Summary: Life gets hard, but God gives us great reasons to rejoice! 1. God gives us joyful reunions (vs. 21-26). 2. God gives us good results (vs. 25-26). 3. God lets us hear good reports (vs. 27). 4. God gives us rest (vs. 28).
God Gives Us Great Reasons to Rejoice!
The Book of Acts - Part 48
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - July 13, 2014
*Church: There is a joy that belongs to us, because we belong to Jesus Christ. Yes, life gets hard, but God gives us great reasons to rejoice! And tonight's Scripture highlights some of those reasons.
1. Rejoice first, because God gives us joyful reunions.
*Missionaries Paul and Barnabas started to make their way home in vs. 21-22, and Luke tells us that:
21. . . When they had preached the gospel to that city (i.e. Derbe) and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch,
22. strengthening the souls of the disciples. . .
*Imagine the joyful reunions that took place as Paul and Barnabas began to go home. Until they got to the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, they followed the same route they initially traveled to share the good news about Jesus.
*What a blessing it is to be reunited with family and friends and fellow-believers! It's one of the things I noticed the most when Anita got into Calgary last weekend. And it's one of the things our team enjoyed when we got home this weekend. Our Katie made signs! God gives us joyful reunions. And we know that the best reunion is yet to be, when God takes us home to Heaven.
*The closest I've ever felt to that ultimate reunion was at a giant Prayer Rally held at the West Monroe High School football stadium. That rally was scheduled in response to a prayer-in-school lawsuit that had been filed by the ACLU, and it was held on January 30th of 2000.
*The goal was to take a bold stand for Jesus Christ, and for the power of prayer. The theme was "United We Stand. Boldly We Pray. Humbly We Wait." Religious liberty lawyer, Matthew Staver, spoke for a few minutes. There was special music and a season of prayer. Then a giant crane hoisted a cross that must have been thirty feet tall.
*They were hoping to have 10,000 people come to pray, but 15,000 people showed up on that cold day! The stadium was completely packed, both in the stands and on the field. Anybody who was there knows that it was a high and holy time. I have never seen anything quite like it. The testimonies, the prayers, the faith, the unity, the presence of God, and the cross were wonderful. Then a beautiful rainbow appeared right over the stadium in the hazy sky above. It was marvelous, wonderful, amazing!
*After the rally I walked through the joyous crowd of 15,000 to look for my wife Mary. Every few seconds I would see another friend. We would greet each other and praise the Lord for the amazing blessings of the day. And I thought, "This is a little taste of what it's going to be like when we get to Heaven."
2. And Church, we can rejoice, because God gives us joyful reunions. But we can also rejoice, because He gives us good results.
*How can we sum up this first mission trip by Paul and Barnabas? Well, there were certainly some hardships, setbacks and disappointments. In Acts 13, the false prophet Bar-Jesus opposed the gospel, before the Lord struck him with temporary blindness. In Acts 13:13, John Mark bailed out on the team and came home early.
*Then they faced some kind of opposition everywhere they went:
-In Acts 13:45, "When the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul."
-In Acts 14:2, "The unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren."
-In Acts 14:5, "A violent attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to abuse and stone them."
-And in Acts 14:19, they did stone "Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead." But in vs. 20, Paul "rose up and went (back) into the city."
*Now on the good side: In Acts 13:42, "The Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath."
*On the good side.
-Acts 13:48-49 tells us that when the Gentiles heard that the gospel was for them too:
48. . . they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.
49. And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region.
*On the good side.
-In Acts 14:1, "a great multitude both of the Jews and the Greeks believed."
*And on the good side.
-In Acts 14:3, Paul and Barnabas spoke "boldly in the Lord." And God was "bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands."