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Grace always runs downhill.

Grace always runs downhill.

JUNE 23, 2022

/ Programs / Key Life / Grace always runs downhill.

Steve Brown:
Grace always runs down hill. Let’s talk about it, on this edition of Key Life.

Matthew Porter:
It’s for freedom that Christ set us free. And Key Life is here to bring you Biblical teaching that encourages you to never give into slavery again. Our teacher on Key Life is Steve Brown. He’s an author, broadcaster and seminary professor who is sick a phony religion.

Steve Brown:
Thank you Matthew. We’re looking at the report made by Paul and Barnabas when they got home. A report of the first missionary journey. Now, this was not all fun and games. In fact, just before they headed for home. Yeah, they were turning around going back through the places they had visited before, encouraging the new Christians there, appointing elders, making sure things were going to continue. And then they headed back to Antioch where they started. And they were reporting on what’s happening. And it’s a praise meeting. Down at the old church house, man, they were up beyond midnight, raising their hands and praising God for what he did on the first missionary journey. And we’ve seen that one of the things that you can learn from this is that Paul and Barnabas had learned from the trouble through which they had gone, that they were inadequate. They didn’t have the resources to do what, and I’ve quoted from II Corinthians 12:9.

My grace is sufficient for thee. My power is made perfect in weakness.

We don’t believe that. Do we? I mean, we believe that if you’re going to be successful, you’ve gotta be smart. If you’re going to make a impact on the world, you’ve gotta have money and a big car. If you’re going to really let your life count for something, you’ve got to be a part of a cool kids. You’ve got, you’ve gotta join the elite and use the leverage that you get from being there. Listen to me. That’s a lie. It’s from the pit of hell and it smells like smoke. God brings people to the end of themselves. I may have told you before, about the time that I preached at a gathering of rich and powerful folks, you know there are a lot of preachers who have sold their soul to get an invitation to speak to that bunch. And they asked me if I would come. And I remember as I landed in the city where the conference was, thinking they’re very fortunate to have me. They have recognized my prowess in speaking, my keen mind, the gifts that I have, they are rich and powerful, but they’re also wise, who have chosen me. I didn’t realize it cause I was so much into myself, but Jesus left the building and the angels hid their faces. When I got up to speak, I got up as arrogant. And, I made a fool out of myself. It was the most, one of the most awful experiences of my life. It is said that at Trinity Church in Boston, there was a young man who climbed into that big pulpit to preach with arrogance and made a fool of himself. And as this priest was coming down from that big pulpit, he met Jesus and Jesus said, if you had gone up in the way you’re now coming down, you would have come down in the way that you went up. In other words, God brings you to, at any rate, at this conference it was awful. And you know, I’d give you the details, but it was really bad. Trust me. And then I had to go up and my hotel room was on the 14th floor of this fancy hotel. And I had to ride in an elevator, filled with people before whom I had just made a fool of myself. It was awful, not a word. I mean, it was the quietest elevator I’ve ever experienced. When I got off on the 14th floor, I said, I went to my room, knelt down by the bed and said, Lord, what are you doing? If you were going to do that to me, why couldn’t I do it at home with friends? Cause they, but in front of these people, this is not the right place. And I could hear the angels laughing and Jesus saying that’s probably the best thing that ever happened to you. Now, let me give you the rest of the story. The next week I was preaching at a conference and I remembered the other conference, where I had just, it was awful. And do you know what happened? I preached one of the best sermons I’ve ever preached. And it was powerful. You know why? Because God whacked me upside the head and brought me to the end of myself. Is God doing that with you right now? Are people saying bad stuff about you? That’s awful. No, that’s good. You don’t have enough money to do what you think God called you to do. That’s awful. No, that’s good. You’re in the church and after the pandemic, people haven’t come back and you don’t even know if you’re going to make it. That’s awful. No, that’s good. You’ve gone through a really hard divorce. You lost your job. The world seems coming to an end. Everything is black and dark. That’s awful. No, no. That’s good, because God is bringing you to the end of yourself. I’m not going to do it, but we could spend a long time talking about the problem of suffering. And there’s a lot to be said about it. I wrote a book called When Your Rope Breaks, which was essentially a commentary on the book of Job. And there’s a lot to be said, but I think at the very heart of much of the bad stuff through which we go, is that God is preparing to do something. God is preparing to use you. God is bringing you to the end of yourself. This morning, I was on the phone with a former student. And he had just read something that Corrie Ten Boom, the famous Dutch evangelist who had said, and he was really excited about it. And I interrupted him and said, I had breakfast with her one time. And he said, no. And I said, yeah, I really did. She was elderly. She was close to the end of her days. And it was a wonderful experience. I mean, she glowed. And God used her. I’m a cynical preacher. And boy, every time I think of that Dutch evangelist who had gone through Holocaust. Who had been in the death camps. Every time I think of her, I become the less cynical. And, so that breakfast, that was just absolutely wonderful. And then I thought of the death camps. I thought of all she had gone through, the way she lost her sister, the pain that she felt. And, she wouldn’t have said so at the time, because she didn’t understand, but God was getting ready to use her in an unbelievable way. The Billy Graham association produced a film about her. Her books were best sellers. And when she would speak, amazing things would happen because God had brought Corrie Ten Boom to the end of herself. After the death camps and all that she had gone through, she was one time speaking for a group of African pastors, who were facing incredible persecution and they were scared and she didn’t know what to say to them. And then she came on an idea. She said, when I would go on a trip, my father would give me the money for the ticket just before I got on the train. God works that way too. You’re scared right now. And you’re going through a tough time, but trust God, he’ll give you the ticket just before you get on the train. How could she say that, because she had experienced it. She knew how God brings his people to the end of themselves. And when they realize they don’t have anything to offer, anything to give, that they’re not a gift to the world. When they realize those things, then God begins to use them in a very strong way. And so, I think that was what happened on the first missionary journey. On the first missionary journey, we’re going to talk more about it next week, but on that first missionary journey through the persecutions, through the fire, through the pain, through the darkness, God was dealing with Paul and Barnabas in an amazing and wonderful way. He was preparing them, for the praise service that was gonna take place in Antioch, when the people of God raised their hands and shouted worship to the God who had been faithful in a place that was really surprising. God’s still doing that. He’s doing it with me and I don’t like it. But he is and I love him for it. You think about that. Amen.

Matthew Porter:
Thank you Steve. Another great week, hanging out here in Acts. Love it. Remember, if you missed any episodes, swing by our digital tree house at to binge listen to your heart’s content, anytime 24 7. And of course, hope to see you here tomorrow for Friday Q&A. Hey, you ever get a gift you didn’t ask for? Hey listen, maybe you didn’t not only not ask for it. You didn’t want it, either. Well, with that in mind, let’s think about addiction. Addiction as a gift. It’s sounds cuckoo, I know. What gift can we possibly find in that kind of failure, but when our helplessness drives us to turn to God and admit our need, we experience the greatest gift of all, his presence, his kindness, his forgiveness, and his peace. My good buddy, Erik Guzman writes about this in a special mini-book called The Gift of Addiction: How God Redeems Our Pain. Get your free copy of that mini-book right now by calling us at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also request that mini-book by e-mailing Ste[email protected]. If you’re mailing us, send your request to

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