You reach the end of yourself? That’s bad? No, that’s good.
JUNE 22, 2022
You reach the end of yourself? That’s bad? No, that’s good. Let’s talk, on Key Life.
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Thank you Matthew. We’re looking at the last part of the 14th chapter of the book of Acts, which was the landing of the plane of the first missionary journey in the history of the church. And we’ve seen that a lot of things went wrong on that first missionary journey. One third of the people who were involved, there were only three of them. John Mark fled and went home. So, it was only two thirds of the people who had been sent. We saw the persecution. In fact, we saw in this 14th chapter of Acts that they stoned Paul and they took him outside the city, thinking he was a corpse. And he got up and went back into the city to preach the gospel. And so, there’s a lot of failure in all of this. And we’re looking at some principles we can draw when we understand trouble, trouble, everywhere, because there was a lot of trouble in this first missionary journey. When they thought Paul was dead after they stoned him, I remembered my mentor Fred Smith. Years ago he almost died. In fact, I called the whole family and they were standing by his death bed waiting for him to go to heaven. And his pastor was there. And, all of a sudden to everybody’s surprise, he woke up, he looked at the pastor and said, don’t take me off the rolls yet. Then he looked at his daughter and he said, I’m hungry. Please feed me. Well, the apostle Paul had that same experience at Lystra, they thought he was dead, but he wasn’t. And dead will signify failure on a missionary journey. But at any rate, they’ve come back and we’re looking at some things that are important about the trouble they went through and the way God grew flowers in the mud on the first missionary journey. If you were listening yesterday, we’re going to talk more about it today. One of the things we saw is that through the trouble that they had gone through, they were allowed to see that their resources were not nearly adequate for the task to which they had been called. And that’s Acts 14:23 and it’s throughout that entire 14th chapter. As a matter of fact, Paul and Barnabas should have given up. As a matter of fact, the first missionary journey should have come to a crashing burn. As a matter of fact, we shouldn’t be reading the 15th chapter of Acts because it should have stopped on that first missionary journey. And yet the weaker they got, the more powerful they were. Let me say that again, because it’s important. The weaker they got, the more powerful they became. That’s still true, by the way. It’s taught throughout Scripture, Jesus was clear about it. He said the least among you shall be the greatest. He talked about how the Gentiles act, braggadocio, really proud and self righteous. And he said it shall not be so among you, your humility should shine and you are humble because you don’t have anything to be proud of. And you find that also in the apostle Paul, II Corinthians. Paul said.
That God’s power is made perfect in weakness.
He didn’t make that up. Paul, didn’t say that’s a cool thing to say. I’m going to make a seminar out of it. Paul had experienced that in spades, in the first missionary journey. And so, they found that everything was inadequate. A mother once said to me, and she was very worried. She said, Steve, would you pray for my son? And by the look on her face, I figured something really bad had happened. The son was in an accident and maybe had gotten a diagnosis that was awful. Maybe had lost his job. Maybe he was going through a divorce. Maybe he was thinking about leaving the faith. And I said, I will pray for your son. Could you tell me about his situation? It must be pretty bad. And she said, oh no, it’s perfect. And that’s dangerous. He’s got a great job and making a lot of money and that’s not good. He’s got a marriage that doesn’t have any problems and that’s not good. Everything is fine. His children are perfect. And that scares the spit out of me. I was relieved. But I was also impressed with that mother’s wisdom. When God uses somebody, he brings them to the end of himself and he is still doing that all the time with his people. A lot of what we’re going through as a church in America is that, we’ve lost our power and our money and our leverage. That’s bad. No, that’s good. And one of the reasons I believe we’re looking at another great awakening because God brings people and institutions, Christian institutions to the end of themselves. And when they get there, then he moves and he begins to do something. Now, that’s not the subject, but there are a lot of reasons for that. And one is that when a turtle sits on a gate post, you know for sure that he didn’t get there by himself. And that’s true with us. Is God bringing you to the end of yourself? Praise him, get out of the way. See what he does. You think about that. Amen.
And that was Steve Brown, continuing to wind down our study of Acts chapter 14. Today, exploring the idea that the weaker those first missionaries got, the more powerful they were. I don’t know about you, but I want it in on that. Well, recently on Steve Brown Etc, we spoke with author Jessica Thompson about her new devotional. In that devotional, Jessica poses this question, what if the Fruit of the Spirit isn’t just about us, what if it’s also the way God loves us? Take a listen to part of that conversation. Then I’ll be back to tell you about a special free offer.
I haven’t thought it as the way God loves us, a reflection. It is the Fruit of the Holy Spirit after all. I never thought of it as a reflection of the character of God. Is that something you’ve just always known and finally decided to tell us, or you, is this something that you’ve discovered fairly recently?
Jessica Thompson: I don’t know how this thought came to me. You guys. And I know that sounds like, Ooh, weird. I was talking to the acquisitions editor at Moody. And she was asking me what I wanted to write about. And she’s just like, write about what you’re passionate about. And she’s like, I know you’re passionate about talking about how God loves us. And I kid you not, the other day, I messaged her and I was like, whose idea was it, that the Fruit of the Spirit reflected God’s character. She’s like, I don’t think it was mine. I’m like, I don’t think it was mine. So, all that to say, I’m going to say the Holy Spirit just brought that in my head. I have no idea how that thought came to exist. All of a sudden I’m writing about it. I could say that’s the Holy Spirit, or I could blame it on the last few years of COVID and not having any idea about anything that’s going on. But I feel like since I’m on a Christian showish, it’s a better look to say that the Holy Spirit just worked this thought. And then I was writing about it. I really don’t know how this thought came to be. So, the history of the church dealing with this topic has gone wrong by what we said at kind of the beginning, right? Like making this a list of things that we have to do in order for God to love us. Constantly taking our temperature on how we’re doing on all these different things. Was I joyful today? Was I kind, I mean, no, no. You know, was I loving? Not really. And then the minute we are those things, we’re like, yeah, I was all those things and why can’t anybody else be them? And then we’ve blown it with the Fruit of the Spirit again. So, yeah, I think typically what the church has done has changed this into, you know, the fruit of trying harder instead of the Fruit of the Spirit. And honestly, that was my hope for this book. I think we’ve come through a couple of years of not feeling like we can breathe. And literally having a mask on. So, I think we’ve come through a couple years where it feels like everywhere we turn is bad news, everywhere we turn is something else we need to figure out and do the right way or have the right opinion on. And my hope was really that this would be a gentle place. This book would be a gentle place. I’ve talked to several friends, who’ve left the church in the last two or three years, who somehow miraculously decided to pick this book up. And every single one of the friends that I’ve talked to have said to me, this is the first book I’ve read that has had anything to do with Christianity in the last few years that I felt okay reading, that I felt like that there was a tender spot for me to be in. And so, in my own life, I’ve had a very, very difficult last few years. And so, I needed to be in a spot, I needed to write about, I needed to remind myself of how forgiving and gentle and patient he is with me. And just to have this picture of God. He hides me in the shadow of his wing. He’s just got me close. And it’s soft and it’s warm and he’s keeping me and hiding me. And so, but to think about that this is how he is with me. And it’s not, he’s not patient in a begrudging. He revels in his patience towards us. He loves because all these verses talk about how he is long suffering and then they’re almost always attached to, and his unfailing love. He loves to display that to us. He loves to display his patience and his love to us. And so, to think about him in that way has changed things for me too.
Great. Right. But truly you need to hear that whole conversation. So, we put it on a CD and we would be happy to mail it to you for free. Just let us know where to send it. Call us right now at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also request the CD by e-mailing [email protected] If you’re mailing us, send your request to
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