God is not in your back pocket.
NOVEMBER 30, 2022
God is not in your back pocket. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
Key Life is a radio program for struggling believers, sick of phony religion and pious clichés. Our host and teacher is seminary professor Steve Brown. He teaches that radical freedom leads to infectious joy and surprising faithfulness.
Thank you Matthew. If you’ve been listening, this week, you’re aware, we’re looking at the 18th chapter of the Book of Acts, and we’re looking at verses 12 through 17, and then we’re dropping down to the 21st verse. And we’ve seen that God did use some things that are kind of surprising. He used a trial, and in that trial the Christians were able to proclaim the message. He used a lie. The Christians were able to proclaim the truth and to do it in a loving way. And he used a beating. Now, the first thing you think when I say he used a beating is they must have beaten up Paul. No, they beat up Sosthenes, the head of the synagogue because the proconsul refused to even hear the case. And so, when they got back to the church, they looked at Sostheses and said, we had such high hopes for you, and you messed it up. We had, we thought you would stand and you didn’t. We thought you would present a case that the proconsul would understand and you failed. And they beat him up. And you say, how did any good come out of that? Well, when you go to I Corinthians 1:1, there is an amazing statement. Paul writes as follows.
Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus,
and here it comes
and our brother Sosthenes.
Do you see it? God used the beating to bring Sosthenes to his knees so he could look up, and when he did, he became a Christian. And so, as you begin to look at the ways that are kind of scary, that are going on in our culture right now, don’t get depressed, don’t get on meds, don’t think it’s coming to an end, don’t think that we lost. I have a friend, a dear friend, his name is Israel Moses Kreps and he runs a major ad agency in Miami and I love he and his wife more than I can tell you, but I remember when he became a Christian, he was just a kid. He’s young man. And he was so excited and God used him in so many ways. His enthusiasm, even if he had lack of knowledge. He called me one day and said, Steve, could we talk? I’ve got to talk to you. And I said, Sure, come on in, we’ll talk. He came in and I said, What’s wrong? He said, We lost. I said, What? He said, We lost. I had a dream last night and Satan won and we lost and it was so real. And I said, Israel we’ll never lose. That dream came from the pit of hell and it smells like smoke. We worship a God who isn’t into losing. We worship a God who is sovereign. We worship a God who is victorious. And he came to see that and began to live it in a wonderful and amazing way, and he still does. Well, it sometimes feels like we are losing, doesn’t it? I think if I hear post-Christian one more time, I’m going to scream. Yeah, probably the sociologists are right about that. It’s post-Christian in the sense it’s post-Christendom. But do you know whenever the church gets cozy with the government and has political power, whenever the church has a whole lot of money and can only pay its bills, but do a lot more than that, whenever the church is looked up to and praised in a culture, then that is a very dangerous place. The church has always thrived when they were a minority. The church has always seen miracles when they were small. The church has always been used by God in a major way when everybody thought that bunch can’t be used. Why is that? God’s power Paul wrote in II Corinthians, is made perfect in weakness.
God’s power is made perfect in weakness.
Now, I’m just going to mention, I’ve got three observations and then we’ll be finished with these verses. And we’ll probably finish them tomorrow. Let me give you one observation that’s really important. I’ve already mentioned it and I don’t want to beat it to death, but it’s really important. This is the observation. People who think they have God in their back pocket are either liars, are fools, or both. God doesn’t fit into anybody’s little mold. In fact, you know one of the real problems we’re facing right now, we’ve made God way too small. And if you worship a little god, little gods only do little things. If you worship a little god and you’re in bad trouble, you’re going to look for somebody bigger. If you worship a little god and things get dark, you’ll seek the light somewhere else. But our God is sovereign and he’s big and he’s awesome. And if you do nothing else in your devotional time, get out a list of the attributes of God and go through them praising him for who he is. The God of the universe, who is always sovereign. And do not give the impression that you got the answers to every question cause you’ve got God in your back pocket. If you do, you’ll get the hives. You think about that. Amen.
Well, it’s Wednesday and sometimes on Wednesdays when I have time, I take some time to answer one or two questions. And, Pete will be in on Friday and we as you know spend the entire Friday broadcast answering questions. And we love your questions, they are thoughtful and the only dumb one is the one you don’t ask. You can ask your question, by the way, 24 7, pick up the phone and call 1-800-KEY-LIFE. And then follow instructions and you can record your question. And sometimes, generally on Friday, we play your actual question with your voice. So, it’s 1-800-KEY-LIFE and that’s open 24 7. Or you can send your question to
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or you can send your question e-mail [email protected] and I promise we’ll take your question seriously. By the way, if you can help us financially, please do. Most of you can’t. About 10% of the people who benefit for this ministry or buy this ministry are able to help us financially. And so, when you help us, you help others. This is an expensive ministry and all the bills the last time I checked are paid, but there is tomorrow. So, don’t forget us and help us if you can, and I’ll rise up and call you blessed. Okay. Let’s turn to one or two of these questions. This is easy. What is the best translation of the Bible? Which Bible do you use? Well, I, you know, there are a lot of good translations and I don’t know if I am adequately prepared to say which is the best and which is the worst. Depends, it depends on a lot of things. Sometimes I read a paraphrase of the Bible, the Living Bible, or the Eugene Peterson, translation or paraphrase of the Bible. Sometimes I see things I didn’t see in the more literal translations. Now, the American Standard Version, the old one and the new one is a very literal translation, and it is well done. In between those two, a very literal translation like the American Standard Version and some others, and the paraphrases, that are more commentary than actual translation. There are those translations that are kind of in between. The Old King James Version of 1611 is one of those. The New King James Version published by Nelson is one of those. The Bible that I use more than any other in both teaching and preaching is the English Standard Version. I like that because it still has the ring of the Old King James Version, and that’s the version with which I grew up. And, it has the accuracy of a real translation. And it is very helpful. But I’ll tell you something, I don’t care what translation you use, God can use it in your life, and there are piles of them. And there are great study Bibles too. Go to a Christian bookstore or check it out on the internet. Find something with which you feel comfortable and that you understand, and then make that something that you read every day of your life. This is a question that requires one answer. What’s the most important thing a Christian leader needs to effectively lead God’s people? Lead for God’s sake, lead. And secondly, wash people’s feet. Be a servant. If you’ve got a leader building an empire who doesn’t understand what it is to serve God’s people, who as it were, wash people’s feet, then be careful. That may not be a leader. If you have a leader who refuses to lead and seems to be leading by committee members instead of himself or herself, be very careful. But when those two things come together, servanthood and leading, you may have the real deal. Well, but you may not. So, there’s some other things to check out, I suppose. But I’ve got to go. Key Life is a listener supported production of Key Life’s Network.