2018-10-14 – Acts 14.1-7 – Triumph in Times of Trouble
2018-10-14 – Acts 14:1-7 – Triumph in Times of Trouble
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us.
I hope you all had a good week. I sure did, as we got to visit my mom and family in Michigan briefly. It is good to connect with family on occasion isn’t it?
Church Update: Pot-Luck today! followed by our quarterly business meeting
Today’s message is entitled Triumph in Times of Trouble. Have you experienced any “Times of Trouble” lately?
I like what old pastor Robert Schuller would proclaim during his Hour of Power on occasion “Tough times never last, but tough people do”. Isn’t that a great quote? I visited Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral in California a couple years ago, it is beautiful indeed. But I love that old quote, and I am sure millions have taken some comfort from it, and it most assuredly goes along with our message today.
Last week, we talked a little about jealousy, and the damage that it causes.
The Jews as written at the end of our chapter 13 of Acts, were Jealous as Paul and Barnabas were getting a lot of attention and lives were being saved. As I said last week, jealousy never brings satisfaction. The best way to find true contentment is to find it in Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us that God is our provider, our healer and comforter. He is our source of peace, joy and satisfaction, there is nothing in this world that can satisfy us like Jesus. Amen?
Please turn to Acts 14, verse 1, page 980 in your pew Bibles, which is the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God. But first let us pray..
Acts 14:1-7 Growth and Persecution in Iconium
1 In Iconium they entered the Jewish synagogue, as usual, and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. 2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers.
3 So they stayed there a long time and spoke boldly for the Lord, who testified to the message of his grace by enabling them to do signs and wonders.
4 But the people of the city were divided, some siding with the Jews and others with the apostles.5 When an attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews with their rulers, to mistreat and stone them, 6 they found out about it and fled to the Lycaonian towns of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding countryside.
7 There they continued preaching the gospel.
In our text we see that it is now the pattern of Paul and Barnabas is to first go to the Synagogues to preach as they traveled. And just like in the previous towns, the Jews were stuck in the state of “what used to be”, stuck in their old ways. However, Paul and Barnabas isn’t giving up on them. Despite all the ridicule and trouble the Jews continue to bring, they don’t give up. Paul’s Gospel-filled sermon message is raw, he doesn’t hold anything back and continues to bring the unadulterated truth of the Bible. But the Jews were stuck in their traditions.
We as a church should take head of this example ourselves. Just as the Jews were stuck in the past, we too can easily become stuck in the past. I am not at all suggesting that we should forget the past, or not honor the past, however, traditions and rituals should never trump the needs of the current flock or the dynamics of the Holy Spirit. Again, I love history, and culture, however we should learn from our past, and honor the past, but not get stuck there. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is, his good, pleasing and perfect will”. So as we remain grounded in God’s word, we should strive to continually be renewed, to meet the current needs of the congregation and the expectations of the people as we are striving to make new disciples. And all this is to be done with much prayer and council, never sacrificing or compromising God’s Will or His Gospel message.
In our verses today, the Jews reject the Gospel, and we all know folks who have rejected Jesus. Either you are with Jesus or you are against Jesus. He said this himself in Matthew 12:30, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters”. As we discussed in last week’s message, the Jews were jealous and they were stirring up the people. Here it says they are “poisoning their minds” even. They were causing division and starting quarrels. Now it doesn’t say that they were shouting from the rooftops in their efforts; they were probably instead going around whispering lies and bad tidings to the other people. Unlike today, they didn’t have Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. But the “social media” mechanism was still very real in those days as it is in ours today.
Proverbs 26:20 is a great applicable verse. It reads, “For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.” Isn’t that awesome, “where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases”. Sometimes I think verses like this should be put on the church walls, so we can be reminded.
But it is tough sometimes to know when to speak up, and when we shouldn’t.
I found a little self-examination, we could consider in that regard. There are four simple questions we could ask ourselves: Please take note if you feel it beneficial.
- Is it necessary? Would life still go on if you chose not to speak?
- Is it encouraging? Does what you have to offer bring hope or despair?
- Will it edify? Is it beneficial to the person you are talking about?
- Will what you have to say, dignify the other person? Does it enhance their image and reputation in the minds of others?
If what you want to say doesn’t meet this test? Then maybe you should consider not saying it at all. I remember when I was a boy, my mom telling me over and over, “If you can't say anything nice.. don't say anything at all”.
Don’t become the whisperer. Don’t fuel the audience with negative talk. And stay away from poisonous or destructive talk and actions when you come upon them.
Paul and Barnabas were sharing the truth of God’s word, and the nay-sayers are causing an uprising. And as a result, the people of the city are divided.
Critical speak creates divisions and it confuses the people. It fuels chaos, and we know that the author of Chaos is Satan. When we find ourselves in the middle of these types of situations, when we become part of the problem, it cripples our intimacy with God, both individually and as a church. And on the other hand, when we stop spreading whispers, and conflict, it tends to re-unite the flock.
How many of you have experienced trouble in your life because of whisperers? Today, this world we live in is being rocked and shattered because of sin, hate, division, conflict and confusion. It is the devil at work. We should strive not to be a part of that, would you agree?
This is our church, and it is intended to be a holy safe zone. There is no room in here for whisperers and divisions. Instead we should want to create an atmosphere here where people feel safe and loved. Are you with me on that?
So how do we Triumph in Times of Trouble? – As a Christian, when we choose to trust God in times of trouble, we triumph! We are more than conquerors because of Jesus Christ. Paul and Barnabas remained calm, and even exhibited grace in their time of trouble. They just continued to preach the Gospel, believing that God had the upper hand and was watching over them. And as a result, God graced them in that stressful situation with the ability to even heal people and to perform miracles. They Triumphed in their Time of Trouble, and we can do the same if we first trust God. So here are a couple thoughts for you to consider:
- Who you are, is more important than What you’re going through. Verse 3 says “they remained”, they stayed on course. God sometimes uses troubles and trials to develop character, to clean you up or humble you, and to prepare you for what is ahead. Persevering through problems, is when we grow the most, because we are in a position that causes us to trust God the most.
Like Adeline read earlier from Romans 5, Paul said, “we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” They trusted God in their time of trouble.
Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight”. You are more important than what you are going through. In times of troubles and conflict, satan wants you to break so you can’t serve or be a witness for Christ any more. Don’t let satan or his demons or minions get the most of you. Stay the course dear Christian, stay the course.
- Whose you are, is more important than what is happening.
If you are a Christ follower, then you are a child of God.
In Mathew 4:19 Jesus said, “follow me and I will make you fishers of men”. Follow me, means abide in me and depend on me. Remember who you are in Him, despite your circumstance through faith in Jesus Christ.
With that understanding, then the things we do in times of trouble should bring us to peace. You see Jesus didn’t say “be fishers” first then you will belong to me. He said “follow me” first, then then the fishing begins, and He is responsible for the results not you. We have been saved by grace through faith alone. We belong to Him and He belongs to us, and He takes care of everything else.
In our verses today, it says, “So they stayed there a long time and spoke boldly for the Lord.” Paul knew whose he was. He had an unshakeable confidence in the midst of his troubles. Paul was faithful to the calling, but gave the results to God. Paul didn’t dwell on his circumstance, and we shouldn’t either. Just be faithful.
The enemy of God, satan, is thinking that if he can get you to dwell on your circumstance instead of God, then you won’t be able to serve Christ in your circumstance. When we dwell on our troubles, get stuck in our sorrow, instead of Triumph in Times of Trouble, we fail. Don’t let satan win you over. Stay strong dear Christian. This church has been through many trials over the years, but I am so pleased to see that you didn’t give up. You hung in there. You knew who and whose you were and gave the results to God. For that I say, Praise the Lord!
So again in summary there are Two Keys for success:
1. Who you are is more important than what you are going through.
2. Whose you are is more important than what you are doing.
And don’t forget, “Tough times never last, but tough people do”
Robert H. Schuller had another popular quote, it reads, “Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.
Jesus is our wellspring; have you accepted Him as your Lord and Savior yet?
Would you please stand with me now, as we close with an invitation..
“A FRIENDLY CHURCH IN A FRIENDLY TOWN”