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Life of Paul Part 18 - How to Be Used by God

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
March 30, 2020 12:00 am

Life of Paul Part 18 - How to Be Used by God

So What? / Lon Solomon

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March 30, 2020 12:00 am

Life of Paul series.

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Good morning everybody is wonderful to have you guys here. Thanks so much for coming catalyst taking a Bible and opening it to acts chapter 14 acts chapter 14 were to be continuing in our study of all that great man, the apostle Paul and I want to begin with a quote this morning that was written by a young man about an experience he had when he was 17 years old and he read the quote that I'll tell you who said it well do I remember he writes how I poured my soul out before God.

I begged God to give me some work to do for him as an outlet of my love and my gratitude. I remember the deep solemnity that came over my soul assuring me that my offer had been accepted at that point I did not know for what service I had been chosen, but a deep sense that I was no longer my own took possession of me, a feeling which is never sense been erased that these words were written by a young man named Jay hugs and Taylor and this is a name that everyone of us as followers of Jesus Christ need to know Hudson Taylor was born in 1832 in England.

He was a preacher's kid, the son of a very poor minister at age 17 he gave his life to Christ and not long after that wrote about this experience were he asked God to please use it boy to God using he took Hudson Taylor to China made in the first by faith missionary. In the modern era to go to China mainland China. Hudson Taylor became the founder of the China inland Mission and by the time he died in 1902. Hudson Taylor had personally put into motion a massive movement of God in mainland China.

The results of which you and I are still feeling today whatever you talk about what's happening in China today.

With Christians you can trace that back to the life of this young man Hudson Taylor and what God used him to do more than a century ago and it all began with a 17-year-old young man who simply came to the Lord and said, Lord, use me. I want to use me not friends. This is an amazing thing that the living God of the universe is happy to use ordinary people. People like you and me to advance the work of God on this earth and this is what were going to talk about today we want to talk about how you and I as followers of Christ can see our lives used by God like Hudson Taylor's life was like the apostle Paul's life was is over to look at our passage a little work our way towards this end, let's begin little bit of background. Remember, the apostle Paul and Barnabas are out on the first missionary journey and are just finishing up the just get ready to head for home. As we pick up the story. Chapter 14. Look at verse 24. If you would with and after going to Presidio they came into Pamphylia, and when they had preached the word in pergola. I love it, even though they don't know and is still preaching. They went down to Italia and we we remember that thought were in southern Turkey here.

Now remember the Paul and Barnabas have gone from Antioch to Laconia to list the two Derby will then they turned around and gone back from Derby to list or to I Coni him to Antioch and now we read that they worked their way south towards pergola with a preached and then to the little port city of Italia and the point is that here from Italia. They want to take a ship back to Antioch in Syria which is where their hometown was not going to see happen. Verse 26 and from Italia.

They sailed back to Antioch where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work that they had now completed here for the first time in more than a year there about to come home. This is been a year of being on the move and sleeping on the ground and eaten on the run a year of preaching to strangers in leading people to Christ and then mentoring and nurturing the new sheet that they led to Christ.

This is been a year of living 24 seven under the critical gaze of skeptics a year of enduring the rage of their opponents here in some cases a running for their very lives and now a year later, here they come and they see for the first time in over 12 months. The warm and inviting lights of home must've been an incredible feeling you know as many of you know, I just got back from leading a two week toward Israel, and I know some of you guys were watching the news every night expecting to see my coffin on the news didn't happen that we never even sauté. The only times we ever saw. When we came back to the hotel. Turn on CNN is only times we saw it was a wonderful trip. The people were were were fabulous to with the accommodations. The food was great fights. We went to God really spoke to us. We never thought a moment's danger, but I have to tell you there was no feeling in the world like the feeling of getting off the plane in New York City seen that legal American flag with the sign over welcome to the United States of America. That was also not only been gone two weeks. Imagine what Paul must've felt. He's been gone a year running for his very life. And finally he gets to come home but but I want to see how we came home look. The Bible says that he was returning. Verse 26 from the work that he had now completed, in spite of all the hardships all of the opposition. All of the challenges Paul had refused to give up. Paul had refused to cave in and now as he came home he came home Mission accomplished class.

Way to come home. Mission accomplished what he knew when he got back.

It says in verse 27 that when he got back he and Barnabas gathered the whole church together and they reported all the God had gone through them and how God had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles and then they stayed there a long time with the disciples remember these were the people would send Paul out. These were the people who prayed for Paul for entire year while he was gone and so now that he was back. I mean it's completely logical.

They wanted to know what's going on what happened out there remember they didn't have Dan Rather in the evening news, bring them up-to-date on Paul. Every night they didn't have CNN traveling around setting footage back 24 seven so this is the first time they got to hear what the world is going on and Paul and Barnabas got them together and reported what great things God had gone through them and let's go back and remind ourselves some of the incredible things God had done to Paul and Barnabas.

We began in Cyprus. If you remember where they traverse the island and let hundreds of people to Christ, including Sergius Paulus, the Roman governor of the island. Then God led them up into central Turkey and here in Turkey, God gave them power to do miraculous healings here in Turkey. God delivered them from hostile lynch mobs here in Turkey God preserve Paul's life from a brutal stoning here in Turkey, God gave them the privilege of leading thousands of people to Christ steering Turkey that God allowed them to establish churches in Derby and list right and I Coni him and Antioch. God gave them the privilege of mentoring believers. There, God gave them the privilege of appointing elders for those churches, both by the time Paul and Barnabas had a phone they left all of central Turkey really know in their spiritual weight. There was one person in central Turkey.

You didn't know Paul and Barnabas had been entailed. God use them in an unbelievable way. And the thing I really like about this. The neatest part of all is that in their report, Paul and Barnabas gave all the credit to God.

They didn't report on what great things they had done for God that in what the Bible says they reported on what great things God had done through them. Then at the end of our passage, but it leads us to the most important question and you all know what that question is not given you two weeks. Also your vocal cords arrested.

So this ought to be really loud today everybody ready 123 say so what log. This is great.

I mean I have deep respect for Paul.

I just don't understand what what what what this has to do with my life in the 21st century. Let's see if we can answer that question. You guys keep up with the World Series and you guys are really really glad Arizona one regime. How many of you guys were really glad anybody beat the Yankees.

Raise your hand. Yeah that's right I tell you what man you know I have people say to me, well, you know, in light of everything that's happened, don't you think it would be nice if the Yankees won no no no no no no no and it was a great World Series and it is one the most exciting World Series in recent memory, and not just confirm what I've known my whole life and that is it. Baseball is the great American sport footballs all right basketball is okay hockey I could never figure out but baseball is the great American sport. Anybody given the baseball games lately, you probably heard a song that sometimes they play between innings and sometimes they play at the seventh-inning stretch and it goes like this.

It says put me in coach. I'm ready to play today. Look at me. I could be centerfield and it's a song about a young player who knows he can do it, but is trying to convince the reluctant coach is not sure to put them in and give them a chance. That's a lot. I know the song.

What does this have to do with anything.

Well it does. And here's why it over 30 years of walking with Christ and having that lots and lots of people who prayed and asked God to use them. What I discovered is that many times when we approach this issue God using us when we really approach a lot like this player in the song. Many times we see God as a reluctant code that if we beg him, and often we ask him, and often we plead with him in the maybe he will relent and agree to put us in the game and give us a chance and I'm here to tell you this is not at all. The biblical worldview of the Bible. This is not at all. The perspective that the Bible gives to this thing print. The Bible teaches that God wants to use us. He's not some reluctant coach that we got a big to use those.

In fact, Jesus said, John 1516. He said you did not choose me, but I chose you, and why did I choose you look so that you might go and produce much fruit.

One of the chief goals that God has in bringing us into a personal relationship with Christ is then to go on and use us to advance the work of God here on this earth.

So God is not a reluctant coach.

Don't kid yourself. In fact, the opposite is true.

God is using you and me and every other follower of Jesus Christ to the absolute maximum that he's able. He's using us to the fullest that he can and the real issue that you and I have to worry about as followers of Christ is not does God want to use the issue.

The issue is are we use the ball God is using us to the degree that we make ourselves usable. I love to dance after the old country preacher once it he said and I quote you do not have to pray Lord use me you get usable and the Lord will wear you out and is true then ask for a moment saith you're here and you've never trusted Jesus in a real and personal way that there is an important message for you and what were talking about today and the message is this, that when a person comes into a relationship with Jesus Christ. Suddenly God gives them a higher reason for living a better purpose for living than just making money and piling up creature comfort. Suddenly, God gives that person an eternal reason for living God enables a person to wake up every single day and say I'm waking up today not to go earn money not to go by. I'm waking up so that my life can be used in the service of the living God of the universe, making an eternal difference in people's lives man that's worth getting up for getting up to make money and climb the ladder. You know what after a while it gets pretty old member waking up to serve the living God. Hey that's worth getting up for in the morning and if you're here and you're tired of living for yourself if you're here, you're tired of pursuing the Madison Avenue merry-go-round. I'm here to tell you some good news there is a better reason for living that God wants to give you, and as soon as you give your life to Christ and come in relationship with him. He'll give it to you. It'll make worth waking up in the morning. Something that you get excited about something about. But for those of us who are followers of Christ. The question is how do we become usable God usual life I never met a true follower of Christ, the didn't want God to use their life. How do we get usable.

Well, there are three principles I want to give you closing today and all three of them working to see illustrated in the life of Paul. Why did God use up all the way he did here in the first missionary journey. It was not because God loves Paul Moran he loves you, don't you think that it was not because Paul was something special that you're not, don't you think that it was because Paul did all three of the things I'm about to tell you and if you and I will do them just what God will use us to.

So let's look at what on number one. If we want to be usable to God.

Number one, we have to be available, meaning that when God calls on us to do something we gotta be ready to promptly accept the offer. When God calls you to get a busy signal. And this is what the apostle Paul did. I mean, he was living there at Antioch in Syria.

He was the associate pastor the church. Everything was going great for him.

He was as content as adjusted hound dog line on the front porch and stand what I'm saying he didn't have any desire to go anywhere but God acts chapter 13 appeared to him and said Paul read about it.

I've got a job I want you to go to for me and noticed the apostle Paul didn't say will Lord I just moved here a year ago I just bought a house up or sell the house.

Now I'll lose money on and I'll never recoup the closing cost if you want to have somebody's been around longer quiz house and got some equity in it called and say that stupid nonsense, Paul said, Lord, what you need what you need whatever you need. I'm available you just tell me what you need and every man or woman that God is ever used his had this very same attitude of availability listen to Abraham in Genesis 12 and the Lord said to Abraham, leave your country, your people, your father's household and go to the land. I'll show you now look so Abraham last God called into the busy signal of Abraham.

He left just the way the Lord told their friends. We we don't know for certain whether Abraham was the very first man, God ever asked to go do this to go become the father of the Jewish people, the forerunner of the Messiah and oh by the way, one of the richest men in the ancient near East. By the time God was done with the Abraham may have been number 10. He might've been number 50.

Who knows how many people God asked first. But the one thing we do know is that Abraham was the first man was available and that's why he got the privilege to be used by God the way he did. Hey, how about Isaiah the prophet member him here I am Lord what send me I will send me what God said he didn't and and when God called on Hudson Taylor go to China.

He was available when God called on William Carey, the father of modern missions to go to India. He was available when God called on Adam Hiram Johnson to go to Burma. He was available when God called on Billy Graham to do crusades all over the world. When he called on Mother Teresa to care for the poor children of the world. When he called on voice Rosen to start Jews for Jesus. These people were all available one hour God used they were available and don't kid yourself in the thinking that God is not calling people today he is don't think that God is not interested in using people today. He the problem is so often when God calls to get the busy signal gets a busy signal. I got a question I want you to ask yourself if your follower of Christ is countable kind of an unsettling question. Here it is. If I had to stand in front of the church of Antioch the way Paul did.

And if I had to report to them all that God has done through me.

That's what I had to do what I have anything to say and you say will lawn you know honestly I'm not sure I have a whole lot to say that I'll tell you why I tell you why is not the God had been calling you of your follower of Christ is not the God, the more usually God wants to give you and me so much to say that we wouldn't have enough time is the reason his friends. Apparently when he's been calling you. Been busy busy making money busy climbing the ladder busy piling up creature comfort busy enjoying leisure pursuits busy improving your golf game distracted with something or another, spiritually preoccupied with something or another, but whatever it was you weren't available to take phone call.

The great men and women of God, the God use when God called it picked up the phone and said hello. Whatever you need God I'm ready and that's where you being used by God has to begin being available. Number two. We want to be used by God. Number two, we have to be obedient see when it comes to God using us. Obedience is a major big deal. There was a guy the Old Testament who was a young man with incredible potential for God using but he never reach that potential because he never got this principle straight despite his name was Saul king Saul the first, King of Israel, and if you remember the story in the Old Testament God sent King Saul doing unpopular job a tough job and nasty job is human illogic a humanly illogical job of wiping out an entire town and all of the livestock in that town.

You know it's all good. Saul gave got partial obedience PE preserve some of the prominent people alive preserve some of the best animals alive and any justified leaving the animals alive by saying were going to take him back and were going to sacrifice some to the Lord is an act we meet Samuel the prophet.

On the way home and Samuel says to address all that you do what God asked you to do.

Oh yeah oh yeah Samuel, we didn't. Samuel says well then what is that bleating of sheep I hear in my ear and what is that lowing of oxen I hear in my ear. This is hysterical.

You don't get it because of Bible humor, but this is hysterical because the point is, it's all done what he was supposed to do there be no back at any way to get them all. There'd be no lowing of oxen enough to get it but anyway this is hysterical. What Samuel says to him, and then he said as Saul says to most family got on, we preserve them alive so we could sacrifice him to the Lord when he was Samuelson. He said for Samuel 15 is it a salty taste something does the Lord delights in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as he delights in people obeying his voice all to obey is better than sacrifice. Saul had this idea that if you had some spiritual sounding reason for disobeying orders God would dispatch on the head go.

It's okay, don't worry about not true. Matter-of-fact God remove salt from being king and stop using them altogether because he couldn't trust him to do what God told him to do and post when it comes to us being used by God in the 20% to the same thing is true that obedience is a major component in being usable. Hey did we see the apostle Paul on the first missionary journey demonstrate this is that I don't understand what you mean, hey God when he called Paul, Barnabas and John Mark did not call them to go out for one week get discouraged, turn around and come home. That's what John Mark did that in one God called him to do.

God called him to keep going and finish the job for a year and Paul and Barnabas kept going. They obeyed God. Yes, it was told yes oppress them out of their comfort zone. Yes, it was risky, but they obeyed God. How much did God use John Mark on the first missionary journey zero. How much did he use Paul and Barnabas pay we just we just talked about how we use them. What was the difference.

Paul and Barnabas obeyed. They did what God told him to do.

This is why God was able to use Abraham and Isaiah, David, Moses and Esther and Deborah and Ruth and Gideon and Billy Graham and Mother Teresa the way he was was no magic here. They simply did what God told him to do.

You know what this past September I began my 22nd year. Here's Pastor McLean Bible Church is saying that you must've started when you were 18 oh God bless you I love you people don't cross no one white 18 but anyway I want to take on how I came here I was out jogging. We were living in Maryland at the time and I was out jogging one day and just as clear as a bell. I know the Lord said to me lawn you and Brenda are you going to McLean Bible church now McLean Bible church is not invited us to come you, but I came home from jogging.

I said to my wife, Pat, we need to get some boxes and start packing were going to McLean Bible church conference in 1980 McLean Bible church was a little different than it is today. The former pastor been fired in the Saturday night massacre that the church was that it was in a state of anarchy in total disarray.

Due member the song. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. When I was made yeah I was a 30-year-old young man ever pastor the church of my life but I was sure God wanted me to come here and I even had a pastor friend called me one afternoon I'll never forget it over Marilyn. He said they had heard you were thinking about going to McLean Bible church that's true decent lawn. You must be out of your mind decent.

Do you have any idea the problems of the church is at that church is like a nuclear fallout so that church is a disaster area.

He said I wouldn't touch that church with a 10 ball with all the problems of God will can I be honest with you and say he did know the half not to have to but I said to him you know I hear what you're saying and I agree on the human level. I'm sure theological look stupid for me to go over there and do this but I am convinced God is for me to do it. And for me not to go over there is disobedience to God.

So whatever is there know it's there.

But whatever is there. I have to do this. Hey listen, coming to McLean Bible Church involved a lot of risk for us. It hasn't been an easy 21 years.

If you think there have been times in the last 21 years. Watch said to myself. I think I finally got I think it's time for me to leave here you crazy, but I believe God use me here and I'll tell you why because I was obedient enough to come in over 21 years I've been obedient enough to stay. God said no you stay so okay and I state. I'm glad I stayed in Pocono in your life. There will be times where you are in the process of God using you and some parts going to come along someone popular is going to come along something humanly illogical is going to come along oppress you out of your comfort zone and God is not interested in that point what you argue with him debating with him or sparring with him only want you to do is do what he tells only wants you to do. Don't be like John Mark. Some of you right now are dealing with areas like this in your life or you know God asking you to do something. Frankly, you really want to do it.

Hey don't be like John Mark.

You saw how much God use John Mark not not all be like the apostle Paul said well I don't really care what the cost is God's asking me to do it. I'm going to obey those of the people God uses third finally, not only do we need to be available. Not only do we need to be obedient, preferred, and finally, we need to be totals and not walls to say what in the world is at me.

It means that when it comes to the credit, the glory, the honor of what God goes through our lives were not walls things hit walls and a stop right there. No no no, the credit, the honor and the glory not meant to stop with us. It's meant to go right on through us like a good old tunnel and go on to the real source where it belongs.

And that's the Lord Jesus himself could Paul do this, verse 27 he reported all the Bible says that God had done through him. The Bible doesn't say the poll reported all that Paul had done. Paul made sure that the spotlight stayed on God, not Paul. And you know what to see in acts chapter 15 when he goes up to Jerusalem is going go up there meter would meet with Peter and James and John and all the other big bookmarks in the church up there and what were going to see in acts 15 is when he gets there he could say the very same thing. This is what God did through me is not what I did and the reason this is so important is because of what God says in Isaiah 42, he says, verse eight I am the Lord. That is my name and I will not give my glory. I will not give the credit I will not give the light to anybody else. It's my and under only use those people who make sure it stays.

That's why he loved using Paul was about what he did through Paul. Paul made sure the spotlight stayed on Jesus, not Paul invokes that's how we have to be, I tell you have learned this lesson that my knuckles rapped a few times and I learned a lesson five people come up so you know you this and you this you the other thing you this is you used to say yell at that and a nickel to buy you a cup coffee. Now you gotta say yeah that three bucks to buy you Starbucks you say one thing but the point is, it doesn't make any difference.

I know better than that. I know the real truth is not about me God could use all the people, and in fact I'm saw surprised honestly that he doesn't to do some of the stuff that he use me to do, but I'm not taking the spotlight. Are you nuts I'm not going to put my hands on the article you crazy.

Hey, I've been there and had my hands flat that it's no fun when any spotlight comes is not going to me, tunnel. I want to be a tunnel leading right on through and go to where really belongs, which is Jesus abnormal me. I'm not doing this. This is God's work in both God will always use people core tunnels who make sure the spotlight stays on him. You become a wall, why should God use you would allow you to rob him of the credit. This is the make any sense God doesn't do stupid thing to say a tunnel and you watch gotta rock your socks with what you do. So let's summarize what we learn. We learned that if God wants it. We want God to use us. Hey were not talking some reluctant coaching to put this in the game. God wants to use us if were usable and how do we become usable number one were available.

God calls we pick up the phone and say hello. What you need. I'm available number two were obedient. The matter how stupid your friends think you are.

If you know God's asking you to do it better. Do and number three were tunnels were not walls. We let the credit in the glory.

Go right on through us friends and onto the Lord Jesus and a local dance have understood. He said if you and I will live like this, it will be usable. God will wear us out. What a wonderful way to go, you know anyway what a great way to go, to be worn out in the service of God. We got all eternity to rest friends you got all eternity to catch up on your sleep, but this is the time to let God use our lives and remember Paul one anything special we can carry one anything special. Hudson Taylor one anything special. They were simply men. Mother Teresa women who said I'm available I'll be obedient and I'll be a tunnel, and God took it from there is one God use you just tell God the same three things and mean it, and watch what God does with your life, but heavenly father we we thank you so much for talking to us about real life like our we live more for those of us who know you as our personal savior. We want our lives to count. So God my prayer is that you would help us take these three principles and make them a real part of our lives. Lord make us available. Don't go.

Let us be so busy that when you call were not there to answer Lord make us obedient.

Lord make us people who left the spotlight say when you, not us and encourage us today with the knowledge that it will just simply do that you use us beyond our wildest dream. So change our lives because we were here today and we pray this in Jesus name, amen

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