Summary: I want you to understand this morning that God's primary focus in your life is not for you just to feel good; he wants you to be good.
If you have your Bible, I want you to open with me to the book of Acts. We're going to go to chapter 5. We come out of our Easter series, and I want to finish up Identity Check, Part 10. We're going to be in 1 Peter 4:1-11 today, but I want to open this morning with the book of Acts. I want you to go to chapter 5, and I want to read this beginning in verse 40.
"…and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus."
I want you to understand this morning that God's primary focus in your life is not for you just to feel good; he wants you to be good. It has been said before. It has also been said that the road that leads to feeling good is often paved with not feeling good. In other words, in this world, there is suffering. There is pain. There is heartache. There is suffering that goes on.
The Bible says in the book of John, chapter 16, around verse 33, Jesus talks, and he says, "In this world, you're going to have suffering. You're going to have pain. You're going to have this persecution." Then he says, "Fear not, because I have overcome the world." Now I don't know about you, but when I read this opening text, I see a lot of things that jump out, and it does something to my spirit.
Verse 40 again. "…and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus [anymore]." One of the first things that takes place in this opening text is they are physically beaten. The flesh is attacked. Your flesh is attacked from time to time. Then they go to the heart of the issue. They go down deep in the soul, right? They begin to strike against this identity crisis. Amen?
They really are saying this. "This Jesus you're preaching, not only are we going to beat you in the flesh and you're going to have suffering, but we're going to damage your spirit. We're going to go to the heart of the matter, and we're going to go deep in your spirit, and we're going to say, 'Don't even speak in the name of Jesus anymore.'"
They put the physical punishment. They put the spiritual punishment on them. They try to shut their mouths. As we read the text, it says, "…they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing…" I can leave some church services not rejoicing. Hello? Does anybody hear me?
We can come into church and have so many problems. We can get so focused on all kinds of little things. "Mrs. So-and-so wasn't too nice to me today. They kind of snubbed me. I wonder what he has against me." We really do. We take these small persecutions, and we leave and go, "Man, I went to church, and I leave, and I feel worse than when I came." Has anybody ever been there?
Yet we ask God for power. We ask God, "Give us power. Let us understand our identity." Our identity was never to be brought together and fuss with one another. Our identity was to be brought together and accomplish the kingdom work God has called us to. These guys set the example.
In this world, you're going to have suffering and persecution, but God has already overcome all of that, right? It doesn't mean we don't feel some kind of pain, but we have to understand that God is not primarily concerned with us feeling happy. He wants us to be on fire for him regardless of the pain. They go out rejoicing.
I don't know about you, man, but can you remember growing up when your daddy used to give you a whooping? If you grew up with my dad, you got a whooping, right? Does anybody remember those? You know when you get in trouble, because Daddy would pull the… You've done something you weren't supposed to do. You would hear the belt. Come on. It would go through the loops. Does anybody remember that?
I mean, I got some whoopings, man. I don't ever remember getting a whooping and going out and going, "That was awesome!" It doesn't even go together. You know what would happen if I would have gone out and said, "That was awesome, Dad! Do it again." He would have said, "Okay, I'll do it again." Until it don't feel awesome.