God's Perfect Plan Demonstrated

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Acts 16:16-40


Have you ever thought about why God chose Paul to be the main carrier of the Gospel to the gentile Roman world
Why not one of the disciples Jesus had trained for a few years, weren’t they more qualified?
I want you to see something, and we’re going to read the passage, but we’re really only going to hone in on one verse…follow along and see if you can guess it
Read Acts 16:16-40
Have you ever wondered how Paul was a Roman citizen.
Wasn’t he a Jew?
How in the world is he a Roman citizen
Or why that is even important?
You have? Great…let me answer it with a little mini historical overview
in 171 B.C. king antiochus IV head of Seleucid Empire
Controlled a vast area, including Tarsus and Judea and Jerusalem
Decided Tarsus would be his key garrison city (show map)
Needed to make the population of Tarsus bigger to do so
So he took people from Judea and transported them to Tarsus
He made all the new Jewish immigrants, including Paul’s g-g-g-grandparents, full and permanent citizens of Tarsus
Brutus killed Julius Caesar in 44 B.C. (Et tu, brute)
Civil War broke out between Brutus & Octavian
Brutus fled to Tarsus and made it his military hq’s
Octavian defeated Brutus and became emperor, Caesar Augustus
Even while Brutus occupied Tarsus, the people of Tarsus stayed loyal to Octavian
So Octavian made everyone of Tarsus an automatic citizen of Rome
Paul’s grandparents were made citizens of Rome in 42 B.C.
Wait…Paul was Jewish
Controlled a vast area, including Tarsus and Judea and Jerusalem
Decided Tarsus would be his key garrison city (show map)
Needed to make the population of Tarsus bigger to do so
So he took people from Judea and transported them to Tarsus
He made all the new Jewish immigrants, including Paul’s g-g-g-grandparents, full and permanent citizens of Tarsus
And so, 130 years later
Which means 50 years later, in 10 a.d., when Paul was born, he was then born a Roman citizen
So Paul is born, with a Roman citizenship
And he is also fully Jewish
He talks about this in & 22, and in other places
Now, why did we go through all of that....well, it’s because I wanted you to see in a very real way how God uses situations even way before we are involved in order to complete His good and pleasing and perfect will in our lives.
Now, when Paul’s great, great, great grandparents were ripped from their home in 171 b.c., how do you think they felt?
Were they giddy and excited to travel and see the world…most likely not
They were probably pretty ticked off don’t you think?
“Why’s this happening to me!”
“Why would God let something so terrible happen?”
Fast forward 180 years, and Paul is born in Tarsus, where because he was born in Tarsus, he was automatically granted Roman citizenship for life
Well, Pastor Derek, why’s that so important…what’s the big deal
Well, teens, let me tell you
It’s a massive deal....think back to my opening question. Why did God use Paul of all people, to carry His gospel to the gentile world
The Gentile world, the world that Jesus was born into, was a Roman empire controlled world
And track with me:
Would it be easier or harder to travel through a Roman controlled province or city or town as a Roman citizen, or as someone who was not a Roman citizen?
Turn to
Here in this passage, we see Paul about to be flogged by a Roman tribune
They stretch him out in order to whip him
And right as they start, Paul, I picture this as just as calm as can be, like he was in the jail cell, saying “Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen?”
And everything stopped
See, as a roman citizen, you had a right to appeal to caesar to hear your case. Also, it was extremely rare for a roman citizen to be flogged or to receive the death penalty.
Do you see the value and the advantage Paul had as opposed to someone like Peter would have?
See guys, God knew and He knows what He’s doing
I sometimes catch myself thinking about how my life ended up where it is…you guys ever do that?
I was thinking this week about the circumstances that happened led to Savannah and me meeting
Savannah’s dad gets cancer, pretty severely…not looking too great
They move to Romney because it’s cheaper to live and they had a lot of medical bills
Savannah starts going to Hampshire High School
She becomes infatuated with this guy....and he wasn’t even me!
However, one night, that guy has a car accident and is killed in the car accident
At the funeral, his uncle, Joe Alkire, does the service
Meanwhile, Savannah’s family had been struggling to find a good church in Romney....because Romney
They are blown away by Joe’s message at the funeral service and so they look him up and find his church in Bel Air
They start attending there
Meanwhile…I’m going to Calvary Baptist…life is good, no real terrible circumstances are at play in my life
Our youth group is planning a mission trip to Chicago
My youth Pastor Nate calls Joe and asks if their youth want to join up with us
Savannah isn’t in youth…she’s too old, so she tags along as a “leader”
And on that trip I realize my undying love for her, buy her pudding, and tell my buddy two weeks later I’m gonna marry her
Do you see everything God worked together, through bad circumstances, and through good?
Think back to Paul now.....He allowed Paul’s g-g-g-grandparents to be ripped from their home, to have to live in a new city with a new language and new people and away from the Jewish temple....and for what reason?
One reason so that Paul would be born in Tarsus, which God knew was going to give him roman citizenship
Because God also knew that He was going to take Paul, and use him to carry the gospel message of Jesus Christ throughout the roman empire.
We talked last week about His perfect will, being in it, and trusting Him because it’s always perfect
You may be going through tough times now, like Paul’s g-g-g-grandparents were when they were transported out of everything htey knew and dropped into a foreign city where they didn’t even speak the language
And throughout their life, they may not have ever even seen why God did that
But we got to see it
And the truth is, God, being sovereign, knows everything that is going to happen
And that struggle you are going through…God is going to use to complete His good and perfect will
And you may never know why something bad happened
Or why God did this, or why that happened
And sometimes you will see why God did that
For me, I’m not sure why God decided Karington should be diagnosed with CF.
And honestly, up to this point…He has kept her perfectly healthy, which I am so grateful to Him for
But again, as we’ve been learning on Wednesday nights, God gets to make the rules, God gets to make the decisions, and I just have to trust Him.
It’s not easy always to trust Him…but if I’m trusting Him with my eternal life, surely I should trust Him with my earthly life.
So next time you’re going through a rough time, a rough patch....look to Him
Look for what He may be doing
And decide to trust in Him

8  For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.

9  For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.

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