by | Sep 17, 2023 | Podcast, Sermons

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Preacher: Pastor Chuck Holiday

Scripture: Acts 23:12-35

God’s servant on God’s mission is unstoppable. There will be significant opposition but God has promised his provision and protection until He takes us home.


Morning it’s great to see y’all again uh just uh you’re a delightful crowd

sometimes more than others but you’re always at your best on Sunday morning and it’s just uh love to see your smiling faces you know when when Paul got converted on his road to Damascus Jesus personally met with Paul made two things very clear to him uh if you let me just indulge you indulge me for a minute and just go back and read that acts chapter 9 and uh this will sound familiar to your ears but you know Jesus oriented his life from the very beginning he said this this man is My Chosen instrument to carry my name before Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel that’s that’s the purpose of his life and he says and I will show him how much he must suffer for my name so you know Jesus made these two things very very clear Paul he you have a really big reason to live there is an Unstoppable purpose that I’m going to fulfill through your life but every day is not going to be an easy day have a lot of hard day

feeling that purpose

Jesus reminded Paul of that a number of times in in our last weeks at the last verse of last week’s lesson I remember David reminded us again when Paul’s in prison and he’s probably wondering okay how’s this going to work out and Jesus came to him again and said take courage as you have testified about me in Jerusalem you must also testify about me and wrong so Jesus made it very clear crystal clear Paul this isn’t the end yet and um and and now we have this beautiful story of Deliverance you know this is one of those uh just remarkable encouraging stories for for people who have surrendered their lives to God’s purpose and calling on them because life is hard and we do run into roadblocks that make us doubt whether we’re on the right track you know we don’t all have is clear marching orders as the Apostle Paul had but we all do have a purpose do you believe that that God knows your name he knows your destiny he’s planned the purpose of your life and his kingdom and when you come to Christ and they’re converted and believe easier Lord and Savior the ruler of the universe it’s not just hang on now and just you know twiddle your thumbs and do the best you can to get through life until Heaven comes no it’s he leaves us here for a purpose for a reason and and every one of us specific to each of us now um as I said sometimes the directions are not as clearly spelled out for us in fact I don’t they ever are but that doesn’t mean there’s not a purpose doesn’t mean that that it’s not something that you can find

now here’s the cool thing about living with a purpose all the things that we are afraid of

and there’s a lot of them aren’t there running out of money illness relational abandonment

death itself all the things that so to speak eat our lunch and and just leave us with anxiety and struggle

what if they were all part of a plan that’s so big and so good and so important that it could it could actually be okay

it could actually be okay if it meant something if it was a step toward this destiny that God has for you I mean wouldn’t that change

I mean we live in a day where you know we we can’t avoid when’s the next pandemic coming what’s going to happen to the to my retirement funds some of us are dealing with cognitive decline what basket do you put that in how do you make make that okay

you know it’s kind of a sweet thing my mom died this last spring and she was a and honestly the last year of her life I think she was sweeter and kinder than I’d ever known her to be in a hundred years I heard why I only know her first 70 but heard stories

as she lost control you know because she

uh active engaged woman but as she lost control because of her her cognitive decline she actually became Kinder and sweeter and softer and more engaging in drawing you know can God even use cognitive decline for a higher purpose for his glory and and you know yes he can there is no tragedy that can come upon you that cannot fall under a higher purpose of good that God is working in your life and in this world my friends Paul knew that he was living with a purpose that was worth dying for but also with the knowledge that until he had fulfilled his purpose death could not take him he really had a sense of being Unstoppable invincible until he had finished his mission

wouldn’t it be cool to live that way with with that kind of Courage with that kind of abandonment not carelessly I mean but intentionally

now the story is a cool story you know imagine having 40 people that hate you so much that they really are willing to die of starvation if they’re not able to kill you I mean that’s a lot of hate that’s that’s wow imagine what what Paul must have felt when he heard heard that story when his nephew came and said hey Paul I don’t know how to break this down man but this is what I heard

you know well that’s just gripping and as threatening as any diagnosis you’ve ever heard in a doctor’s office isn’t it I mean it feels pretty hopeless

and it’s it’s also emotionally you know just I mean these others so as we’ve said I mean these These are the leaders in the Jewish Church which Paul was a part of he was raised with these guys he yeah he loved them and now they hated him that’s tough but here they are 40 people have taken a vow we are not going to eat or drink until we have killed Paul and the Jewish leaders wouldn’t do it themselves but they well um you know I guess Paul made his own bed and I guess we they signed off on it so here we go but look at the marvelous way God delivers them I mean not only not only you know is he protected but like it’s a show of force it’s nine o’clock at night you know and so uh the order goes out from the commander you know to send 200 soldiers 70 Horsemen and 200 spearmen to his squirt ball to caesarea which is about 80 miles away and uh so that in the middle of the night they March all night start at nine o’clock at night it says Surya I mean to antipuss which is about 30 miles Northwest and uh and then there the uh they send them on with the horsemen and the rest of the way and the the rest of the soldiers and the spearmen turn around and come home um you know when when they’re in the clear and uh it’s just it’s just a beautiful story and and Paul gets an all-expensive expenses paid trip to Rome he didn’t have to plan this missionary journey this is his last missionary journey and he didn’t have to plan this one he didn’t have to figure out how What boat am I going to take and how am I going to get across the mountains here and no does this God said nope I’m going to take care of this one for you um the story reminds me of the story of Elisha in the Old Testament you know when he wakes up in the morning and and his servant says Hey the the Army’s all around us we’re surrounded we’re in this little town and the Army’s all around us and Elisha sees beyond the the human soldiers and he sees the armies of heaven and he said don’t be afraid they’re more that are with us than those that are against us you know my friends we can’t always see the army but do you know that God has an army that’s an invisible Army that’s bigger than any army that’s against you

and there and these angels are assigned to your care and your protection because you’re on a mission and you cannot be stopped you are invincible until you have finished the work that God has given you to do I have to be careful you know I have a good well he was a pretty good friend but and I was much much younger and he was about the age I am when he preached his last sermon and he’s he was preaching his last sermon and he’s and he he said I am invincible I am Unstoppable until the day I have finished my mission and he fell flat on his back and died in the pulpit boom Lord I’m still here right

but what a way to go you know and it is sweet when I was still still alive you know

you know he believed that that I have died and my life belongs to Christ and the life that I live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me he believed that he preached that and he he died with those words on his lips now wouldn’t you like to live with a purpose

because you have one

God God has assigned you a purpose there is a reason for your life

whatever whatever tragedy whatever um hard things God has called us to face they’re a subplot of a bigger story Paul said in Philippians 1

for me to live is Christ and to die is gain now my friends that’s that’s true for each of us okay and and um most people will pretty easily sign on to what I’ve said so far life is is much more worth living if you live with a purpose okay but here’s where things get a little sideways there was another group of men in this story

right a purpose worth thine for in their minds there were 40 men who had such a high sense of purpose and and they thought they were serving God in their purpose that they were willing to die to get rid of Paul so I guess here’s the question well any old purpose do

now frankly we live in an age where that’s what people believe

you have you have to live with a purpose it just doesn’t matter which one as long as you really believe it

now that doesn’t make any sense to me at all frankly didn’t make sense to Paul Paul said of hey if I get to the end of this road and I find out there is no next life there is no resurrection that I have wasted my life that’s what he says in First Corinthians 15. he said that of all people on your phone I’m the most to be pity I have been a fool if this is not true while we live in an age where there is no true truth every man has his own truth and so it’s difficult to how do we navigate this how do we navigate it I mean frankly uh you know what our kids are going to learn if we send them off to secular colleges is that that it doesn’t really matter which mountain you climb as long as you believe there’s a pot of gold at the top of it because it’s the journey that counts thinking you’re going to get something when you get there that’s that’s what gives you a reason to get up every day that’s what gives you a reason to go to work to to marry to endure the hard things of relationships or let me put it like this it doesn’t matter who you marry because it’s not the life that matters it’s the it’s the honeymoon it’s the falling in love it’s the engagement it’s the excitement of being in love and so whether you spend a lifetime with the wrong person or not isn’t the big deal the big deal is you get to experience love

that’s what people believe

that’s what we’re inclined to believe but my friends it’s just not true true you know Victor Frankel who’s many of you have read his book probably this search for meaning you know you know it’s one of the most popular self-help books book still in America he’s lost favor in Europe and and pretty much because uh you know um he came under he’s an Austrian psychiatrist who who lived through the concentration camps lost his his family including his pregnant wife in the concentration camps and unbearable tragedy and difficulty but but in his what he came up with was what’s been called logotherapy which means the logo is just the Greek word for purpose or meaning or truth and he said the one thing I know I learned in the concentration camps is that the people who had a purpose survived the people who didn’t have a purpose didn’t make it he said no one he said survive they didn’t all live but their Spirit survived they they overcame the the suicide that took so many of his brothers his Jewish brothers and sisters the depression they survived their Spirit survived when they had a purpose and and we’re Frankel you know probably missed the point was uh basically any old purpose will do and um he was actually you know he came up with three ways you can find meaning and purpose one is by an act of kindness others by an experience like Falling in Love and um forget the third one right now

somebody out there remember remind me but um the point was

it’s negotiable you know and and even in giving his purposes to his clients he was accused by his fellow psychiatrists of absolutism of that is you’re giving your purpose to somebody else you can’t do that they have to have to find their own purpose so even if you as a psychiatrist try to help somebody who’s depressed by by think offering the thought that maybe they could find meaning in their in the love that they had even though the Love’s gone now well that’s you can’t impose your truth on some on your client your client has to have their own truth and um but there’s a interesting critique that I read of this and uh by a guy named David mikkix he said not all meanings are created equal patients recovering from a trauma May attach themselves to an authority figure perhaps a leader of a radical writer left-wing political movement they might become conspiracy theorists which is surely a way of fulfilling life with significance what he’s saying is uh there’s plenty of people living with purpose in the world who are doing a lot of harm

this takes us back to our story right these men these 40 men who vowed to kill Paul were living with a purpose but it was a wrong destructive evil purpose

my friends so what’s going to deliver us you know you know the thing that that our our liberal friends fear most and hate most in life is absolutism that anybody would be able to say this is true that’s the thing that’s intolerable in our society today you can say anything except that there is a true truth universally true for everyone on the planet you cannot say that because in their minds that leads to these 40 men taking a vow to kill somebody in their mind being sure of something leads to war it leads to oppression it leads to all the the evil things that we see in our society and my friends that would be true if it weren’t true

if there is not a real true truth in the universe then absolutism would be a horrible horrible thing to feel true about something that’s not true is harmful and destructive so here we are we all we need we need a purpose

but it’s not okay to have one or at least not the purpose for which you’ve been created my friends I’m not going to try to explain today Believe it or you don’t yet but but I do hope you’ll understand that this has always been the core of the Christian faith

in John chapter 1 John says in the beginning was the logos the word the truth the reason the purpose that’s his name for Jesus Christ in the beginning was truth there’s a real God

Father Son and Holy Spirit in three persons and the second person Jesus came to this earth and became a man and we say it every weekend I will say it again in our Nicene Creed and my friends there are millions of people who will say that today and half of them don’t really believe it’s true they just believe it’s a helpful way to live as if it were true like Santa Claus

the myth helps us get through life and all I’m saying is my friends that’s nonsense

if it’s not true truth it’s a lie and you are wasting your life if you say and believe a lie so you got to figure out is it true

can’t wait for another few weeks when Paul stands before Agrippa and he says he says King I’m convinced that these things did not happen in a corner you can search them out the people are still alive the Witnesses are still here and what I’m telling you is absolutely true and rational Paul believed that now before we close I just want you to realize that there you know Paul there’s so many ways in this story reminds us of Jesus own story because the father had revealed to him his purpose so clearly

the opposition was so clear Jesus was Unstoppable until the day God had cited his Destiny was for he’s going to die on a cross and and be raised again but but here’s the difference you know Paul had a purpose for living that was worth dying for do you listen Jesus purpose was to die it’s not that he died for a purpose his purpose was to die Romans chapter 8 Paul says and this he puts this so beautifully

he says and he actually says look we don’t always know what to pray for we don’t even know the details of our purpose he said even Paul the Apostle said there’s lots of times I don’t even know the details of my I know the big the big purpose but I don’t I get lost in the details and he says we do not know how we ought to pray sometimes but the spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express and he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the spirit because the spirit intercedes for the Saints in accordance with God’s when you don’t even know how to pray

a prayer it’s still praying for that because he knows what it is and then he says and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him and who have been called according purpose isn’t that beautiful

then he says this What then shall we say in response to this if God is for us who can stand against us he who did not spare his own son but gave him up for us how will he not also along with him graciously give us all things Paul said I have a purpose and I am Unstoppable until I have fulfilled it

and if illness is part of that purpose if beatings are part of that purpose if Financial poverty is part of that purpose it’ll all be okay because I am fulfilling God’s purpose for my life but he said I have a purpose to live because Jesus purpose was to die for me for my sins and so you know let me just remind you again in this beautiful verse we we sang no guilt in life no fear and death this is the power of Christ in me from life’s first cry to final breath Jesus commands my destiny no power of hell no scheme of man can ever pluck me from his hand till he returns or calls me on here in the power of Christ I’ll Stand that awesome praise God thanks for picking that Debbie


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