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February 4, 2020 6:00 am
Standing firm for Jesus.Support the show (https://www.lonsolomonministries.com/give)
Take your Bible if you would let's opening it together to ask Chapter 11 in the New Testament Matthew Mark Luke John acts acts chapter 11.
As we continue in our study of the life of the great man. The apostle Paul asked Chapter 11. You know I was growing up I lived on Tidewater, Virginia and in Tidewater with my family. Portsmouth actually is where I was raised. My family was part of the sizable Jewish community that lived down there. Well there was this one man that we knew fairly well. He owned a on a chain of businesses. He was quite well-off financially and I noticed as a teenager. He was always driving brand-new shiny car which teenagers note but I also noticed some very old, very special ells and that is that he never ever drove all of those new cars.
He never had a Mercedes will you know backbend just like today. Mercedes was an image Carmina was, like a success mobile and so I went to my mom. One time we were talking and I instructed you know how come Mr. so-and-so never buys a Mercedes and she said well three simple as a Jewish man. He refuses to buy anything made in Germany. She said, as a matter fact if you look around the parking lot at the synagogue. You'll see there are very many Mercedes there at all because a lot of the Holocaust. Most of us boycott anything and everything that's German well I looked up the word boycott in the dictionary. What is the boycott. It means to engage in a deliberate refusal to have dealings with a person or an organization in order want to force them to act the way we want them to, or to punish them because they won't. And the reason I bring this up is because a boycott lies at the heart of the passage that were to look at today.
It really forms the historical backdrop for the passage from the life of the apostle Paul were to study so come along with this, let's talk about what happened in the first century and then will try to extrapolate that forward and talk about how that affects your life in my life in the 21st century. Remember where we are now brand-new churches grown up in Antioch. It was a church where Jewish believers and Gentile believers in Jesus mixed together equally as brothers and sisters in the Lord and Barnabas had gone there.
Barnabas was the senior pastor of this church. And remember, he had gone and found Paul and brought Paul the town of Paul was the associate pastor of this church.
And while Paul and Barnabas were there pastoring.
Look what happens. Verse 27. During this time, some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch and one of them named Agatha's stood up and through the spirit predicted that a severe famine with spread over the entire Roman world.
Luke, the writer says and this happened during the reign of Claudius to Tony as Claudius was the Emperor of Rome from 41 A.D. 254 A.D. and we know from records outside of the Bible, not just Luke's account here but we know from the writings of Tacitus a Roman historian from the writings of Josephus, the Jewish historian from the writings of Claudius himself said between his fifth and seventh year, or between the years of 46 and 48 A.D. there was a horrible famine that struck the whole Roman world, with particularly the Middle East, the land of Palestine and so we have outside of the Bible confirmation that everything this prophet predicted really did happen just the way he said nothing to stop for a moment and say that if you're here and you've never trusted Jesus Christ as your real and personal Savior.
Maybe you're a lot like I was 30 years ago. 30 years ago I I was not against God. 30 years ago. I was not against as a college student, given my life to God.
30 years ago, I understood that you need to show some faith to come to God.
However, I was also assigned to.
I was a chemistry major at the University of North Carolina and and I couldn't do this unless I got some even a little empirical proof that God existed, the God was real, that this whole thing was in a home now for me. Let me just tell your partner what help solve my problem with this whole issue of fulfilled prophecy like the one Agatha says right here and ask Chapter 11, but there's more than that. As I told you before there are over 30 prophecies of the deal with the life the death the burial the resurrection of Jesus made a minimum of 400 years before his birth.
Some of them made as much as a thousand years before his birth, and all of which came through with precise accuracy uncanny accuracy man the probabilities of that are astronomical. And that really helped me to get over this idea that there was no empirical proof that the Bible was true that Esther is one of several ways that we can tell you that it is one of the ways and you know the Bible says Isaiah 46 verse nine for I am God and there is no other but me, but one of the ways God demonstrates that to us as human beings is the next verse is, and I declare from ancient times, things that haven't even happened yet. I take the Bible and write down in the Bible things that are going to happen for hundreds of years and times based so that when they happen exactly the way I told you, you can look at them and know that I am God and there is no other folks if you're here and you're like I was 30 years ago.
You want some proof that God is real. You want some proof that the Bible is trustworthy. You want some proof of this Christianity thing is not a hoax. I like to offer into evidence for you.
This whole idea. Fulfilled prophecy just is one of a number of evidences.
Come to think about what is going on what happens next verse 29 and the disciples, each according to his ability when they hear about this impending famine in Antioch. They decide to provide help for the brothers living in Judea, these guys get together and they decide to take up a monetary offering and send it to the believers in Christ that are living in Jerusalem the Jewish believers there and verse 30. This day did man I love that I love those three words. I mean, good intentions are wonderful. Overall, good intentions. These guys had a good intention to help their brothers in Jerusalem, but it was more than just a good intentions. This they did they put their money where their mouth was and took up his offering that and they sent their gifts to the elders in Jerusalem by Barnabas and by Paul use it when a long wait a minute if I understand what you're saying correctly, you're telling me that this sister church. This is baby church took up money to help support the mother church is that what you're telling me absolutely right you say will have to excuse me for saying so, but I just, seems backwards to me I'm you telling me these brand-new Christians in Antioch that they took up money to help support Peter that they took up money to help support Matthew and John and all these other people. Connie was wrong with Peter in Matthew and John what it is important to know well we we said two weeks ago. That's a great question right and we said two weeks ago with an answer. It lets answer that question.
What was going on in Jerusalem these guys could support themselves.
Romans chapter 15 verse 25 tells us about another offering a little later on that the apostle Paul took up with these very same believers in Jerusalem.
Look what he says. He says now. However I'm on my way to Jerusalem, and the service of the believers. There for the churches of Philippi and Corinth were pleased to make a contribution to the poor believers in Jerusalem for a few years later after Paul's third missionary journey. After he been around the Roman world, establishing churches in Philippi and Ephesus and Corinth and Galatia. He sets out and takes up a massive offering from all of these Gentile churches to take to the people in Jerusalem.
The believers in Jerusalem because they're poor is it when a long limited. No offense intended, but Jewish people generally on poor. Well, no offense taken.
These Jewish people were. They were very poor. These Jews who believed in Jesus and lived in Jerusalem, and let me tell you about it.
Let me tell you that that's historically verified FF Bruce the eminent New Testament scholar listen to what he said.
He said the Jerusalem church in the of apostolic age appears to have suffered from chronic poverty. This helps to explain why its members were called the poor was he talking about. Well we know from Jewish writings of this time that the nickname given to the Jewish believers in Jerusalem, where the Ebionites Ebionites comes from the Hebrew word, the word AME and I comes from a Hebrew word of your own, which literally means to be poor to be needy, to be destitute even to be beggarly and so the very nickname that the Jewish believers were given in Jerusalem during the first century were the poor guy the destitute guys the beggar people that was there nickname now why with a port like this. Why was there continual poverty in this church.
12 from the same Jewish records what were able to discern is that there was some kind of boycott going on in Jerusalem against anyone who was a follower of Jesus Christ.
Think about it now we know that the rabbis were trying to stamp out this whole Jesus is the Messiah movement. We know that right now it would be easy for them to do that.
All they have to do is go to the grave of Jesus roll the rock back pull out the dead mold the body of Jesus put on public display of the Temple Mount and Christianity is over. However, you can't do that because Jesus was raised from the dead.
There's no moldy old dead body there to bring out so not being able to do that. The next strategy they tried was to isolate and boycott and bankrupt. The followers of Jesus Christ living in Jerusalem in hopes that by doing this they could make the economic price for following Jesus Ojai nobody would be willing to do it. John sent this is why every time we find in the Bible every time we find the believers in Jerusalem being referred to. There always for because if you were Jewish person living in Jerusalem and you believe in Jesus and you told people that brand. If you own a butcher shop, nobody came there by me tell you if you own that if you owned a blacksmith shop. Nobody bought the donkey. There, if you were a lawyer you had no billable hours. If you live in Jerusalem like that and you know what that means for a lawyer. As a matter fact I love the story about the guy. Those of his birthday party for his friend was a lawyer and while there, the party walked up to go to the secretary to his lawyer friend and he says the secretary will have a way how old is he. She said will depend. She said if you go by chronology piece 48. She said, but if you go by billable hours is 93 I love this story puts it like that. Yeah. Well anyway, here's the point. The point of all that well on the older couple lawyers in my time in spite of the point of all this has nothing to do. Would lawyers.
The point is that in the light of the boycott that was being put on these people in Jerusalem in spite of the economic price that they were forced to pay to follow Christ.
These people stood firm. That's the point. They didn't cave in. They didn't give up. They didn't back down. They stood firm in their faith in Christ. So how do you know that I know it because the same Jewish writings tell us that up until the time of the destruction of the city 70 A.D. there was a vibrant and outspoken community of Jewish believers living in Jerusalem. He said what happened to them in 70 A.D. what would happen to them in 70 A.D. as they ran out of town.
The reason they got run out of town is because they wouldn't support the revolt against Rome that the rabbis organize beginning in 66 A.D. they had read Romans 13 they knew it was wrong for them to revolt against God established government and since they wouldn't support the revolt. Jewish records tell us the rabbis ran the whole lot of matter. Jerusalem would let them stay there. So the effect the Jewish church in Jerusalem effectively comes to an end around 70 A.D., not because these people backed off on their faith in Christ, but because I got run out of town.
But until then for the next 25 years after this famine there there and there outspokenly and conspicuously there and we know that not just because of the Bible, but because of other Jewish writing now. This brings us to the end of our passage, but it leads us to ask a question are most important question y'all know if this is right. If I knows what this is so ready. Here we go nice and loud. 123 was wonderful. All right you say lawn. So what you say you not you why I feel bad for these guys.
I'm sorry they had to go through that there's nobody boycott me in the 21st century because of my faith in Christ. So really diddly squat to do with me. Well, let's wait for second before we make the conclusion you know about two weeks ago one of the most influential men ever to impact my life as a Christian, passed away. His name was AW Jackson Pastor Jackson in the past, Richard Hill Baptist Church right here in Arlington for 25 years, but I met him years ago as a professor. He was a professor in the seminary where I went here in the Washington area and last December this past December, he celebrated his 90th birthday.
I was able to go to the party because it was a Saturday night and I was here preaching, but I wrote them a letter and I wanted to excerpt just a little bit of the letter to let you to see what this man.
Men in my life to here's a little bit of the letter that I wrote pastor Jack. It was almost 30 years ago that we first met a capital Bible seminary you as a professor and me as a 22-year-old seminary student.
As I sat in your classes, I decided that I would try and pattern my approach to the pastoral ministry and my living as a servant of God after your example almost 30 years later I am still trying to do that though I must confess that I have fallen far short of the bar that you've established with your life. In my opinion, pastor Jackson, your life is in credible example of humility, graciousness, honesty and genuineness your faithfulness to your wife Dorothy and your family for almost 67 years. Pastor Jackson was married to Dorothy who still living for 67 years has been a pleasant change from the track record of so many others in pastoral ministry and watching how you continue to trust God even through the crushing loss of your daughter.
He had a grown daughter with children who died of cancer a few years ago. It has inspired me innumerable times to keep trusting the Lord through the painful experiences. Friend and I have been through with our severely disabled little girl Jill. Anyway, the point of all this is to thank you for the difference you've made in my life I thank God that he gave me the privilege to call myself one of your disciple friends if you asked me what person do you know who epitomizes the words finishing well Christ I was AW Jackson. You know this man continue to preach to the was 88 years old. This man said if I could finish half as well is AW, Jackson, I would be through if I could finish as well as these followers of Christ in Jerusalem finish. I'd be thrilled if I could finish like the apostle Paul finish. I'd be thrilled.
I stand here before you and I tell you honestly before God that that more than anything else in this world. The one thing I want the most is the finish will I want to finish in a way that doesn't disgrace Jesus Christ doesn't dishonor my family that doesn't disgrace my ministry that doesn't dishonor this church more than anything else. That's what I want to do and if you're here in your follower of Jesus Christ more than anything else.
That's what God wants your goal in life to be to finish with honor the race that he's put your own, just like the followers of Christ here in Jerusalem did not want the obstacles car care are. Who cares what the obstacles are we, we, God wants us to finish.
Well anyway, how we do that, how can we do that well. I went this week through the Bible and said how did Paul do this to me. What were some of the dynamics in Paul's life that enabled him to finish. Well, like he did and I was able to come up with for I want to share them with you for things that help these followers of Christ faces boycott finish well for things that help all face all that he's facing finish will for things that will help us finish will file our number one. One of the things that help all finish well is the number one. He was fiercely loyal to Jesus Christ above everything else in life, look what he says. Second Timothy chapter 3 chapter 2. Rather, verse three, he said, endure hardship, Timothy with me like a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Now look what he says no good soldier gets distracted by civilian affair because his goal is to please his commanding officer isn't an interesting here what he says to Timothy, he says, hey Timothy, me tell you something. A good soldier doesn't get distracted by civilian event. A good soldier doesn't get carried astray by what's going on out in the real world. A good soldier doesn't even get distracted up by what he wants to do himself a good soldier has a goal, and his goal is to please not himself but his commanding officer and Timothy my commanding officer is the Lord Jesus Christ and my goal in life as yours should be is to please him global. Paul says acts chapter 20 because I don't consider my life of any account as dear to me. If only I may finish the course and complete the task that the Lord Jesus is given. He said this when they told him Paul. You know, if you keep going to Jerusalem like you're going there's already been either of us. He's they visit number two is told as I don't put you in chains that will imprison you to ship you off to jail. Do you understand without their paws on care. All I want to do is finish what my commanding officer asked me to do my loyalty is not to my creature comfort my loyalty is to Jesus folks if you and I are going to finish well where you have to have the same, loyalty for Jesus Christ because of were loyal to anything else. Our own creature comfort our own desires. Our own passions. Any other person or thing about Jesus, the enemy will use that and we are vulnerable and he will shoot us right out the cell. Jesus was Paul's not a want number one without apology number one source of loyalty in life and that's what made it through.
That's why got through. That's why finish well and the same will be true for you and me. This is why Jesus said anyone who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of anyone who loves son or daughter or car or house furniture or clothing or fame more than me is not worthy of me and he did this he told us this to do us a favor because he knows, unless he's first will have trouble making number two. Second thing Paul did that help them finish well is he lived every day in light of his external accountability. Second Corinthians chapter 5 or step for every follower of Christ must stand before the judgment seat of Christ, that we may each be evaluated for the things done while here on earth, whether good or bad friends. When you trust Jesus Christ as your personal savior you are going to heaven... But as I told you many times when you and I arrive.
When you have a performance review were to sit right there when Jesus and were gonna scroll all the way back to when we became a Christian and working review everything we did look what it says here, whether good or bad.
Look at the impact that this had on Paul's life very next verse.
Therefore, he said, knowing the fear of the Lord, knowing how scary it's going to be to sit there with an all knowing, all seeing, all powerful God who I can hide anything from knowing how what a scary thing that's going to be my amount here persuading men on out here doing my job just way. Jesus told me to do my job because I know I got a performance review common and friends. You can fool some of the people some of the time and most of the people all the time but you can't fool Jesus ever believing he knows it all sees it all and what the Bible tells us is you and I will see it all again to when we stand with him. One of the best motivators. I know to promote us doing things that enable us to stand firm in finish well is to do with the apostle Paul did and never lose sight of disappointment. You and I have come in with Jesus. If you're dabbling with Sultan that you might want to do and you know you got no business doing this but boy it sure does look good right now. Paul says is a setback for minute and ask yourself if I do that, do I really want that to come back up and have to give an explanation of that front of Jesus. When I get to heaven. It's amazing how unattractive that thing gets real quick. When you ask yourself that question and how quick the air comes out the balloon you see the article in USA Today this week about the IRS did see that about the audits of the IRS. What did you know that 10 years ago, your chance of having a random audit done against you by the IRS, was one in 50, today 10 years later, your chance of having a random audit is less than 1 inch 250. I think that's great news. Myself, I say yeah that's wonderful well IRS not agree with that.
Frankly, and they want to they quoted Elysian look with the agency. The agent said the threat of audit is the greatest weapon we have at the IRS in getting people to report their income. Honestly, when people begin to feel that there's not much chance of being audited significant numbers of them will flood you on their income number nobody saying only saying is when people think you're going to be held accountable. Human nature takes over. They don't mean to be Neil demeanor evil or criminal, but is just when there's no accountability. Human nature begins to take over. We just start getting sloppy around the edges spoke.
That's true and I walk with God. If we don't think were going to be held accountable. Human nature takes over. Paul never lost sight of the fact he was going to be held accountable and that help to make it make the choices that help them finish well number three how to call finish well number three. He rooted his life in the Scriptures which you notice I didn't say he rooted his life in time magazine Newsweek magazine Sports Illustrated car and driver Mlle. or God for bid. The Washington Post. No no no no no no this is the man rooted his life in this book. This was a man who spent time in his book who know who saturated himself with his beaucoup meditated in his book and that's what he told Timothy said Timothy second Timothy three you know this in the last days, terrible times will come first 13 evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse. But verse 14 how you going to make it Timothy how we going to stand how we going to finish well. You, however Timothy continue in the things you learn from childhood, namely the Scriptures, for they will be able to give you wisdom and all Scripture is God breathed and is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction training in righteousness, and what's the result of being in the Scripture routing our life in the Scripture, that we may be thoroughly equipped for every good work that we might be able to stand firm that we might be able to finish well. He says Timothy hang on to the word of God and you will be able to hang on son hang on the word of God and you will be able to finish well and you know what I look around the 21st century, and I say to myself, we would have a lot more followers of Jesus Christ finishing well today. If we escrow as Christians spent as much time in the Bible every day. As we spent watching Dan Rather watching game shows, reading time magazine reading the paper. Think about it now. If we spent iconic time in the word of God. When we have a lot more people finishing well.
I believe we will.
So what about you, you want to finish well. God want you to finish will tell you how you do it you route your life in the Scripture, not Sports Illustrated, not USA Today, the word of God. Fourth and finally with this were done is how to call finish well. He never lost sight, he never lost sight of the heavenly rewards God promised look what he says. Second Timothy chapter 4 is that I have thought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have The faith I'm done friends. I'm crossing the finish line and I finished well look what he said and now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness in heaven with the Lord's promise to award not just to me, but to all who have long for his appearing. You know how Paul ran the race down your friend, he ran the race with his I not only track but on the finish line. And it's amazing how much you and I can withstand it is amazing how much you and I can cope with and not fall apart. It is amazing how much we can endure and stand firm when our eyes are not on actual but on the finish line. Heaven is good to be an incredible place and Paul ran his race with his eyes not on this world and what this world could offer. He ran his race with his eyes on heaven with Jesus's promise that help :-) the story about this man whose held one so good. His diet wasn't so good using all kinds of fatty stuff goes wife decided she wasn't going to help food God died for both of them and you know they will need the brand and none tofu and all his other nasty stuff until he went on his diet, and they really did help his cholesterol went down and all his levels went down he lived.
They lived a long time. He lived to be very elderly and one day they were driving and got hit him and kill both him and he went to heaven, and Peter showing them around in heaven shows in this unbelievable house.
He says this is your men have talked about back in a pool table downstairs in the big screen TV and a bed with the button it went up and down all that they would like to sit on a noisy run for your sake and for the house like this and Peter said no, no, this is heaven's free when they walked out front there was a shiny red Maserati sit in the driveway inhibitors has always known annoy the basis of the reason for this, he said you know is that I did indeed is not always as free while they walk around on the inside and they went in the kitchen and the guy opens his big old refrigerator and there was chocolate pie, apple pie, brownies with cream and ice cream and the goggles on and on another note is in you not want to my cholesterol I can eat any left up and Peter says doing, don't you get it this is heaven. You can eat all that and it won't make any difference at all, turns his wife and he says, see there, but had been for you and that tofu I could've been here 10 years ago.
Heaven will be a great place ran yeah chocolate foul you will breakfast lunch and dinner.
Yeah, place and and and one of the ways to make it through this life and make it through this life will is to keep our eyes not on this line but only God has for us in heaven. You know, nothing would make Jesus happier than to say to you, well done good and faithful servant. You were faithful in a few things now come in here at the blessing I have for you. I mean, nothing would make you happier than to say that to you and you honestly, nothing will make you happier than hearing say to you, how we going to get for how we going to do that well for suggestions they work for Paul to work for us. Number one be fiercely loyal to Jesus Christ even more loyal to him than you are yourself number two live every day. In light of our eternal accountability.
Everything you are thinking about doing just ask yourself do I want to see this one again when Jesus and are scrolling back through it will help you make better choices. Number three route.
Our lives in the word of God, spend time making sure that the word of God forms the basis and the foundation for our worldview and forth and finally, never lose sight of the heavenly rewards for Jesus's promised you and me and every other person who finishes will run your race with your eye not on the track with your eye on finishing my God help us do that was for more Jesus we we come to you today and and thank you for talking to us about life right now where we live it real and practical because the Lord, you know, we live in a world that had is full of rabbit trails its pool full of enticements and allurements to get us off track and to get us to do things that will disgrace ourselves disgrace you disgrace our families and us up in the ditch. God I want to thank you that your heart for us is that we finish well and thanks for giving us a strategy today that will help me. We take these four things, and may we build them into our life and into our worldview. Maybe things change the way we we live. The choices we make. The way we think the Lord one day we went just like the apostle Paul will be able to stand and with integrity say I ran that race. I finished the course.
I thought the faith I kept the faith. God help us to get to the place where we can save like those followers of Drew it of Christ in Jerusalem like Paul like a W Jackson use what we learned here today to change our lives and we pray this in Jesus name, amen