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July 23, 2021 12:00 am
This is where God's sovereign power now invades the story in a special way.
There are several things verse 16.
Paul's nephew was at the right place in the right eye, who was the centurion number 17 is willing to be commanded by Paul, a prisoner telling this commander hey would you do this and he didn't and then finally verse 23 the mind of the Roman army now surrounds Paul K is about to ride out of Jerusalem surrounded by 70 horsemen and 200 experiment and there are 40 very hungry men who don't have a chance.
Have you ever lost your temper.
Maybe someone said something to you responded in angry frustration.
Maybe you had to apologize later as things cool down a little bit if that's happened to you, you're going to be encouraged from Stephen's message today.
You see, even the apostle Paul reacted angrily and blew his testimony in front of a crowd. It can happen to any of us but the good news is that even when we are unfaithful. God remains faithful, welcome to wisdom for the heart. Today's message is called losing your cool Rudyard Kipling wrote a column several decades ago with some famous lines that column entitled, if the words. If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too if you can wait and not be tired by waiting or being lied about, refuse to deal in lies or being hated don't give way to hating if you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, then you'll be a man.
My son perhaps the best-known line of this poem is the first line which says, in effect, you have arrived.
You are truly mature.
If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you.
The people that have displayed character like that would be part of an elite group of people that I'm sure we would hear ourselves saying of them something like mandate habit together when everybody else is losing their heads. They are keeping theirs.
They are keeping their cool they are keeping control of their emotions.
If there is anybody in the New Testament that you and I would agree that hatted together. It would've been the apostle Paul right if there is anyone who could keep his head. It would be him. But even Paul lost his cool and I invite your attention to that moment in the book of acts was returned there in our study through this book and in fairness to Paul. Let's refresh our memories with what brought them to this moment. I think we would all agree that we probably would've as well and asked chapter 21. If you're with us. You remember the Paul was misunderstood and maligned, misquoted. He is treated unfairly, as it were, by the believing Jews of the church that accused him of leading people astray and then a riot breaks out in the temple as he goes at the suggestion or recommendation of the church leadership to the temple to prove that he wasn't against the law to have those days of purification and and that's with a riot breaks out and they begin to be Paul and now he's bleeding and broken and and the mob is is incited against them in your memory asked to speak to the crowd and delivers that wonderful testimony of the grace of God that when he reaches the point where he told them that God's grace is extended not just of the Jew but to the Gentile date began to scream again away with famine and the Roman took him away in there with the soldiers. Remember, perhaps the he was about to be beaten, and so this is undoubtedly been one of his worst weeks in ministry.
I'm sure then you get to chapter 23 and he finally stands before the Jewish Supreme Court. The high court of the land, the Sanhedrin, these 70 men and Paul verse one. Looking intently at the Council said brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God. To this day, and the high priest Ananias commanded those standing beside him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, God is going to strike you. You whitewashed wall. Frankly Paul and headed this slap in the face was the straw that broke the apostles cool and he he lets loose here a string of inappropriate and disrespectful words that is soon as they're out of his mouth. I believe from what happens next.
The he wished he could have them back colas and finished by the way, look, look at the next phrase and do use it to try me. According to the law and in violation of the law, order me to be struck down the Paul's right here. You know of the high priest who is seated there to administer the law breaks the law.
You don't administer punishment before the verdict is rendered so the one that was supposed to protect the law, seated before the man who was there accused of being a lawbreaker now breaks the law himself.
It was because of however that whitewashed wall bit the. The bystanders responded to Paul in verse four. Do you revile God's high priest going back to the first part and Paul said Elijah I was not aware brethren, that he was high priest, for it is written, you shall not evil of a ruler of your people. This is by the way, one of those texts that has drawn some men and students of the word to believe the Paul's thorn in the flesh was his eyesight. His poor his difficulty with his eyesight. This was his physical infirmity. For whatever reason. Paul admits his errors, though immediately and apologizes for his angry words against the highest office in the land. If there's anybody you're going to insult.
It's not this one. Paul goes on I think probably realizing the trial is for the most part over and he certainly won't get a fair hearing. Now in verse six, perceiving that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees knew that Paul began trying out of the Council brethren. I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees and I am on trial for the hope and resurrection of the dead verse seven and as he said this, there arose a decision between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided for the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor an angel nor spirit is so immaterial being, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all and arose a great uproar and some of the scribes of the pharisaic party stood up and began to argue heatedly saying we find nothing wrong with this man. Suppose a spirit or an angel has spoken to him and is a great dissension was developing the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them, and ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks is poor commander is rescued Paul from three riots now, and here's another one that would stop for a moment and can pull some things together. Paul had dreams for months, perhaps even longer of this moment of being able to return to Jerusalem and the speed men that he knew. In fact, when he addressed the Sanhedrin.
He didn't use the typical protocol address at least the initiation of it, which referred to these men as O rulers of Israel, all elders of the people said brothers. He had been a member of the Sanhedrin back in a later chapter.
He references the fact that he voted with them and only a Sanhedrin us could vote in that matter. He knew these men, and he had long for the day when he could return the many knew by name and tell them of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Now the trial gotten out of hand. Almost immediately, and he knew the problem had been his uncontrolled tongue his own anchor actually of the failure of Paul fell in three different fronts when they give you three of them number one. He reacted in angry frustration.
We talked about that but let me make another side note, the Whitehead wall was a reference to a wall that was decaying that someone had covered with a fresh coat of paint to cover the corrosion to cover up the decay collected the house that Marsha and I bought is about 25 years old and it had been freshly painted. We discovered why later. That's the reference here. The only other time this phrase is used is a moment when Jesus Christ told the Pharisees and scribes that they represented Whitehead sepulchers, that is why did God gravestones headstones that the point was a month before Passover. They would put a fresh coat of white paint on all the headstones the worn people that they were getting near one because of a text. One, they would be ceremonially unclean. Unable to celebrate in the Passover so they would they would whitewashed the headstone.
It was in effect saying to the religion of his day. The same thing that we can say to the religion of our day. It looks good but it represents death, that life he was telling the high priest that he look good. He represented something that was supposedly good, but this man was really representing death corrosion decay very powerful metaphor number two. He apologized with a minimal recantation. They said the least amount possible within their heavenly notice in verse five's apology was directed not at the high priest, but toward the office of the high priest.
He he realized he had been wrong, but I just couldn't bring himself to apologize to this this skunk of a man who the historian Josephus tells us from the first century was a cruel and violent and corrupt man who was always stealing from the people, so would Paul realize what it happened. He apologized to the high office, but then Isaac got a get a word out of the third. He contradicted the example of Christ's own passion in John 18 the Lord Jesus was standing before the high priest, and he also was struck in the face high priest allowed it, and Jesus Christ responded with the last part of what Paul said. He said, in effect, you who uphold the law are now violating the law by's writing me. But Jesus Christ did not say the first part is he when he was reviled. He reviled not in return and inheres Paul and and and I you can cut a climb into his sandals and feel with him.
A man who desperately deeply wanted to know Christ and experientially understand the power of his resurrection and to experience the fellowship of his sufferings, and now at this moment he is in effect in the exact spot of the Lord, and he loses control and he immediately regrets it.
He did not respond like Christ.
I have to say who among us today would we have all known the truth of the words penned by that anonymous author who wrote speak when you are angry and you will deliver the best speech you'll ever regret not just imagine for a moment what Paul must've felt like as he sat under heavy guard in the Roman Baruch. He is recognizing the full impact of his failure and here it was his one opportunity before the high court and he couldn't keep his tongue.
One commentator colorfully took me by way of imagination, and I want to take you to that that room where he is heavily guarded. He writes it this way. Imagine he is leaning with his back against the wall.
He sits with his legs drawn up and his head resting on his forearms. He is exhausted but cannot sleep because of the guilt that whips him as hard as any scourging. He says to himself.
I had a once in a lifetime opportunity to preach the gospel to the highest Jewish officials in the world and I blew it.
How stupid I was to lose my temper. I the great apostle hardly the great failure is more like it. How encouraging this passage in acts must've been to the church in the first century right how encouraging to the saints throughout the ages, even to the very auditorium filled with people today who want to do the right thing and who want to stay under control and who want their tongues to speak only that which is pleasing how encouraging this must've been.
Here's a man who'd ruined an opportunity because of his temper. We like him are people who have seen opportunities go their way because someone has pushed the button too hard or pushed the wrong one and we want to be a testimony to this world, but they just took us too far, or maybe even with those who know the Lord we have in frustration and failure failed to keep our heads when everyone around us was losing theirs. It's at this moment. Ladies and gentlemen in the life of Paul.
When the Lord came.
This is where so encouraging. He stood by Paul. Notice verse 11 but on the night immediately following the Lord's good at his side and said, take courage, you could translate that effect right in the margin of your Bibles and amplified phrases.
It could be translated don't lose hope it could be translated don't give it to be rendered. Take heart.
In fact, there are five times in the New Testament the Jesus Christ use this particular expression and it was always the people who were in desperate need of encouragement. He uses the phrase to the paralyzed man who had given up on ever being healed.
Jesus Christ came along to validate his authenticity as the Messiah. He looked at this man and he said, take heart sign, your sins are forgiven. Matthew nine and he was healed to the womanhood suffered for 12 years she spent all the money she had on the medical community and she was no better. She finally in desperation went to where Jesus was walking and she reached out and grabbed the hem of his garment just for a moment and he stopped and he turned and he said daughter take heart, your faith has made you whole disciples are out in the storm on the boat in their terrified, thinking the lose their lives and then they see Jesus walking toward them on top of the water which made it even worse. They thought it was a ghost in his first words to them were men told you about same words and then on the night when Jesus Christ was facing his darkest hour before his betrayal. He said there was men in the upper room these words, men don't lose heart. And now Paul.
He hears these words again Paul don't give up the grace of God sort of blew into that room and a man who probably thought that God would never send him to Rome. Why would he send him to Rome, which he desperately wanted to do to testify when he blew it in Jerusalem or at least before the Sanhedrin Jesus at that moment put the covering around his glory and he walks into the barracks and he he walks over to the side of Paul and he says Paul don't give up. Notice, for as you have solemnly witnessed to my cause of Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also see the wonderful thing about this narrative, ladies and gentlemen is not not Paul's faithfulness. But it's all about the faithfulness of God, and he demonstrated his faithfulness. Three different ways we give them to you. Number wanting encouraged Paul's shirt we've Artie talked about that with the words he used. Second of all, he affirmed Paul's testimony which you say wait a second I thought Paul Blewett. Willie did effect if you look carefully at at the affirmation of the Lord. You notice that the Lord done sort of skip that part before the Sanhedrin and he talks about Paul's testimony where in Jerusalem he see this would include his wonderful speech to the mob. This would include his declaration of truth before the Jerusalem church so the Lord who was so gracious reflected on what Paul had done well and commended them for you don't, we'll see the Lord coming in here saying a listen Paul about that explosion from the Sanhedrin. What in the world got in the good of you know I didn't. I think I'm guessing here, but here's my guess, because the Lord knew that Paul knew that he had ruined an opportunity. In fact, in light of what the Lord is doing in reinstating him and his vision implies to me that Paul is already dealt with that before the Lord they be like you have dealt with it and your time when you news if you ruined that you lost the opportunity you lost her cool third revelation of God's faithfulness was that he announced Paul's future. Verse 11 Collier going around us, so encouraging as I striking Alton in the ninth inning.
The bases are loaded throughout your and elect three go by and the coach the next day, says you're starting call you you you did ruined this opportunity here, but which are still in the game. Now the conspiracy is in motion.
While our clock is ticking. We better hurry verse 12 when it was day, the Jews form the conspiracy and bound themselves under a note saying that they would neither eat nor drink until they killed Paul a nice group of men and there were more than 40 who form this lot.
By the way, these 40 men were zealots studied the assassins few weeks ago. Their official name was assassin. These were professional killers who rubbed out pro-Roman Jews who assassinated Roman leaders. They were known by their their names to Kari, which was the dagger they kept it in their cloak and they would sidle up to someone that was their target in a marketplace where was crowded in the woods stab their targeted and slip away before anyone could identify them in and one of the things that interested me enough to to bring to you here is this is is again the relationship between Paul and the Lord just as the Sanhedrin and the assassin are now attempting collaborating to kill Paul so another assassin collaborated with a high counsel to kill Jesus Christ. That man was named Judas Iscariot derivative of the Kari. He was an assassin he was a man of the dagger and he had associated himself with Jesus Christ thinking the Jesus Christ would overthrow Roman so I'll throw in my political lot with him when he realized the Jesus Christ was going and across and die.
He betrayed him while here. There are 40 Judas 40 devoted men to the plan to kill Paul and he noticed a vow not to eat or drink until he is dead.
Whether you lose a lot of weight. Skip to verse 16, but the son of Paul's sister I we hear here that the Paul has a sister, the son of Paul sister Paul's nephew heard of their ambush and he came in and of the barracks and told Paul. Paul called one of sintering's to him and said leave this young man to the commander for you something report them so we took him and led him to the commander and said Paul, the prisoner called me to him and asked me to leave his young Mandy since he is something to tell you and the commander took him by the hand and stepping aside begin to inquire of him privately. What is it that you have the report to man.
He said the Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down the mark of the Council is that they're going to inquire somewhat more thoroughly about another. Here's the plot you bring them back to court and will ambush him on the way and will will rub them out. Verse 21 so do not listen to them for more than 40 of them are lying in wait for him move bound themselves under a curse not to eat or drink until they slay him and now they are ready and waiting for the promise from you.
Therefore, the commander let the young man go instructing him tell no one that you have notified me of these things now stoppable a lot of things that a sovereign God is now putting in place by virtue of this power, he promised Paul Paul you're going around the house. Paul ever going to get away from this conspiracy 40 men committed to the point they won't eat until he's dead. Not a chance. This is where God's sovereign power now invades the story in a special way in there several things. Verse 16. Paul's nephew was at the right place at the right time. Who is this kid was a discount like a little alley ready to slip in and around the Sanhedrin and maybe they knew them because they knew Paul and they've forgotten he's listening but he was at the right place at the right time. Verse 16. The latter part is able to reach Paul in this heavily guarded barracks. There's a centurion in verse 17 is willing to be commanded by Paul with Paula prisoner telling this commander hey would you do this or you say would you be subdued this and he didn't.
Verse 22 the nephews able to slip away without anybody knowing and then finally verse well.
Another thought. Verse 23 the might of the Roman army now surrounds Paul to verse 23 he called into the centurions and said to 200 soldiers ready by the third hour of the night to proceed to Caesarea with 70 horsemen and 200 Spearman. Can you imagine this is Paul protected like a cane and he's about to ride out of Jerusalem surrounded by 70 horsemen and 200 Spearman and there are 40 very hungry men who don't have a chance.
Another thing the commander here just before Paul leaves was moved to write a letter on behalf of Paul for 26 Claudius Lacey as to the most excellent governor Felix greetings when this man was arrested by the Jews was about to be slain by them.
I came upon them with a with troops and rescued him, having learned he was a Roman and wanting to ascertain the charge for which they were accusing them. I brought it down to their counsel and I sounded be accused of a question, other law, but under no accusation deserving death or imprisonment. While what would motivate a pagan Roman commander to put his reputation on the line for an unknown zoo that has caused him nothing but trouble for the last few days. A sovereign God who holds the hard of the king in his hand. He can turn it anyway he wants three things the death of God's servants can occur only when God who is in control of all things is ready.
Stephen preach one sermon you remember in the book of acts is that was his last sermon he was stoned to death. Here Paul these in one riot after another and he's still breathing. Why, because God is sovereign and his servants do not die mature death. Second, the failure of God's servants most often occur when they forget that God is sovereign, you lose control.
And you forget that God is in control.
You have taken upon yourself far too much responsibility when it comes to testifying. If you lose your temper in the midst of we forget. Which leads me to the final thoughts. The faithfulness of God's sovereignty is not handicapped by whether or not he allows for us to forget God's providence is not dismantled by our panic, God still had plans for him and he still has plans for you and for me.
I'm so glad you joined us today for this time in God's word.
Stephen Devi is our Bible teacher here on wisdom for the heart and will continue through this series from our vintage wisdom archives. Next time between now and then we'd really enjoy hearing from you and learning how God is using this ministry to build you up in the faith. Peter from here in North Carolina wrote to say I can't put into words what your teaching has done for my devotional time I listen to the message each morning then do my Bible reading my relationship with my Savior has deepened and God has shown me areas of my life that have been displeasing.
Thank you for your faithful stewardship of God's word.
Thank you Peter for writing. Our desire is to help you grow in your love for God as you meet him in his word friend. Please take a few moments and drop us a note. Our mailing address is wisdom for the hearts. PO Box 37297, Raleigh, NC 27627. You can also interact with us online wisdom international is active on Facebook, twitter and Instagram. We also have a YouTube channel where a new Bible message is posted each day.
Once again, I hope this time in God's word was a blessing to you. Thanks for joining us were honored that you did, I'm Scott Wiley and for Steven and all of us here, I invite you back next time. For more wisdom for the heart