2014.07.13 Acts 11: 18- 26
Hang on to Jesus
Our study takes us this morning to the last part of Acts chapter 11…... We have been studying in Chapter 10 and 11 for a few weeks……..
We looked closely at the first gentile converts….. In Acts 1: 8….. Jesus said, "After the Spirit of God has come upon you, you shall be witnesses, My witnesses, and you shall be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost part of the earth.
And the plan of the evangelization of man began at Jerusalem and then it spread out from there…… The last great step in the spread of evangelism…… was proclaiming the gospel to the heathen…… As we come to Chapter 11…… the gospel has already been taken to the Jews in Jerusalem and Judea….. It has been given to the Samaritans….. and in Chapter 10 it was proclaimed to the first group of Gentiles……. the house of Cornelius…… Peter was the one that God used to proclaim the GOOD NEWS…… And as you remember….. Cornelius was wonderfully saved……
Let´s pickup the text of Acts 11…. at verse18….
Acts 11: 18-26 NKJV
18 When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”
19 Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only. 20 But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.
22 Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. 23 When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. 24 For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.
25 Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. 26 And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
V18…. Here is the long promised Miracle of Salvation for the heathen….. What a very important event in the life of the church…. It took a while for the believing Jews to accept it….. But finally…. they see the Grace of God at work and they rejoice…… We talked at length about that last week…. If you were not here you can listen on line at CCWiesbaden…..
V20….. A very famous Pastor said that these men of Cyprus and Cyrene were the Jesus People of the 1st century….. Although they were relatively new believers…. They were on fire for Jesus….. The proclaimed the Good News to everyone who was willing to listen even the heathen…. They didn´t know that it was pointless to talk to the Heathen…. I´m afraid that sometimes we think that it is pointless to talk to people today…. It´s pointless to talk to Muslims… Right? No….. The Spirit of God is still at work…… That´s the way it was with these 1st century Jesus People…. We went anywhere and talked to anyone who would listen….. So did they…. And heathen began to get saved in huge numbers….
V21…a great number believed…. There was a time when about 100 people were getting saved every day on the streets of San Antonio Texas…. Just like in Acts…. People sold land and house and gave the money to the work of the ministry…. What exciting times….
V22… They sent Barnabus to encourage and teach them….. let´s take another look at verse 23….
Acts 11: 23 NIV NeÜ
23 When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.
23 Der war sehr glücklich, als er sah, was durch die Gnade Gottes entstanden war. Er machte allen Mut, dem Herrn mit ganzem Herzen treu zu bleiben.
Barnabas knew that the Christian life is difficult sometimes…. After all…. one reason that the Good News was being proclaimed in the world is the persecution…. Today….. Many of our brothers and sisters suffering for the sake of the Gospel….. They live under the constant threat of death! Their churches are being burned…. They are not free to even speak about Jesus…. The Christian life is not for weaklings….
A new believer the other day said…. I just became a Christian a week ago…. My whole life has been worse than ever...... I'm just going to forget this Christian stuff…. I'm going back the way I was….. I know that some of you may be feeling very disappointed at the way God is running their lives….. Maybe you are struggling today…… Don´t give up! Hold on to the Lord Jesus…...
Easier said than done… Let me explain what's happening to some of you…. Sometimes we come all the way to Christ and then we get discouraged….. We are tossed around by our emotions….. We have good days…. Wonderful times in the word and prayer….. We say…. Oh how awesome is my life in Christ…….
Then we have bad days and the world…. At least our world is falling apart…..
Many of us have grown up Christians…. But unfortunately what we have learned to expect from God…. is not what the Bible teaches…… We need to understand what we can expect as we live our Christian lives….. We to know what the Bible tells us about our Christian lives…. There is a real misconception about what God has and has not promised…. Many of us end up feeling like God owes us something….. We end up expecting things from the LORD that are not at all a part of what God has promised…. Because he owes us…. We have given up everything for Him…… We are Good boys and girls…… We have done our part…… Now we expect God to do His part…… When we don´t get what we think we deserve…. We are depressed and Disappointed with the Lord…. Most of us are trusting some un Godly form of the Prosperity Gospel…. We think that by good deeds and much faith we can command God to give us what we want….. We treat God as our servant… we expect Him to give us what we want….. It´s crazy…. That´s nuts…. We do not even Know what is best for us any way…. I thank God that on countless occasions in my Life….. That God did not give me what I wanted….. I´m 61 now….. When I was young I was often in love…… I cannot tell you how many times I begged God to give me a certain girl for my wife….. Sometimes now when I look at photo’s on Facebook I see a current photo of an old girlfriend….. Emphasis here on Old….. I say thank you Lord for not answering my prayers about her…. God is not our servant….. We belong to Him we are His servants….. Bought with a price….
The Bible teaches that when we repent of our sins and cry out to God for mercy… We discover that God is enough for us…. We see in the Scriptures that God helped and sustained His people over and over again…. We should see as we read the 11th chapter of Hebrews….. That God ´s true servants Glorified Him in lives well lived….. And in suffering for the sake of the Gospel…. They testified to God´s Goodness in the middle of hard times….. I know three pastor who are suffering from cancer right now…. They stand up and testify to God´s Goodness in their suffering….. That is more powerful than anything that I can think of…. God in His wisdom allows sickness and other very difficult days into our lives for his own sovereign purposes….
We Don´t need a perfect life or the perfect job…. We don´t need the perfect wife…. We know that our sins are forgiven…. We are free from guilt and free to serve the Lord Jesus with our whole hearts….…
We are sad and disappointed….. Disaster strikes…. We feel alone and abandoned by God because our life is not perfect….. We lose someone close to us…. We get a phone call from our doctor….. I´m sorry…. You have cancer…..
In an instant we are devastated….. God seems so far way…… But the Word of God stands true….. God always keeps His promises…..
I´m reminded of what Jesus said in Luke 18…. Look at verse 1…
Luke 18: 1 NKJV Sch 2000
1 Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart,
1 Er sagte ihnen aber auch ein Gleichnis, um ihnen zu zeigen, daß es nötig ist, allezeit zu beten und nicht nachlässig zu werden;
This point is what Jesus goes on to illustrate in these verses… This is a great chapter for you to read when you are feeling disappointed with your life…. I think that most of us have times of feeling that the heavens are closed off to our prayers…. Our emotions are way down in a pit of despair…. We feel that God does not hear us and will not answer us….. In Luke 18…. Jesus reminds His hearers and us….. That our great God is not a man…. The first thing he shows them is that even if he was a wicked judge
He would hear us…. Jesus says…. Don´t give up… Don´t lose heart… You heavenly Father knows what you need…. Hang on….
Jesus goes on to remind us again about God´s unfailing love…… We see the Grace of God in these parables… We see God grace and mercy to the worst and the least….. Tax collectors…. Small children…. The rich young ruler… The chapter ends with the Instant Miraculous healing of a blind man….. look at verse 42….Luke 18… v43…
Luke 18: 43 NKJV Sch 2000
43 And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.
43 Und sogleich wurde er sehend und folgte ihm nach und pries Gott; und das ganze Volk, das dies sah, lobte Gott.
Who knows how many times this man cried out to God for healing…… We do not know how long he was blind….. But what we do know is that the people believed that he was cursed by God…. That´s why the scribes and Pharisees would ask Jesus who sinned…. Listen to me carefully….. Sometimes bad things happen even to believers… God always has a purpose in them….. The purpose is always the same…. Our Good and God´s glory…. Here in this instance…. We witness a display of the Awesome Power of God…..
God is praised and Glorified even in this difficult circumstance… This is very important….. God´s ways and Plans are far above our ability to understand…… In Luke 18…v.1… Jesus is telling us to Pray and trust Him… He is telling us to not lose hope….
I am reminded of the Fiery Furnace event in the book of Daniel….
Daniel 3: 17,18 NKJV NeÜ
17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”
17 Wenn unser Gott, dem wir dienen, uns retten will, dann wird er uns aus dem glühenden Ofen und aus deiner Gewalt retten.
18 Und wenn nicht, so sollst du, König, dennoch wissen, dass wir deinen Göttern nicht dienen und dein goldenes Bild nicht anbeten werden."
I think that we all know this story….. Jesus was with them in the fiery Furnace…. Their faith and firm hold on God was used by God as a powerful testimony to H
Nebuchadnezzar and all who witnessed their trust in the LORD…… When we go through hard times…. We need to remember people are watching us….. They need to see that we are hanging on to the Jesus…. Even in the hard times…..
and this is what we read in the book of Hebrews…..
Hebrews 10: 19- 25 NLT
19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
This passage is full of encouragement…. If you read the whole chapter … and you should….. We see that Jesus has paid in full for our sins….
V12…. He is our High Priest…
V14… He is making us Holy…
V16…. God Himself promised to write His laws on our hearts…
V17…. I will never again remember their sins…
V 19 we can come to the Lord with a Holy Boldness..
V20 By His death…. Jesus opened a new and life giving way into the Holy Place…
Now comes the exhortation and encouragement….
v22…. Draw near to Him…
V23… Hold ON!.... He says here…… "Hold on to the Lord with all your strength."
V24…. Encourage each other!
V25…. Fellowship with each other!... God put us into the community of the body of Christ…. So that we could help and pray for each other….. Hold each other up in the hard times… Stay in fellowship and exhort each other….
You may say….. I don't know if I can make it….
Often the problem is that we are right on the edge between loving and serving the Lord with our whole heart….. And loving the World….. Many of us are still Flirting with the world…… Come on make your salvation real…… Hold on to Jesus… Stay in deep fellowship with Him…. Cling to the Lord Jesus…..
Stay close to Jesus…..
Paul says….. "Hold on to the Lord with all your strength."
Paul had this word of exhortation and encouragement for Titus…. We will close with theses verses….
Titus 2:11-14 NKJV
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.