Saturday, April 30, 2022

Plan “B”


God gave us the Bible so we could understand Him, in hopes we would choose to be like Him.

The Bible only tells One Story. It is a story of Good News to all men.

No one verse in the Bible is intended to be read independent or apart from the One Story God is telling. Every verse fits together like pieces to a puzzle and it only paints One Picture.

The only way to accurately interpret any story, prophecy, verse, or account in the Bible is to interpret it in light of the One Story God is telling.

The Bible tells only one story – it is the story of redemption.

Even in the last days, just prior to the tribulation, the Book of Revelation describes 7 Churches to whom Jesus wrote His last messages. In each admonition Jesus left His signature in plain sight. He said: “To him who overcomes …”

God’s redemptive intent should be sought out and championed in everything we do for Him. If it is going to be signed by Jesus, it will be signed in love. (Not in anger or resentment) Let me put it this way. In every prophecy and each word from God, even the Holy Bible, if the message comes from the Holy Spirit, it will be signed, “Love, Jesus.” If you haven’t gotten to the "Love, Jesus" part, you’re not finished … keep reading!

Don’t imagine you’re at the end of the story until every knee bows, and every tongue confesses that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus said it best in:

John 3 NKJV

16  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

17  “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

This morning we are going to discover God’s intent to redeem even the worst of sinners. God gave us this story in Acts 9 to help us understand Him better. Again, God’s hope is that we would choose to be like Him.

Acts 9 NKJV

1 ¶  Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest

2  and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

3  As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.

4  Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

One of the biggest things we notice when we read this account is how personal Jesus took it when someone persecuted His Bride.

Jesus interrupted Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus and dealt rather strongly with him because He loved Saul and wanted to redeem him.

God corrects us because He loves us not because He gets sick and tired of us or because He wants to hurt somebody who’s made Him angry.

God was not punishing Saul for his past; He was positioning him for his future. And God is not interested in punishing others for their past either.

Please get that “God wants to punish people” attitude out of your heart. Nothing could be farther from the truth. And that’s just not our message. We are commissioned to preach the Gospel that saves sinners, not our aggravation or our assessment that judges, criticizes, or condemns them. If we are ever going to be like God, we will have to fall in love with sinners, (not sin). We are called to love our enemies, and do good to those who aggravate and irritate us. It’s hard to do good and hate at the same time.

We note from the account in Acts 9 that Jesus cared about Saul of Tarsus and the story does not stop with Jesus blinding and correcting him. The story continues with Saul getting saved, filled with the Holy Spirit, healed, called into the ministry, being discipled, and becoming a powerful witness for Jesus, everywhere he went, for the rest of his life.

We also note that Jesus cared about the Church. In fact, this is probably one of the biggest reasons why Jesus got so personally involved. Saul, and the politically motivated piously “better than you” religious establishment of the day, were bent on persecuting the Church. Now we must note – the Church in the New Testament was not perfect. (Corinth, Galatia, Pergamos, Thyatira for example) They all had problems. In fact, the Church has never been perfect. However, we will miss a huge God-point here if we imagine Jesus did not love His Bride or wanted you to hurt her, condemn her, destroy her, or abandon her on His behalf because she is not perfect.

·        Jesus died for the Church

·        Jesus is coming again for the Church

·        Jesus loves the Church

o   The Church is the Body of Christ

o   The Church is His Family

o   The Church is the Bride of Christ, not one of His girlfriends

·        Don’t be dissing the Bride of Christ!!!

·        Who are we to judge, malign, or belittle the Bride of Christ?

o   Jesus is not just dating us to see if He likes us …

o   Jesus is not about to let anyone start pointing out all the imperfections of His Bride … (Matthew 7 for example)

o   He is committed to the Church – fully committed throughout eternity

o   He is the Head of the Church, and He will take care of whatever she needs - He is able to sanctify and cleanse His Bride with the washing of the water by the Word so that He might present to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle – holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5)

o   We must not let the rare bad actor blind us to all God is doing in and through His Church in our day.

Just to set the record straight …

·        The Church today is bigger and better than the Church in Paul’s day

·        The Church today is more powerful and more productive than it was in Paul’s day

·        The Church today is going farther and growing faster than in Paul’s day

·        The Church today is more educated, more spiritual, more balanced, sharper, more inclusive, less legal, more doctrinally sound, more spiritually secure, filled with more hope, feeding more people, more present in governments, more prevalent in societies, covering more of the world with the Gospel, and saving more souls than ever before in history.

·        I’ve been across this nation, around the world – Jesus and His Bride are alive and well in the hearts and minds of people everywhere. It is getting difficult to mention Jesus without getting a “yes and amen” from someone who is listening. It happens everywhere I go.

Refuse to believe what the world, the devil, and misguided saints say about the Church. God is not mad at the Church, and He is not sick and tired of us. The Church of Jesus Christ is doing well, and that’s exactly what we will hear when we enter the gates of heaven … “Well done good and faithful servant. For I was hungry, and you fed Me; thirsty and you gave Me drink; naked and you clothed Me; sick and in prison and you ministered to Me.”

That’s the truth because that’s what we are doing in the name of Jesus!

Oh yes … remember the title of this message: Plan B – Well, there is no plan B … The Church is all God has and all He wants.

And God wants you to become a functioning part of the Bride of Christ. What can you do? Every local Church still needs:

1.  Goers

2.  Stayers

3.  Prayers

4.  Payers

Find your place of service in the Bride of Christ.

Rejoice and be glad … God is in love with you!

Saturday, April 23, 2022

The Week After Easter

Today we are one week removed from Easter Sunday. We had an incredible service as we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus! The Body of Christ, as a whole, around the world, celebrated Easter together - praising and glorifying our risen savior. How amazing it was!

In John 20, where we will be reading today, it will also be one week removed from the resurrection of Christ. Jesus has already been crucified, has already been laid in a tomb, and miraculously has already risen from the dead. The stone from the tomb has already been rolled away, and Jesus has already revealed himself to Mary Magdalene.

On that same day, Jesus revealed himself to the disciples. Except, there was one disciple that was missing. Who was it you might ask? Well let’s read to find out more.

John 20:19-23

“19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.””

The disciples were gathered together in one place, discouraged and afraid. Jesus entered the room and revealed Himself to the disciples. He breathed on them the Holy Spirit and then pre-commissioned them to go into all the world. You could say that they just had church!

Nevertheless, as I mentioned before, there was someone who was missing. Let’s continue reading…

John 20:24-25

“24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

Before we go any further, let us talk a little bit about Thomas:

After Jesus commissioned the disciples to go into all the world, Thomas went on to become an apostle of Christ. This was the beginning of the church era. It is believed that Thomas became a missionary and journeyed eastward from Jerusalem to share the gospel to the world. While some believe he traveled to and through Iran, it is universally believed that Thomas took the gospel to South India. He first arrived on the coast of Kerala, India where he would begin to share the gospel with everyone. His message was popular and began to draw large crowds. He would go from city to city, town to town, village to village, to tell people about Jesus. In doing so, people began to place their faith in Jesus, and were born-again. While his message drew many faith-seekers, it created enemies for Thomas as well. It is a strong belief that Thomas was eventually martyred for his bold witness for Christ in South India, possibly near the city of Chennai of Tamil Nadu.

Thomas was a faithful minister of Christ. Many credit the Apostle Thomas for being the first missionary to bring Christ to the country of India. Even today you will find churches named after the Apostle Thomas in South India. Although we dont know very much about him, we know he did great things for God.

In light of these things, let us go back to our text for today. While Thomas went on to do great things for Jesus, he was facing hardships in his life.

Point #1: Thomas would not believe.

John 20:24-25 - “24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

Thomas, in his despair, would not believe in the resurrection. He was struggling with doubt. At one point, he believed in Jesus and he believed Jesus could do all things. But, he lost hope and could not see Jesus doing the things He said He was going to do.

If we were to put ourselves in Thomas’ shoes, we too might have struggled with doubt. Maybe you are that person today.

We may imagine:

    “God could never use me.”

    “God did it for them but He will never do it for me.”

    “Because I was hurt, I will never believe.”


Have you ever had these feelings before? Maybe there is someone here today that is struggling with these feelings.

It is important to note that this is not an example of what we should do, but an example of what we should not do. Thomas allowed his despair to turn into calamity. He allowed his disappointment to turn into adversity. Sure things were bad, but by isolating himself from the other disciples, he made things worse.

As Pastor Ron says, “No matter how bad things are, we can always make things worse.” 

Although that was true for Thomas, it would not be the end of his story. Thomas was having a serious moment of unbelief at this point in his life. Yet, as mentioned before, he would go on to do great things for God. This moment of disappointment would not be the last thing we hear about Thomas.

Doubt, despair and disappointment do not have to be the end of the road for us. It does not have to be the story of our life. It may be what we are going through today, but it does not have to be our tomorrow.

Thomas was holding on to his disappointment and his doubt. He was claiming it as his own fate in life. However, God had other plans.

Our adversity does not have to become our identity.

What we go through does not have to be what we turn into.

Don’t claim your current circumstances as your future outcome.

Instead, with an open heart and out stretched hands allow God to transform your doubt into belief.

Trust and believe that God can and will do what He has promised He will do.

Point #2: Jesus met Thomas where he was.

John 20:26-27 - 26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”

As we read before, Jesus had already appeared to the disciples, but Thomas wasn’t there. Yet, Jesus appeared again, but this time it was for Thomas. Jesus met him where he was.  Why? I’m sure there are many reasons, but one of those reasons is that God had a plan for Thomas. He was important to His plan of the gospel going forth. Therefore, Jesus met him in his time of despair. Jesus knew his thoughts. Jesus knew his doubts. Knowing this, He provided an opportunity for Thomas to believe.

You know Jesus will plan a whole service just to reach YOU!

ILLUSTRATION: God planned an entire summer camp with a basketball tournament in order to get me to believe. God knew at that time that basketball would get my attention. God met me where I was  and I believed!

God will meet you where you are because you are that important to God.

God had a plan for Thomas. He was important to God’s plans in spreading the gospel around the world. Therefore, Jesus showed up just for Thomas so that he would believe again.

Your are important to God’s plan. He has called you and given you a purpose. It is a high calling that He is continuing to prepare you for. Therefore, God is willing to meet you where you are. He is willing to plan an entire service just to reach you.

When you are struggling, don’t isolate yourself. Instead, come to the house of God! Join yourself with other believers. God has already prepared an answer for you through the word of God in church.

Of course God can meet you wherever you are. But, He will always point you back to church.

Church is not a man-made idea. Church is a God-ordained institution.

The church is God’s creation!! It is the body of Christ in the earth today. Meaning, we take the place of Jesus in doing the work of God here on earth.

The church is important to God. Therefore we should value it the way God does.

Don’t give up on yourself, but believe!

Point #3: Thomas believed!

John 20:28 - “Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!””

Thomas comes to the realization that Jesus really is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do. Seeing the resurrection, Thomas’ faith in Jesus is renewed.

Jesus wants us to do one thing: to believe!

John 20:27 - “Do not disbelieve, but believe.”

John 20:31 - “but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

Jesus was looking to re-activate Thomas’ faith in God.

Thomas responds to Jesus saying, “My Lord and my God!”

He doesn’t say “The Lord.” He says, “My Lord.” While it is true that Jesus is Lord over all, Thomas was saying that Jesus is Lord over my life! My Lord means that Jesus has dominion over “my” life.

I can trust in you!

I can believe in you!

I can follow you!

I can depend on you!

I will yield my life to you!

In the same way, we can trust Jesus with our life. We can depend on Him to make a way when we can’t see a way. When times are good, we can trust Him. When times are bad, we can trust Him. No matter the outcome, we can still proclaim that God is good!!

Along with my Lord, Thomas says “my God!” This is in relation to His eternal nature and authority. God is the creator and sustainer of the universe and is also the savior of our souls through Christ. Thomas didn’t say “The God,” he said, “My God!”

When we come to Christ, He becomes our personal savior and hope. Not just in this life, but in the life to come. I am thankful for what Jesus does for me in this life, but it does not compare with what He will do for me in eternity!

He will:

    Transform me inside and out, so that I will be made  like Him!

    Write my name in the lambs book of life!

    Wipe every tear from my eyes!

    Welcome me into paradise with Him forever!

There will be no more sighing, crying, or dying. We will be with Jesus in Heaven forever That is a hope we can hold on to.

Trust in God! Don’t believe in your circumstances, believe in what God can do and what He will do!

Let us trust God when times are difficult and let us not forget Him when times are good.

Like Thomas, let us believe that Jesus is both Lord and God!!


1.     Don’t allow adversity to claim your identity.

      Do not claim your current circumstance as your future outcome.

      What we went though in the past does not have to be what defines the rest of our life.

2.     Trust Gods future over your present circumstances.

      God holds your future in His hands. If we trust Him, He will navigate us through our trouble and into our purpose.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

The Third Day


The world is filled with people who love and forgive, and hope and share, who laugh and play, and who learn and grow. The world is filled with moms and dads who care about their families and who go to work and keep house, make money and who prepare meals, buy clothes, and tie shoes day after day.

People all around us are good people with only a few bad actors who are bent on fulfilling some personal goal or perhaps the rare evil-minded menace possessed by devils and committed to destroying peace and torturing people. But take away the bad, loud, angry, small-minded zealot crusaders, and we are left good people who simply want to:

·        Make a living

·        Raise a family

·        Live in peace.

This is why God so loved the world. The world is filled with wonderful people. People for whom Christ died. Jesus is in love with the people of this world, and He gave His life in hopes of having an eternal relationship with each one of them. Believe me, God will one day deal with all of the evil of this world, but His hopes are that people will repent and be saved from the world before He finishes with this world.

Not only are the lost in need of having their eyes opened to all God is willing to do in their lives, but also many who are already Born-Again Believers in Jesus, yet need to have their eyes opened as well. Even the faithful need faith.

This morning I would like to talk to you who are faithful to Jesus … faithful, and in need of faith.

Mark 16 NLT

1 ¶  Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene and Salome and Mary the mother of James went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body.

2  Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they went to the tomb.

3  On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”

4  But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside.

It seems they were a bit surprised. The stone was their new and biggest obstacle. These ladies were faithful … however, they had no faith. It wasn’t that they did not know what Jesus said, it was that they had not believed it. Let’s look back and see what Jesus told them to expect.

Matthew 16:21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

Matthew 17 NKJV

22 ¶  Now while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men,

23  “and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.” And they were exceedingly sorrowful.

Matthew 20 NKJV

17 ¶  Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them,

18  “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death,

19  “and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.”

It seems to me there should have been a whole crowd of people waiting at the tomb that morning. Where were the disciples?

·        Some were hold up in a room behind locked doors because they were confused and afraid.

·        Others were headed back home and without hope.

·        Still others were grieving in disbelief that their dreams were shattered.

·        These ladies were faithfully continuing to work and serve yet they did not believe what Jesus said.

All of them faithful … but none with faith!

Even the Pharisees and Romans had some amount of faith …

Matthew 27 NKJV

62  On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate,

63  saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’

64  “Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.”

There were more unbelievers at the tomb that morning than there were believers. Angels and unbelievers dominated the scene.

Luke 24 NKJV

6  “He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee,

7  “saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’ ”

8  And they remembered His words.

The two disciples on the road to Emmaus …

Luke 24:21  “But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened.

The morning was filled with faithful people who had no faith.

·        The fearful

·        The disappointed

·        The grieving

·        These were all faithful people with no faith

Back to our text for today:

Mark 16:4  But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside.

The faithful who had no faith were just doing what faithful people do when they are afraid, disappointed, grieving, have lost hope, and can’t imagine how the Word could still work.

Mark 9 NKJV

23  Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

24  Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Conclusion: The stone (Obstacle) is already rolled aside!

1.   The lost need to be saved.

2.   The saved need to have faith.

3.   Call out to Jesus, “Lord, help my unbelief!”

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

The Steps of Paul Part 1 – Preparing for the Call


Before the Apostle Paul was saved, when he was still known as Saul of Tarsus, he spent all of his life and time pursuing a formal education to become an attorney and member of the Jewish court system. Today a person might major in US constitutional law whereas in Paul’s day he studied Jewish religious law. Paul graduated at the top of his class and went on to work as one of the chief prosecutors for the office of the High Priest of Israel.

Paul knew the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) as well as anyone. Furthermore he used the cumulative writings of previous teachers and earlier court decisions to bolster his cases against those he deemed worthy of punishment. Saul of Tarsus had a wide reputation of being very good at his job. If he caught anyone breaking the law of Moses, as he interpreted it, most likely they were going to pay a heavy price, from jail time to torture and execution.

Paul was about 30 years old when he had his “Damascus Road” experience with Jesus, was born-again, and became a Believer in Jesus as Messiah. Everything changed in his life. The truth he once believed became overshadowed by the love of Christ and he realized that the law of Moses had been fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth. What a paradigm change!

After the Apostle Paul was saved, he spent a few years studying, learning, and being taught how to apply all he had learned during his formal education to the New Covenant God enacted through Christ. Personally understanding that grace trumps law, and that mercy is greater than judgment was one thing, but Paul wanted to know how to best communicate this to other Jews who were still trying to please God and earn salvation by keeping the law. So Paul continued his studies.

When Paul was about 40 years old, a friend named Barnabas went to Paul’s hometown of Tarsus and invited him to start attending Church in Antioch. Paul agreed and within a couple of years grew to become well respected by the Church leadership as a minister of the Gospel. When it came time to send financial relief from the Church in Antioch to Jerusalem, Paul was chosen to go with Barnabas on that mission.

Only a few short months later Acts 13 records Barnabas and Paul being singled out by the Holy Spirit, recognized by the Church leaders, and separated to the work God had called them. We often refer to this as Paul’s first missionary journey. He and Barnabas traveled to Cyprus and then to the mainland of Asia Minor (modern day central Turkey) and then back to the Church at Antioch with a good report. Paul was very good at explaining the Gospel to those Jews who had been living under the Law of Moses.

We are so blessed and fortunate to have the Book of Acts, along with the epistles written in the New Testament, which provide us with the Holy Spirit’s inspired accounts of these precious days. It was during these initial years of the Church that we see and understand how God wants each generation to work on fulfilling the Great Commission left to us by Jesus.

Paul’s writings teach us how to interpret the law of God through the eyes of grace. He wrote that we are saved by grace through faith, both of which are gifts of God. Both the strategy and the stamina shown to us through the life of the Apostle Paul continue to provide clear examples of how we are to live as lights in the midst of this crooked and perverse world.

This evening I would like to fast forward a bit to about the year AD55/56, give or take a year. The Apostle Paul is 50/51 years old, and he has been saved about 20 years and has gone through quite a lot since having that Damascus Road encounter with his Savior and Friend, Jesus. Paul is now a seasoned missionary who has spent years traveling from city to city all around Asia Minor and Greece. Paul has started Churches and taught in schools in Ephesus, Troas, Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth, Colosse, and so many other towns. He has also been in a few jails and been beaten a few times. It hasn’t all been easy, but he has never given up.

Every step Paul has taken, every encounter he has experienced, has served to prepare him for his next appointment. Life is cumulative. Paul has not allowed any one moment, either victory or disappointment, to spell the end of his story. He is arguably one of the greatest Apostles the Church has ever seen. Back to AD56 …

At this point Paul has been teaching in his own Bible school in Ephesus for 2 solid years. Recently some friends from Corinth have come to visit him in Ephesus. It took them about a week to make the journey across the Aegean sea. Paul and those with him were anxious to hear fresh news from abroad and how the Church in Corinth was doing. Paul had lived in Corinth for over 18 months in AD50-52, and had established a Church filled with mostly Gentiles in that very well-known city.

The report Paul received from his visitors was not all that good. They told Paul and his companions that the Corinthian Church had a few problems. One was that the atmosphere in the Church was more of a party atmosphere with a kind of “anything goes” feeling. As well, there was some division in the Church between groups who followed their favorite teachers more than they followed the Word. Finally, the world’s ideology was noticeably creeping into the Church and the members were becoming more and more carnal.

Other than that, things were great!

Paul, ever the teacher, decides to do two things. First, he is going to write a letter to the Church and then He is going to carve out some time to make another visit to see them personally. Paul didn’t know just how soon it would be that he would be given an opportunity to visit them. But shortly, without warning, Paul will be forced to leave Ephesus in the wake of a mob riot against him. He will wisely use that chance to travel back to Corinth and personally address some of these issues with the Church.

But for this moment – Paul writes a letter. We have that letter tonight … We know it as 1 Corinthians. (It amazes me to realize what lengths the Holy Spirit went to in order to get Paul to write this letter, have it carried to Corinth, and then use men and women in every generation since to preserve the integrity of that very letter so we could hold it in our hands and read it tonight.) This letter prepared the Church for the things Paul wanted talk to them about when he got there. God is all about this step preparing us for the next step. Now let’s turn our attention to First Corinthians, chapter 1. Paul is writing this from Ephesus in about the year AD56.

1 Corinthians 1 NKJV

1 ¶  Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,

·        Called to be … that reveals so much about Paul’s life …

o   If you want to know what God has called you to do, look behind you and see what He has prepared you to do.

·        Paul has spent years dedicating himself to his chosen profession.

o   No one worked harder or was more capable of understanding and defending the Written Word of Almighty God.

o   God only needed to sanctify all of that knowledge and harness all of that passion and energy Paul had accumulated.

o   Paul loved what he did … everyone loves something … watch out, it might turn into a ministry.

·        Paul’s mission in life started long before he was recognized by the leadership in the Church at Antioch and even long before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus.

·        Paul’s contribution to Jesus and to the mission of the Church was found in him giving everything he was and all he had learned to the call of God on his life.

·        Sosthenes was no different …

o   Sosthenes was a Jew who Paul met in Corinth about 4 or 5 years earlier when Paul first went to that pagan city.

o   Sosthenes was a ruler of the synagogue of the Jews in Corinth.

o   Sosthenes accepted Jesus when he heard Paul preaching.

o   When Paul was acquitted of accusations by Gallio in Corinth, it angered the complaining Gentiles who were trying to incite mob violence against the Church.

o   Gallio was the Roman Proconsul of Achaia and he decided to not hear the case against Paul – so - - -

Acts 18:17  Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. But Gallio took no notice of these things.

·        I suppose that’s why Sosthenes ended up leaving Corinth and why about 3 years later we find him in Ephesus serving on Paul’s team.

o   No doubt Sosthenes had been preparing for his call all of his life and now he was being used by God in his best position.

o   A former ruler of the Jewish synagogue in Corinth teaching how to be a witness for Jesus to the Bible School students in Ephesus. Who could have been better equipped than Sosthenes?

o   All he had to do was to let Holy Spirit sanctify all he had been taught to serve in the world’s system.

o   The children of this world are wiser in this world than the children of light … we need to get some worldly people saved!

·        Sanctified formal education is one of the most powerful tools anyone can offer God and the Church.

·        What do you have or what can you do – give that to glorify God!

2  To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

There is no doubt God is preparing you for the call He has placed on your life. God does not need your permission to prepare your life for His work. However, I must admit, things have gotten so much better for me since I yielded my life to Him. I was taught to lead men and out-think the enemy.

God wants you right now, just as you are – well – the sanctified version of you … and He will do the sanctifying. (John 17:17) God has been preparing and positioning you since before you were fully formed in your mother’s womb. (Jeremiah 1:5) The trouble you have experienced in life has come from either you or someone else refusing to acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus. That can stop on your part right here.

Isn’t it high time for you to stop contributing to what’s wrong with this world and start representing what will make it better?

Turn your whole life over to Jesus and let the Holy Spirit sanctify all you have learned so far. God knows exactly where He needs someone just like you. He will give you unimaginable joy and peace as you serve Him. Ask Jesus to sanctify what you know and all you are capable of doing.