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It's Your Choice

Notes & Transcripts

It's Your Choice

Acts 19:8-41        December 3, 2000

 

Scripture Reading: Joshua 24:14-24

Introduction:

          What kind of choices have you made today?

          What kind of choices have you made this week?

          What kind of choices will you make tomorrow?

          Our lives are filled with choices.

          We must make choices constantly, and we often do so without thinking much about them.

          We make significant choices and insignificant ones.

          It's the insignificant ones that we don't seem to think much about.

          But when you add up a number of them they become significant because they set the course of your life.

          Let me throw a bombshell in your direction.

          Every choice we make, big or small, is a choice for or against God.

          Yes, I said every choice has that much significance.

          You mean that whether I brush my teeth this morning is a choice for or against God? Yes it is.

When you decide to take care of the body God gave you, with the means he gave you, you act in favor of God – not to mention all of us who smell your breath.

When you decide to say a kind word to someone you act in favor of God who cares about their feelings and wants to use you to encourage them.

          When you decide to turn away from the lust of your eyes you act in favor of God who desires that you should worship him and not created beings.

          When you decide to honor your husband or obey your parents you act in favor of God who wants to have order in family relationships that godly children might result.

          Let's get ridiculous. Is it a decision for or against God whether I turn right or left at the first intersection I come to when I leave church today? Yes it is.

          Your time and where you go is valuable to God.

The best use of your time and whereabouts are in the best interests of God because you only have so much time, even if you need it to rest, and your whereabouts must always be within God's will.

Will you or I always do this perfectly, making the right choices?

No we won't, but if we think about the gravity of our choices most of the time, we will be generally going in God's direction.

I guess we might consider whether we are running on the track or just strolling down the lane though.

All your choices matter because the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

I am reminded of the Christian rap artist "T-Bone" who gave a concert for the Youth for Christ Campus Life Club in our area last year.

One song he "rapped" had a constantly recurring phrase that said, "You don't know who you be messing with, man."

When he sang this he strutted around the stage rolling up his shirtsleeves to show off what appeared to be gang tattoos.

One was left with the impression that he was the one you shouldn't be messing with because he was so tough.

But I'm sure the point was that it was God who was tough and invincible.

Actually, this is very true, but it might give us the wrong impression of how God really wants to relate to us.

Sure he wants us to make the right choices considering just who he is – that he is not only worthy of our worship and obedience, but that he is also able to apply all manner of retribution and discipline to our failures, if he so chooses.

But God's chosen manner of dealing with us is to hold out the olive branch of peace.

This olive branch of peace is the gospel, the good news, of salvation for the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ our Lord.

We can choose to accept it and find peace with God (Rom. 5:1) or reject it and remain enemies of God (Rom. 5:10; Php. 3:18).

And we choose to accept or reject the gospel (that we say we have received) with every turn of our lives.

You may be surprised to consider just how many decisions you make in life that coincide with whether or not you are deciding to live the gospel of your salvation.

          But God is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). 

         

          In coming to our passage in Acts 19:8-41 this morning, we rediscover Paul in the city of Ephesus on his third missionary journey.

          He has already gone through the previously evangelized regions of Galatia and Phrygia strengthening the churches and now intends to remain for awhile in Ephesus.

          He had sailed to Ephesus at the end of his second missionary journey on his way to Jerusalem to fulfill the vow he made in Corinth but did not stay long at that time.

          Actually, he had gone into the synagogue to reason with the Jews who said they wanted him to stay longer, but he declined and said that he would return if it was God's will (Acts 18:20).

          So we now return to what must have been God's will as Paul begins an extended ministry at Ephesus.

          The previous major centers of Gentile ministry were first at Syrian Antioch, then at Pisidian Antioch, and now at Ephesus as the gospel moves west toward Europe in response to the vision Paul received at the beginning of the second missionary journey to go to Macedonia.

          So during his extended stay of 2 years and 3 months, God holds out the olive branch of the gospel to the Ephesians and their wide-ranging associations and contacts.

          Many people are allowed the time and grace to make an informed choice about the gospel – that it is indeed the amazing power of God.

But this power only works for us if we choose it in response to God's grace that allows us to make that choice.  

          During Paul's stay in Ephesus we will discover the answer to this question:

Big Question:

          What is the effect of the power of the gospel upon the world?

I.       Cycle One

          A.      Narrative (vv. 8-12)

          B.      Implication

          What is the effect of the power of the gospel upon the world?

          It brings healing to those who are willing to be touched by its power.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

II.      Cycle Two

          A.      Narrative (vv. 13-16)

          B.      Implication

          What is the effect of the power of the gospel upon the world?

          It exposes those who try to impersonate its power.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

III.    Cycle Three

          A.      Narrative (vv. 17-22)

          B.      Implication

          What is the effect of the power of the gospel upon the world?

          It brings confession and obedience to those who become convinced of its power.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

IV.    Cycle Four

 

          A.      Narrative (vv. 23-31)

          B.      Implication

          What is the effect of the power of the gospel upon the world?

          It brings anger and confusion to those who are threatened because they are not willing to accept its power.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

V.      Cycle Five

 

          A.      Narrative (vv. 32-41)

          B.      Implication

          What is the effect of the power of the gospel upon the world?

          It permits those who ultimately reject its power to remain lost in the false security of the world system.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

Conclusion:

Big Answer:

          What is the effect of the power of the gospel upon the world?

It brings healing to those who are willing to be touched by its power.

          It exposes those who try to impersonate its power.

It brings confession and obedience to those who become convinced of its power.

          It brings anger and confusion to those who are threatened because they are not willing to accept its power.

          It permits those who ultimately reject its power to remain lost in the false security of the world system.

Timeless Truth:

          The power of the gospel offers the world freedom of choice.

          The problem is that there is only one correct choice.

          The beauty of this is for those who make it.

          It's your choice.

          You have been given the power to make it.

          But until you make it, that is all the power you have.

          And once you make it, it's all the power you need.

          Never let go of it.

          Every choice you make puts your faith in the gospel to the test.

          Is the power of the gospel sufficient and effective for you?

          If not, what else is there?

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