Faithlife
Faithlife

What are we endorsing?

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What are we endorsing?
What do we communicate to the world as being important to us?
Ever seen a professional athlete or a celebrity promoting a product on television, or heard them on the radio? They may go on and on and on about the product…talking about how they LOOOOOOVE it and they couldn’t live without it?
If we are to believe the commercial, it would seem that they are the #1 fan of that product.
One example is a pop star who claimed to ONLY wear a certain kind of jeans. But she later said in an interview that her favorite pair of jeans was another kind – and that she wouldn’t be seen dead in the less expensive brand she was paid to endorse.
Another example is an example of a wealth celebrity endorsing a chain of discount stores. She was seen in television commercials advertising the store, and claimed she shopped there, when it was obvious she would NEVER be seen in that store.
How about another example?
Ever meet someone that says they are fans of a certain team? I’ll be honest…my facebook feed was never so full of fans of a certain major league baseball team until they started winning. I’m pretty sure that MOST of the people could probably not name the manager, or even half the starting lineup…but they liked CLAIMING to be a fan of that team.
How about religion? If someone claims to be a Christian….should their life reflect it? Last week we saw a man named Saul have what can only be described as a “Come to Jesus moment” in every sense of the word. Jesus literally met Saul on the road, knocked him down, blinded him, and humbled him.
Saul came to Jesus, alright. There is no doubt about it.
Over the years, though…there have been those that doubted Saul’s conversion. Let’s look at Saul’s experience – and we can see that his actions show his faith.
Read
Last week we talked about Saul. He went through a profound change
· Imagine the most anti-God person you can think of
o Now….imagine that life has changing 180 degrees
· Let’s ponder something for a second:
o Does it matter how Saul would have gone on to live after his encounter with Christ?
o Suppose he had continued to live as he did…..would it have mattered?
o YES! A thousand times YES! How he lives life matters!!!!!
§ How we—as Christians—live……matters, too!
Luke gives us some details about Saul’s post-conversion life that shows us the genuineness of it. He gives us some examples of what a growing Christian looks like

I. A growing Christian wants to pray.

I. A growing Christian wants to pray.
The opposite of this statement would be that a Christian that IS NOT growing in heir faith would NOT pray.
How about Saul…in the text here....
a. We already saw him praying last week.
b. When he was confronted by Jesus – when he was knocked down and broken….
i. He prayed.
Read — no slide
Acts 9:11 ESV
And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying,
c. Now…..my wife and I just celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary this past week.
i. 20 years ago….we stood in front of God and all our friends and family and committed to each other
ii. It’s been a wonderful 20 years.
iii. And you know what?
1. We live together.
2. We actually like to DO things together
3. We went out to eat on Wednesday night to celebrate it
4. We will oftentimes go places together….or maybe just sit at home together and watch tv.
5. We are not one of these couples that only see each other for 10 minutes in passing….
6. And I think our marriage has grown as a result.
d. If we claim to be Christians…and we claim to follow Christ…but we NEVER talk to him…
i. We NEVER go to God in prayer….
ii. How real is that relationship?
iii. God doesn’t want a surface level religious expression from us. He wants a REAL, authentic faith.
iv. He desires to know us more…to know us deeper.
v. He isn’t a nameless, faceless God in the sky that we pray to and HOPE he hears us…
1. He’s provided a way for us to go to him daily
2. We should be building that relationship with him
e. And that type of God is sooooo much better than any other religion that tells us we just need to DO this…or DO that….
i. Our God listens to us when we pray.
ii. Now…a very real objection MIGHT be….how do we do that?
1. And to that, I’d say…just talk to him.
2. It may be fancy…it may be simple.
3. It may be a set time like before bed at night, or in the morning….
4. Or throughout the day as things arise(short bullet prayers)
f. A mark of a growing Christian is one that prays

II. A growing Christian wants to tell people about Jesus

II. A growing Christian wants to tell people about Jesus
conversely…a Christain who is NOT growing....never wants to tell anyone about Jesus.
Right? Why would he? We like to talk about the things important to us…right?
If we don’t think very highly of Jesus…why would we talk about him?
a. Read 9:20-22
b. Did you know……some people doubt the historical account of Saul’s conversion
i. The religion of Islam…. – Saul was a spy – sent by the Pharisees to infiltrate the Christians
1. I can’t believe that’s true, though….
a. We’re going to see that Saul was persecuted
b. We will see that he suffered for Christ’s name
3 Slides
2 Corinthians 11:24–28 ESV
Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.
ii. Paul wasn’t a Jewish spy... – he was a genuine believer in Jesus
ii. Paul was not a spy – he was a genuine believer in Jesus
iii. His life backed up the claim to faith that he had
c. The man or woman who believes in Jesus and has a genuine faith in Christ is not ashamed of Jesus
i. Nor does he/she put their faith on the shelf at times
ii. When we deny the name of Christ..
1. When we compromise on our faith and don’t live it out….
iii. That demonstrates that we are ashamed of him
d. Someone might say…..well…evangelism isn’t my gift
i. Or “I’m not good at talking to people….”
e. If we truly believe that we’ve met God….
i. Why wouldn’t we want to tell people
Illustration:
Think of 3 people you spend an hour or more with every week....that you might want to invite to church.
Put their names down on a piece of paper in front of you
The ones that you KNOW are Christians — that not just go to church…but that you KNOW have a saving relationship with Christ....
Put a “C” next to their name.
The ones that you are not sure of......put an “NS” next to their names
Now…the ones that you KNOW are not saved? That are DEFINITELY NOT Christian? Put an “NC” next to their name.
Do all 3 of them have the letters “C” next to them? Are you confident that they are all Christians?
What’s stopping you from finding out? What’s stopping you from inviting them to church?
ii. Are we ashamed of the name of Christ?
Romans 1:16 ESV
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
iii. Sometimes a person may not ashamed of the name of Christ…but
1. Is Church just something we do on Sunday morning, then live a separate life Monday – Saturday?
2. And….the Sunday morning life does not mix with the Tuesday afternoon life?
iv. Illustration:
No slide- but show plate:
Remember as a kid, you had divided plates? … food can’t touch!
1. Potatoes can’t touch the corn! Meat can’t touch the green beans!
2. Work life….social life…..public life………CHURCH LIFE
Frank Burns was the master of compartmentalizing things:
a. Marriage….girlfriend…military career……etc….etc…..
v. Saul didn’t live like that as a Jew…….
1. And he didn’t compartmentalize his Christian life
2. He WASN’T a Frank Burns…….DON’T BE A FRANK BURNS!
3. We should be the same person on Saturday night as Sunday morning
f. We see that Saul immediately began to preach the name of Christ
i. Specifically that he is the son of God
1. Ironically……This is EXACTLY the message he came to Damascus to stop
ii. He was able to do this because he personally met Christ
1. Not too long ago he wanted to kill Christians
iii. Saul spent some time in the synagogues preaching Christ
iv. He confounded the Jews living there by PROVING that Jesus was the Christ

III. A Christian needs to grow

III. A Christian needs to grow
a. I am an amateur gardener.
i. Look at my garden….you can tell I’m not an expert.
ii. But the Christian life can be looked at in a way similar to plants
iii. Illustration: Tomatoes
1. They started out as small plants
2. Now….a couple of them are over 6 foot tall
a. Producing nice, big tomatoes
3. A couple other plants….tomato cage? Who needs THAT?
a. They grew out the side, laid down on the ground….
b. Tomatoes are largely rotten…and not producing great
The ones that didn’t grow UP.......suffered. They had nothing to SUPPORT them as they grew up.
b. Like the tomato plant….Saul, as a new Christian needed to grow
i. When he first encountered Christ on the road to Damascus…he only understood that Jesus is Lord
1. He had to spend some time learning who Jesus is
2. He had to spend some time learning how he fit into the big picture
a. How the OT talks about him
b. How salvation is available to all who trust in Jesus
3. He had to LEARN who Jesus is..and grow to know him
c. As Saul preached and studied….. he grew in the faith
i. He went from a basic level of understanding to learn much more
1. From just knowing Jesus on the road….to being able to prove it
ii. Illustration: Not every Christian will become a pastor/preacher
1. But if you are a Christian….perhaps you want to learn about your faith
2. Maybe that means you’ll be interested in a Bible study
a. Shameless plug:
i. Women’s study on Thursdays
ii. Sunday School
iii. Wednesday night church
iii. Christianity is a relationship between us and Jesus – as we grow closer to him over the years, we learn and we grow in Christ.
iv. Saul did JUST that.
d. Now…..there is a break in time between v. 22 and 23.
i. It is a time period of 2-3 years.
1. What the text is not mentioning here:
ii. In this time…..he apparently makes a trip into Arabia.
1. Arabia’s border was right there close to Damascus
a. In this time he got special one-on-one tutoring from Jesus.
2. He wrote about it:
2 slides
Galatians 1:15–18 ESV
But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days.
3. What did he do there?
a. For starters….he probably had some thinking to do
i. He made some mistakes – and did some bad things in his past.
ii. I imagine….he was surprised….dismayed a bit….Stephen was right! Remember Stephen in chptr 7?
iii. Stephen’s blood is at least partially on his hands
iv. He likely received some personal instruction from God – as he mentions other places
b. He also likely did some preaching – just like in Damascus
i. He probably shared the Gospel with the Arab people
4. Bottom line: Saul continued to grow in his faith during this time
a. His time there served as a training ground for him to learn his faith
b. I believe God used that to remove him from the controversy around the Jewish people
e. What we can take away from that: Are you growing in your faith?
i. Just like Saul needed to grow….
ii. Just like the tomatoes……
1. We need growth

IV. Sometimes as you grow, the world won’t like it

IV. Sometimes as you grow, the world won’t like it
a. Read 9:23-25
a. Read 9:23-25
b. Guys….sometimes the person that is devoted to Christ is not going to be the most popular guy.
c. If the world loves you….it may be possible that you are compromising
i. We are called to live for Jesus – not the world.
ii. SOMETIMES…..our worlds will collide.
iii. Here….The Jews wanted to kill Saul
iv. Not that you should be hated by society….
The point IS NOT to just be so obnoxious that people hate you for it....
1. But if the world can’t can’t tell a difference between us and others…
2. That MIGHT be a problem
John 15:18 ESV
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.
– the world hated Jesus….it may not like us either
vi. We must humble ourselves to choose God over the world
d. I once heard a preacher describe this scene as…..Saul became a “basket case”
Apparently…it wasn’t just a few local tough guys.. — but the local government wanted to kill him.
i. Paul was hated – there was no doubt he had converted
2 Corinthians 11:32–33 ESV
At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me, but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands.
A guy who isn’t serious about his faith? Isn’t going to risk certain death for it.
iii. He left Damascus in a hurry – and went to Jerusalem
iv. Imagine how humbling that must have been for him
1. He went from being a pretty important guy in Judaism – a rising star
a. (explain – rabbi might have followers)
b. To being chased out of Damascus by the very people that might have followed him a short time ago
2. This was a guy who had it all! And he’s tossing it all away to follow Christ
v. Are we willing to do the same?
1. Are we willing to face persecution from others…..because of Jesus?
e. And this followed him wherever he went…..
i. Read 9:25-31
ii. The pattern repeats itself
iii. He attempted to join the disciples.
1. But they were scared of him and didn’t believe him
2. This was a pretty bad guy – 3 years later they’re still scared of him
iv. So…..we see someone from the past come back!
1. Barnabas to the rescue!
2. We saw Barnabas earlier in the book
Acts 4:36 ESV
Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus,
3. He shows up here again……and He brought Saul in and vouched for him
a. How he had met Jesus on the road
b. How he had preached the name of Jesus
4. It’s a beautiful thing here….God used Barnabas to bring Saul in – and help incorporate him into the church in Jerusalem
v. Application: How willing are we, as a church, to welcome people in?
1. I once knew of a church that said they wanted to grow…..
a. But when they see the “riff-raff” of the town start to show up, they ended up running the pastor out of town.
2. I’m glad this church isn’t like that.
a. There are a lot of unchurched folks in town….I’m somewhat proud of the fact that you guys wouldn’t turn them away
b. If they came to church….they’re not going to be made to feel inferior or unwelcome
3. A true Christian should realize that we are no better than anyone else – we all need God’s forgiveness
vi. We need to consider…what kind of message are we communicating to our friends?
1. I hope to NEVER hear that someone wanted to come to church, but they did not feel welcome here.
f. But SOMETIMES….the name of Jesus does divide
2 slides
Luke 12:51–53 ESV
Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
h. Further evidence that SOMETIMES preaching Christ will result in division?
i. Saul began to preach Christ in Jerusalem
1. He argued with the established religious folk….and almost got killed
2. V. 28-29 – The Hellenists – the Greek speaking Jews HATED him
3. Remember…this was one of the leading Jewish minds at one point…
4. And now they hate him.
ii. It got SOOOO bad….the apostles decided to ship him off to another city
V. Saul was shipped off to Caesarea, and off to Tarsus
a. And the church grew
i. Judea, Galilee, Samaria
ii. The Gospel is spreading!
b. God wants to use US to reach the people in our lives.
So…how do we DO that?
What are YOU passionate about? What is it that you like to do?
There are all SORTS of ministry ideas.....
maybe it’s gathering food for the backpack food program.
Maybe it’s building things....
Maybe it’s evangelism
Maybe you like to teach
Maybe you like to sing
Maybe you like to teach
Maybe.....you are one of those rare people that LOVES to clean?
Did you know the church needs cleaned each week?
How will God use YOU? WHat has he gifted you to do?
Would you like to use those gifts? That’s what we want to do here at Providence Church — is enable YOU to do ministry and enable YOU to help fulfill the Great Commission.
Think about how God will use YOU to build his kingdom.
God can….and does change people. Last week and today we saw a story of God changing Saul. Christianity’s enemy #1 has now been converted. When a person moves from the realm of unbelief to belief, he or she OUGHT to have a changed life to show for it. It may not happen IMMEDIATELY…but in time they will be changed.
When we claim the name – when we claim to be about something..or someone….our lives OUGHT to reflect it.
As we grow in Christ…as we commune with him in prayer…as we worship him….as we tell others about him….as he uses us to preach to others…..
What is the message that our lives will preach?

What is the message that our lives will preach?

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