Circumstances are important.
APRIL 26, 2022
Circumstances are important. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
That was Steve Brown. He’s an author, seminary professor, and our teacher on Key Life, a program all about God’s radical grace. We’re committed to bringing you Bible teaching that’s honest, straight-forward, and street-smart. Keep listening to hear truth that will make you free.
Thank you Matthew. If you were listening yesterday, we were looking, the question that we’re considering from the 13th chapter of Acts is this, how do you know where God is leading? How do you know if the church is moving in the right direction? How do you know if you’re moving in the right direction? And one of the principles that we saw that you can find in the first few verses of the 13th chapter of Acts, is that God prepares before he leads, that God prepares circumstances. And he is sovereign not just over what’s happening in your life right now, but what has gone on in your life before right now. At the end of the broadcast yesterday, I said that the Step Foundation realized that it was important if you’re going to make a difference in the inner city, that you send people to do what they’re prepared and gifted to do, not what they don’t like to do and can’t do. In other words, have a carpenter build a house and have a doctor fix the broken arm. If you reverse those, the arm is going to stay broken and the house is never going to get built. And God does that too. God has prepared, have you ever thought about this, you all of your life or this very moment. God, let me say that again cause it’s really important. God has prepared all of your life for this very moment. In fact, being the good reformed Calvinist that I am. He prepared everything in your life before he prepared the universe. He knew your name. He’s a God in charge of circumstances. You know, we have this spurious view and we’ve talked about it before that if you don’t like it, it’s gotta be God’s will. It’s a corollary of the rule that if you want to do it, it’s a sin, if you don’t want to do it, it can’t be a sin. And so, we get a lot of people in the church doing stuff, thinking they are being obedient to God, when just the opposite is going on, they’re being disobedient to God. So, it is not inappropriate and it was not inappropriate in the first verses of the 13th chapter of Acts, for Paul and Barnabas to say, is this of God? The prophets said it was of God. Everybody sensed that the Holy Spirit said it was God, but is this right for us? And there were never two people more qualified to be the first missionaries than Paul and Barnabas. God had prepared them for that very moment, just as he has prepared you for this very moment. And so, before God moves, he creates circumstances. You know, when I was a pastor, I got this principle and began to think, well, how does this work out in the church? And as I sat down with the leadership in the church and we talked about it, I said, what are we called to do? And we had just built a new building and one of the elders said, well, we got to keep the lights on as much as possible, or we’ve wasted all of this money and somebody else. You’re a fruitcake. That’s crazy. Why don’t we try to see how many evenings we can keep the lights out because we’re not a bundle of leaven in a lump in the church. We’re supposed to be leaven in the loaf of the world. And he said, every time we are in church, we’re not out there. And then other elders began to talk and we began to see where God had called us. And we began to see that the membership of our church were scattered throughout the Christian community in South Florida, they were in positions of leadership and service and volunteers. And working in a pile of different ministries. And so, we decided that we were going to make it possible for them to do that because that was our mission statement, to empower Christians to be involved in the world, wherever they found themselves. And do you know something, that worked. It worked because of Acts 13. It worked because God prepares circumstances before he moves. And so, what has he prepared you to do? Now, that doesn’t mean that sometimes God cause trust me, I’m there sometimes. Sometimes God asks you to do stuff that you don’t want to do. I don’t think I was ever happy about being a pastor. And I’ve been a pastor most of my life. I used to tell the elders, go ahead and fire me, that would be a gift from God because I didn’t want to do this anyway. But, you know, I had learned from Acts 13 and other places that God prepares where he leads. And I remember the day when the people of God got on my heart. I remember the day when I thought, you know, I’ve got this wonderful voice, I wonder how God wants to use it. I began to think, you know, I am a teacher, whether I’m teaching my kids how to drive or teaching the book of Acts, that’s what I do. And then all of a sudden click and I fought, I don’t want to do it, but I think I’ve got to be a pastor. And I was, and actually I make it, I make it a lot more negative than it was. There was, those were wonderful times, with a few interruptions that weren’t so wonderful, but, by the way, with our students, at the seminary, when I was teaching there. We were finding that our students were being chewed up by the church and the faculty voted that I should do something about it. So, I created this series of lectures on politics in the church, how to win the battles without losing your salvation. And the students hate it. They said it was manipulative. And I told them to be quiet. I’m going to test you on this material and the day will come when you will rise up and call me blessed. And to this day, I get calls from students all the time who say, hey brown, I hated what you taught, but you saved my life. And I just wanted to say, thank you. And so, I let them see the dark side of the church. And I used to, I would invite other pastors in to share their experiences because I wanted the students to see that the church is a prostitute, even if she’s our mother. And I told students if it gets so bad that you’re thinking about leaving the seminary, raise your hand, and I’ll tell you something about the church that’s good. And occasionally somebody in the class would raise his hand and say, Dr. Brown, this is getting dark. Would you tell us something good? And I would on those occasions and I can’t tell you how often I got teary, as I started talking about the great privilege of serving God’s people. Now, if I had become a truck driver or a college teacher or a booze salesman, I wouldn’t have been doing what God called me to do. Why is that? Because he had prepared me for doing that. And he does that for you too, in a variety of ways. And he does that with the church too. Sit around sometime with the friends and the church and say, hey, what are we about? What are we good at? Where can we make a difference? And, what do we like to do? And when you come up with an answer to that because God prepares circumstances. When you come up with an answer to that, then you kind of know the direction in which Jesus is moving. And then, you begin to move in that direction and you’ll be surprised at what happens. God prepared Paul educationally, academically and theologically and religiously to be the man that God used to change the world, the first Christian missionary. And Barnabas was such a leader in the early church that everybody looked up to him. And he was also, and his name means this, son of encouragement. And man, if you’re going to be in ministry, you need encouragement. And he was ideal for that particular situation. And so, when the church got together and they prayed about it and the Holy Spirit moved, they knew exactly what was going to happen and where they were to go. And we’re going to look at it once we get to the next text. And we’re going to see how God honored this in an amazing way in the rest of the book of Acts. But it started with these two guys who had been prepared by God, for that very moment to change the world. So, let me repeat it and they will move on to another point tomorrow. But the point is that God’s been preparing you, all of your life, for this very moment, what you like, what you’re good at, what’s fun, what’s right. You think about that. Amen.
And that was Steve Brown, continuing to guide us through this early section of Acts 13, just as God prepared Paul and Barnabas for their work. He is preparing you as well. And that’s a pretty encouraging thought. More good stuff from Acts tomorrow. Make sure you join us then. Hey, speaking of Acts, have you gotten your copy of Steve’s guide to Acts? It’s called Through the Eyes of Grace: Acts & Romans. It covers early church leadership, the Pentecost, the fellowship of believers, persecution, all of that. And in addition, it includes Steve’s overview of Romans. You are going to get so much out of this booklet. And it’s free, but you have to claim it to get it. So, call us right now at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that booklet. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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