Be careful of expectations that are too high.
NOVEMBER 7, 2022
Be careful of expectations that are too high. Let’s talk, on Key Life.
Key Life is all about God’s radical grace, grace that has dirt under its fingernails and laugh lines on its face. If you want the Bible to be a book of rules, you may want to stop listening now, but if you are hungry for the truth, that’ll make you free. Welcome to Key Life.
Thank you Matthew. Hope you guys had a great week-end, and as always, I hope your pastor’s sermon was as good as my pastor’s sermon. If you’ve been with us for a while, you know that we’re studying the book of Acts. It’s the history of our beginning. It’s the history of some men and women who just like you, blew their nose like you, put on their pants or their dress just like you. Common ordinary people that God used in an amazing way to change the world, and it’s been fun doing that. We’re up to the 17th chapter of Acts. And if you were listening last week, we were talking about, what do you say to an intellectual? Athens is the place where Paul was conducting his ministry. He had a layover and he said to himself, Well, I’m here ought to do something, and Luke records what he did. Not with great success. Now, later on when Paul goes to Corinth, we’re going to see that that was an amazing success and we’re going to compare the two. But if you have your Bible, open it to the 17th chapter of Acts in verses 16 through 33. Now, I’ve read that to you a couple of times. Paul is at the Areopagus, and he is talking to the intellectuals who are listening to him as he presents the gospel. And they don’t get it. Well, some get it, but very few get it. And we’re going to look at some things that we’ve seen and see one more point and then move to the next chapter. But before we do that, let’s pray. It can’t hurt. Father, come and join us in our Bible study and speak to our minds and then to our hearts, and then to our vocal chords. Our minds, so that we won’t be shallow. Our heart, so we won’t be cold. And to our vocal chords, so the world can hear the laughter of the redeemed. Father, you know every person who’s listening to this broadcast right now, You know the times when it’s really hard and sometimes when it’s not so hard. You know the laughter and the tears, you know the pain and the joy, and you’re the God and a sufficient God. The only God. The Ruler, Sustainer, and Creator of everything. You are a God who is sufficient for it all. And we praise you. Father, as always, we pray for the one that teaches on this broadcast, forgive him his sins cause there are many, we would see Jesus and Him only. And we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. Now, if you’ve been listening, we’ve seen some things about this experience of the apostle Paul and the city of Athens. We noticed in the 16th verse that God stirred him up. I have a pastor friend who says, I’ve got to preach every Sunday. When the prophet spoke, they only spoke when God spoke to them, and then they said, “Thus say the Lord.” I have to speak whether or not God speaks. Well, God spoke to Paul, stirred him up inside, and that was the beginning of the encounter that he had with the intellectuals there in Athens. God also stirred up the intellectuals in Athens, 17:19 through 20. In I Peter 3:15 Peter says.
Be always prepared to make a defense to anyone,
and here comes the reason.
who calls you to account for the hope that is in you.
In other words, create questions and answer them when the questions come along, don’t answer questions that are never asked. And then we saw that as Paul moved to the intellectuals and they had a conclave, they had a gathering, a conference, a seminar, if you would. Paul was willing to bend in 17:22.
So Paul, standing in the middle of the Areopagus.
In other words, he went to them, he was willing to become what they needed. He was identifying with them, not expecting them to identify with him. And then secondly, we noticed, that Paul had an amazing gift of tact, in the 22nd verse.
So Paul, standing in the middle of the Areopagus, said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious.”
Now, he could have said superstitious, he could have said weird, believing some really, really funny things, but he didn’t. He gave them a compliment, and then we saw that he also understood the language and the ways of the Athenian intellectuals, that’s 17:23 and 17:28. And we need to learn the language of pagans. If you can’t speak their language, they can’t hear your message. That’s true whether you go to China, or whether you go to Africa, or whether you go to South America, or whether you go down the street. If you don’t speak their language, they can’t hear your message, that’s verses 30 through 31. Now, I’ve got one other thing I want to share with you and then we’ll move into the next chapter. We have to learn finally, that we must leave the results to God. And that real results when the gospel is preached to anyone and particularly to intellectuals, will be limited. Deal with it, verse 34.
So Paul went out from among them. But some men joined them and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Demaris and others with them.
That is not a situation where thousands are saved and hundreds are healed. In fact, no church was planted in Athens because so few people listened and responded to the gospel. They say that if you’re a salesperson and you’re doing phone sales, the first thing you ought to know about yourself is that you’re crazy. Have you learned to deal with robo-calls? We don’t answer them, but I picked up on yesterday by mistake, and this sweet young lady started giving me her spiel and I tried to interrupt her and she wouldn’t stop. And I finally said, I’m an old guy and I want you to know, that I know how hard your job is and I’m so sorry you have to do it, but I’m going to hang up on you because I’m not buying anything you say, and I hung up . Well, Christians ought learn something from that too. They say that if you’re a salesman, you only get 2 or 3% of closures about what ever product it is that you’re selling. Well, Christians do better than that I think in evangelism. But you’ve got to know that there are going to be people who simply don’t want what you’re selling, who simply don’t want to become Christians, who simply are fine, they think to themselves. And you must, and Jesus said this, I didn’t. You must learn that there are times when you shake the dust off your feet and you walk away. That’s what Paul did eventually. I mean, it wasn’t working at Athens. He did the best he could. He made the witness, and it’s not in the text, but he said when he left. From now on, you will never, ever again be able to say, Nobody ever told me cause I just told you. And then he went to Corinth. Don’t expect, I mean, cut back on high expectations. You know why? First, because what we believe is weird. We don’t think so, but man, think of an outsider when you say that there’s a God who created everything and he became a man, that’s weird. And, lived his life with us. He died cold stone dead. He came back from the grave. A dead man walked. He was born of a virgin. He ascended into heaven and he’s going to return and clean up the mess. Now, that may not seem funny to you, but it seems funny to everybody else. And secondly, they don’t want to become Christians because they want to be God and you can’t worship God and be God at the same time. So it’s autonomy. It’s a desire to be their own person. And if what you’re saying is true and there’s a God, then they’re not Try to remember that. And you think about that. Amen.
Beware of expectations that are too high. You know, that’s exactly what I told them here at Key Life when they hired me. Thank you Steve. That was Steve Brown taking us the last mile in Acts 17. Today, delving into the final three verses. Tomorrow, onward to chapter 18. Hope you’ll join us for that. Well, there are a whole bunch of words that have an original meaning, but over time kind of collect some baggage. One of those words is evangelical, which raises the question, should that label be discarded or defended? Well, that’s the question we discussed with author Michael Reeves on Steve Brown Etc. As we enjoyed a fascinating conversation about the gospel at the crossroads of modern day culture and politics, not unlike Paul speaking to the Athenians. If it’s cool with you, we would love to send you that whole show on a CD, for free. Just call us at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that CD. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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