Make God laugh. Tell him your plans.
DECEMBER 5, 2022
Make God laugh. Telling him your plan. Let’s talk about it, 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’re 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 I always say and mean, I hope your pastor’s sermon was as good as my pastor’s sermon. If you’re just joining us, we’re studying the book of Acts and we started just after the Noahadic flood. And we hope to finish this study in the book of Acts, before Jesus returns. At any rate, we’re taking our time and we’re up to the 18th chapter of Acts. And if you have a Bible, you might want to open it. We’re going to talk about God’s mysterious ways. In other words, if you want to make God laugh, it’s been said often and it’s true, then tell him you’re your plans. Let’s pray and then we’ll study. Father, we come into your presence, recognizing that you are God and that you are the sovereign Creator, Ruler, and Sustainer of everything. Father, you are big and we’re small. You’re infinite and we’re finite. You are God and we’re not. Remind us that, that is true, and remind us that you are our Father. You’re big, but you’re good. You’re sovereign, but you’re kind. You are in charge of everything, but you are gracious and we praise you. Father, you know everyone who is listening to this broadcast and you know the hard places and the soft places, and we thank you that you’re in charge of both. And that you are sufficient for every need and present in every laughter. Father, as always we pray for the one who 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. If you have your Bible, I’m going to start reading at the 12th verse of the 18th chapter of Acts, and I’m going to read down to the 17th verse and then skip down to the 21st verse. Here’s what Luke wrote.
After this, Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria.
Now you will remember that Paul went from Athens to Corinth and we spent considerable time comparing the two. And now after spending all of this time at one of the most successful ministries Paul ever encountered in his ministry and mission.
After this, Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brothers and sailed for Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he cut his hair, for, he had a vow. And they came to Ephesus, and he left them there, but he himself went into the synagogue and argued with the Jews. When they asked him to stay for a longer period, he declined. But on taking leave of them he said, “I will return to you if God wills,” and he set sail for Ephesus.
Now, we have seen how God uses in his mysterious ways, in this particular chapter, a trial, a lie, and a beating. And then we started looking at some observations about the God we worship that we sometimes forget. And if you were listening last week, the first observation was this, people who think they have God figured are either liars or fools or both. God doesn’t fit into our little molds. You would think that Paul would, having landed in Corinth, decided to stay, build a church manse and serve a long pastorate in that particular city, but he didn’t because that’s not what God had planned for him. I’ve said it on occasion and I’ll say it again and have already said it once on this broadcast. If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. I look back over my life and I’m old and I’m not at any place I thought I would be 20 years ago. I’m not as good as I thought I would be. I’m not serving in the place I thought I would serve. I’m not teaching in the institutions where I thought I would teach. I’m not a pastor when I thought I would still be a pastor. And I have not gone down a single road that I’ve planned, but I’ve gone down God’s road. We do not have God figured, and we talked about that last week. A.J. Gordon said this.
The mystery of godliness is God humbling himself to become a man. The mystery of iniquity is man’s exalting himself to become God.
And Isaiah 55:8 is a text you ought to memorize.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts. Neither are your ways, my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
I love the Book of Job and I’ve spent months teaching the Book of Job. And, it’s not a book of answers about why bad things happen to good people. It is a book of questions and they’re questions that we all ask. In the 38th chapter of Job, Job has some questions for God, and he says, God, I’m going to question you and you’re going to answer. And then God says, and he always says this, you’ve got it backwards. I’ll ask the questions and you give the answers. And then starting at the 30th chapter of Job, some of the most awesome, mind blowing, undecipherable questions are asked by God of Job at the end of which Job says, and this is in the original Hebrew, shut my mouth. I spoke before I thought, Gladstone said.
The task of statesmanship is to discover where God is going in the next 50 years and then to follow him.
And so, the first observation is a good one. Nobody has God in their back pocket. And if you think you do, and that’s the danger of those of us who are Orthodox in our Christian faith, who believe the Bible, who understand the eternal verities of the Christian faith. We’re right about those, but we’re wrong so often in how they are applied today. My friend Tony Campolo, and by the way, if you think of it, pray for him, he’s had a major stroke and he’s going through some pretty hard struggles. And I talk to him every couple of weeks. We don’t agree on anything but Jesus, but we love each other. But Tony throughout his life has gotten up every morning and he said.
Good morning Lord, what kind of neat stuff do you have prepared for me today? And Tony says, I get up in the morning and say, good Lord, it’s morning.
Tony’s right and I’m wrong. God has his plans and it’s best to be flexible because you don’t know what those plans are and how they will apply to you. Then there’s another observation that you can draw from those verses I read to you, and it’s this. Because of the sovereignty of God, things are not always what they seem. A number of years ago, somebody wrote a book that was titled Surprised by God. I don’t remember a lot about that book, but I love the title. God is a God of surprised, he is amazing, and if you haven’t been surprised by him fairly recently, you’re probably worshiping an idol. Adam and Eve thought they would become like God, and they were surprised. Who would’ve thought that out of all of the great nations of the world, God would pick a group of nomads living in tents, living in the middle of the desert, but he did. And he said, I will be your God and you will be my people. That was a surprise. Romans 9:14 through 15.
What shall we say then?
And he’s talking about a surprising doctrine of election.
Is there injustice on God’s part, by no means?
For he says to Moses.
I will have mercy on whom I have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.
Try to remember that when you pray next time and tell him that you are available. You think about that. Amen.
Thanks Steve. That was Steve Brown teaching us from Acts chapter 18 specifically verses 12 through 17. And then touching on verse 21. We also touched on Isaiah 55:8, Job 38 and Romans 9:14 and 15. Good stuff, right? And we’ll continue our exploration of Acts tomorrow, sure hope you will join us then. Say, what’s the best present you ever received? I remember the morning I got a bike. I mean, just Wow. That is a big deal when you’re a kid. Well, we have a Christmas gift for you and it’s probably not going to be the best gift you ever got, but I could just about guarantee it won’t be the worst either. It’s a free booklet called Christmas Meditations. And it’s a newly reprinted collection of Steve’s writings on the real meaning of Christmas, the Incarnation of God in Christ. The booklet also includes Scripture and devotional questions to help you focus and reflect on the impact of Christ coming. Get it 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 booklet. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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