meeting PresidentMeeting Important People

Central Theme:  As the Lord leads, we can have influence on many people.

Call to Worship: Go everywhere in the world, and tell the Good News to everyone (Mark 16:15).  

I will tell you what he has done for me (Psalm 66:16)

Introduction—Many years ago, a young man moved down the street from us.  He was living with friends.  He was from Canada and beginning a small ministry.  My husband and I worked hard to introduce him to some important people in the area.  That young man has become pretty famous and infamous TV evangelist.  At different times in our lives we will be thrown with people who are famous.  Paul was in prison but he was meeting important people.  Have a member read Psalm 66:16.

I.    The Romans had put Paul in jail.  In addition, the Jewish leaders were still trying to kill him.  Paul didn’t want to go free because he believed that the Jews would kill him. (Acts 25:13-26:32).

A.    The Roman governor was Felix.  Paul was called before him many times.  Felix wanted to set him free; but he also knew the Jews would kill Paul.  Then Festus became governor.

B.    One day King Agrippa visited Paul.  Agrippa was a Jew, like Paul.  Paul told Agrippa about Jesus.  King Agrippa asked, “Do you think you can convince me to become a Christian?”  Paul said, “I wish everyone could be like me, except for these chains.

C.    Everyone agreed  that Paul had done nothing wrong.  They wanted to set him free.  Nevertheless, Paul said that he wanted to have a trial before Caesar, the Emperor of Rome.  As a Roman citizen he could do that.

II.    Because Paul was in prison, he was able to tell many important people about Jesus.

A.    One of the worst things in Paul’s life became a great blessing because Paul followed the Lord and obey him.

B.    Paul obeyed God and did what the Lord wanted him to do.

III.    The time for each of us to share Jesus may be during times that are hard for us.

A.    Paul said that he hoped everyone would be like him, except for the chains.

Conclusion—Can you think of a time that the Lord used you even though you were hurting?  God wants to use us all the time, not only when things are going good.

Paul arrestedA Good Man’s Faith

Central Theme:  God uses faith to accomplish his will in our lives.

You know about Jesus from Nazareth, that God gave him the Holy Spirit and power.  You know how Jesus went everywhere doing good and healing those who were ruled by the Devil, because God was with him. (Acts 10:38)

 Introduction—There are many things in our lives that we think we cannot control.  As I first typed this message on Microsoft Word, I worked on the format for almost 2 hours.  It’s an upgraded program and it does lots of things I don’t want it to do.  I seems to have no control.  But I can learn how to use the new program and then I’ll be able to make it do what I need.  There is one key to living a good life—that is faith in God.  Have a member read Acts 10:38

I.    Paul came to Jerusalem to tell the elders of the church the great things God was doing wherever the gospel was taught.   (Acts 21:15-36; 22:30-23:10).

A.    The elders were happy but they wanted Paul to do something to prove that he was not teaching Jewish people to forget about following the law.  They told Paul to take four other men and perform a seven-day cleansing ceremony with them.

B.    At the end of the seven days, some people from Asia recognized Paul and they started a riot.  It was terrible.  The Jews were trying to kill Paul.

C. The Romans came to stop the riot.  They had no idea what had happened. So the arrested Paul.  But Paul said that he did the things he were prescribed in the Bible and they were right to do them.

II.    Paul had done the right thing.  He had obeyed the people God put over him. But he STILL got in trouble.  Now he was in jail and all he did was obey.

A.    We expect to get in trouble when we do wrong.  But there have been times that we do the right thing and we still get in trouble.

B.    I was the president of an organization once.  My board made a decision I didn’t agree with but it was my job to carry it out their decision.  The right thing to do was to do what my board said.  But it was an unpopular decision and many people got angry with me.  The odd part was that my board who were the people who made the decision were the main people who got angry with me.

III.    Paul did not blame anyone.  He saw it as part of God’s plan for him.

A.    God’s plan may be different from our plan but God is always right.

1.   Think about Jesus’ life and death.

2.   People still don’t understand why God chose to have Jesus born and die the way he did.  But it was God’s plan and God was right.

Conclusion—There will be bad things that will happen in your life.  You may be asked to do something by a person who is over you.  Then you could get in trouble for doing it.  Remember God’s plan isn’t our plan and we should do what we think is right.

photo by freebibleimages.org

Each day, as a Christian, my struggle with life revolves around the question.  How do I please the Lord?  Paul met with this problem while ministering God’s grace  to the churches spread all across Asia Minor and Europe.  He spoke boldly to the Galatians and Romans.  His letters carried a fist full of truth striking hard while revealing the heart of the Gospel to a church that sought her own way.  Again and again, he admonished, “Don’t turn the simplicity of the gospel message into a hard and difficult road of works.”

For Paul, there were several non-negotiables.  The first and foremost was our bend as humans to turn everything into a Pharisaical Law.  Making the simple hard.  Regulations telling us what we eat.  What we drink.  All these things were fodder for the Adamic mind to turn into can’s and cannot’s.  Men who were schooled in the Law were thrilled to provide teachings which transformed our relationship with Christ into a set of do’s and do not’s.  Congregations who had been set free from the tyranny of the Law pleasantly sipped the soothing soup of regulations.

Paul’s anger could not be appeased by human arguments.  He was compelled to speak boldly against this gaping violation of the true nature of Christ’s Gospel.  He spoke vibrant words of strength in dealing with this hideous tendency to turn our relationship forged by God’s grace and Christ’s blood into a mere set of regulations.  The Holy Spirit working through Paul would not allow God’s merciful sacrifice to become a common book of rules changed and manipulated by mankind.

It is the genius of God that he has fashioned salvation as a process that man can never achieve through our own efforts or desires.  We must yield to Christ’s love to see the completion of our journey of faith.  As our walk with Christ progresses, we find that each day is another opportunity for surrender and turn from our own legalistic desires.  I must willingly yield my life, keeping the simplicity of the Gospel simple.  In this way, our will becomes enfolded into the grace of Christ which never disappoints or leads us into bondage.

In Paul’s letter to Philemon, I am amazed at the confrontational skills that Paul exhibits.  In case you may have forgotten, the letter Paul wrote to Philemon is perhaps his most personal letter.  He is writing to Philemon, a friend and brother about Onesimus, a friend and brother. 

Paul’s concern was how Philemon would welcome and later treat his run-away slave, Onesimus.   Philemon’s slave had run away and landed in the same Roman jail as Paul. Paul had led Onesimus to a salvation relationship with Christ. 

Onesimus had come to know that he was a sinner.  He had asked for forgiveness of his sins.  He had asked Jesus to become his Lord and the Master of his life.  He had also become a good friend of Paul’s in the process.

Paul explained that Onesimus was returning to Philemon with Paul’s full support.  Paul challenged Philemon to treat his run-away slave as a brother, not a criminal.  Paul reminded Philemon how much he owed Paul.  He said rather pointedly, “If Onesimus still owes you anything, put it on my account, because, as you know, you owe me your very life.” 

 In a day when slaves were no more than property, this was a pretty risky letter to write.  Yet, Paul was willing to show his love for both men in a deeply personal way.  In reviewing Paul’s attitude, I must re-examine my own attitude toward the people I serve.  As the program leader of Special Gathering, a ministry within the mentally challenged sub-culture, I am called to be the servant of people who are developmentally delayed. 

While I usually regard this as a great honor, there are times that I resent having to move chairs each week and adjust the sound system while I’m also leading praise and worship.  I grow weary of driving a van and picking up people who don’t seem to be able to get ready on time.  However, with Paul, I must remember that in God’s kingdom the proprietor must become the servant and a great apostle writes a letter pleading for mercy from a jail cell. 

In reality and compared to Paul, moving chairs and driving vans seems like a piece of chocolate fudge!

What are some of the things you would rather not have to do in your ministry?  What are some of the things you enjoy that give you great satisfaction?