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March 14, 2020 12:00 am
Life of Paul series.Support the show (https://www.lonsolomonministries.com/give)
When it comes to the issue of pressing on when it comes to the issue of never quitting and never giving up one of the most gripping examples better than I've ever witnessed in my lifetime happened in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.
You may remember the incident there was a young man from Great Britain. Their name Eric Redman and Derek Redman was running in the finals of the 400 m and about halfway around the track. He tore his hamstring while the rest of the runners just kept on going. Of course, and ran around and they crossed the finish line. All the metals were settled Derek Redman on the backside of the track continued to hobble towards the finish line topping on his one good leg and we rounded the last curve. If you remember his father who was in the stands leapt out of the stands ran down onto the track and supported his son as the two of them hobbled their way all the way to the finish line and across. It was one of the most incredible scenes in modern sports history book. By that time. The stands were all cheering everybody was standing in and clapping and applauding unbelievable moment. Well, we want to talk a little bit today about the same kind of grit and tenacity that Derek Redman demonstrated except we want to talk about it.
Not in terms of a literal race in the Olympics but in terms of our Christian lives and how we continue to press on and go forward even through tough times like Derek Redman did because were to look today at the apostle Paul's life and working to watch him display this very same quality and you know, it occurred to me as I was thinking this week that so many times where just like Derek Redman where where something is happened to us and were just hobbling you know that was is a survey done by Gallup. Just this past week about the events of September 11 and what he found is that over 50% of Americans are still struggling to get back to normal. 30% of Americans say they're still depressed 35% of Americans say that there still losing sleep over it, and 15% of Americans said that they will never in their lifetime.
They believe get over the events of two weeks ago now, even if that's not what you're dealing with, even if that's not what's hobbled you know many of us here are dealing with cancer and chemotherapy and wondering where were going to get the strength to keep on pressing on. Some of us are caring for people who are going through this.
Some of us here have chronic illness and were struggling to to know how to keep going when every single day be is exactly like the day before, and some of us are caring for people who are struggling with these kind of issues. Some of us here have lost our jobs and were struggling to decide the week having trouble finding a new job, wondering if were ever going to find a job trying to figure out how we go on from day to day. Some of us here are lonely we really want. We want a relationship and we can't seem to find one and some of us here have a relationship and it's all falling apart work with lost contact with children that we love and and were struggling to know how to go on some of us here having financial troubles with the markets we really want to wake up and even see what's going to happen today in the markets. Want to know what your issue is but friend, let me just say if you're confused about why God law is letting all this happened to you and your struggling to find the strength to press on, you have come to the right place today because this is what were going to talk about and working to try to get a strategy that's going to help you as a follower of Christ by looking at the apostle Paul slips to get together little bit of background because a long time ago in a galaxy far far away. We were studying Paul. We all remember that so were to go back now, but let's review a little bit for those of you who are new with this. The apostle Paul. Remember, did not begin as the apostle Paul.
He began as a Jewish rabbi as a Pharisee. In fact, he was one of the most highly educated men in Israel. In his day, having studied at the feet of the eminent Rabbi Gamaliel in Jerusalem. Rabbi Paul was also a ruthless persecutor of the early church and one day he was on his way to Damascus to go find some Christians there and arrest them and bring them back to Jerusalem and put them in jail like he done so many others.
While he was on the road to Damascus.
The living risen resurrected Jesus knocking down on the road appeared to him spoke to him, and suddenly Paul realized that everything these Christians have been telling him the ones he been arresting everything they can tell them about Jesus as the Messiah was really true.
Lying there on the dust. He accepted Christ as his personal Messiah at about 10 or 12 years later, he and his friend Barnabas set off to do itinerant preaching. They first went to Cyprus and then they went up into the underbelly of what we know today as Turkey and this began what we call today. Paul's first missionary journey. Now that's where we pick up the story he's gone to the city of Antioch in central Turkey and he's preached in the synagogue and that's where we picked up the story so let's look chapter 13 verse 42 join me as we look at is Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue the people invited them to speak further about these things. The next Sabbath. So when the congregation was dismissed. Many of the Jewish people and devout converts to Judaism that were there followed Paul and Barnabas and Paul and Barnabas talk to them and urge them to continue in the grace of God. You see what happening here. They left the synagogue, the Jewish people said y'all come back next week and would like to see more about this, but there were a few people there will ready to make a decision right then and Paul and Barnabas birds them.
The Bible says to continue in the grace of God, meaning that they urge them not to return to trying to work their way to heaven with religious activity keep in the 10 Commandments try to be a good person, but rather that they enjoy the undeserved mercy of God that had been given to them when they trusted Jesus and what he did for motocross nap you're here and you've never trusted Christ in a real and personal way.
May I say to you that you've probably been taught that the way to get to heaven was the same way these people in Paul's day had been taught and that is you do religious work to come to church to try to keep the 10 Commandments try to be a nice person. Paul's whole sermon here in acts 13 is aimed at saying that while were that's not how people get eternal life. People get eternal life as a free gift from God when they put their faith and trust in Jesus and and so if if you're here today. We want you to experience that same kind of freedom that suddenly these people in acts 13 experience free from that treadmill of performance free from having to do all that religious work just for you to enjoy God's goodness and God's undeserved kindness to you when he gives you eternal life. In response to your trust in Jesus, we hope you'll do the God wants to set you free. Well looking back and see what happened the next Sabbath. Verse 44 and the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord in that wonderful almost all city showed up at the same God that had that happen long.
Well I think it's because Paul and Barnabas didn't spend a week sitting on the porch sipping mint juleps. I think they were out in the streets calculated people. Hey, bring your friends bring you neighbors. Bring your enemies. We don't care because at the synagogue. We got some great happening next week in the city showed up all these Gentiles showed up at the single it was Jewish people were there must've been thrilled not exactly verse 45. Then the Jews saw the crowds of Gentile and they were filled with jealousy and they talk abusively against what Paul was trying to say so I don't understand why we think sided with the hubbub all about. Well, you gotta understand the Jewish people in the synagogue believe that the Messiah was there personal property, the Messiah was very unique, personal entitlement, and they didn't take too kindly to all these Gentiles showed up.
Want to get in on their thing and so the Bible says they got jealous.
They got jaundice. They began to get very territorial and very defensive and they opposed Paul and they tried to stop him from preaching the message of Jesus to these Gentiles they didn't stop there. Verse 50 says that they incited the God-fearing women of high standing in the town and the leading men of the city and they stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas and they ran him out of the city expelled him from the city that you know if the apostle Paul Laguna, a normal person. He probably would've said you know what this is crazy.
You are my out here doing this one out here getting toward run out of town like this. I think I'll just go back to where I came from her body like well but friends apostle Paul was not a normal person.
Thank God for that book. What he did. Verse 51 says that W apostle Paul and Barnabas shook off the dust from their feet in protest against these folks ran Amanda down and they went on to I colonial show you a map to give you an idea what's going on here. Paul and Barnabas are here in Antioch up in southern Turkey and they got ran out of town. So what they did is they would ride to the next little city. The city by Tonio and they go there.
They begin preaching there and I colonial what happens and I colonial chapter 14 verse five and they are not coning. There was a plot against all about among some of the people to abuse and stone. The apostle Paul. So Paul found out about it and what you do go home know he went on to the cities of Lysistrata and Derby, where he continued to preach the good news back to our map.
They gone now from Antioch where they started to I colonial they get run out of.
I coning them so they go on the list, growth, and on the Derby and continue to preach what happened in the spring Derby acts chapter 14 verse 19. Some Jewish people from Antioch and from I colonial. They followed him to list drug and they won the crowds over so the crowd stone to Paul and dragged him out of the city, thinking he was dead.
They know in our culture today.
You and I don't see a lot of dead people. I mean that's what happens in hospitals for Bob which a lot of us here never even been near dead person but in these days, it was different.
These people knew what did people look like so they drag Paul out the city and threw them in the ditch, considering him to be said you can believe the apostle Paul was not doing real well at that moment. They thought he was. But the it in the Bible goes on to say that when the disciples to gather around them.
Paul got up and went back into the city. You mean the very same city where they just flat That's it. Is it will then he went home right know the next day.
Acts chapter 14 verse 20 the next day Paul went back to Derby, where he preach the good news and one a large number of people to the Lord and then he returned to list you be worried and started and then he went back to I colonial where they had wanted to stone and then he went back to Antioch where the people ran him out of town to been following them around. Try getting kill and Paul didn't slink into these towns and hide out verse 22 of chapter 14 says he went into town strengthening the believers there and encouraging them to remain true to the faith.
Let's watch what he did back to our map after starting in Antioch and going to I colonial and in the list drug and in the Derby. Paul turned around and went back exactly the same to all these cities were always people want to get laid and you know what I love about the apostle Paul in his vocabulary. The word give all simply didn't exist one in his vocabulary and that's as far as we want to go right now in our passage because we have an extremely important question we need to answer and I know it's been a while and some of you may have forgotten our question so those of us who know it. That's how everybody remember it ready, deep breath 123. That feels good. Yeah, he's Alonso. What I mean, I love Paul is got a great attitude God blessing, but big whoop. What difference is all that make to my life. Let's see we can bring all this into the 21st century right here in this passage friends we see the apostle Paul display the kind of grits, the kind of tenacity that characterize his entire Christian life. The apostle Paul only knew one direction folks and that was for watch what he says Philippians 3 he says in verse 13 brothers, I do not consider myself to reach perfection, but this one thing I do. I'm very focused. Paul said forgetting the things that lie behind. I press on.
That's my focus. I go forward so that I may win the prize that God has for me in heaven and then he says in verse 15. Look, all of us who are mature believers should have this same view of things, forgetting what lies behind pressing forward and follow my example is that when along. You know what this is an easy I mean you named all those things at the beginning of the message.
Chemotherapy, broken relationships, losing a job, the stock market. Chronic illness you named all those things and what and when you're dealing with those things and when you're exhausted and when you're discouraged when you're wrong. Now when you begin to lose hope.
When you give it everything you've got and everything you got just not good enough.
You know what, it's not easy to get up and presto what you write. You're absolutely right. And believe me how well I know many of you know I have a nine-year-old little girl named Jill Joe's had probably 4000 grand mall seizures in her nine years. That's probably conservative. As a result, she has serious brain injury she on this severely retarded as part of this of the damage that was done.
Jill lost the ability to speak and even at one point lost the ability to walk or even sit up. We staff the tire with a rope in a chair in the kitchen to feeder. Chris couldn't sit up but you know through all the nine years and how bad it's been. I'll never forget what was probably the lowest point for Brenda and me Brendan. I've been through more than a year of crisis with Jill when she was about two or three. She would have seizures and she stopped breathing and I would have to give her CPR while we waited for the rescue squad to show up, the rescue squad would come. They were transported to Fairfax hospital they put her in pediatric ICU we be there two days three days four days tag teaming each other, spending the night there.
Finally, they let her come home she do it again the next day. The next week we be back in the hospital for two or three days and this went on week after week after week. We never slept through the night you have seizures at 2 AM 3 AM 4 AM.
We forgot what REM sleep was even like one night. We only live a few minutes from the hospital. She had a seizure like this, I decided not to wait for the rescue squad. We put her in the car we ran to the emergency room. They took Jill out of our arms.
They ran her back in this room they they had a amble back there, you know little blue bag to use when you stop breathing. They shut the shutters in this room so we could see and pushed us out of the door. There's about five of them and they're working on her said y'all stand in the hallway close the door at 3 o'clock in the morning there. Brenda and I are standing in this hallway at the emergency room for back house all alone is not another human being inside little girls in this room we have no idea she's good Olivia. She's gonna die. And I gotta tell you friends.
We were exhausted we were just completely worn down and as we stood there we felt hopeless. We felt depleted and we couldn't understand why God was letting this happen to us and and and we just had nothing left to give.
We were like we were just no standing out there in that hallway in the middle of the night. I never put my arm around my wife and thinking to myself, Lord. I don't know how were going to go me.
I just don't think we can go on like this God when we going to do.
I'll never forget God saying to me. Hey, long if the apostle Paul could do it you can do it so I dedicated myself to coming home after that in saying I'm gonna look in the Bible on the study and find out how to the apostle Paul do it. I mean he writes and says follow my example to press on how you know it I'm in a learn what it is. He did so I can copy and I found four things only say to you, I want to give you the impression it Brendan I breeze through these last nine years we have even with these four things we have in breeze through these last nine years we've been on the ropes. Numerous times, but I will say to you because we've done these four things by God's grace were still stand in the day nine years later and I don't care what you're dealing with my friend, you may not have a disabled child. But if you're dealing with difficult difficult things. I'm here to tell you if you will do these four things you can stand to my not easy but you can because it works for us to work for you. This is Paul's example so let's follow what we learn. One of these four things go number one what Paul do number one call saturated his heart and his mind with the word of God. Second Timothy three verse 10 says Timothy you know about my way of life.
What kinds of things happen to me in Antioch and Oconee human lives struck the persecutions I endured a focus we just read about why we know what happened to him. He says Timothy I'll tell you sawmill things are going to get tough for you but Timothy look at verse 14.
You press on and I love that you press on Timothy and how do you know it look press on in what you have learned and what you know to be true, namely the holy Scriptures, which is Paul goes on to say God gave us. Verse 17 so that we as believers can be thoroughly equipped for every eventuality. What was it that enabled the apostle Paul press on, like he did in his life and the answer is the apostle Paul was a man of the word. The apostle Paul was a person who saturated and soaked his heart and his mind, and the word of God, and Brendan, I had to learn that that the only way to keep from caving in. When everything around us look bleak was to be people who immersed ourselves in the word of God. There is a strength that comes when we are filling our heart and mind with this book that you simply cannot find anywhere else. You can immerse yourself in the Washington Post and I'm here to tell you is not going to give you the strength to go on, you can immerse yourself in time magazine and Sports Illustrated did not find the strength to go on but when we immerse ourselves in the word of God. There is strength that comes into our lives. Number two, Paul secondly was able to press on because he relied on God's strength, not his own. He wrote second Corinthians 12 verse nine God said to me, Paul writes my God strength is best displayed in your weakness. Paul Paul's point here is that God has supernatural strength, my friends, that he's anxious to give us if we're just willing to humble ourselves and asking for it instead of always depending on our own strength.
That's why Paul goes on to say. That's why I delight in weaknesses for when I am weak, then, is when I am truly strong.
You say that makes no sense at all. This does what Paul saying is when I'm weak when I'm out of resources when I'm willing to admit that to God and ask for his help. That's when I really become strong because that's when God infuses my life was supernatural strength that I don't have all my own. That's when I become strong.
Brendan, I learned that there's great power supply getting on your face before God and saying God we can't do it.
We can't do it.
Lord were out and we need supernatural strength from you.
So how does God give that bread I don't have the slightest clue, and frankly I don't care as long as he gives Anke how he gives it and I can't put it in the test tube for you and I can't decline it on a piece of paper for you, but all I can tell you is if you're a follower of Jesus Christ and you get on your face before God and you humble yourself and you say God I can't. I need your strength. I'm here to tell you, you get number three Paul walked by faith is what I learned and he believed God's promise in Romans 828 disabled, not of course he believed Romans 828 hereof I know I know but he wrote it because he believed it, and what is Romans 828 say it says all things work together for good to those who love God print this is the lens through which the apostle Paul viewed every single circumstance in his life.
The lens of faith in Romans 28, no matter how confusing things might've looked to them, no matter how bleak the circumstances might be. Paul didn't look at the circumstance he looked beyond it to the promise of God and said, hey, I don't care how bad it is now.
I've got God's promise that he's got good plan and by trusting he's going to turn it into good. That's all he could take the stuff he took my wife had a prayer that I she would often tell me about in the days of Jill and she still prays her prayers were simply Lord please don't let all this pain get wasted. Please turn it into something good like only you can. Every time she tell me that I go. Amen, amen, that, prayer is a prayer that's clinging to the promise of Romans 828 and you know in the early years with my daughter.
I could not even think about how God could turn something this awful and anything good could even imagine how it could have been now nine years later. You know were beginning to see God do the we have access ministry in this church. We ministered over 400 children with special needs. Every single month in this church and their families and friends that this would never be happening in this church is the one for God sending Jill in my life and I'll tell you why I'm ashamed to admit it but I would've been too insensitive to hardhearted and to completely stupid to realize what these families were dealing with a man. When God sent me Jill.
Suddenly I understood. We have churches that come from all over America to learn how to do what were doing here inaccessible to go back and copy it in their churches. We we just filed with Fairfax County to build a center for special needs children just to the west of this property. We can do overnight respite care we can do's therapy.
That's cheaper than people can get out in the world system in a distinctively Christian atmosphere. We can pray with these children and pray with their parents, we can do.
Early intervention services and support group for parents in a distinctively Christ centered environment there would be no such center happening. If it weren't for Jill in my life. Jim Dobson's call me a number of times they would you come on the air. We talk about this so we can galvanize churches across America to copy the center and we said we love to do that, let us get it built. First, we got some show people we love to do that. Johnny Erickson taught is moving her east coast headquarters into that center so we can partner with her. None of this would've happened without my daughter and I believe I'm a better man today because God sent my daughter into my life.
I believe I'm a better pastor than I ever would. My marriage is better than it ever would've been, God is taken me some places I don't think God could have ever taken without you. And I gotta tell you frankly it's a little overwhelming to see how God has kept his promise in Romans 828 two was beyond anything I ever dream. But you see friends. That's the way God is when he promises you something you can take it to the bank and I don't care what it is you're dealing with. I'm Bad it locks I don't care how impossible it seems good could ever come from it. The good news is you're not God. The good news is you're not supposed to be able to understand it all. But the good news is there is a God and he's got it all worked out. If you just trusting so you can keep going because God is going to turn it into good if you letting number four and finally is it Paul was able to keep going because his focus was on eternity not on this life. Second Corinthians 417 for our light and momentary troubles. Paul's right ball right are achieving for us an eternal reward that far outweighs them all. So he says we fix our eyes not on what we can see but what we cannot see what we can see is only temporary, but what can't be seen is eternal and the result of this. Therefore, Paul says we do not lose heart. When our eyes are on eternity.
We don't lose heart in this life, and Brendan, I had to learn to keep our eyes on eternity were one day Jill would be healed and whole world.
One day God will reward us for our faithfulness will one day all the pain in the heart ache would just be a distant memory is amazing what you can deal with when your eyes are on eternity. Let me repeat Brendan. I've got breeze through the last nine years. Please don't think that but were still standing and the reason were still standing is because we learn to do these four things friend and work for you to fall. Paul said follow my example this is his example somewhat to write these things on your desk. Write them on your refrigerator right on the mirror in your bathroom item on the palm of your hand. I don't care. But if you'll do these things. I don't care what you dealing with, you can find the strength to keep going to want to close with a song that's meant a lot to my wife in the in the last in the last few weeks. It's a song by Salo and it's very simple song, sums up everything that that I've been talking about today. It simply says when the mountain is high in the valleys deep. I'm completely strong out not given it my best shot. That's not good enough and all my resources ago. In Jesus name I find the strength to keep going to check out the song I hope will be an encouragement to you G is these