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March 22, 2020 12:00 am
Life of Paul series.
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Well good morning everybody wonderful to have you here looks like a Bible out to study the Bible with the acceptor 14. As we continue in our study of the life of the great man.
The apostle Paul accepted 14 and were to be coming there in just a moment and all you know, one of the most wonderful young man that I've ever had the privilege of knowing is a young man named call call call is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, 1995 is a friend of my sons, and right now Carl is stationed on the USS enterprise in the Persian Gulf flying E twos if you don't know what E2 is, it's one of those AWACS planes know that they fly off the carriers and the putting his life in harms way to defend the freedoms that we hold so dear here in the United States and sending an email several weeks ago just to let you know that I was praying for him. We were praying for his compatriots and him and I finally got an email back is not like he's not busy nor anything, so I finally got an email back and he was a wonderful email. He tells about how he's leading Bob Bible study on board the carrier how he's mentoring young men and women who come to Christ through this Bible study is fabulous and then he concludes by saying this, and I want to see it.
I quote he said I want to wrap this up quickly by letting you know that we are all doing well here, and that while we look forward to returning to you soon. We stand tremendously honored to serve our God by serving our country in this way you know what I think a call Cox and I think of the thousands of men and women just like him of men and women who wish things were different men and women would love to be home with their families, but they're determined to do their duties there determined to defend what they believe in. Even at the cost if it comes to that of their own lives. The only word that really comes to mind when I think of these people is the word fidelity, not fidelity.
If you look up the word means loyalty. It means allegiance, it means devotion, it means dedication and work on a look today at the apostle Paul demonstrates this very same quality fidelity except not fidelity to America as good as that may be, but fidelity to the Lord Jesus Christ, which is even better. And then were going to talk about. So what difference does that make to your life in my life as followers of Christ.
Here the 21st century. So that's our plan.
Let's begin little bit of background. Remember, the apostle Paul and Barnabas are traveling around doing itinerant preaching in what we call today. The first missionary journey of Paul. Paul and Barnabas have left Antioch and they have gone to Cyprus from Cyprus. They have gone up into the southern underbelly of Turkey, and here they going to Antioch first. They got run out of town. There then they went to I Cody him. They got run out of town. There, now they've gone to Lysistrata and when they arrived in list Ripoll heals a man who was lame in his feet and is never walked in his entire life and and as a result of that look right here in acts 14. What happens verse 11.
Acts 14 verse 11 and when the crowd saw with Paula Don. They shouted in the light coney in language that God have come down to us in human form. So Barnabas they called Zeus and Paul. They called Hermes or Mercury and the priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and reads to the city gave because the crowd wanted to sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas will call Barnabas were that would have none of it. Finally they were able to convince the crowd not to do it.
Verse 18. Even with all their words. They had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them. So here we are with the crowd, thinking that Paul and Barnabas are the best thing to hit list for since sliced bread.
Okay, and after we pick up the story. Verse 19 then the Bible says some Jewish people came from Antioch and I coney him. Now let's stop a second. Remember, these were the same Jewish opponents that ran Paul out of both cities and now they followed him. How far is it from. I coney him to list for a while about 20 miles.
How far is it from Antioch to Lysistrata over 100 miles. These opponents of Paul have walked in some cases over 100 miles to come. Try to stamp out Paul and stamp out what is preaching that is how how urgent they felt this issue was and when they get to town the rest of verse 19 goes on to say they one. The crowd over now. Is this an amazing comment or what just a few days before this very crowd had proclaimed Paul a God that wanted to sacrifice to win they had they been willing to do anything you wanted. They wanted the bow down and worship him and within a few days.
Now they turn against him.
And look what they do. The Bible says they stoned Paul and they drag been outside of the city thinking he was due that we don't stone people very often in our world today.
And so maybe it would be helpful for us to be reminded what it looks like a stony. Here's how it works crowd gathers around the victim that they plan to stone and they start throwing rocks at him or her, and once they knocked the person down on the ground and eventually knocked him unconscious. The crowd gets closer, and now begins using bigger boulders and pelting the victim in his chest and in his skull with these bigger rocks until eventually.
Internal bleeding and brain injury caused the death of that person is a very brutal way to kill a person. That's what stoning is all about stoning was not an official form of jurisprudence in the Roman Empire. If you were tried in the Roman court and you were sentenced to death. They didn't stone you that either crucified you or the heritage over to the Armenian Army whacked to head off or whatever, but stoning was not that way stoning was a form of mob justice.
Stoning was a form of vigilante justice.
And that's what happened to Paul. Paul did have a trial. Paul had no judicial process. The crowd just gathered around and took matters into her own hands and pelting them with rocks until they looked at him and said the man is dead.
The man is dead and then the Bible says in humiliation. They dragged his carcass down through the streets of the city outside the city gate and throw them in a ditch and went back and said well that takes care of Paul will come back in a minute but in the meantime, if you stop and asked can you think of any other example of crowd dynamic in the Bible that resembles this crowd dynamic were first people were all for you and then all of a sudden.quickly rolled against her will. I can think of one.
Matthew chapter 21.
The triumphal entry. The disciples brought a donkey to Jesus as the week five days before his crucifixion, and they place their cloaks wanted to. Jesus out on the animal in a very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road ahead of Jesus. Others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road and the crowds began to praise God for all of the miracles they had seen Jesus do, and they began to shout hosanna to the Messiah. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord and shouting the praises of Jesus. They go down the Mount of olives across the Kidron Valley and into the city of Jerusalem before we see what happens five days later mascot for just a moment and say if you're here and you've never given your life to Jesus in a real and personal way that it's a very interesting comment.
This verse makes it says the crowds began to praise God for the miracle they had seen Jesus do a lot of times we look back at these people and the time of Jesus, and we think all those poor souls if it only had the New Testament like we had the day they would realize who Jesus was and they were given their life to him prior no not true. These people were not lacking information they had seen Jesus turned water into wine. They had seen Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. They had seen Jesus to hundreds and thousands of miracles and healings that you and I've never seen friends. The reason these people been come to Christ has nothing to do with lack of information they have plenty of information. It was a matter of whether heart was in the same is true today. If you've not given your life to Christ. Here in the 21st century and you keep saying you still will. I just need more information about you just read the right thing or listen to the right paper, get the right information and be ready to do that.
I'm here to tell you that you're barking up the wrong tree everybody sit near has enough information to make a decision for Christ right where you sit today. It's not about information it's about where is our heart is our heartbroken are we ready to humble ourselves and do business with God meant you the amount of information you can have my not even fill a thimble but if you're ready to do business with God in your heart you're ready to give your life to Christ, so please don't sit here and think that the solution becoming a crisis to get more information. It is about your heart about these people's hearts. It's about your heart.
My heart something about will what happens five days after the triumphal entry will chapter 27 of Matthew. So when the Crowd gathered pilot asked them who do you want me to release you say that the same crowd marched down the amount within you now see below. You want me to release to you, Barabbas, or Jesus was called Messiah. Now the chief priests had persuaded the crowd asked for Barabbas and when Pilate asked will what you want me to do with Jesus, your Messiah, the one you were does rant and rave about only over there the other day. They said crucify him that how can you go from hosanna to crucify him in five days.
Well I guess the same way you can go from Paul is a God to stoning him half to death in about the same amount of time and that's with the crowd deal. What happens this go back verse 20 verse 20, but the disciples after they gathered around him. Paul got up and he went back into the city's civil law was he dead and did rise from the dead was he comatose and he just recovered.
I don't know Bible doesn't say and I'm in no position to take a guess all I can tell you is the important thing is he got up and what he did when he got off the important thing. He went right back into the city with a Josh and he walked back in and with faith back not love this guy. You not love this guy.
Well, the Bible goes on to say verse 20 that the next day he and Barnabas left for Derby.
It's a 20 mile walk and they preach the good news in that city. When they arrived and they want a large number of the site.
Did you get what happened here. The apostle Paul. The very next day after being virtually stoned the data he's gotta be full of bruises and welts and contusions and swelling. Remember they didn't have that bill. They didn't have Motrin, they didn't have aspirin they didn't have Tylenol. Gotta be a hurt in person. I'll tell you physically, he walks 20 miles and goes right to preach and again in Derby and leave the whole bunch people.
Christ, I go back to my original question. How can you not love this guy. And then he didn't stop there. The Bible says. Then he returned to Lidstrom return diakonia return to Antioch, you need all the places where he ran them out of town yet went right back strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith pay when I think appalled is only one word I can think of to describe this guy is the word fidelity the word loyalty, the word dedication. The word allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ that causes this.
Gotta jump up after you get stoned and just keep right on going like the Energizer Bunny. This is an amazing guy and he is a living walking example of what fidelity to Jesus Christ is all about the stars you want to go in our passage today because we have a really important question to answer in your body knows it. So we ready we ready, here we go.
123 that was really laid on you guys can do better than that ready 123 so much better, thank you so much is Alonso. What you really appreciate Paul I think is a wonderful guy. I mean, it's a great thing that he did what difference does that make to me it's interesting folks. When we look to the New Testament that we find the apostle Paul was repeating a refrain over and over and over. You know what he says over and over. The New Testament follow my example follow my example which means that when it comes to this issue of fidelity to Jesus Christ. Everyone of us here who claims to be a follower of Christ. We got a choice to the choice is are we going to live like apostle Paul, are we going to live like the crowd up on the Mount of olives like Jesus with Jesus how we can live without a choice to make: impulsive follow my example make a choice friends is a question I want us to ask and that question is what made the difference between the apostle Paul and these folks with Jesus up on the Mount of olives. One of the apostle Paul act the way he acted in the crowd acted the way they did what was the distinguishing factor that made the difference because we can understand that if we can get to the root of what made Paul the man he was in his walk with Christ and what made the crowd what they were in their commitment to Christ.
If we can understand the root of the issue and that enables us to address it in our own lives to what was the root of the issue. Well, the Bible tells us John chapter 12 it says this with these words written right after the triumphal entry lists yet at the same time, there were many leaders in Israel who believed in Jesus thoughts because of the rabbis. These leaders would not confess their faith openly for fear they would be put out of the synagogue here comes the root here is for they love the approval of men more than they love the approval of God.
I don't know how you put it any simpler. In 1962 and Bancroft won the Oscar for best actress for her role in the miracle worker in the next year 1963.
She got the privilege to present the Oscar for best actor that Oscar was won by Sidney Fortier for his role in the lilies of the field and when he came up to accept the Oscar for Ms. Bancroft. She leaned over to him and she whispered some words in his ear. Here is what she whispered to him, and I quote she said to him live it up.
John it doesn't last long. True human applause. Man, it can be very short-lived. The applause of man is a very fickle thing.
And yet it's so seductive that men and women will sell their souls to get it.
The folks here we have these leaders of Israel, John chapter 12 the Bible says they believed Jesus was who he said he was but they wouldn't go public. Why wouldn't go public because they cared about the applause of men.
The approval of men made it says in the Bible that they've gone public bid and thrown out of the synagogue will be thrown out of the synagogue means that that that that you your thrown out of the mainstream of society. People boycott your business, you lose your livelihood you can provide for your family anymore. You lose all your friends they don't invite you to the country club to play mah-jongg anymore your kids be ostracized at school people passed in the street don't speak to you anymore. They were so worried about all that. The Bible says they would go public. Jesus folks.
These are not the, followers of Jesus is looking for today is not interested in people who are in the parade down the Mount of olives and output across he's not interested in people who are in for the ice cream and out the Brussels sprouts and said, same here. No. And Jesus knows in our world today that we come out and we take a stand for Christ very often there's a price to pay in our world today in our families in our jobs in our schools. Many times it's a heavy price but you know the apostle Paul had a wonderful perspective and that made him the man that he was what he said. Galatians 1. He said am I trying to win the approval of men or the approval of God or my trying to please men for if I were still trying to please men, I wouldn't be a servant of Christ. This is an unbelievably important statement that he makes ear to hear what he saying here he saying you were going to be servants of the living God.
We got to make a choice. You can't have the approval of men and the approval of God at the same time very often. And so we have to decide who's approval only after Paul said you want to know what made me the man that I am I didn't care about the approval of man that I did mean I was nasty didn't mean I was obnoxious. It didn't mean I was hard to get along with. It just meant the person I cared most was pleased with me is God, not people.
And that's why I could be a servant of Christ that he says follow my example you know the Lord Jesus himself commented to the same tension. He said Matthew chapter 10 verse 37 anyone who loves their father or their mother more than me is not worthy of me now is Jesus asking us to hate our parents. Of course not. He simply say that if it comes down to a choice that you and I have to make between the approval of our parents and the approval of God, you better choose God and he goes on to say, anyone who does not take up their cross and follow me. Anybody who just wants to be in for the parade and that's all is not worthy of me that these are hard words and then offer cowards, but they demand a choice on our part talking to Christ in 1971 hard for me to believe sometimes I look back that I've been walking with Jesus. 30 years but I have when I came to Christ like and 71 as all of you know I was born and raised Jewish, and you know when you're Jewish you can only grow up to be one of three things a doctor or lawyer or failure send right now. Being a follower of Christ is definitely in category number three and I knew what I told my family that I was a follower of Christ that there was going to be some serious backlash and there was in fact 30 years later. There still backlash today. I still have people in my family would be just as happy as nobody knew I was related to them.
People in my family who wouldn't claim Neil Alano if they had the opportunity people in my family who frankly are happy.
They never hear from me again in his life. Many of you know that I wasn't even allowed was even able to go to my own mother's funeral I was in California was 1992.
My mom passed away while I was out there speaking and I called back to find out the arrangements in my aunt, my mom's only sister was running the deal and that she was one of the people not real excited about my faith in Christ. To put it mildly, and she said to me you know you can fly back if you want to for the cemetery service the way Jewish people do. It's different from the way all Gentiles doing we go to the cemetery. First will service of cemetery in their body goes back to our house with a real funeral happens a real community have and so she said you fly back if you want come to the cemetery I can stop cemetery don't you come to my house just because you're not welcome in my house and I said no way to something.
I know we haven't seen out I own everything.
But this is my mother talking about my mother here.
I mean, there's a time you put that other stuff aside.
You know what I'm saying.
She says, not me. You are not welcome in my house to show up in miles, folks, I know exactly what I could've said to my aunt on the telephone. That would've made me welcome in her health a lot. I had to do a sale to telephone hey you know all that Jesus stuff I used to talk about all that stuff.
I used to tell you that Jesus is the Messiah Jesus is the only way to get to heaven minute I changed remarkably many that the more I'm back to being a Jewish person what you want to stay a Jewish person may not of been welcome with bells on my toes and her health. I could say that my mom had wonderful heirlooms that have been passed down from her grandfather, my great-grandfather and her dad, my grandfather wonderful pieces of jewelry by grandfather was a jeweler not always thought, wouldn't it be wonderful when my mom did pass to be able to pass some of those things on his treasured memories to my wife to my brothers wife to you know my my sons wives you know what I don't have a single thing.
All of that disappeared. I never got any of I've no idea where it went. And I'm not accusing anybody anything understand I didn't get any of it got to tell you that hurts really hurts to have none of that friends I got a taste of the 1971 when I came to Christ. I made a decision. The decision I made is that my aunt my uncle my mom my dad and my grandparents could not forgive my soon and take me to him that my family could not heal my wounded heart or transform my life into something worth living. I made a decision in 1971 that would God thinks about me is far more important than what my relatives think about me and I made a decision I was going to stick with Jesus Christ.
Whatever came, and just let the chips fall where they may. 30 years later I'm not sorry I did this the best decision ever made my life, but cost me some and you know what, if you can stand for Jesus in our world based on cost you something to that may cost you some different many calls me, but it will cost you something. And Jesus understands that there are times when everyone of us feel pressure to keep our faith to ourselves. Everyone of us feel pressure to be 007 Christian to be CIA Christian. He understands that and friends. Jesus is not looking for us to be obnoxious or offensive or pugnacious or belligerent or argumentative or condemning, but he is looking for us to be courageous enough, then we will take a stand unapologetically for him regardless what the reprisals that were threatened with maybe we'll just let the chips fall within the essay due friends of Jesus is really who he says he is. This is the only choice that makes any sense. Odor fidelity, utter devotion odor allegiance joining the makes any sense. You may not know who Polycarp was, if you know anything about churches for you probably heard of it. Polycarp was born in 70 A.D. he was a good friend of John the guy who wrote the gospel. The guy, the apostle who wrote the book of Revelation and 110 A.D. he was appointed the Bishop of Smyrna, one of the towns we read about the Bible and 156 A.D. one Polycarp was 86 years old.
There was a persecution against Christians. It broke out across the Middle East and he was arrested by the Romans, and they brought him in and demanded that either he denounced Jesus Christ or he faced it and in Eusebius's church history.
The account of what happened next is recording I like to read it to our quote Polycarp was led before the Roman proconsul and the proconsul said to him, think of your age old man and swear by Caesar, swear, and I will release you. Polycarp then said 80 and six years I have served God and he is done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me the proconsul angrily said I have wild bees.
I'll throw you know them. If you refused to recant, to which Polycarp replied, send for the proconsul decided instead to burn Polycarp alive and as they were about to nail into the stake.
He said let me be as I am he that will grant me the strength to endure the fire will grant me the strength to remain here without being secured by mail and all the crowd marble at the great difference between themselves and disbeliever and oh by the way they burn Polycarp to death unattached on the old to stick that Jesus may not ask you and me as followers of Christ in our modern world to go to a state he may not ask us to get stoned have to do like Paul friends whatever Jesus asked us to do. He's looking for people who are willing to do whatever he asks because we are more concerned about the approval of God than we are. The approval of men. I got a wonderful piece of news for you to end with today and that is to people who are willing to live like the apostle Paul did God has an incredible promise that he makes first Samuel chapter 2 verse 30 those who honor me, I will honor says the Lord. Those of you who are willing to stand for me, like Paul did and show me absolute fidelity. I got a good piece of news for you. I will honor your life beyond your wildest dreams. But let me tell you I'm here to testify. 30 years later, that every time I kept my end of this bargain. God has kept his end of the bargain in Spain, in spades. If you're here today there's a choice for you to make whistle make it.
Once we have to make it every single day. As we go through our daily life and that is whose approval do I want most do I care that my boss puts his arm around me and says your wonderful person you know that I care that my mother, my father puts her arm around me and says you know I really appreciate you. Do I really care that the friends at school. Say your good got your good Galvan would like to hear more that when I get to heaven. Jesus says to me well done good and faithful servant because I'm here to tell you, sometimes you can have both Paulson's. We got to make a choice. Which one do we care about.
We declined sensitive.
We can be considerate to people whose approval do we care most friends may God help us make the right choice. Some of us here will some of us are well and for those of us who won't. All I can say to you is you have no idea what God wanted to do in your life no idea how God wanted to honor you like, you never know about it to get the hip and God will show you what he would've done for you if you just had the fidelity to Paul Cattell want to see Mr. I'm telling you I've benefited from some of that you never lose when you put Jesus first. So make the right choice for spring Jesus you know we live in a world that is sometimes very hard to stand for you world loves to talk about God and our world loves to talk about spirituality, but I will want to hear about Jesus. They want to hear about a Savior who died on the cross to pay for our wrongdoings and the only way to get to heaven is by trusting him and we try to stand for the truth.
There's a price to pay in our school. In our workplaces in our families, where my prayer is that you would help us to do what Paul said to follow his example as a person of fidelity to Jesus above everything. Lord help us worry so much about the approval of God, but the approval of man's fickle as it is really doesn't matter. Thanks for your wonderful problems with those of us who will do this and honor you in this way you will honor in return beyond our wildest dreams help us make the right choice. I pray Lord change our lives because we were here today and we pray these things in Jesus name, amen