The Christian faith and happy circumstances don’t always dance together.
AUGUST 14, 2023
The Christian faith and happy circumstances don’t always dance together. Let’s talk, on Key Life.
Key Life is all about God’s radical grace. Grace that has dirt under its fingernails and laugh lines on it’s 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 always, I hope your pastor’s sermon was as good as my pastor’s sermon. If you have your Bible, open to the Book of Acts. If you’re just joining us, we’re beginning to land the plane on this particular book after months and months of study. The 21st chapter of Acts, beginning at the 17th verse through the 13th verse of the 23rd chapter of Acts is quite long. Now, I’m going to review it for you. I’m not going to read it all to you, but we’ll be referring to it and what it teaches as we go along. Before we do that, let’s pray and then we’ll study. Father, we come into your presence surprised that we’re here. We listened to the lies. They told us if we were good enough and pure enough and obedient enough and religious enough, that you would accept us, or you would at least think about it. And we couldn’t pull it off, so we started to leave when you came and got us and brought us into the throne room of the universe, into your presence. And we will be eternally grateful. Father, we praise you and we worship you. We praise you because you have been so good to us. And good all the time. We worship you because you are worthy of our worship. And Father, we bring the dark places to you because we don’t know where else to go. Father, as we go through this study in the Book of Acts, we pray for the one who teaches, that you would forgive him his sins because they are many, we would see Jesus and him only. And we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen. Now, the story, and I related some of it to you last week, was in Acts 21:17 through the 23rd verse and the 11th chapter. After Paul had told his story, he went to Jerusalem, he was reporting home to headquarters, he was telling them about what God was doing, and it was truly amazing, and he fully expected and should have expected a pat on the back, some praise, some praise songs, and a worship service before he went out to serve Jesus again. But that’s not what happened. In fact, it never happened the way you think it would happen with the apostle Paul. After Paul told his story to the elders in Jerusalem, the elders said, Paul, that’s wonderful, but we have a problem here, let me tell you about it. Somehow a rumor has gotten started and that was the beginning. Now, if you want to do something about that rumor, they said, you can help out four men who have made a vow to God and can’t afford to pay for that vow. So, Paul shaved his head and went to the temple thinking that everyone would see how wonderful he was and thank him for his efforts and accept him. The opposite happened. It always does with Paul. They thought that he had taken one of the Ephesian men into the temple who was a Gentile. A riot ensued and Paul was almost killed. A Roman tribune had to intervene and took him to the barracks to save his hide. The tribune thought that Paul was an insurrectionist. Paul wanted to strengthen and straighten out the whole mess. And when he mentioned the word Gentile, they turned on him again. Again, the tribune intervened, and Paul was arrested and was about to be beaten when Paul mentioned the fact that he was a Roman citizen, a big deal. The tribune tried Paul before the Sanhedrin, that ended in another fight, and Paul was again arrested. Now, what we’re looking at as we look at this particular part of the Book of Acts is some things that are quite clear in terms of principles that every Christian ought to know. And the first one we mentioned last week, and I’m going to talk more about today, is that the Christian faith and happy circumstances do not always dance together and are sometimes not synonymous. And I don’t care who told you different, this is the truth, Acts 14:22.
But Paul went to the churches, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying that
Here it comes.
through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.
John 15:18 through 19. It came from the man himself, Jesus.
“If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you’re not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
In the 16th chapter of John, the 33rd verse.
In this world you will have tribulation.
I Peter 4:12.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you as though something strange were happening to you.
And so, at the beginning, when bad things happen, and they do. And by the way, I don’t want to focus on the bad things to the exclusion of the good things. There are milkshakes. There are friends. There are times when we’re healed. There are times when things are copacetic. There are times when there is great joy and happiness. But mixed in with that, and the Bible is very clear about that, there are bad things, and God is involved even with the bad things. I may have told you, but a number of years ago when I was a young pastor and I didn’t know Jesus very well. I graduated from a graduate school and thought I was an intellectual and found out I didn’t know nothing. And people weren’t being helped and touched. And because some people cared enough, people who really were intellectuals, I began to see the reality of what God was doing. But I remember a lady in our church who had died while she was pregnant because they found out, and they didn’t know that she had diabetes and it was bad. And she went into a coma and died. Now, she had grown up in a very prominent church in Boston, and they asked me to participate in the funeral. And I did. I said a prayer and did what one is supposed to, but I remember the rector of that church standing before the congregation and saying, I will not say that my God had anything to do with Sarah’s death. Now, I didn’t know much in those days, but I remember sitting in the front pew and thinking, that’s insane. If God doesn’t have anything to do with this death, then everything is meaningless. And our lives are meaningless. That was wise, far beyond where I should have been at that time. And one of the small points of the beginning of my walk back to the Christian faith and its realities and its truth. It took the death of a woman in my church that I loved. You say, well, that doesn’t seem right. Yeah, it is. If you study the Scripture, if you look at Scripture, if you listen to what Jesus had to say, don’t expect a rose garden. Expect some roses occasionally, but don’t expect a rose garden. Listen to what Peter said. Don’t be surprised as if something weird was happening to you, it’s not. Now, when I get on this broadcast and I get thousands of letters from people who tell me what they’re going through, I am quite aware that a lot of you are going through tough times. Has to do with your job, has to do with your family, has to do with your kids, has to do with your friends, has to do with your church, has to do with your neighborhood. Those kinds of things are the marks of what it means to live in a fallen world. But Jesus always says, if you stand, I’ll stand with you. I’ll meet you in the dark place. I won’t leave you alone. I will come to you and comfort you. And listen to me. That’s true. You can hang your hat on that. You think about that. Amen.
Thanks Steve. That was Steve Brown continuing our tour through Acts, specifically delving into all the ups and downs found in Acts 21 through 23. Truly, as Steve beautifully put it, the Christian faith and happy circumstances don’t always dance together. But we are not without hope and we will continue to explore that fuller story tomorrow. Hope you’ll join us. So, let me ask you something. Where do you draw the line on grace? And how do you know if you’ve gone too far? Well, Steve addresses those questions in his book, Three Free Sins, but he also spoke to them in a talk on his Three Free Sins Book Tour. We would love to send you that full talk on CD, 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 CD. Or to mail your request go to keylife.org/contact to find our mailing addresses. Just ask for your free copy of the Three Free Sins CD. And finally, if you value the work of Key Life, would you support that work through your giving? You can charge a gift on your credit card or include a gift in your envelope. Or just pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950. And as always, if you can’t give, we understand. But if you would, please do pray for us, okay? It really does help. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. Both of those organizations assure financial accountability. And as always, Key Life is a listener supported production of Key Life Network.