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July 14, 2022 7:00 am
Bible study together in the New Testament Matthew Mark Luke John acts chapter 9 if you would please and were going to be continuing in our study of the life of a great man. The apostle Paul asked chapter 9. They know when I was growing up I had this fantasy.
I wanted to grow up to be a Marine and all you know Marines have a saying if you prowled the Marine exactly and in using this little saying Marines are trying to convey a very simple message, a message that says hey, there is a cost to being a Marine, not everybody wants to pay it and that's fine. We just want you to know if you want to be Marine is going cost some now. Maybe we never thought about it quite in these terms which you know God is looking for a few good men and women also a few good men and women to serve as your ritual Marines. Now he doesn't actually call about the Bible. He calls them disciples and he wants you to be one of these people. He wants me to be one of these people but just like being a Marine here on earth being a spiritual Marine being a disciple is going cost you something. And that's what we want to talk about today because were to watch as God presents this very same opportunity to the apostle Paul the opportunity to volunteer as a Marine, but there's cost.
He tells Paul about it working to talk about his like them can extrapolate that talk about your life and my life. So let's look together asked chapter 9 little background. Remember that the last week we looked at one of the most pivotal event in all of human history. The conversion to Christianity of the apostle Paul and we said that the apostle Paul was a fire breathing one man wrecking machine in Jerusalem against Leon the followers of Christ there the rest of them.
He tortured them he killed them and then we got to brutalizing the church in Jerusalem.
He headed to Damascus to go do the same thing.
While he was on the way on the road to got knocked off his horse by both the lightning from heaven.
The risen Lord Jesus appeared doing lying there in the dust of the road.
Suddenly he realized oh this Jesus really is the Messiah of Israel and verse eight says Paul got up from the ground but when he opened his eyes. He couldn't see anything so they let him by the hand into Damascus, and for three days. He was blind and did not eat or drink anything. Actually, you know, there is medical corroboration of what the Bible says here about the condition of the apostle Paul in 1977 Dr. John Bullock made a speech to the American Academy of ophthalmology and I told Lauren college reported in the Columbia record and in his speech. Dr. Bullock said that he'd been treating people who been struck by lightning and he reported to findings about these folks. Number one that the lightning's electrical charge caused temporary scar tissue to form on the surface of these people's eyes, therefore producing temporary blindness and number two.
The second thing he reported is that the electrical shock from the lightning caused violent muscular contractions that took days to relax and as a result. While these muscles were all tense and spasmed. It was not unusual for people to be unable to eat or drink anything for several days daily and lasting in that the Bible's account of the condition of the apostle Paul is in keeping with the absolute best medical evidence that we have today about exactly what should've happened if somebody was struck by lightning.
So instead of the Bible being suspect they are the Bible actually is exactly right. Now let's want to see what happens to Paul verse two in Damascus, there was a disciple named Ananias.
And the Lord called him and the visions that Ananias yes Lord, he said, and the Lord told and go to the house of Judas on straight Street and asked for man from Tarsus named Saul he's praying in the vision he seen a man named Ananias come in place his hands on them and restore his sight. Now this street straight Street where Judas live where Paul was saying with the main street that ran east to west through Damascus.
In fact, it's still there today. Several out levels under the modern street, which in Arabic is called door almost became which and the Arabic means straight Street toward me and several layers below. This modern straight running like a little city with the house of Judas were Paul was God's is Ananias want to go see now Ananias protests.
He says verse 13 he says, Lord. I'm not trying to tell you how to run your business God before I have heard many reports about this guy and all the harm he is done to your Saints in Jerusalem and I've heard that. Now he's come here to Damascus to do the same thing with authority from the chief priest to arrest all of us who call on your name. Who was this guy Ananias. Willie was obviously a follower of Christ lived in the city but I think he was more than that, I think it's very probable that this man was a leader of the church community. Damascus may be the leader of the church community and Damascus and think about it now. It's entirely possible that the apostle Paul when he was headed. The town had a 10 most wanted list and in Ananias's name was right up there on the top is one of the God that Paul most wanted to arrest and drive back to Jerusalem, and now here God is telling him to go visit Paul and he says hey Lord, you got to be king.
You have got to be getting asking me to go visit Paul is like asking Tweety Bird to visit Sylvester running. This is not well. God says wait a minute Ananias is not the same man he used to be. Verse 15 this man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.
That's what I want you to go telling Ananias you tell him that I'm going to show him how much he must suffer for my name.
So Ananias went to the house and entered in placing his hands on Saul. He said brother Saul.
I'm sure that was hard for him to choke out brother Saul, the Lord, that is Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here to send me so that you may see again to be filled with the Holy Spirit and immediately something like scales, scar tissue fell from Saul's eyes and he could see again and he got up and was baptized and after taking some food.
He regained his strength. Now that's as far as you want to go on the passage for today because we have a really important question that we have to answer you all know this question, don't you yeah okay, ready, deep breath, here we go. Give it all you got now 123 wonderful lawn. So what say you know what I will see how any of this has anything to do with me. I've never been struck by lightning.
I've never gone three days without eat and just look at me so doesn't have a thing to do would me at all. Well, I think it does. Let me see if I can help you understand how many of you guys ever watch CNN headline news iconic: news no.
But occasionally I wanted one thing I noticed interesting about the format of CNN. In contrast, alike. The Oscars or Oprah or the Grammys.
We have to wait till the very end. You know the program to hear the top award of the top guest of the top song CNN headline news always puts the top story. First of you ever notice that now. Interestingly God in this way is just like CNN. Frankly, this is the only way God is like CNN but God is like CNN and this would when God has news to give. If you notice he always puts the top story. First, when you communicate.
For example, when he talked to Adam what he say first thing he said is Adam you stay away from that tree don't you eat from that tree.
I was a top story, Abraham top story was what Abraham want to leave you land, leave your home leave people come, follow me first thing God told Moses burning bush after he took his shoes off. He said Moses McCoy, the stop top story. First, you are going back to Egypt to face your printer so that the top stories on right off the top and you know right here in Paul's life God the same thing he sends Ananias to tell Paul the top glory first and what is it will. The top story was not hey Paul, you are going to write 40% of the New Testament, the top story was not hey Paul, you are going to start hundreds of churches and the thousands of people to Christ. The top story was not hey Paul, you gotta change the entire history of the civilized world fund, nor was the top story hey Paul, one day you put your picture up in churches all over Christendom with little Gail got a gold halo around your head making fun of Mr. Spock and every body known none of those were the top story was a top story.
Verse 16 and I will show him how much he must suffer for my name. That was a top story, the top story was a Paul if you want to come follow me if you want to come be a spiritual Marine and disciple of mine if you want to come embrace my will for your life going around talking to kings and talking to Gentiles talking to Israel.
You want that for your life is good, but I just want you to know some Paul is going cost cost you I'm not going to sucker you into this, Paul, and then drop the cost on your leg rests on how I do business on the failure of cost you, so you make a decision before you volunteer for this duty with your willing to pay that cost. That was the top story. Now let me stop here and say just to make sure we don't get confused at what God and Paul are talking about.
He was not Paul having eternal life. They were not talking about Paul going to heaven a little bit later in this book.
Ask chapter 16 the Philippian jailer is going to say what must I do to inherit eternal life and the same. Paul's going to say you need to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ... That's it and printed here here and you want to know what you need to have to do to have eternal life is the very same thing. You and I simply need to put our trust in what Jesus did for us on the cross to pay for our wrongdoing.
Plus nothing and you got eternal life that is novel were discussing here were discussing here, taking it to the next level were discussing here, taking it to the level of being not just a follower of Christ but a Marine, a disciple, see friends you can be a citizen of the United States and not be a Marine and you can be a citizen of heaven and not be excited and and so were not talking about what it takes to be a citizen were talk about what it takes to be a marina and to be a Marine. God says Paul which is Paul what I want you to do, but I'm just telling you is going cost some now. This piece of biblical truth, there's cost or suffering involved in being a disciple of Christ. This piece of biblical truth is about as popular in modern-day Christianity is a root canal. We don't hear this. Talked about much we read Philippians 310 where Paul says I want to know Christ and we all go me we'll I want to know the power of his resurrection. We all go out for me. I was as I wanted, he would share in his sufferings per what is that the first was going really good to we got to let many versions without quick to want to do that all but you see, you can't know him and share in the power of his resurrection and the use in a mighty way of God.
If you know Sherry to suffer and you can't do. Paul understood that shoot is a first. Ananias told is there will are you talking about me if I want to be a spiritual Marine. If I want to be a disciple of Jesus. What are you talking about.
Well let me tell you, there's three areas in which is going to cost you something, I want you to do this we want to find out what kind Marine. You are so you know, so I want you to grade yourself as we go through this on each one of these three you grade yourself one to 10 were done. I'll ask you to go ahead and grade each one of my 10 means man I'm here. I've got it.
I asked me a one means I'm on a respirator when it comes to this when I saw you. Grade yourself will see how we do number one what kind of cost is involved in being a disciple number one on their suffering that comes from putting Jesus ahead of our creature comforts. Luke chapter 9 verse 57 as they were walking down the road. A man said to Jesus, I will follow you where ever you go. Jesus said that's wonderful. The limitation, foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but I don't have any place to lay my head. You want to follow me wherever I go. Let me tell you where I'm going. I'm on my way to Jerusalem. And I'm not on my way to Jerusalem to stay at the Hilton riding air-conditioned tourist bus is a gourmet food and walked to Via Dolorosa with my Nikon taken pictures. I'm on my way to Jerusalem to be vilified, rejected, brutalized, crucified, and in the meantime I don't have any fancy clothes. Nothing fancy to eat no place like this that you want to follow me wherever I go, hey friend, you better count the cost for you say that the apostle Paul pay this cost and creature comfort. You bet he did.
You know, the apostle Paul was a Pharisee. The Pharisees were the religious elites of Israel. These were the guys who rode around in it in limos and stayed at the red in Israel and yet look at the price and creature comfort.
Paul was willing to pay to be disciple of Jesus.
Second Corinthians 11 verse 23 I have been in prison and whipped frequently.
Paul says I have been constantly on the move. I have labored and toiled and have often been without sleep. I have known hunger and thirst, and have often gone without food. I have been cold and naked, to this very hour. In fact I'm in rags and I'm homeless. Paul give up a lot of creature comfort to walk with God as a Marine, you bet he did and were not just talking money and material things here were talking leisure time and energy output sleep comfortableness of your surroundings. Emotional strain and drain what you see for spiritual Marine friends.
It's all on the altar. God can call only whatever he wants. They say will long. I'm really uncomfortable with what I hear you saying you because I think what I hear you say it is alive.
If I really want to be a disciple of Christ. I got to be poured barefoot to prove that I'm loyal to Jesus no I'm not saying that all Brendon same God loves God loves to give nice things to his people.
God loves you creature comforts to his followers that is enjoyable things. What I am saying is that there will come a time in the life of every disciple, where in order for you and I do complete our mission in order for us to get the job done. God will ask us to walk away from our creature comforts to give up our creature comforts. Maybe for a little while. Maybe for good in order to get the mission done and a real Marine says Lord, that's fine. I've been enjoying him but they do not alter the whole time anyway. Not a problem. You know, we just got to building this new facility lease phase 1 we gave $15 million as a church family out of our own pockets to get us here and friends.
The reason that that happened is there lots of people today drive an old car sitting on all furniture, where an old sutures and old golf clubs walking on old carpet and watch an old television. We had some Marines around here who said hey yeah I love to have some new stuff but of what it takes to get the mission done is for me to compromise my creature comfort. I'll do it. That's how God works. That's how God gets job because he's got Marines were willing to pay the price and creature comfort so you grade yourself, how you doing on this point. 10 man lawn asked me one wooden okay hold a great work and totaled up little while.
No prizes but we often talk about our hold number two, sufferings involved in being a disciple number two suffering that comes from putting Jesus. Second of all, ahead of your family. Jesus said in Matthew 10 verse 37 anyone who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.
Jesus said anyone who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me did Paul suffer in this regard. Sure he did. Paul was married, you know, when he came to Christ they will magically see that about you know any, wife of Paul anywhere in the Bible, will I know you don't you know why she flew the coop. That is why you so how do you know he was married because he was a Pharisee because he says in the Bible. He was a son of a Pharisee, a Pharisee himself. And we know from Jewish writings. You could not be a Pharisee. You are not allowed to be a Pharisee if you were single. You had to be married this man was married and when he gay gave can you manage when he showed up back from Damascus and announced that he now believed in Jesus. What happened.
His wife said to him, PayPal you know if you want to do this. That's up to you but I'm not letting the ladies at the synagogue told me out the mah-jongg game on Wednesday you didn't love you. You go do whatever you want to do, but I'm not going with you.
I did not sign on for this and she left Paul knew what it was like to walk away from family you think is dad who was the leading Pharisee in the city of of Tarsus you think is dad talk to him after this. I don't think so. As followers of Jesus Christ. Lots of us have had to pay this, price lots of Jewish believers. It had had to pay the discounted price.
But you know Dr. Gentile believers have to.
There's been lots of young people that are Gentile, not Jewish people who come to Christ and then they say I want to go be a missionary. I want to go in a full-time Christian work. I want to serve God and your mom and dad say to them, oh no you don't, I'll cut off your college money.
I'll cut off your car I'll cut off your living allowance do not going to go fill your life away like this and they got a decision is not the people married to husbands and wives that are not followers of Christ who that unbelieving spouse says you're not taken my children at Sunday school, you're not going to church were not reading the Bible in this house were not praying in his house. They got a decision is lots of people who when they come to Christ leave the Jehovah's Witnesses leave the church of Christ leave the Mormons and their families disown them both speak to him again that got a decision to make friends sometime saying yes to Jesus means saying no to family and a disciple accepts this cost. If it has to be. So you grade yourself are you doing on 1 to 10 for grade on yourself third and finally is suffering that comes from putting Jesus ahead of the desires of our sinful human nature. See Galatians 5 or 17 for our sinful human nature desires what is contrary to God's spirit and the two of them are in direct conflict with each other. Our human nature and the will of God for our lives are playing tug-of-war 24 seven in our lives. And whenever we decide for God whenever we decide against the desires of our human nature always cost us something. There's always some suffering involved when we decide that we're going to absorb her and working to forgive other people, instead of retaliating. It is Acosta when we decide to keep it clean sexually and obey God as a dating couple and wait for Mary Kay. This cost of that when we decide were to return good for evil, or the will we do when we lose our jobs because we refuse to compromise what God says is right and wrong for our boss pay this cost. When we decide to give up smoking or fight that self-destructive drinking habit that cost something.
When we decide to stay committed to our wife committed to husband committed to our family through some tough home situations there's cost of that when we decide were going to lose weight for God and we have to walk away from Apple pie à la mode a that is suffering involved in that Depaul do this to Paul pay this, price and terms of the sinful nature and its desires. You bet he did.
First Corinthians chapter 4 he said when we are cursed know we want to do. We want to cursed back as we would feel good, but as I will we do because God says no. We bless we were persecuted know we want to do. We want to hurt back, that's what would feel good. But no, we endure it. That's what God tells us when we are slandered man we want to slice people back but God says not to do that so we answer kindly by doing what God tells us, and by not doing what our human nature feels like doing.
We are fools for Christ, we are we are spectacle to the whole universe. People laugh at us and make fun of us and think we're not because we do it the way God tells us to focus.
There will be times if you decide to be a disciple of Jesus were your human nature's going east and God says goes West and that's going to happen a lot you can make a choice and it's not always good to be an easy choice. A few years ago I opened the mailbox. One day, and in the mailbox with a letter from the IRS now generally that's not good news is so very prayerfully open this letter and inside was a check for hundreds and hundreds of dollars and a letter explaining that the IRS had gone back and recalculated my taxes because I forgot to take advantage of a credit that I should have and they were sending me back all this money will actually I knew about the credit. I looked at it when I file the taxes.
I knew I didn't deserve it. I knew I didn't qualify was a and so I knew I wasn't entitled to this money. But I thought it would be fun to make it a teaching tool for my family. So at dinner that night we sat down and I thought will make this a family decision. All three of my boys were younger than and so I presented the whole situation and then I said let's think about and see what we ought to do with this money will all three of my boys voted to keep it. And I said no, no, no, we can't keep his money.
It's not our organist send it back to the IRS. Have you ever tried to send money back to the IRS.
This is not easy to do. I'm telling you, I called and called and call the toll-free number.
I do want to cash the check and write a personal check is afraid. I get in trouble so I want to do is just send their check back. I couldn't get anybody to tell me how to send the check back that one of the agents on the phone said keep it real easy gap, even if they catch you, you can pay it when they find out about it and keep it really in my human nature said to him, to whom Socko well that's you know if they ever Got to get his name and say you know he told me to do with Isaac I please have your Navy with no so phenomenal. I can't do that I can do that. So finally I got a supervisor agree to talk to me and I said look, I am really frustrated. All I want to do is send the money back. It's not mine. I don't deserve it. I'm not entitled to it. One year agents told me to keep it but I said I am a Christian and I won't gotta feel right about this. Just tell me how to send the money back. All I want to know phone was completely suddenly he said is this a client call and I said oh it's not a crank call.
I just want to send the money that will eventually I found out how I can tell you if you ever get a check from the IRS like they ascended back down. But you know what I gotta tell you, friend. When I went to the post office with that letter put it in the mail slot sending free money back to the IRS in light of my heritage that was suffering. I gotta tell you that day I mean and I need of counseling that day when I did that. No, not really, but but the point is, hey, there are some hard decisions have to make my human nature was screaming at me. Keep that money. It was all those are those are suffering and cost. We have to start working to pay for to follow Christ.
So grade yourself, how you doing on this one.
10 or one if you think I should of kept the money you give yourself a one okay, but how you doing on rages over totaled up just a minute you save a long wait a minute you got any good news at all and I'm thoroughly depressed now. Well, I'd I do have two pieces of good news for you and that is if you decide to be a Marine earthly good news and there's heavenly good news here is the earthly good news for a second Corinthians chapter 1 verse five for just as the sufferings of Christ are ours as Marines and abundance, so also God's comfort is ours in abundance. Friend, if you decide to be a Marine. For God, and to pay the price.
God says I'm going to comfort you on the provided joy for you this, rise above the pain and the cost that you're experiencing a supernatural joy that I'm going to give you in the middle of pay and whatever cost. I ask you to pay that you can't find a put it in a test tube away on a scale but it's real. God gives joy and comfort to people who are willing to suffer for him that is supernatural and the second piece of good news is heavenly good news. Second Corinthians chapter 4 verse 17 for our momentary sufferings are our light and momentary sufferings. Paul Wright here in this life are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes. Paul says not all what is see not on the sufferings here, but on what is unseen God rewards in heaven for what is seen is temporal don't care about that but what is unseen.
The reward God's going to give us in heaven is eternal God promises heavenly good news that every single Marine. He is going to reward extravagantly when they get to heaven, to the point that you little look back at whatever price you paid and call it light you want to look back at whatever price you paid in: momentary you could say it's not worthy to be compared with what God is going to meet you not to lose a bit asleep about the price you pay down your believe me, as the old hymn says it will be worth it all.
When we see Jesus and will so that's the good news you step up as a Marine. God's got supernatural joy for you here and reward beyond your wildest dream.
On the other. So to summarize without on what we learned today what we learned, God's looking for a few good men and women were willing to put him above themselves willing to step up in the Marines for God and was going to cost you will at some point it's going to definitely cost your creature comforts. At some point is very likely to cost your family ties and it's certainly going to cost you the desires of your sinful human nature. That's the cost and the question is are you willing to pay my willing to pay had to do on the test.
Anybody get a perfect 30 know I did neither. But you know what, hopefully, if you're Marine you got 20 somewhere if you if you scored single digits on his test. We have a problem and and the problem is not these three cost. We talked about.
We have a much deeper and more systemic problem because friends is only one reason in the world why people agree to be Marine.
Only one only one reason the world why Paul agreed to embrace the will of God for his life and go out and suffer the way he did only one reason the hundreds and hundreds of men and women since Paul is on the very same thing I'll say the reason point-blank down and dirty, it's because we love Jesus. When we love us, as it is not a reason to do this, so if you scored really low on the test. If you don't get mad at me you graded you wanting grade you you graded. You if you scored really low on the test. You know what that says that we have a systemic problem. Systemic problem is you might come in here and sing about Jesus be number one in your life but authentically is he really because folks if Jesus is really number one in our lives. We won't have a problem with this. If Jesus is really first in our life hit only thing that makes any sense, is to be Marine for God before really living for eternity. Not this world, then there's every reason in the world to exchange suffering here for reward on the other side. If you're not doing that.
I think we have to really ask ourselves a hard question.
What's really motivating my life knee or Jesus, if you need a course correction. I hope you have the courage to ask God to help you make for Jesus, thanks for talking to us today. Write down where we live because we know that Madison Avenue screams at us 24 seven. Your first your desires are first what you want is first it's all about me me me, Lord, we know that you don't scream that it us but you whisper in a very small voice.
It's all about Jesus. And so God we have decisions to make about who's really first in our lives by taking this little test today.
It helps us to be able to evaluate where we really are because people were Jesus is really first the only logical choice is to be a Marine Lord, motivate us today speak to our hearts deeply challenge us to go to the next level, not just to be citizens of heaven, but to be Marines grant more than we can put together an army of Marines here in the city so that we might rock this place for Jesus Christ change our lives because we were here today. I pray in Jesus name Amen