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March 18, 2020 12:00 am
Life of Paul series.
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Well good morning everybody is wonderful to have you here and I want you to take a Bible. Let's open it together two of the book of acts acts chapter 14 were to be continuing in our study of the life of the great man.
The apostle Paul asked chapter 14. Now Paul Simon God sang a song quite a while ago that said, after all the stuff I learned in high school. It's amazing I can still think it all and there's some truth to that, I believe we were in high school we studied all kinds of stuff that we don't have to remember don't use anymore. All of us took world history we all took moral silver, whatever, and is part of that.
Do you remember you know the Spanish conquistadors remember study and those guys will vaguely want to help remember just a little bit today because one of the most famous of the conquistadors was a fellow named Cortez Cortez landed in what is today Mexico in 1519. Of course then it wasn't called Mexico.
It was actually the Aztec Empire led by that time, King Montezuma and what Cortez did not know when he landed, is that there was a centuries old tradition among the Aztecs that one of their ancient kings was going to be coming back as a God one day from the sea and that this God would have white skin and so of course when Montezuma heard that these white skinned people had landed. He rushed down to me. Cortez now down on the ground before him worshiped him as a God invited him to come into his capital city to notes to lawn showed him all of his riches as gold or silver and presented himself as Cortez's servant that you talk about a moment of opportunity.
This Cortez had a moment of opportunity what he do with it.
Well, he took Montezuma captive. He took control of the Aztec empire.
He soaked all the gold and the silver out of it and send it back to Spain. He became a hero in Spain he got King Charles of Spain to appoint him Gov. of Mexico and he lived the rest of his life in luxury.
Most of it here in the New World pay when it came to taking advantage of that moment of opportunity. Cortez did it for intense personal gain. Gotta give the guy credit to maximize it for his own personal gain some reason I bring all this up is because in our study of Paul Paul's lights were coming today to a passage were working to see Paul handed an exactly similar moment of opportunity just like Cortez was handed except that the apostle Paul is going to handle it very differently than Cortez did and is a huge lesson here for us were followers of Jesus Christ of the 21st century, a lesson about staying humble, even when our successes handle us moments of opportunity where were tempted to take advantage of them for personal gain. We want to look at this. Let's look first at what happened to Paul them will talk about us. So here in acts chapter 14 going to pick up little bit of background. Remember, Paul is on his first missionary journey here is Antioch where Paul was what was dispatched from he went and went across all of Cyprus. Then he went up to the southern underbelly of what is today Turkey went to Antioch and now he's here in I Cody him as we pick up the story and so first one says that I Cody him Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue where they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jewish people and Gentiles came to Christ.
Verse three so Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders man. Paul hit this town like a ton of bricks and before people knew it he was doing all kinds of things to confirm that the message he was delivering was true. People were coming to personal faith in Christ. Bobby drove first to well there were some Jewish people in town refused to believe and they stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers against Paul and Barnabas verse four. And so the people of the city were divided. Some of them sided with the Jewish people and some of them sided with Paul and Barnabas, and there was a plot afoot among the Gentiles and the Jews together with their leaders to mistreat Paul to stone him, but Paul and Barnabas found out about it and fled to the like Coney and cities of Lister and Derby where they continued to preach the good news, and now being run out of town for his own safety. He's going to Derby and to Lister.
These two cities that were nearby, and when he arrives in Westra. He's going to see the very same level of success, of God's going to grant him is he's been having. Look at verse eight and in Lister there was a man who was sitting crippled in them. In his feet, who was lame from birth, and he'd never walk, and he listened to Paul and Paul looked at him and said he saw that he had the faith to be healed, and Paul called out and said to him, stand up on your feet and it that the man jumped up and began to walk and in the crowds could not believe it.
I mean how you can explain something like this.
So when the crowd saw what polygon they shouted in the Laconia language. The gods have come down to us in human form that we know that the Romans in the course the Greeks before them were worshiped a huge pantheon of gods and goddesses, and the only explanation that the crowd could come up with is that how you could heal a man like that is it to the gods to come down and would just walk around his people and and they decided to name them.
Barnabas they called Zeus and Paul. They called Hermes because he was the chief speaker now. Zeus, of course, with the king of a God big dog God and he gave that name to Barnabas, I guess because Barnabas was obviously the senior member of the team carried himself in a very dignified manner. They called him Zeus and had to find a name for Paul and Paul. All he did was talk so they look for the dog closest to suit what God we know the just talks all the time and it came up with Hermes who is the messenger God the one that has wings, you don't want to speed her wings on his helmet. The messenger God who would go and communicate the gods and that's the name they gave the ball most of us don't know Hermes, but we know this same God better by his Roman name Mercury and all of us here probably familiar.
The older ones of us here are familiar with Mercury because we remember them on the time of but the younger of you guys here who never saw any videos these times you'll know Mercury because he's the FTD dude, this is a guy that's Mercury okay now this is who they named Paul what you say so everything's going good right will know things get a little complex right here. Verse 13 and the priest of Zeus, whose temple was outside the city. He brought goals and agrees to the city gate because he and the crowd wanted to sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas. They wanted to worship Paul and Barnabas. They wanted to sacrifice animals and do homage to Paul and Barnabas now here we have Paul being presented with the very same kind of opportunity that Cortez was presented with these people think is God.
These people would do anything he said it would go. Lori told him to go give them as much money as he said, giving my Meeker ruled the city as as the God of this city if he wanted, but look what Paul does with this opportunity very different from what Cortez did verse 14 when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this that they were there to sacrifice to them, they tore their clothes as a sign of anguish and agony in an consternation.
They rushed out into the crowd and they shouted man why are you doing this we need to.
Only then human just like you Paul and Barnabas refused to allow the crowd to to worship them to honor them.
That rather than use their success for any kind of personal gain.
Look what they did with the rest of the verse they go on to say, we are just bringing you the good news telling you that you need to turn from these worthless things like Zeus and Hermes and all this other nonsense and you need to turn to the living God who made heaven and earth and the sea, and everything in that which you notice here that Paul and Barnabas intentionally took the credit took the honor that came from their success and rather than turning it in the personal gain. They refuse to allow that to happen, and instead reflected all of that credit at all about worship on to Almighty God. You see what they did in verse 18 says, and even with all these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them they didn't have to just say once, don't do this they had to stand there and argue and fight with the crowd to get them not to sacrifice thing. A lot of us when people want to give us credit.
Oh no, no, no, please don't please don't. And when I do it again we come to know okay you know that was pretty good. Would know to know this wasn't Paul and Barnabas. They kept saying no no no no no not were not doing this until finally they prevailed on the crowd, but it wasn't just a one time deal.
They had to really stand their ground of the crowd was going offer them sacrifice now. That's as far as we want to go in the passage because we have a very important question that we need to ask here everybody knows what it was you guys an overflow. I want to hear it all the way down the hall ready 123 right is a lawn. So what this is great. We did pulled an honorable man. We really appreciated but but with with the resume cross.
Well, let's talk about that you know in the 53 years I've been alive.notice something. What I've noticed is that one of the hardest things in life to do is to go up the ladder to experience success to experience a notoriety to experience achievement and and to go up the ladder at the same time maintaining an attitude of true humility that is a really difficult thing to do.
Many of us know examples of people who haven't been able to master the skill I mean they were once pretty humble, but then with what God has given him. They don't recognize God for it all and there's arrogant as can possibly be.
Today what the apostle Paul kept the ability his entire life to go through unbelievable success.
When you start healing people who never walk before that's pretty awesome thing to do when poisonous snakes bite you and you rip the thing off and throw it all away and nothing happens to you.
That's pretty incredible. I mean this guy had some amazing success.
And yet he was able to remain a person of true humility.
Through it all and so we want to see how we did it how to do this so that we can copy it. How can we stay humble regardless how much success God ever since.
That's what we want to talk about before we talk about staying humble. Let's first define what humility is okay because it's kind of fuzzy humility is a fuzzy thing to what is humility really want to tell you what it is. Humility is not self-deprecation.
So depreciation it's not don't call myself theology that is not humility. You heard that you know people who go all well. I am such a horrible person, were I don't deserve to be a lot about you step on the garage. It is rare to have friends that is not humility that is mental illness that is not humility in Jesus who is the most humble human being to ever live. Did you hear him talk like that about him will of course not. That pseudo-humility really.
Humility is simply an attitude. It's merely an outlook.
It's merely a perspective it's merely a way of seeing ourselves that allows us to stay low before God in our own estimation and and keeps us from becoming too big for our britches here with other people. That's all it is. It's a perspective the way we see ourselves and and and you might say well I hear you driving on about this humility thing, but I mean what the money so I get a little arrogant. So what will this is a big deal for followers of Jesus could listen to what Jesus said, he said, Luke 1814 everyone that include us. Yeah, everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, God will see to that. And everyone will humbled himself will be exalted. God will see to that to impose this is an equation that you and I never want to get on the wrong end of you and say what I'm saying we don't ever want to be on the front end of this verse.
I've been on the front end of this verse. A number of times it is not a good place to be is a nasty place to be were God feels he has to step in and humble you nasty nasty. We want to be on the backend of this verse, where we humble ourselves and God therefore feels the freedom to jump in and exalt. That's where we want to be.
So how do we stay there even when God sends us increasing levels of success. Whether were three very simple things Paul did that kept him humble there all found in first Timothy one want you to flit back if you got your Bibles to the first letter that Paul wrote to Timothy first Timothy chapter 1 and let's close today by observing what these three things are so you and I can copy them number one out of the apostle Paul, stay humble, even with all the success he had number one. The apostle Paul always remembered where he came from.
Look right here. First Timothy one look at verse 13 it says even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man. I was shown mercy. Paul said hey I have no illusions about where I came from II through men and women into prison for believing in Jesus. I participated in killing people for their faith in Jesus. I was a profane man a mean man a cruel man. He goes on to say in verse 15 that I am the worst of sinners, the worse I was Hitler.
Paul said I was Stalin was Osama bin Laden of the first century I was a bad guy. This is such an important principle for us to remember. It helps us to stay humble to matter how high up the ladder. God takes us remembering where we started remembering how unlikely a candidate we really were to ever get where we are today remembering what a mess we were even when Jesus picked us up because friends if we ever lose that all the law that says hey starting as I did with the faults that I have.
How will I ever end up here if we ever lose that all it's a guaranteed formula for arrogance and that's trouble.
You know what other high school out of your high school was like my high school we had senior superlatives did you guys have that smartest best-dressed most friendly union and you put the guy that got elected to that girl he got elected that the got the big pictures on a special page in the yearbook you member most likely to succeed okay will I never want any of them, but I high school had let me tell you, though, if there is one senior superlatives. But if we had had it in my high school I would've wanted almost by acclamation I mean almost unanimously, and that is least likely to succeed. You say, not your your your exaggerated scope. No I'm not.
Oh no, I'm not mad I'm telling you, I grew up in a home with it was nothing but conditional love.
My dad was never there and my mom abused me both verbally and emotionally. I came out of that home emotionally scarred.
I had no discipline in my life had a terrible self image.
I was hugely obese from trying to eat all my pain away.
I had I was in terrible physical shape. I hated myself I was paranoid. I was insecure I was an emotional basket case I came out of a home or we were never held accountable to any moral behavior any ethical behavior. So my behavior was out of control.
I was offensive to everybody around me and I had no friends. Believe me, least likely to succeed. I don't want in a landslide in my high school. There is nobody less likely to be a success in life and I was in you know every time some success comes along and it's tonight yet. I'm tempted to take it personally. Letting go to my head. God taps me on the shoulder and says hey long. Don't you ever forget where you were when I found your son.
You were a disaster zone you were nuclear fallout.
When I found you. Don't you ever forget that, don't you ever start believing your own PR son, you know what is followers of Jesus Christ.
A lot of you guys can relate with exactly everything I'm saying you can you can relate to what I'm saying because when Jesus found you you were mess to when Jesus found you. Your life was a disaster to don't ever forget where you came from and keep you humble man say that you're here and you've never trusted Jesus is your real and personal Savior that so there's an important lesson here for you as well. Hey, you know I when I was back in high school I had this some descendents inside of me that there was some there was destiny down in there that there was something great down inside of there. The problem was.
I was so emotionally scarred and I have so much baggage I couldn't get it out and left myself. I never would've gotten it out, it's only because Jesus came into my life that I got it out that he healed me on the inside and I became all that I could be any view feeling that same way about yourself that this down inside you and me there some for some really inside of there, but you can't seem to get it out. I'm here to tell you left yourself. You never will.
But you give your life to Jesus, and you watch what happens.
Hey, you want to be all that you can be. Forget about the Army as my where you go, you come to Jesus and he will make you and everything that you been created to be. You watch what he does with your life if you just give them a check. Let's go on to the second. The second thing that Paul did to Him humble number two is the apostle Paul remembered who got him where he was today. First Timothy chapter 1. Look at verse 12. He says I thank Jesus Christ our Lord, who's given me strength. Please consider me faithful who's appointed me to his service. Paul says hey when it when it comes to being the apostle Paul in doing what I'm doing today. It's not luck. It's not fake it's not a coincidence. It's my chance and it's not good fortune that got me where I was and neither is it anything that I've done in my own effort.
The reason I am where I am today is the mercy of God grace of God.
In fact, he goes on to say down in verse 14 the grace of our Lord was poured out abundantly on me. That's why I'm where I am.
And you know as followers of Christ here in the 21st century. This same thing is true of us. What ever we are today.
Whatever success we have whatever notoriety we have. Whatever position we have today. The reason we've got is not because of us but because of God's sovereign decision to give this to us.
God's mercy God's grace and nothing else is in a timeout long. I gotta tell you, I take offense at that.
I resent that. I mean, I went to college I worked hard I built my business. I stayed up late at night working on all of those reports and those proposals for you to say that I'm where I am today just because a God. I resent okay well you know what there a lot of people went to college a lot of people who worked hard and a lot of people who stayed up late working on things. A lot of people try hard to build their business worn anywhere near where you are today is not just about that. It's about God making the decision that you where you are in somebody else's where they are and you want talk to business people all the time who tell me that success in their business as they look back is suspended on a couple of the narrowest margins that went their way. Instead of going the other way that at certain points in their life to something little. That was out of their control had gone a different way than the way it went. And they wouldn't be where they are today. So who controlled the little things and got him to go the way they win instead of the other way. Not you.
Psalm 75, not from the East nor from the west, nor from the south, nor from your going to college nor from your hard work, nor from your stayed up late comes exaltation.
God is the one who lives one personal, and personal personnel (remembering this is an important weapon and staying home because if we see whatever success or prominence of position. We have not is an achievement that we rated ourselves. But as we if we see it as a sovereign gift from God and staying home will be easier because if it all came from God. It's a gift from God is nothing to be arrogant about. That's why Paul wrote to said first Corinthians 4 verse seven. What do you have that you didn't receive from God, and if you received it, then why do you boast as if you hadn't received. That's a good question.
Remember who got you where you are today was and you it was Lord third and finally the apostle Paul remembered the reason why God allows us to experience success, why, why does God let us as his followers be successful. Think about that. You say well because that's just the way supposed to be no no think about it why God don't have to let us be successful. What is he let us be successful pate, why not.
The main reason is not so that you and I and as his followers can enjoy the benefits of being successful. The main reason is not so that we can enjoy living in comfort and affluent. The main reason is not so that we can bask in the spotlight have everybody tell us how wonderful we are no the main reason God allows us to have the successes we have is so that we can use those successes as a platform for God so that we can use those successes as an opportunity to turn the spotlight on to God and the wonderful mercy that he shown an outline hey Paul, thought this way.
Look what he says. Verse 16 he says, but for that very reason that I was the worst of sinners, for that very reason I was shown mercy look so that in me, the worst of sinners, Jesus Christ might display his unlimited patience. The reason God is done in my life. What is done is to use my life as a platform to display himself and he says, as an example for those who are going to believe on him and receive eternal life. Paul says God wants people pointing at me and say well I'm not as bad as Paul go around telling people I didn't go around throwing Christians in jail why he did and God can be merciful to him and do with him what he's done.
God can certainly do it for me to understand what Paul say that the reason God had done for him what he's done.
Didn't have anything to do with Paul and had to do with using Paul's life to draw credit and attention to God. That's why I met exactly what Paul did a list in the did he rush out the street and say hey what is human beings.
If you want to give the credit to anybody. Give it to the living God who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in it.
Didn't he take the credit and deflected away from himself, using his life merely as a platform to give the credit to God. That's the way it's supposed to happen and focus. When you and I like the apostle Paul dedicate ourselves to intentionally deliberately making sure the credit goes to God not to us that our lives are really just a platform I tell you something. You can see God give you success.
He says in Isaiah 42.
I am the Lord. That's my name and my glory.
The credit for what I do. I'm not given anybody else. So you give it to God and he's going to give you lots of success to give him the granite. All you gotta do is be intentional about you know my mom and I growing up had a horrible relationship. I mean just really bumpy. In fact, that's that's being kind. I have hated my mom hated her. I hated her because she tried to control my life. I hated her because she she just abused me emotionally and verbally hated her. I went off to college, hating her didn't want to be anywhere near and that when I came to Christ the Lord.
Convince me that you know that's just not right. I mean, the Bible says honor your father and your mother, so I began praying and asking the Lord to help me to do that well five or six years later my mom and I were together, she came up to me one evening and she said you know she said you have really become a wonderful son and I thought you and I can't take the credit that the credit going the wrong place. So I said mom I appreciate you saying that that's one but you know you really got it wrong. I am still the same selfish, self-centered and arrogant, hateful sawn that I've always been. I'm not a bit different. Believing all your seen in my life is the effects of Jesus Christ changing me. So the credit really is not mine.
The credit belongs to him and you know that's what Paul did. That was his intentional commitment is to always make sure the credit went to God and friends. That's where God wants you and me to be. If our intent is always to give the credit to God and not put our hands on the ark and take credit for ourselves what in the world can we get arrogant about. Of course it's easy to stay humble when that's art. Our commitment is have a long wait a minute, I can't walk around the Pentagon talking like that I can't walk around the Defense Department are my lawyers office talking to people like that. I mean it sounds cheesy.
It sounds self-righteous. Okay, fair enough. Sometimes when somebody wants to give you complement sometimes it really is better just to graciously say thank you and walk away. I admit that, but when we walk away. What is it that were saying to ourselves when we walk away when we walk away.
What is it that we were thinking inside when we walk away. That's the important issue.
Do we walk away from that encounter. Even if we merely said thank you.
Do we walk away saying hey Lord, listen you and I both know I don't deserve that credit that credit goes to you and I just want to affirm, even though I just said I am affirming it. God I'm not taking that credit my heart I know if yours is that how we walk away or we walk away saying that 30 Florida yeah that's the only you.
Only you and the Lord knows would goes all the way down inside nobody else, no friend would goes on. Deep down inside of there is essential to us staying humble before God who gets the credit in your life where God says he's the one that altogether as long as we stay there.
Hey, staying humble will not be a problem. So let's review were done.
How is it that we can go through life and we can have enormous successes and still work maintain true humility where God tells us here in the Bible it comes from not getting some things he says don't forget some things you can do it number one, don't forget where you came from.
Don't forget where you were when I found you and how unlikely candidate. You are to be where you are today. Number two. Don't forget who got you where you are today was in you as many. And third, don't forget who the credit always belongs to them along to you.
It belongs to me. You make sure I get and I like to add 1/4 thing we shouldn't forget that is.
Don't forget what happens when we forget okay we end up on the wrong side of the equation and it gets ugly.
Don't get on that side of the equation. Remember these things. Let's all try hard and let's stay on the right side of Jesus's equation more.
Thanks for talking to us today about real issues in our life. You know Lord that everyone of us here is human beings are human nature is just wired to be arrogant I mean will mean any harm from it. Lord, just the way we are. We love the spotlight. We love the notoriety we love being looked at as a bigshot we love people noticing us, that's just the way we are God so my prayer today is that you would take the example of the apostle Paul and that you would really motivate us to a different way of living, a way of living that that projects true humility and how do we do it well by remembering where we came from.
By remembering who got us where we are today and by remembering who the credit belongs to the Lord. These are simple principles but they work for Paul, his whole life in the work for us and so more change our life because we were here today make us men and women of true humility so that you can exalt us as the Bible says in due time, and we ask these things in Jesus name, amen