Obstacles Are Opportunities - Lessons from Acts 21 - 26
Good morning. Welcome. If you're new here among us, my name is Gene I serve here at C3 church as your pastor. And I heard a story. This one's about a king in ancient times. So this king in ancient times, and he decides he wants to test his people, he picks a really busy road, and he has a boulder placed in the middle of this really busy roadway. So he goes off to a distance where he can like see them, they can't see him just to see what happens. And so some merchants come down the road. And even though they have like a lot of goods and stuff like that, they still managed to kind of go around the boulder, don't do anything about it. Well, then some wealthy people happen upon this boulder. He's not complaining, it's just king doing with our tax money getting removed the boulders from the road. Then a peasant comes along with a bushel of vegetables, peasant sees the boulder goes off to the side of the road and puts the bushel of vegetables down and then proceeds to try to move the boulder. First, he's not doing it, but he just keeps persisting and persisting and finally gets the boulder out of the way. Because back to get his bushel of vegetables. And when he's going down the road, he notices where the boulder was, there's now a coin purse. He looks at it. Sure enough, there's gold in there. And a note from the King, this gold is for whoever moves the boulder. Every obstacle that we come across presents us with an opportunity if we have the right attitude, and perspective. And maybe a king with a prize. And we'll see that today. No, it wasn't funny today. What does that mean? All right, so we're following Paul through the book of Acts. That's what we've been doing right? So we took a detour, per se we're looking at the letters that he's writing back to the places he visited or did not visit and so we looked at like these regional letters, Asia Minor emphasis, right. So Colossi wasn't there but he wrote letters back. Then we arrived at Timothy because Timothy's pastoring in Ephesus, and we looked at Titus because it's really similar. Now we find ourselves back in the book of Acts. Remember, we left off at Ephesus. So that's where it's going to pick up. Let's jump right in. Acts 21 One, after saying farewell to the Ephesian elders, we sailed straight to the island of cars. The next day, we reach roads, and then we went to Putera. There we boarded a ship sailing for Phoenicia, we sighted the island of Cyprus, passed it on her left, and landed at the harbor of Tyre and Syria, where the ship was to unload his cargo, we went ashore, we found the local believers, we stayed with them about a week, these believers prophesied through the Holy Spirit that Paul should not go on to Jerusalem. So there's a few things going on here. We who's we, the we narrative, again, that picks up and leaves off and x, we see this here and there started on x 16. That is Luke putting himself in the account. He's an eyewitness to this account. X is a historical book. So very, very interesting. We'll talk more about that in a minute now. We'll see this more next week. Luke is really detail oriented. Really, really detail oriented is pretty unbelievable. You can almost kind of like draw a map with all the details he gives you. What is unusual here, once you kind of know that, wait a minute, they're promising the same through the Holy Spirit. Don't go to Jerusalem. That's weird. Well, we're going to see this theme pick up here just a little bit, where we know in part, and we prophesy in part. So Paul's got a bigger picture than the people there do. We'll talk about that in a minute. So they return to the ship. And they come down to the shore, they kneel, they pray they say their farewells. The next stop is a tire then they go on to Caesarea up there, they run into someone who should be familiar. Philip the Evangelist remember him, Ethiopian eunuch and Acts eight. And then he was one of those seven chosen to do like the food ministry, the deacons, the first deacons that we get there, so he has four virgin daughters who prophesy. So we've seen that before where women are actively like prophesying speaking, and the church in that particular role. Now, several days later, Sky Agabus shows up and does something that if you don't read the Old Testament will seem really unusual, maybe still seems unusual, even if you do reminds me of Ezekiel, right where he acts out all these prophetic things. Some of them are kind of gross. Actually, this one's not. So he takes Paul's belt, and he bounds it binds his own hands and feet with him. So shall the owner be this belt, right. So basically prophesying, it's going to have In here, the Jews are going to hand over the Gentiles and you'll be taken away. So they start begging Paul, look, do not do not go to Jerusalem. But Paul says while this weeping like You're breaking my heart, I'm ready not only be jailed in Jerusalem but to die right for Jesus. So it says when we Luke is persuading him or trying to not to go, we couldn't do it. We said, The Lord's will be done. So we know in part, and we prophesy in part, Paul knows the full picture. And this is kind of happened. This has happened to me. In my life. This has happened actually, at this church. It's kind of funny at our previous building, which is really huge. And all this stained glass and stuff in it. No, we're not installing stained glass again. So all this really expensive stained glass and someone came in with a prophetic gift. And this person was like, it was actually a she, and she was saying, I see water, like falling down through the stained glass. You know, I'm like, okay, and she prophesied in part, she thought it was because there's going to be all these people that are going to come into the sanctuary. Well, two years later, Irma happened. And I was in that room. And literally, there was a waterfall coming through that painted stained glass. Totally crazy. It was just literally, literally that type of thing. So you prophesy in part one, we know in part, two after that. They pack their stuff, they go to Jerusalem, when they arrive, they're greeted warmly. And then they have this interaction with James. Remember, James is Jesus's brother, the head of the church in Jerusalem, Acts 15, they have the council there. Remember the things to the Gentiles? No, they're not under the Law of Moses, but just follow these four things. This is going to get reiterated here in case anyone was confused. And some people are Belltown, unfortunately. So he tells him about the Paul one of the wonderful things that they're doing to the Gentiles. Now, after hearing all this, there's kind of this issue, I'll just make it short. The Jewish people are hearing that you're going around telling everybody not to practice Judaism, not to follow the Jewish laws, or traditions. So you got to remember something. This is a Jewish faith, it started with the Jews and then went to the Gentiles. So they're still practicing their traditions, their laws, their different things, it doesn't mean that we have to do that too. And this will get clarified again, in the text, but they're going to be against Paul. So remember, when Paul says in first Corinthians nine, I can be all things for the sake of the Gospel, when I'm in the Jewish people, I do the Jewish things. When I'm in the Gentiles, I do the Gentile things, it doesn't really matter. I'm just trying to get the Gospel to everyone. So this is James and elders idea. They're like, listen, they're hearing that you're renouncing like their Jewish traditions, basically, this stuff is important to them. So here's what you're going to do, you're going to participate in this ritual, they pay for them to like have their head shaved and do all this other stuff at the temple so that everyone can see that you're participating in this stuff. And we can continue winning over these Jews, because they are they're winning over a lot of people. So and then this is where it says to get to verse 25. As for the Gentile believers, they should do what we already told them in the letter, they should abstain from eating blood offered to idols from consuming the blood, I'm sorry, the meat offered to idols, the meat of strangled animals and from sexual morality for things. Right. So and even then Paul talks about this first Corinthians eight through 10. What? It doesn't matter, right? It's not the gospel even as important as it says. So Paul goes to the temple and basically what happens it says there's some juice from the province of Asia. Now, if you're reading this straight through, it'd be clear in your memory what happened to Ephesus member, the big riot Temple of Artemis. So there's some Jews from that region, they carry over, they see Paul in the temple and they're like, Ah, this is this guy renounces everything we believe in. Plus, we saw him bring a Gentile into the temple, they saw this guy Trophimus with him, probably didn't bring him into the temple. The dividing wall of hostility we talked about in Ephesians. Well, there's literally one in the temple in Jerusalem. And so they found this in history to where you have like the core of the Gentiles, and that is far as they can go in. And then it's just only Jewish people. You have actually a quarter the women, sorry, only certain people can get in the only the high priests can get into certain places, but there's a sign outside the court of the Gentiles like if you go further than this, we will kill you. And so that's what they want to do to Paul, for doing this or claiming they claim that he does this, right? So big riot happens. Trying to kill them to get a hold of them. The Roman commander, remember the Romans are in charge of the city at the time, right? So the Roman commander hears about it, and they go to rescue Paul. And it gets so bad, they can't figure out what's going on. It gets so bad that they have to carry Paul out like they're trying to get him out of this place. Right. So Paul
seizes an opportunity. So most of us would be like, That's it, right? We want just like that. And we just want to get out Paul. He turns the commander he says May I have a word with you? And there's just kind of like an interesting interact and action. He goes, Do you know Greek? So Paul is now speaking Greek. It's the language of franca of the day, right? So it's like our English here. So most people speak it. He can uses him with this Egyptian that took 4000 men into the wilderness and started this rebellion. Paul's like, No, I'm a Jew, a citizen of Tarsus in Cilicia. So he's already telling him, he's a Roman citizen. So this should change things. And so you'll see this in a minute. So he wants to talk to the people commander agrees. So Paul gets on top of the steps and He motions to them. And begin speaking, Aramaic smart guide switches his language, right? So he's going to try to appeal to this crowd in their own language, and he gives them the speech now, we're going to see this speech is similar to other things Paul has said before, and it's going to be similar to other things. He's going to say later, he has kind of this formula, especially to the Jewish people. He's going to lay out his traditions, right? So Gamaliel he says he was a student of his maybe you can remember him from Acts five, this way of thinking will kind of come up again in a minute, prominent Pharisee, prominent teacher back then he persecuted and he calls it the way, right? So it's been called Christianity at this point, but he's not even referring to it as that right. So he's talking in their terms, that he's not going to say the sect of the Nazarenes, or the call, but he'll say the way right, so speaks a little bit differently to them. But he persecuted them. Then he tells them about his Damascus Road experience. So if you remember this in Acts nine, right? Florida blinds him, right? He gets taken away to Damascus, right? And so he talks about this entire experience the voice, and I replied to him, like, well, how are you Lord, I'm Jesus, the Nazarene, the one you are persecuting, get up, go to Damascus. And he explains how He's blinded by this intense light, then he's healed as we know. So after he returned to Jerusalem, he says he's praying in the temple, he falls into a trance, and he sees this vision of Jesus saying, hurry, leave for Jerusalem. The people here won't accept your testimony about me. But Lord, I argued, Paul says, they certainly know that in every synagogue, I imprison and beat those who believed in you. And I was in complete agreement when your witness Steven was killed you remember the martyrdom of Steven? I stood by and kept the coats of the people that were like stoning him to death. But the Lord said to me, go and I will send you far away to the Gentiles. The crowd listened up until that point, he says Gentiles and they all began to shout, or he's not fit to live there, throwing dust in there, all kinds of protests. So remember that dividing wall of hostility? What was the initial riot about right? Trophimus the Gentile I think he brought him in the 10 Temple that's like illegal for them, you can die for it. So he says Gentiles, they go nuts. So you see this, like kind of religious racial divide going on Christianity melts away. But these Jewish people, the time are still under. So the commander brings Paul inside. And he orders him. That's not funny. But he ordered some lashed with whips what he wants to find out what's going on. Like, what is this all about? The people are shouting this and he doesn't understand what's going on. So Paul, says the officer, is it legal for you to be a Roman citizen without a trial first, like, wait a minute, you're a citizen? Paul says, Yeah, I am. The officer says, I am too. And it costs me planning. What? Well, Paul says, you know, I'm a natural born citizen, I'm a citizen by birth, so soldiers withdraw immediately, because it would mean that they would get in very big trouble if they beat a Roman citizen without a trial. So something going on here, we're going to talk about a little history today. Well, history nerd stuff, because it helps us to understand what the original readers would have understood, they wouldn't have just known this stuff. So they would know that they would also know that what you could do that is by your citizenship, you buy your Roman citizenship, and it would be expensive, but you'd be kind of like bound you'd actually take a surname from the person that sponsored you. Right? So Paul's not like that. So when we think of it, like Paul's kind of a level above, as far as his citizenship is concerned, so they withdraw, they're like, somebody who must be important. So the next day, the commander now his position, right, like, I just want to figure this out what is going on? So he orders all the religious leaders together into a session the council, and it's like, Okay, what's going on here? Let me put on trial before him and see what comes out of it. X 23 One, gazing intently at the High Council. Paul begins brothers. I've always lived before God with a clear conscience. Instantly analyze the high priests commanded those close to Paul just laugh at them on the mouth. But Paul said to him, God will slap you corrupt hypocrite, you whitewashed wall literally said, what kind of judge are you to break the law yourself by ordering the strike like that? Those standing near Paul said to him, You Terran assault God's High Priest. I'm sorry, brothers. I didn't realize he was high priests, Paul replied, Because the Scriptures say you must not speak evil of your rulers. Paul realize that some members of the council are Sadducees and others were Pharisees. So he shouted brothers. I'm a Pharisee as were my ancestors, and I'm on trial because my hope is in the resurrection of the dead. So there's a lot going on here. So whitewashed walls are basically It's like Ezekiel, you know, he talks about this as ego 13 Like you're you look good on the outside but on the inside no you're dead inside Jesus uses similar kind of illustration or analogy there and is now again so it's going to happen a lot in Acts the better you know your history of this time the more you get it. You might not understand what Paul's doing here because it doesn't really describe anything about Anand is right except don't name your kid and an Essence of Fire. Remember that? Yes, there's a good anodized that comes in baptizes Paul, but two out of three no good. So anyway, and is according to history is really corrupt high priest at that time. In fact, later, they'll have like a riot and just war. He gets killed in it like so he's no good. So what Paul's doing here. And you may have heard this, if you've been in church for a long time, Paul had eye problems. There's like zero reason to believe that if you understand what's going on here, and I'll tell you about Galatians in a second. So what's going on here is he's being sarcastic, right? I didn't know he was the high priest. It's also not like real official meetings. He's not going to have the same garb. He's not going to be in the same place. It's not my problem thing. Paul's being sarcastic. There's another way to say that I won't because we're in church. Anyway. Anyway, let me say to your kids when they get lippy, so not really in Galatians, you see that too, just to cover it up? It's interesting. To cover it.
To cover Paul's arrives there because he's sick and Galatia. Right? And he says, I know you would have even given me your eyes, if you could. It's a Greek idiom still used today. It doesn't mean there's anything wrong with his eyes. The other thing is they say, Oh, he signed it really large. Yeah, you do that? Because the scribe and Paul signs off other letters is writing really, really small. So Paul is going to have a handwriting difference there. So really no reason. Plus, think about it for a second remember his conversion, right? Scales fell from his eyes, and he could see completely Alright, so the Holy Spirit doesn't just like, you know, partially heal stuff. No falls eyes are fixed, right? So that's it. I know, the man, the blind man, the partial healing. But, Mark, he's healed immediately, though. So just remember that, and fully, only in a minute. With the difference there. So anyway, so he seizes on this opportunity, right? So he knows. And here's the other thing that you might not know, you can catch it in the gospels a little bit, but it's very brief. The Sadducees do not believe in the resurrection from the dead, the Pharisees do. So Paul uses that to divide them. So he's going to say that, knowing that there's a kind of a majority of Pharisees there. That's the majority belief and the Sadducees. What starts happening is, they're getting this big fight about it, they start tearing at him, and the commander's worried that he's going to be pulled apart. Kind of a bad way to die, right? So the commander bails them out. This whole episode happens, they take him back to the fortress, x 2311. That night, Paul appeared, the Lord appeared to Paul and said, We encouraged Paul, just as if you've been a witness to Me in Jerusalem, you must preach the good news in Rome as well. So there's that other side of the prophecy. There's a reason he's got to go to Yes, he will suffer. They know that. They'll get arrested. They know that, but they don't know that the Lord is telling them to go there. That's the thing. So there's a plot to kill Paul. So what happens is, this group of Jewish believers, they get together they make a vow not to eat or drink anything until they kill Paul. So go to the religious leaders and say, Hey, convene the council again, right? Say you want to like examine him more fully. And then when he's on his way there, we'll ambush them and kill them. But Paul's nephew hears about it, and he tells the commander, so the commander is like, okay, don't say anything about it. They're going to sneak Paul out at night, like nine o'clock at night to get a lot of Soldiers 200 Soldiers to leave accessory, a 200, spearmen and 70 mounted troops. So it's pretty big company. And what he does is, he sends him this guy, Claudius Lycias. We get his name. Now. He sends him to Surya with the big army and then a letter for the governor Felix. So he goes there he gets to him. They read the letter explains basically what's going on. I don't know what's going on with Skype, Paul. They're having arguments about his religion or whatever. So they arrived there. Then five days later, the corrupt priests and Annanias shows up again, they decide to have this trial. Now. They get a lawyer, this guy or two lists and he's a really eloquent speaker, his openings, really good, good rhetoric here, but he's making the accusation against Paul in front of everyone. He's a ringleader of the cults known as the Nazarene. So he's not so nice about Christianity. Furthermore, he's trying to desecrate the temple. So all false charges. Paul uses another opportunity. So the governor motions for called Speak, no foul does something pretty clever. And you might do this, right. If you're opening up if you're smart, and you're speaking before a judge. I know, sir, that you have been a judge of Jewish affairs for many years. So I gladly present my defense before you so he honors Felix so smart. Basically denies all the accusations calls the people out like, there's no one here that's a witness or have found guilty of anything. What crime did the Jewish Council find me guilty of except for the one time I shouted, I'm on trial before you today because I believe in the resurrection of the dead. So he points back to that. Now, at this point, Felix was quite familiar with the way adjourn the hearing and said wait until Lycias the garrison commander arrives, then I'll decide his case. So he ordered an officer to keep Paul in custody. But to give him some freedom, and allow his friends to visit him and take care of his needs. So kind of pays off like Paul's clever, and he gets treated a little bit more nicely. Next 2424. A few days later, Felix came back with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish ascending for Paul. They listened as he told him about faith in Christ Jesus, as he reasoned with them about righteousness and self control that to him becoming judgment, Felix, he became frightened. Go away for now, he replied, when it's more convenient alcohol for you again. He also hoped that Paul would bribe him. So he sent from quite often and talked with him. After two years went by this way, Felix was succeeded by Porsche asbestos. And because Felix wanted to gain favor with the Jewish people, he left them in prison. So here's where knowing a bit about the history helps you out. If you don't, none of this really means very much of anything except that you get. Well, Felix is kind of a corrupt dude. Right? He did help pull out a screw up two years there. Well. Drusilla it's very interesting. We're going to run into a couple other people from history and yourselves that she's actually related to these people. Really sad life actually supposed to actually become an empress later, and she lost that chance the guy died. Really sad, tragic life she lives. Felix, though we know from other historical writings that he was corrupt is a really bad guy. So the readers of this day, if you read around that time, these are very, very famous people. I'll talk more about having them in the accountant minute. Very famous people, you'd know, right? So an ancient reader would be like, Yeah, sounds like Felix. All right, you know, and then you'd know about yourself and your that story would be in your mind, like, you kind of understand what's going on here. Now. The main point is that clearly, this is a really big obstacle. It's a two year boulder in the road for Paul, right? You're on mission. You're going people are begging you not to go but you're going anyway and you're pressing through to think about it like a normal person would be thinking the other might use just about any excuse not to go to Rome and maybe die. Right. So I know this sounds like a pretty good place to stop. Paul's on mission. And he has been stopped. But what does he do? He uses this delay as an opportunity. So this is an obstacle. He uses it to preach to Felix, he's a prominent person. He's a major Governor there. So he has an audience with these famous people. He's like, alright, this is good. X 20 513 days after Festus. Now this is the new governor Festus arrived necessary to take over his new responsibilities. He left for Jerusalem, where the leading priests and other Jewish leaders met him and made their accusations against Paul. So these guys are really persistent. This is two years later, they're not giving it up. They asked us this as a favor and transfer Paul to Jerusalem, planning to ambush and kill him on the way do you think those guys had anything to eat in the meantime? That's okay. So anyway,
but Vestas replied to Paul's at sensory and he himself will be returning there soon. So he said, those of you in authority can return with me. If Paul has done anything wrong, you can make your accusations about eight or 10 days after Festus return necessary up on the following day, he took his seat in court in order that Paul be brought in. When Paul arrived, the Jewish leaders from Jerusalem gathered around made many serious accusations I couldn't bro, Paul denied the charges. I'm not guilty of any crime against the Jewish laws, or the temple or the Roman government. He said, Then Festus wanting to please the Jews asked him, Are you willing to go to Jerusalem and stand trial before me? And Paul replied, No, this is the official Roman court. So I already tried here, you know very well, that I'm not guilty of harming the Jews. If I've done something worthy of death. I don't refuse to die. But if I'm innocent, no one has the right to turn me over to kill these men or turn me over these men to kill me. I appeal to Caesar fest is conferred with his advisors and replied very well. You've appealed to Caesar and to Caesar you will go so that's the emperor in Rome. So there's a couple of things going on here. A, it's a part of that obedience. And he knows he's got to get himself to Rome, and he does part of it. He's probably saving his skin. He's got to be alive in order to go through them. So let me buy some time here and get where I got to go. So now two more people. Enders are King Agrippa and sister Baroness or Bernice, in most translations, so they arrived, they pay their respects to this governor Festus, they discuss the case with the king. Now, again, you might just go and pass right by it if you don't know what's going on. So remember, the Evil King Herod right killed all the children when Jesus was born, as he's in that lines is the line of the Union kings are Edomites. And so long story short, they're like cousins to the Israelites. So from a Roman perspective, you might think, Oh, they're Jewish, kind of, but not so. The Edomites isn't either Mike King, he's like a client King. Yes, the Romans are in charge, but he's not a Roman king. They just keep like, sometimes we take places over and let the government just do their thing. Right and self govern kind of ish what's going on? He's Tetrarch, or client king. But here's what's really important significant if you're looking at like the apologia apologetics here. Think about it. Let's say you were going to make up a story. The last thing you do is put really famous people in it. Why? Because well, you know, their itineraries, you know, where they were about this time, right? Especially nowadays, you know, why there every second of every day, right, not as much then, but it's the same idea here, right. So this adds a lot of validity to your Bible here. Now that it needs it, we know it's God's word, but to non believers, you can point to this and say, you can check. And indeed, we know about a lot about these people from other historical accounts. It all gels it all lines up. So this is just very valid from a historical standpoint. So a grip on Bernie's there, they're kind of controversial, their brother and sister, but there was rumors floating around that they're having a relationship. But they're very, very famous people. Right? So they have this conversation. And fester says to them, like, I'm confused. You know, there's, I don't know why he's here. So again, the governors, the commanders, everyone's trying to figure out like, what is the deal here? Like, why are we dealing with this guy? And so he says, it's something about the religion or some dead man named Jesus is rise from the dead. So Agrippa basically says, okay, you know what, I want to hear it and he goes, You will tomorrow. So this big courtroom scene sets up, all right, so a grip on Bernie's come in with all this printer, the pop, just like that circumstance, you know, says big thing going on. And festa said, he's going to announce everything King a grip on all who are here, this man whose death is demanded by the Jews, both here in Jerusalem. So this is this man, Paul. But in my opinion, he has done nothing deserving death. However, since he appealed his case to the Emperor, I've decided to send him to Rome. So there's an emphasis here. So remember, the author Luke is writing this to like, aristocracy, Roman, wealthy people and stuff. He's going to make sure that the reader of the time knows that Paul is guilty of nothing. And so here you have the governor basically acquitting him right at the very beginning. So again, Paul's honoring these officials is paying off in a big way. Right? So what he wants to know he's announcing, what should I write the Emperor though, before I send him, so let's listen to him and we'll figure it out. So x 26. One, Then Agrippa said to Paul, you may speak in your defense. So Paul, gesturing with his hand started his defense, I am fortunate King Agrippa, that you are the one hearing my defense today against all these accusations made by the Jewish leaders. For I know that you are an expert on all Jewish customs and controversies. So please listen to me carefully. Sound familiar? Paul's using compliments, a very similar speech, he gives his credentials, his Damascus experience here, right? So he adds just a little bit to it, which is kind of funny. So why are you persecuting me? Right, says the Lord. It's useless for you to fight against my will kick against the goads. So describing a kind of like an animal that you'd prod along and it'll be kicking back at you like why do you resist this? Then Paul describes his vision and a little bit greater details. Jesus is saying to him, and sending you to the Gentiles to open their eyes. So they may turn from darkness to light from the power of Satan to God, then they will receive forgiveness from their sins, and be placed among God's people were set apart in faith for me. I remember that dividing wall, there's none of this division, right? So together Jews and Gentiles, and so King Agrippa I obeyed that vision from heaven, and obeying God, right? I preached first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem, and throughout all Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that almost repent of their sins and turn to God and prove that they have changed by good things they do. Some of the Jews arrested me in the temple for preaching this and he tried to kill me. But God has protected me right up to this present time so I can testify everyone, from the least to the greatest. I teach nothing except for the prophets and Moses said would happen, that the Messiah would suffer and be the first to rise from the dead and in this way, announced God, Light to the Jews and the Gentiles Allah I see what he's doing here. The other thing, very clever, like, like a malleable set in x five, right? So he's like, wait a minute, these guys are right. You may find yourself fighting against God. Paul's throwing that in there makes it a little bit harder to argue with. Right if you're throwing God and I've seen people do this in the church when they're not right and it's not cool. So don't abuse that God told me to like, not hearing the same thing. But In Paul's case, right? He's hoping that the stick Yeah, you got that one, right. God told me to sing. prophesy in part in the shower. That's where he told you is x 2624 Suddenly, Festus shouted, Paul, you're insane. Too much studies made you crazy. Okay, I can sympathize because I've had this accusation leveled at me as well. But Paul replied, I am not insane, most excellent. Festus what I am saying is the sober truth. And King Agrippa knows about these things I speak boldly for I'm sure that these events are all familiar to him. For they're not done in a corner like we're in secret. King Agrippa. Do you believe the prophets I know you do a grip it interrupted him. Do you think you can persuade me to become a Christian so quickly? Notice he's saying Christian, Paul replied, whether quickly or not, I pray to God that both you and everyone here in this audience might become the same as I am. Except for these chains. Then the king, the governor, Bernice and all the others stood and left. As they went out, they talked it over and agreed. This man hasn't done anything to deserve death or imprisonment. And Agrippa said defenses, he could have been set free, if he hadn't appealed to Caesar. Again, Paul uses this obstacle as an opportunity to advance his mission and get going, where he's going. We see here that Paul sees on all of his opportunities at the Jerusalem temple, to preach the gospel, big riot, most of us will be too scared to speak even like in a regular situation. Right. terrible situation. Even after being slapped. He uses his opportunities. titulus right. Before Felix there's a governor there. Opportunity. And clearly, you have a king of Governor, right. They're opportunities. Every obstacle, he encounters, opportunity, opportunity, opportunity. And think about it. Even in that unjust treatment. Most of us um, you know, maybe Paul did some complaining. But the emphasis is, well, I'm going to use this two years. I mean, just think about it. You are unjustly put in prison, you have done nothing wrong. The government's just confused. Like they don't know what, anyway, but you've had accuracy. There's no formal charges. Think about that. They're usually putting in prison, no formal charges based on basically just accusations. But you're there for two years. And you know, that you're there. Because the governor wants a bribe. It was money. totally unjust. But what is he spent his time talking to the governor about? Hey, this isn't fair. Get me out of here. Right slandering him was not even slander at that point. It's the truth. You're a hypocrite. What are you doing? This is unjust. Nope. uses it to preach the gospel.
So just a quick little thing here that I did not mention. Is that wait a minute, though. He spoke differently to the religious leader. Yeah. And the Bible talks a lot about calling out false teachers even in the church a lot. And we saw that a lot in Paul's letters. Right. So to people who know better, who are accountable. Yeah, you're going to call them out. Governing officials know, especially if they don't know any better. They're not Christians, right? Totally different. He uses them as opportunities, every obstacle. So if you remember one of those regional letters, and Paul wrote back to Asia Minor was Colossians. And I want to look at something with some of this in mind. Colossians four, to Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and thankful. Now just some backdrop, Paul is writing this from prison, and could be the prison as a result of what we're reading today. It could be writing it around there ish, or a little later, but this circumstance gets him to where he is while he's writing this. They won't pray for us to that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I'm here and Jains comes together, pray that I will proclaim His message as clearly as I should live wisely among those who are not believers and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious, gracious and attractive. So that I got the right response for everyone. Here, Paul's prayers are answered. Interesting. Indeed, obstacles as we would see them are opportunities for evangelism In Paul's case, especially to those who are not believers. And we need to think about this in light of the full council of God's word, what we have been looking at, we looked at First Timothy two, what did it say? Pray for those in authority. Pray why, so that we can live peaceful lives? How, pray tell, would that happen? Well, if they become believers, they're not going to persecute us. Yeah, kind of smart. Right. So that's there. We saw Titus three. Now, that was last week. So Titus three, right, like, honor the governing authorities again, why? You see, it's a huge opportunity. Paul has an opportunity. He's meeting kings and governors, people of Providence, he knows hey, if I can convert the and he was accused, hey, you're trying to convert me? Yeah, I am. Because if you can convert them, life gets a lot better plus, well, right. We want people to be saved. Or do we? Right? So that's the thing. Paul has the right heart. Now, here's the thing. We may not like this. We may not like unfair treatment. But we're going to read in first Peter and I giving you this. That's what happened to Jesus. That wasn't fair. We can't always control our circumstances. But we can control our attitudes. What's that fruit of the Spirit love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, self control. That's fair to the Spirit. That's what Paul has. We can we have a lot of this through Philippians? Two, that guy told you their gospel poems. They're a little like poems in in the Bible that are not obvious unless the Bible translation makes it so. But think about what it says tie it together. What does it say if let me make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who existing in the form of God did not regard equality with God is something to be taken advantage of. Instead, he emptied himself in the form of the slave took on the light because men, when he had come into the man in his external form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even to death on a cross. For this reason, God highly exalted him, and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow, those who are in heaven, on earth, and below the earth, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, the glory of God the Father, you can Amen that we are to be a living set were to be like these make your attitude that of Jesus are unjustly suffer, we're going to read this in First Peter, you're not going to like you unjustly suffered, and so should you. God is pleased with you, when you suffer that way. We don't like it. But Philippians two, again, just before the gospel poem, don't just look out for your own interests, but look out for the interests of others, including the governing officials who Jesus died for, by the way. Also, other people around us, we need to look at people, even our enemies, Romans 12, even our enemies, that's what it says, Bless those who persecute you. Pray for them, right? Don't curse them. We need to look at them as opportunities. This is an opportunity, how do I approach the wisdom? Always Spirit gives us that too. Right? uses that self control that restraint, the patience? How do we use the tools of the Holy Spirit to get to that person that opportunity I'm looking at, we need to go from like, I have to do that, too. I get to do that. It's an opportunity. Galatians six, we kind of saw this they're buddies and six to share each other's burdens. And in this way, obey the law of Christ. If you think you're too important to help someone you're only fooling yourself. You're not that important. I love that line. Guys, I didn't even need to be in there. I was just like, look, put that in there. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to and thank you, especially those in the family and faith especially to each other but don't forget, everyone, everybody, not accept the politicians you disagree with doesn't say that. We see what Paul went through. It's literally fulfilling the law of Christ. In personal They will, obstacles or opportunities to strengthen ourselves to strengthen and exercise our faith to try and be like Jesus. They grow us big ways. Again, we're going to look at Peter, it's just it says that Jesus didn't retaliate. You didn't pay repay insult for insult, he put it in the hands of God. That's called faith. Not going to try and control this situation, I'm going to put it in the hands of God, do my best to spread the gospel. That's it. That's it. And we see that Paul Wright faithfully stays on mission, he mimics the behavior of Christ, we are Christians, right? He sees all these obstacles, all these unfair treatment, delays as opportunities and he puts it in the hand of God. Obstacles or opportunities for growth, and our faith. Romans five three, we can rejoice to when we run into problems and trials, For we know that they help us develop endurance and endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment, for we know how dearly God loves us. And because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with love. With love. We may not like this process. But we must be obedient to the obstacles.
What did it say about Jesus? He was obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. If our Lord was obedient, much more should we be obedient?
Speaking of obedience, we'll see in the next section that Paul encounters a shipwreck, really bad situation, talk about an obstacle, right? And if there's some cool parallels to that, and the Jonah account, some would say that the joint accounts almost like a foreshadowing of this situation here. Maybe, maybe not. But if you only think about the Jonas story, what's it all really about? Obedience, right, obedience and disobedience. It's kind of funny, when I read this story, I see a lot of similarities to my story and other people's stories who've been a little disobedient again. And just to share a little bit with you, and you may know it, but just as it pertains to this, like, Paul, I had my worldly credentials. Maybe you do, too. So he's a Pharisee. of Pharisees. We read it all over right. Pharisee affairs, you know, so he's just, he's really smart. He's really successful in what he's doing. I felt the same way. I feel the same way. I felt really smart. I felt successful when I was doing, like, Hey, I'm in my late 30s. I'm semi retiring here to Naples, right are really early to arrive at God's waiting room. I know. But, but you know, I thought it was good, right? And all these businesses making all this residual income, I thought I knew everything, everything. And so I didn't, and I went to church, you know, so like, try to play church on Sunday a little bit, maybe that'll make me feel better about all the bad things I'm doing right. So you know, the conviction started common. And like Paul, I had people actually prophesy over me, but they started telling me things they didn't want to hear. Like, hey, you're going to be a pastor someday. And I was like, Are you kidding me? That's stupid. That is a stupid career choice. Gene. It's not a career choice. It's a calling people you call it into and you're being called? No. Right? Like, no, no, no, no, no, no. I'm good. So here's the thing, right? I had my kids like Paul applied to lay aside his credentials as his Pharisee. Right. He learned from him. So for me, I literally they're telling me you got to take the black belt off, right? So I did martial arts for a living and if you know anything about the martial art I did, it took me 10 years to get that black belt training professionally. It was hard I had to learn another language and other culture because they wouldn't accept people who look like me there. It was hard to rise and they I caught so much hate I'm not doing that again. Because pastures catch a lot of hate right? So I'm done with that. I'm at the end of that semi retire I got my money, but Black Belt I'm not starting over again. You're stupid start talking to me. Oh, I hear. One woman told me it. It blew my mind too because she like literally read my mind. I couldn't believe I didn't talk to her. For two months I think no tinfoil hat like how did you know that? Like, God was something called God. Right. But it was so hard to see that as an opportunity. What? That is a major obstacle for me doing that again. Look at me, I'm wealthy. I'm smart. I know everything. I have all this stuff. And then I had my general moment. I did not get swallowed by a whale, or a big fish. But I got put on my back. I thought I was having a stroke. So that was my Damascus Road experience. Helpless. Wait a minute, that doesn't resonate. Not in my career. There's no such thing as helpless. I've gotten myself I'm in control of everything. So like, this can't happen to me. I'm healthy. I'm in great shape. Oh, yeah. I thought I was going to die. This is it. All the while I knew oh my gosh, what if these people at church or right? Just being candid with you what they're going through my mind was unscrewed. I don't think it's a bad word. But anyway, if I did, pray for me. That's what I thought just to be honest with you. I'm in a lot of trouble. Like I'm about to meet the author of life. And I don't know what my favorite chapter is. What's he going to say about that? Terror. That's what terror felt like. So my pastor prayed over me. And like, within just a short time, everything came back. I was healed. The scales fell from my eyes. I made a little pact with God actually told me Pastor if I get stuck like this, I barely could talk, promise me will read me the Bible. I think he knew what I meant, because we were friends. After that, I was like, Oh, I'm going to read the Bible. I'm going to not like the back of my hand, because that's never going to happen to me again. It's going to happen. That was my Damascus Road experience. Still, after that moment, if I'm being honest with you, very hard to see these obstacles as opportunities. And the journey was really hard. And it took time to adjust. Little by little, you know, maybe not boulders. But under these like stones were coin persons, not in the form of real gold, but in the form of treasure that can only be stored in heaven. real value, I can learn that I can lose stuff. This stuff I can not lose. Or malls can eat them rust can destroy real treasure. I began to see the value of that. And began to see some of the people as opportunities more and more the more the Lord worked on me and put me through these things are the Lord's help. I found the true treasure in the obstacle. So to you, because I can't be the only one to you. Maybe there's something that you're seeing is an obstacle. Maybe there's some one you're seeing as an obstacle in your life. Maybe the Lord's calling on you to see that person as someone Jesus died for. Maybe the Lord is calling you to move that boulder and you're Damascus row. Try have you thinking it's going to be hard if you think you're going to have to give something up. But trust me not only is my treasure in heaven, and this is not like some prosperity thing and or the reasoning you should do it. But I just got to say, I want for nothing. Everything's fine, the businesses are gone. No residual income. I have a lot of money in the savings account, but the Lord provides not worried about it. All the things that I was so worried about going and I'll tell you something from being honest, I worry a lot less. A lot of that stuff comes with grief, maintenance worry. And not that I don't have anything I still have nice stuff. But I know where my rear real treasure is. That's the important thing. So for you to just some encouragement, if you need to talk and be told how to connect there are other Have people with similar stories to mind if you're new here today, you haven't talked, I'm not the only one with a story of who God has provided for greatly. With every obstacle comes an opportunity if we have the right attitude, and the right perspective. And that's what I pray for you this morning. We too, can find the hidden treasure and even the worst circumstances. If we walk in faith and obedience, we can know with hope and confidence that our King awaits us with a heavenly treasure. Let me pray for you. Lord, I pray that you would open up the eyes of hearts today that people will have heard the gospel today. You would heard my testimony. Please use whatever you can today to again, open hearts soften people so they become obedient to Your will make us all humble vehicles of Your grace, your mercy and your love. I ask these things in Jesus's name. Amen.