went over there in a fought battle after battle after battle and they could never break into the city of Troy and so they came up with an ingenious strategy. One day when the Trojans woke up they saw this huge wooden horse out in front of the gate. They thought the gods had left his horse forum and so they went down a very excitedly roll the horse inside the city gates was what they didn't know is it inside the belly of this thing. It was hollowed out and there was a Greek commando unit inside the belly of this thing well.
When nightfall came, the Greeks left themselves out, open the city gate the whole Greek army rushed in the city fell. You know the end of the story. Now the reason I bring all that up which you might be curious to know what this has to do with anything. The reason I bring all that off is because today as we traced the journeying of the apostle Paul, where can actually find the apostle Paul standing 10 miles from where the Trojan horse stood centuries before you had active spot God is going to speak to the apostle Paul. God is going to challenge the apostle Paul with a mission.
The polls and we set up and the whole history of the world is going to change because of this, so we want to talk about that and then we want to come back and ask the question what what difference does this make you and me in our world today.
So let's talk together little bit of background before we did get back. 16. Remember, the apostle Paul is now on what we call his second missionary journey.
He's put together a new team himself, Silas and Timothy and they started out just to go around and revisit all of the cities that Paul and Barnabas had gone to on the first missionary journey. That's all they plan to do when they started, so let's pick up chapter 16 verse six and Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia Cholla map and make sure we all know what's going on here is Galatia. Here's Phrygia in the central part of Turkey, and here are all of those cities. Derby Lister I Coni him and per city and Antioch were Paul and Barnabas have been on their first journey. What verse six tells us is they completed their mission.
They revisited the cities but then something very important happens. The apostle Paul decided that instead of calling it a day and heading for home that God, instead wanting to keep going. The God wanting to break some new ground for Jesus Christ and so we looked at the map and he says will. Gosh, where would I go from here I'm sitting here in the city, and Antioch. Where would be the most logical. The most reasonable place to go next what he says I know where I should go. I should go to Ephesus Ephesus within the Roman province of Asia, the Roman province of Asia was the largest, most civilized and most influential province in the Eastern Roman Empire. Ephesus was the capital of this province from which the entire province could be effective for Jesus Christ and it's clear that's where Paul plan to go next.
But look at the end of the verse verse six goes on to say, but the Holy Spirit presented literally forbid them to preach the word in the province of Asia you save a lot why the world would God forbid Paul to go into the most strategic city in the Eastern Roman Empire and tell people about Jesus Christ so they could have eternal life. Will the answer is I don't know. It makes no logical sense and I'm sure that's exactly what Paul thought at that point. This makes no logical sense but that's what God told him that's what he did.
He's into city and Antioch. He to go southeast. These are Paul's already been there.
God forbidden him to go west and preach in the province of Asia.
So the only place Paul can go is North and is he starts heading north. Suddenly it hit the many goes.
Now I see.
Would God talk to.
I got it now. God didn't want me to go into Asia because God wanted to take me north here into Bithynia. Bithynia was a very highly populated problems just on the southern shores of the Black Sea. Many important cities here, including the city of Nicaea were a very important church counsel would be held in a couple hundred years and Paul said Wilde is a huge Jewish population there to God obviously is driving me north into Bithynia. Okay it makes sense now. So we headed north, verse seven, but when they came to the border of Missy. They tried to enter this province of Bithynia, but the spirit of Jesus would allow him to noncontrast to Asia were God, it simply said the Paul, don't preach here when Bithynia he says you can even go in there you can even step foot into that province is they will want. I thought God was a loving God. How in the world is that a loving God to forbid all these people in Asia and forbid all these people in Bithynia to hear about Jesus Christ and get eternal life.
I mean why would God keep these people from hearing will be answer is, he didn't Peter when he writes of in first Peter chapter 1 he addresses his letter to God's people scattered throughout Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia.
There were a lot of believers in the Asian Bithynia. By the time Peter wrote his letter and Paul at the end of the second missionary journey is working to sing is allowed by God to go to Ephesus to spend two years in Ephesus and to see the entire province of Asia reached that we don't know who went to Bithynia, but somebody went and preached in Bithynia because by the time Peter writes there believers there is a matter fact we have letters climbing the younger who was the governor Bithynia between 111 and 113 A.D. he wrote to Emperor Trajan the Emperor of the Roman Empire, complaining that there were too many Christians in Bithynia and could he kill a few and Emperor writes back and says, help yourself.
And so there was a huge actual there was a huge martyrdom in Bithynia in the beginning of the second century, so we know there was a huge number believers there.
The point is friends. God made sure the people in Asia and the people in Bithynia heard the message of Jesus Christ. But just not to Paul. At this moment. And so what happens per se so they pass by Missy a.
The Bible says and they went down to Truax as peers. Paul he stuck here in the city of beryllium right on the border between Asian Bithynia.
He can't go southeast is already been there for each. He's been forbidden to go southwest into Ephesus and Asia. He's been forbidden to go north into Bithynia. So Paul does only thing he can do. He goes straight west through Missy a over to the city of Truax as on the Aegean Sea. This is where the Trojan horse stood 10 miles from here.
Centuries before, and while easier, he has to be thoroughly confused. I mean, here he is in the city.
He doesn't know why easier. He has no idea were supposed to go. He has no idea what he supposed to do next and what you notice that Truax, as is in the Roman province of Asia. So God Artie told him he is not allowed to preach theirs. We sit in the city.
He can't preach he not know what's going on.
You think Paul was just a little confused. I think he was the first time and during the night. Paul had a vision you say what night what we don't know some night. Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him come over to Macedonia and help us that when you read commentaries you find scholars argue for paragraph after paragraph about how did Paul know this man in his dream was a Macedonia with a guy wearing some distinctive clothing that made it clear he was a Macedonia did he speak some distinctive dialect that made it clear he was a Macedonia city look physically in some way that made it clear he was a Macedonia do you have a sign around his neck. I am a Macedonia and they argue about this folks, I don't really think this is rocket science. If you have a dream and a guy stands up in your dream and says, over the Macedonia and help us what where do you think a strong I mean come on now is obviously for Macedonia and so Paul says all right, now I understand now I see what God's doing. He wouldn't let me go into Ephesus and he would let me going to Asia and he wouldn't let me going to Bithynia and he got me here to Truax as having no idea what the world I was doing, because the whole time, God's plan was for me to go to Europe and Nevada gone into Asia if Oregon into Bithynia would've slowed me down from the real plan.
God had for me in this team, which was to get to Europe than any tell you that Macedonia Alexander the great was for Macedonia's father, Philip of Macedon is the man after whom the provinces name Macedonia and and all up to this point. Remember the message of Jesus Christ is been limited to the Middle East to the eastern outskirts of the Roman Empire, but now with them about the cross into Europe. Paul and his team is about to take the message of Jesus Christ. Right into the heart and the soul of the Roman Empire and friends. By doing this they're going to change the history of the world that you and I live in today. This would not be the world it is if the apostle Paul is not agreed to do this will come back talk more about that in the weeks to come with the Bible says verse 10 after Paul had seen this vision, immediately we got ready to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the good news to them and the year it was 50 A.D. probably November to December, 50 A.D., the apostle Paul is been a follower of Jesus Christ for 17 years and to this man and his team God entrusts the responsibility of taking the message of Jesus Christ into the heart and soul of the Roman Empire, not just people we stopped there one other thing I'd like to point out notice in verse 10 that it says, and immediately we got ready to leave for Macedonia. If you go back and look you'll find this is the first time in the narrative of the book of acts with the word we is used up to this point. It's been for a day they they they suddenly it's what we and what this means is that the author of the book of acts Luke suddenly joins the team here and Truax as so that when Paul set out for Macedonia. Luke start saying we because now he's with what we know about this guy. Luke what we know it was a doctor. Colossians chapter 4 tells us that he was a physician and he was obviously practicing medicine there and Truax as when Paul showed up. That was the already a follower of Christ.
When Paul got there we don't know that he walking to Starbucks one day to get a couple coffee and Paul was there and he struck up a conversation. He gave the Christ. We don't know but what we do know is when Paul left Truax as and set off for Europe.
Luke was with him over his doctor shingling on the little sign that said gone preach and and he never came back to doctoring again 90 doctoring the wonderful thing being a doctor is an incredible way to serve humanity. But Lucas found something that gave me more fulfillment than doctrine, which was serving the living God and folks, this is a wonderful insight into the life of Luke here that no matter what we're doing about how valuable it is for the people in our world, it will never compare to the fulfillment that you and I get from serving the living God in our lives now doesn't mean we have to resign from her job and often vision feel it just means in one form or another. The time and the energy we invest in serving the living God will bring a joy to our lives that no form of human endeavor will ever bring Matthew Luke learn. That's why stop doctrine and went to go serve God with Paul and you're here today and you've never trusted Jesus in real and personal way. May I say, you may be doing some wonderful things with your life, but you're still missing the highest purpose for being alive, the highest purpose for being alive is to serve the living God to advance the kingdom of God and to get the fulfillment in the satisfaction that comes from being part of that wonderful endeavor to God wants to raise your fulfillment in life to a whole different level and he'll do it if you just give Jesus Christ a chance and think about what, let's stop here will come back next week to see what happens when they go to Europe but we have a really important question we need to ask and y'all know what our question is, so are you ready ready all right here we go ready 1235 is Alonso one. The Trojan horse. Follow the story big deal. What difference is any of this make to my life all I think there's a huge lesson in the event that we just gone over for your life in my life today and as I was starting it this week. I got to thinking as I was watching God lead Paul and Paul have no idea where God was taking them.
I thought to myself this week.
You know isn't good that so many times God doesn't tell us ahead of time where he is taking us into good that so many times God doesn't let us in on what is got a head force before it happens. I mean if God told me 15 years ago that he was going to send a disabled little girl severely disabled little girl in the my life friend. I gotta tell you I would've frozen up with fear and doubt and uncertainty and would probably never been able to go on and deal with it. God told me 10 years ago that we'd be in the middle of a $90 million building program here at Otteson. What $90 million. What are you not I'm not a good enough leader to lead a church to something like that. If God told you 10 years ago. A lot of the things that he was going to take you through over the last 10 years where he's gotten you through you to frozen up in fear and been so intimidated when he told you that you wanted to back out before you even got a chance to see what he wanted to do in your life friends same thing happening with the apostle Paul. I believe that if God he told the apostle Paul in his little team down and listen for a Downing Derby hey guys, guess what we're going to URL that we are all three of you, God, and you little preacher, heartfelt and then go to try to kill you stone you hang you gonna run you out of town try to tar and feather you you little preach with the best philosophers in Athens. You are with them not to have any place to live. You not going to know when you foods coming from but don't worry fellows could be perfectly all right. I think that little team would've frozen right up in fear and there's no way in the world they were ready to take that on. So guess what God didn't tell you to set up all follow me I'll show you were going when I'm ready is following and by the time they got to Truax as God had worked in their lives and prepare them. So when he said were going to Europe.
Now they were ready to go. Think what happened with Paul God lead Paul in the direction the Paul didn't understand he letting down the path they didn't like. He letting to a place where he had no desire to be. He letting it away that defied all of Paul's human logic, and he led Paul in this chapter without the courtesy of any explanation along the way. Never told Paul what was going on and folks, when it was all over. Paul was right where God's plan for them to be all along that was never a moment when down about God's choices being right. There was never a moment when Paul's ultimate destination. What was in any doubt.
There was never a moment when God's plan for Paul's life was in the slightest jeopardy, God had to sing completely under control. The whole time.
It's just that Paul had no idea what was going no idea at all.
You know the same thing happened to Moses member how Moses and the Israelites were led by the power of them of the pillar of fire and the pillar of fire letter.
My down to the Red Sea that the Red Sea in front of many hills on one side heels on the other side. Remember that not tactically. This was a really terrible position to be and when Pharaoh is a matter of fact, arrived with his chariots on the hill overlooking the Israelite position. Remember what he said. He said the God of Moses is a very poor general to lead him no retreat is aware that the Bible will end exactly that's would you rather sit in the movie but but but that the fact the right and don't you think Moses down there looking at these chariots. He and mountains on one side mountains on the other side Red Sea in front of them, don't you think it occurred to him and knows Israelites, God, what are you down is completely illogical to get completely killed. Why would you leave us down. You got a mistake is this what you know what after the Red Sea it open middle walk-through and the chariots were all going to look like such a big mistake anymore. Didn't know friends that come as a surprise to God that he was an open the Red Sea. No, I think it came as a big surprise to Moses and those people probably it was a surprise to God and all. And here's the point.
The point is that the apostle Paul did he understand everything that God was doing in his life before he had this vision to Truax as answer no. Moses and the Israelites that they understand exactly how God was leading them before God opened the Red Sea answer no and will you and I always understand everything God is doing as he leads us along friends.
He answers no God often leads us as his children down roads we don't like and don't understand God often leads us to places where we don't want to go. God often drives us onward like you drove Paul onward in this chapter, even though were in the dark and worried were confused but you know what we can have the same confidence of Paul.
We can have the same confidence of Moses had the confidence number one that God is an absolute control at all times. The confidence number two that God never makes a mistake. God never says EVER number three the confidence that God is always working a plan for our good, for his glory. Even if we can't see it or understand it right now, which means that what God is asking from us is simply that we trust you that we follow his lead.
I love the old hymn, it says my Lord knows the way through the wilderness. All I have to do is what understand it all know be able to figure it all out know be able to diagram it on a piece of paper and explain it to people know be able to completely look down the road and figure out where this is all going no, all I need to do is be in control, no, all I need to do is what follow. That's all Paul did all Paul did was follow. That's all Moses. Moses just follow in friends that's all God's asking you and me to do. He's not asking you to understand everything is doing in your life because guess what, he's not going to give you the courtesy of always telling you what he's doing in your life you didn't get that courtesy to Paul he didn't get that courtesy to Moses is probably not going to give it much to you and me, but he does give us the assurance that he is in control. He makes no mistakes and if we follow him will never be sorry you know we sang earlier in the service wonderful him to God be the glory, great things he is doing so love to the world that he sent us his son by Fanny Crosby made a Fanny Crosby was born 1820 in upstate New York and when she was six months old. She had an eye inflammation and the local doctor was out of town so they called on this quack physician in town who misdiagnosed or mistreated her scarred her corneas for life and for the next 95 years. Fanny Crosby was completely blown jet a godly grandmother named Eunice and when it would became obvious that her granddaughter was going to be blind the rest of her life. Eunice made up her mind that her granddaughter was not going to be a helpless, invalid, and so she spent every day with little Fanny reading to her describing to her in picturesque language.
All of the things around her, the birds, the trees, the clouds, the file flowers that Fanny couldn't see and building a biblical worldview into this little girl friend. His grandmother told over and over again. God makes no mistakes. Fanny would often ask grandma why did God let me go blind and she would always repeat her mantra. Fanny God makes no mistakes now to us looking at someone who mistreated and misdiagnosed.
This poor little girl and cause her to go blind for the next 95 years of her life. We would say that was a horrible mistake will Fanny's grandmother said no it wasn't and she said Fanny God has a plan. It's bigger and better than anything you can understand right now sweetheart and I don't know what it is and you don't know what it is but God makes no mistakes. Fanny just trust will Fanny Crosby believed her grandmother, and you know she found she found it because she couldn't see because she wasn't distracted by the world around her of sight that she began to develop a an uncanny unbelievable spiritual connection to the living God in the darkness of her life that solitude and that darkness created an environment where she connected with God in a very special way.
And so Fanny Crosby began to write him about her walk with God and her experiences with God. In fact she wrote a lot of hymns.
In fact, she wrote over 9000 him.
Fanny Crosby did more than anyone in the history of the Christian church is ever written. You know many of Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. She wrote that all the way my Savior leads me but she wrote rescue the perishing past me not, O gentle Savior close to the near the cross redeemed, how I love to proclaim all of these Fanny Crosby Road and reflecting back on her blindness in the last year of her life. She said this. In fact, this was said in her last public appearance. She died several weeks afterwards and I quote, she said. I believe that the greatest blessing.
The Lord ever bestowed on me was when he permitted my external vision to be close. For by being shut out all the world because of my blindness.
I have been shut in with my Lord. The loss of sight has been no loss to me for and making me blind look at this God prepared me for the real work for which he created me if I had been bought. I could've written these hymns that was the real work God had for me. Then she said we all have sorrows and disappointments. But if we commend them to God.
They will all resulting good. We must trust God's way is best even when we don't understand it for his leading is far better than any we could ever conceive for ourselves to God.
Make a mistake with Fanny Crosby.
No, we didn't friends know within the God make a mistake with Moses know did he make a mistake with the apostle Paul. No. And some of us as we sit here today, we have incredible anxiety in our life.
Some of us even have anger in our life because we want to know what's going on and what God is doing in our life makes no sense and some of the ways God has led us we can figure it out. It seems illogical. It seems unfair and we reach out and we go God why would you explain to me what you doing and God wants were mad about we don't like not to be in control, say something to you today friends. It encourages me because I have the same struggles and encourages me to know the apostle Paul. One day was right where I was or where you are in encourages me to know that Moses at some point in his life was right where we are in encourages me to know that Fanny Crosby asked the very same question and encourages me to know that in every single instance God made no mistake, not with Moses, not with Paul.
Not with Fanny Crosby and can I tell you he's not making a mistake with you to not understand it will. So what blindness no sense to me was somewhat O.
Seems I just I would like to know where God is taking me welcome to the card not going to honor that necessarily he did not honor it. Would Moses even moderate. Would Fanny Crosby did not or would Paul watching the en route necessarily with you friends. It's actually a blessing you probably don't know. But here's what you can know you can know and so can I the gods in absolute control you can know and so can I the God makes no mistakes.
You can know and so can I the God is preparing us so that when he gets is where you try to take us will be ready to obey God.
At that point and you know what that's all you and I really need to know our Lord knows the way through the wilderness. All we need to do is what, just trusting and follow here here today and man, you just torpedo with anger, frustration and anxiety my invitation to you is to just bring it to the foot of the cross and leave it there.
Let God worry about the way through the wilderness.
That's his job. All you and I have to worry about friends following that's real easy job description. You know that. And God will exchange all that anger and anxiety for the peace of God. If you'll just be willing to follow God help us to that spring for Jesus. You know the truth about us.
We are people who are consumed with wanting to be in control. We want to know what's going on where were going, how it's happening. Why this is taking place where it's all leading and yet when we walk with you as we saw today Paul's life and Moses his life in Fanny Crosby's life. You don't often tell us that information for our own good. The Lord my prayer today is that you would take me and everyone of us here who struggling with areas of our life that don't seem to make any sense right and that you would take away the anxiety, the anger and the fear and replace them with the sweet peace of God, the sweet peace of God that comes from knowing that our Lord knows the way through the wilderness is not our job sweet peace of God that comes from simply trusting in following Lord help us make the transition here today because we encountered your were we encountered your spirit, change our very lives, and we pray these things in Jesus name, amen