Side observations are very important.
MAY 26, 2022
Side observations are very important. I’ll explain, on Key Life.
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.
Thank you Matthew. If you’ve been with us the last couple of weeks, we’ve spent a lot of time on one statement in the 13th chapter of Acts. And that statement is in the 13th verse and it says.
And John left them and returned to Jerusalem.
Now, we used a lot of other Scripture, a lot of it in Acts and other places to try and understand the reason John Mark left the ministry. Man, I’ll tell you. There was a day. I remember a woman who was married to a lawyer and the lawyer got converted and decided to go into the ministry. And she said to him, why in the world would you take your life from a profession that is the second most hated profession in America and join the ranks of the first most hated profession in America. Well, it’s not, you know, there was a time and I’m old enough to remember when they printed sermons from pulpits in the Sunday papers of most cities, that’s not true anymore. And we spent some time yesterday talking about what it means to be a minority. And that that sometimes is where the strength is. Well, we looked at John Mark and we spent a lot of time talking about him. And that does not mean that the rest of the chapter isn’t important. If you’ve listened to me teach much, you’ve heard me say often, before we get into the main thrust of the text, let’s go down a side road or I have a couple of side observations. And I, when I was a pastor, people would come to me and said, why don’t you leave those out and get to teaching God’s word? And I would say that is God’s word. And it’s as important as the main thrust. So listen, I just can’t fit it into a sermon outline. And when it won’t fit into a sermon outline, that doesn’t mean I ignore it. It means that I give you a side observation. So, and so let’s look at some side observations in this 13th chapter of Acts that we didn’t look at when we were looking at John Mark. Look at verse four, through 12.
So, being sent by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there sailed to Cyprus. When they arrived in Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John Mark to assist them. When they had come through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) withstood them, seeking to turn away the proconsul from the faith. But Saul, who is also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said,
Those are some good ideas, let’s talk about them. No, that’s not what Paul said. This is what Paul said.
“You son of a devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? And now behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you and you shall be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately a mist and darkness fell over the magician, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul said,
Huh. Wow. It doesn’t say that in the text, but I know that’s what he said.
Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.
Side observation is, sometimes love requires some strong words. I love the book of Psalms for a lot of reasons. And you know one of the reasons, because the book of Psalms gives me permission to be human. It really does. It gives me permission and the words to express everything that I feel. And it’s not just love and forgiveness and kindness and gentleness and the Fruit of the Spirit that gives me permission to express. He gives me permission to express anger and hurt and bitterness and fear and very strongly. That’s a good lesson that we, as Christians need to learn. And that is, we’re not always nice. Sometimes you’ve got to say truth. That’s just plain true. Now, if I had been Paul, I probably would have said it different. And that’s not a judgment on Paul. That’s a judgment on me. The moral equivalent would be a first-year music student criticizing Johann Sebastian Bach. You just don’t do that sort of thing. And so, as we look at Paul and the example that he gave, he spoke strongly and clearly. And not only that, when he said you’re going to go blind, the guy went blind and the proconsul said, wow. When was the last time we as Christians astonished anybody about anything? We don’t do that much anymore. Do we? I mean, we have been classed as the nice people, the people who always smile, who always say nice things to nice people about nice things. Sometimes we need to break out of that. Years ago, I wrote a book and the title was No More Mr. Nice Guy. It was about Christian boldness and the importance of it in Scripture and in the world, in our history. Some of our people have not been nice and God has used that in an amazing way. And so, we need some assertiveness training in the church. You say, no, we don’t. We’re supposed to always manifest the Fruit of the Spirit. Yes we are, but sometimes that needs interpretation. Sometimes love is tough love. Sometimes gentleness sounds harsh. Sometimes civility is caring enough to speak the truth in a place where it’s hard to speak the truth. And so Paul spoke truth and he spoke it clearly. And boy I’ll tell you, when the people were astonished, not only did their leaders, but the people said, there’s something going on here. I think I’ve told you about that comedy album, the 5,000 year old man who’s being interviewed. And they said, were you there when people first started believing and praying to God. And he said, oh yes, his name was, I forget, was Milton. And the interviewer said Milton. And he said, oh yeah, Milton was out in the field, teaching people he was God. And he got a lot of followers. And then one day he was out teaching and there was a cloud that came over his head and a lightning bolt came out of it and struck him dead. And the interviewer said, what happened? And he said, well, the guy standing next to him said, you know, there’s somebody bigger than Milton here. And the people saw that here. And they said, you know, there’s somebody bigger here than the proconsul. There’s somebody bigger here than what we thought. Astonishment, now go out and astonish somebody. You can do it by letting them see who you are by creating questions, by speaking truth, by being kind, by being loving, by being gentle, but never shilly shally, never backing off from what you believe to be true and speaking it in every opportunity where God gives you permission. So, you’ve got a side observation there and it’s an important side observation. Now, we’re going to see some more, a little bit later on. We’re going to see how the apostle Paul and we don’t have time today, but we’ll do it next week, where the apostle Paul goes first to the synagogue, he speaks the truth there, and a number of people react positively to it, but the leaders are not very happy with it. And so, Paul does what Jesus said to do. He shook the dust off his feet and he said, if you won’t listen, I’ll go to somebody else. And he did, and there was great fruit and great things happened, when the church moved out from its narrow little box into the world. Hey. You think about that. Amen.
And that was Steve Brown wrapping up another great week of teaching from the book of Acts. We’ll resume our tour through Acts 13 next week, don’t miss that. And of course, tomorrow is Friday Q&A with Steve and our good friend, Pete Alwinson. Always a fun and insightful time, hope you’ll join us then. Hey, speaking of Pete, he contributed a fantastic article to the latest edition of Key Life magazine. It’s called, Why is God so Unpredictable? Let’s face it. God doesn’t always do exactly what we expect him to, but there was way more to that story. Again, you’ll find that piece in the new edition of Key Life magazine, which as it happens, we would be happy to send to you, for free. Just 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 magazine. If you’d like to mail your request, just send it to
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