The Kind of People God Wants Us to Be
The Kind of People God Wants Us to Be
The Book of Acts - Part 62
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - October 26, 2014
*In tonight's Scripture, the Apostle Paul was still in the city of Corinth, and some pivotal things had happened. Verse 2 tells us that there Paul met important new partners and friends: Aquila and his wife Priscilla.
*Verse 4 tells us that Paul began in Corinth, as usual, by preaching in the Jewish synagogue. And I like what vs. 5 says about Paul: He "was constrained by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ."
*Unfortunately, many of them rejected the gospel, and in vs. 6, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, Paul "shook his garments and said to them, 'Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.''' But praise the Lord, in vs. 8, many of the Corinthians who heard the good news about, Jesus Christ "believed and were baptized."
*Then in vs. 9-10 Paul received amazing encouragement from the Lord:
9. Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, "Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent;
10. for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.''
*That's why in vs. 11, Paul "continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them."
*But in tonight's Scripture we see some trouble arise, and these verses God helps us to see the kind of people He wants us to be. Let's begin by reading vs. 12-17.
*What kind of person are you? You may have heard that old song "It takes all kinds of people to make the world go round," and in a way, that's true. But today a lot of people are as mixed-up as they can be.
*I read about a 23-year-old man from Portland Oregon. His name is Matt Wilkinson, and Matt was a snake collector. One day he caught a 20-inch rattlesnake on the highway. Three weeks later, Matt wanted to impress his ex-girlfriend, and he decided to put that snake's head in his mouth! It happened at a barbecue with friends. Yes, there was alcohol involved. Yes, he was bitten. And yes, he almost died. "It got a hold of my tongue," he later said. (1)
*There are some kinds of people in this world that we don't want to be like. We need to be the kind of people God wants us to be! But what kind of people is that?
1. First: God wants us to be people who have problems for the right reason.
*Everybody has problems. Some people have problems because they do stupid things to impress their ex-girlfriends. But Paul was having a problem in these verses, because he was doing his absolute best to serve the Lord and spread the good news about Jesus Christ.
*Again in vs. 5, Paul "was constrained by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ." In vs. 8, "many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized. And in vs. 11, Paul "continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them."
*But then in vs. 12-13, pow, out of the blue:
12. . . When Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him to the judgment seat,
13. saying, "This fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law.''
*Everybody has problems, and sometimes they will jump on us with no warning whatsoever. But let's make sure that since we are going to have problems, we are having them for the right reason.
*If we have to be tired, let's be tired for the Lord. If we have to do without, let's do without for the Lord. If we have to get passed-over for a promotion, let's get passed-over because we refused to do something shady. If someone chooses to reject us, may it be because they are really rejecting the Lord.
*Everybody has problems. Let's make sure we have them for the right reason. An ultimate example of this was in the sacrifice of a young man named Daniel Rohrbough. Most people have never heard of Daniel, but he is a modern-day hero. Daniel Rohrbough was a student at Columbine High School on that horrible day when two other students went on a rampage of violence and terror.
*It happened on Tuesday, April 20, 1999. Twelve students and one teacher were massacred. It could have been a lot worse. Around 11:14, the killers carried two 20-pound propane bombs in duffel bags and placed them near tables in the cafeteria. The timers were set for 11:17, but the timers on both bombs failed. If they had gone off, there was a chance that all 488 kids in the cafeteria would have been killed.
*When the bombs didn't go off, the two killers began shooting students. But what about Daniel Rohrbough? Daniel stopped his escape from the school building to hold a door open so that other students could escape. And he was killed while holding that door. (2)
*Of course, that is a picture of the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross for us. Jesus died for us so that we could live forever! And it is almost certain that we will never be called on to make a sacrifice like that. But in little ways and every way let's give ourselves for the cause of Christ. That way, we will have problems for the right reason.
2. What kind of people does God wants us to be? -- People who have problems for the right reason. And people who remember that God is in control.
*Who was in control in vs. 12, when Paul was hauled before the Roman court? Maybe those Jewish leaders thought they were in control because of the way they manipulated the situation. And I am sure Proconsul Gallio thought he was in charge as the representative of the Roman Empire.
*But as Paul stood before his accusers, and the Roman Proconsul, it must have helped him a lot to know that God was in control. The truth is that God was in control. And He always is.
*God's Word makes this truth clear all over the Old Testament and the New. When it comes to rulers, Proverbs 21:1 tells us that: "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes."
*And God is certainly in control of the weather. Psalm 147:4-8 gives this testimony about our God:
4. He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name.
5. Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.
6. The Lord lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground.
7. Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; Sing praises on the harp to our God,
8. Who covers the heavens with clouds, Who prepares rain for the earth, Who makes grass to grow on the mountains.
*Then Psalm 147:15-18 says:
15. He sends out His command to the earth; His word runs very swiftly.
16. He gives snow like wool; He scatters the frost like ashes;
17. He casts out His hail like morsels; Who can stand before His cold?
18. He sends out His word and melts them; He causes His wind to blow, and the waters flow.
*God is in control. This truth is also clear when it comes to our Messiah and the Lord's death on the cross. Listen to this testimony God the Father gives about His Son in Isaiah 42:
1. "Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.
2. He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street.
3. A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth.
4. He will not fail nor be discouraged, till He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands shall wait for His law.''
5. Thus says God the Lord, Who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread forth the earth and that which comes from it, Who gives breath to the people on it, and spirit to those who walk on it:
*Next, God the Father spoke to His Son, and said:
6. "I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness, and will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles,
7. To open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the prison, those who sit in darkness from the prison house.
8. I am the Lord, that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to graven images.
*God is in control. I think of Jesus before Pilate in John 19:6-11. There the Word of God says:
6. . . When the chief priests and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, "Crucify Him, crucify Him!'' Pilate said to them, "You take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him.''
7. The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God.''
8. Therefore, when Pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid,
9. and went again into the Praetorium, and said to Jesus, "Where are You from?'' But Jesus gave him no answer.
10. Then Pilate said to Him, "Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?''
11. Jesus answered, "You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.''
*Then back in John 10:17-18, Jesus told us that He was the Good Shepherd who would lay down His life for His sheep. And Jesus said:
17. "Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.
18. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.''
*God is in control. We must not make the mistake of thinking we are in control of our lives. Remember the story of the foolish farmer that Jesus told in Luke 12:16-21:
16. Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: "The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully.
17. And he thought within himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?'
18. So he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods.
19. And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.'''
20. But God said to him, 'You fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?'
21. So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.''
*God is in control. We must always remember that, especially when trouble comes upon us. Pastor James Brown once said: "There is no situation I can get into, that God cannot get me out."
*Then James gave this testimony: "Some years ago when I was learning to fly, my instructor told me to put the plane into a steep and extended dive. I was totally unprepared for what was about to happen. After a brief time, the engine stalled, and the plane began to plunge out-of-control. It soon became evident that the instructor was not going to help me at all. After a few seconds, which seemed like eternity, my mind began to function again. I quickly corrected the situation.
*Immediately I turned to the instructor and began to vent my fearful frustrations on him. He very calmly said to me, 'There is no position you can get this airplane into, that I cannot get you out of. If you want to learn to fly, go up there and do it again.'
*At that moment God seemed to be saying to me, 'Remember this. As you serve Me, there is no situation you can get yourself into, that I cannot get you out of. If you trust me, you will be all right.'" (3)
*If you ever get hauled before a court for the cause of Christ, or in any other difficult situation you have to face, always remember that God is in control.
3. What kind of people does God want us to be? -- People who remember that He is in control. And people who rely on His help.
*God has all kinds of ways to help His people, and sometimes He helps us in surprising ways. Things looked pretty bad for Paul in vs. 13. He faced a serious charge: "This fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law.''
*I am guessing that Paul did not expect to get any help from the Roman Gallio. But just when Paul was about to open his mouth in vs. 14-16, Gallio said this to the Jews:
14. . . "If it were a matter of wrongdoing or wicked crimes, O Jews, there would be reason why I should bear with you.
15. But if it is a question of words and names and your own law, look to it yourselves; for I do not want to be a judge of such matters.''
16. And he drove them from the judgment seat.
*God has all kinds of ways to help His people! And He will find a way to help you. Oswald Chambers wrote the classic devotional book, "My Utmost for His Highest."
*Many years ago, Chambers said this to a group of students in a college chapel: "We have to learn to make room for God, -- to give God 'elbow room.' We calculate and estimate, and say that this will happen. And we forget to make room for God to come as He chooses.
*Expect him to come, but do not expect him only in a certain way. At any moment he may break in. Always be in a state of expectancy, and leave room for God to come as he likes. Life is anything but predictable! Human nature is not fixed and settled. We live under hope. That hope is rested in God, not the situation." (4)
4. What kind of people does God want us to be? -- People who rely on His help. And people who risk caring for other people.
*God wants us to risk being people who care. After Gallio drove the accusers from the judgment seat, vs. 17 says: "Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. But Gallio took no notice of these things." That's the NKJV. The KJV tells us that Gallio "cared for none of these things."
*Some Bible scholars tell us that Gallio was known as a good, reasonable man. But the Scripture here is clear: Gallio just didn't care. As the NIV says, he "showed no concern whatever."
*Gallio didn't care about Sosthenes being illegally beaten just outside his courtroom. Infinitely worse was that Gallio didn't seem to care about the truth Paul was preaching.
*Gallio just didn't care. But God wants us to care! And there is a risk that goes along with being someone who cares. Remember that Paul was in trouble again because he cared about the Lord, and he cared about the lost. Paul was doing all he could to follow the Lord and spread the good news about Jesus.
*There is a cost for caring. You can get tired caring. You can get dirty caring. You can get in trouble caring You can get your feelings hurt by caring. You can get let down by caring. But we must care.
*Mary Lewis saw a small but significant example of caring in two friends at church. These two guys, Paul and William, decided that they really wanted to become godly men. So they started meeting with one another to pray and encourage one another. They even set goals for themselves and their behavior, and then were accountable to the other one.
*Paul decided he wanted to break his bad habit of cussing. He decided he was going to put five extra dollars in the offering for every time he swore during the week. In order to stay accountable, he would tell William how many times he'd failed. The first week cost Paul $100. And Paul must've been doing pretty well financially, because that didn't stop his swearing. In fact, while he improved somewhat over the next couple weeks, he really wasn't having the success he wanted.
*But after the fourth week, William told Paul he had decided that the deal needed to be changed for the coming week. But he wasn't going to tell Paul how it would change. He just said, "Trust me. It will cost you both less and more."
*When they met the following Sunday before worship, Paul admitted he'd failed again. William put a hand on his shoulder and said, "Paul, I told you this was going to cost you both less and more. It's called grace."
*William took out his check book, and made out a check to the church on Paul's behalf, leaving the amount blank. He gave the check to Paul and said, "Your sin still costs, but for you it's free. Just fill in the numbers. And next week there will be more grace."
*William's grace for Paul cost Paul's friend $55 the first week. The second week it only cost William $20. There was no third week. Paul couldn't bear to see what his sin was costing his friend, so he quit sinning. (5)
*But it cost William to care. And it will cost us too. May God help us be willing to pay the price, most of all because Jesus was willing to pay the price for us.
*What kind of people does God want us to be?
-People who have problems for the right reason.
-People who remember that God is in control.
-People who rely on God's help.
-People who risk caring for other people.
*Let's ask Him to help us be those people, as we go back to God in prayer.
(1) "Man bitten after putting rattler in his mouth" by The Associated Press - Sept. 19, 2007
(2) Adapted from an article in People Magazine - Source: SermonCentral illustration contributed by David DeWitt
(3) James Brown, Evangeline Baptist Church, Wildsville, LA, in "Discoveries" - Fall, 1991, Vol. 2, No. 4 - SermonCentral illustration contributed by Paul Fritz
(4) James T. Garrett, God's Gift, C.S.S. Publishing Company, 1991, 1-55673-312-7 - Source: Sermonillustrations.com 02082004
(5) SermonCentral illustration contributed by Mary Lewis