God is a God of surprises.
DECEMBER 6, 2022
God is a God of surprises. Let’s talk about it, on this edition of 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’ll make you free.
Thank you Matthew. If you have your Bible, open if you will, to the 17th chapter of the Book of Acts. And we’re looking at God through the eyes of an illustration of what happened with the apostle Paul. He was going in one direction and God led him in another direction, and that’s because God is a God of surprises. And if you’ve been listening, you know that we’re looking at some observations, and I have three of them. The first is people who think that God, that they have God figured are crazy. And then the second observation is that God is a God of surprises because of the sovereignty of God, things are not always what they seem. If you haven’t been surprised by God recently, you’re probably worshiping an idol. On the stage of history, God pitted great, powerful, prosperous Egypt against the small, poor, enslaved people of Israel. If you had been a bookmaker on that day, you would not have given 2 cents for Israel, but you would’ve been surprised by God. Jericho and Jerusalem and Jeremiah were all God’s surprises. But the greatest surprise of all was the cross, Hebrews 1:1 through 2.
In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophet. But surprise in these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son.
How odd that God should choose a Jew. Now, what should that say to us? Just this, Christians ought to be very careful in judging their own circumstances, no matter how good or bad or anybody else’s circumstances, no matter how good or bad, they are rarely what they seem. Why? Because God has a way of using circuitous routes to accomplish his purposes, to bring forth amazing results. And then there’s one other observation in this chapter that I want to share with you, and it’s this because observation number one and number two, nobody has God figured, and God is a God of surprises, Christians can live within the context of Romans 8:28, and we know.
That all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose.
Philippians 4:11, Paul says.
I have learned in whatever state I am to be content. I know how to be abased and I know how to abound. In any and old circumstances, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want, I can do all things in him who strengthens me.
The secret of living the Christian life is the realization that whatever happens, period is within the purview of a God of love. When I, as a pastor looked out over my congregation, I didn’t just see faces, I saw people who were hurting, who were lonely. And I do the same thing on this broadcast. I read your letters, I see your texts, I see the e-mails, and I read them. And sometimes I want to cry until I remember God is good. God is sovereign. God is in charge. And Romans 8:28 really is true. When Allan Cameron, the Covenanter was in prison, soldiers entered his cell bringing the head of his son Richard. The old man, staggered as he was struck in the face with a whip. And then he lifted his head and said, it is the Lord. Good is the will of the Lord. Oh man. I’m not there yet, but I can see it from here. I haven’t achieved perfection in trusting God and being flexible with his will, but I can see it from here. I am not the sanctified person I want to be, but I can see it from here. And I know that God is in charge of everything. Peculiar People are a wonderful dramatic ministry, Charlie and Ruth Jones, and they traveled with us a lot. Sometimes we still use them in some of our events, and they are incredible. One of the most moving dramatic sketches that they do is about William Cooper, the 18th century British poet. And in that particular sketch, they’re sitting in a living room and Cooper is very down, very depressed, and his wife is trying to encourage him. There’s a great story about William Cooper. He got in a cab and asked the cabbie to take him to the Thames. The fog was so thick he was going to commit suicide, and the fog was so thick that the cabbie found much difficulty in finding the Thames. Finally, he reached it and Cooper stepped out to what he thought would be his watery grave. But instead he found himself at his own doorstep with tears running down his face. That evening, he sat down and he penned the words to the hymn that we’ve all sung.
God moves in a mysterious way. His wonders to perform. He plants his footsteps in the sea and rides up on the storm. Ye fearful saints fresh courage take. The clouds ye so much dread are big with mercy and shall break in blessing on your head. His purposes will ripen fast unfolding every hour. The bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flower. Blind unbelief is sure to err and scan his work in vain. God is his own interpreter and he will make it plain.
That’s what Paul discovered, every day and every way God is sovereign and his plan is exactly the right one for you, right now as we speak. Okay. Let’s go to another text In our study of Acts, we’ve pretty much covered that and I want to show you something about a very good friend of mine by the name of Apollos. He was an early Christian apologist. He was used in a great way by God. He had an amazing and wonderful ministry. Look at the 18th chapter of Acts and verses 24 through 28, that’s to the end of that chapter we’ve been studying.
Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, well versed in the Scripture. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard it, they took him and expounded to him the way of God more accurately. And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to receive him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully confuted the Jews
the religious folks
in public, showing by the Scripture that the Christ was Jesus.
Now, we don’t have time now because we’re running out of time, but we’ll get to it tomorrow. So, be sure and listen, but for now, I want you to see my friend Apollos. He got it wrong, but he got Jesus right and that was enough. If you get it wrong, but you get Jesus right, that will be enough too. Hey, you think about that. Amen.
Thank you Steve. Today we looked at Acts 18:24 through 28, but on our way there we made a few other stops including Hebrews 1:1 and 2, Romans 8:28, and Philippians 4:11 through 13. As Steve said, we’ll dive back into this last section of Acts 18 tomorrow, hope you’ll join us. So, what is God like? Well, God has answered that question, and Christmas is part of that answer. Steve gave a sermon called Grace: The Heart of the Incarnation and it speaks to this subject. What is God like? What does it mean to live by God’s grace? And what are the practical implications when you do? All of this is based on a powerful first chapter of John, and we put that classic sermon on a CD that we would love to send to you. Claim your copy right now by calling 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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