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Summary: RECENTLY, SOMEONE SHARED WITH ME A “RULE OF THUMB” FOR THEM PERSONALLY. IT GOES LIKE THIS, “WE ARE ALL PROBABLY ABLE TO HANDLE THREE CRISES IN OUR LIVES AT ANY GIVEN TIME.” WELL, I THINK THAT PAUL IS PROBABLY AT HIS LIMIT HERE! HE HAS TO ADJUST TO A WH

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KEEPING THE FAITH WHEN TIMES ARE TOUGH

Acts 9:19-31 and after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. 20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, "Isn't he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn't he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?" 22 Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ. 23 After many days had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him, 24 but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. 25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall. 26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He talked and debated with the Grecian Jews, but they tried to kill him. 30 When the brothers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. 31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.

INTRODUCTION: RECENTLY, SOMEONE SHARED WITH ME A “RULE OF THUMB” FOR THEM PERSONALLY. IT GOES LIKE THIS, “WE ARE ALL PROBABLY ABLE TO HANDLE THREE CRISES IN OUR LIVES AT ANY GIVEN TIME.” WELL, I THINK THAT PAUL IS PROBABLY AT HIS LIMIT HERE! HE HAS TO ADJUST TO A WHOLE NEW LIFE IN CHRIST. HE HAS TO DEAL WITH THE PLOTTING AGAINST HIM. AND, HE HAS TO SURVIVE!

SO, I WANT TO TAKE A FEW MOMENTS AND LOOK INTO WHAT BRINGS US TO TIMES OF CRISIS – TOUGH TIMES, SO TO SPEAK. BUT I DO NTO WANT TO STOP THERE. WE CAN SEE THIS THOUGHT THREW FROM THE SOURCE OF TOUGH TIMES AL THE WAY TO THE REWARD FOR TOUGH TIMES.

THE FIRST THOUGHT FROM THIS PASAGE I WOULD LIKE YOU TO SEE IS, ….

I. THE SOURCE OF TOUGH TIMES – What brings tough times on us

a. A STRONG TESTIMONY

i. AFTER THE DAMASCUS ROAD THE TESTIMONY OF PAUL CHANGED

ii. IT WAS A SUDDEN CHANGE – BEGAN/AS SSON AS POSSIBLE

iii. IT WAS AN OBSERVABLE CHANGE – PAUL BEGAN TO PREACH

iv. IT WAS AN EVIDENT CHANGE

1. PREACHED JESUS THE SON OF GOD – THE DOCTRINE OF THOSE WHO BELIEVED

2. OPPOSITE OF WHY HE HAD COME

a. RAISE HAVOC IN JERUSALEM – LIT. TO LAY WASTE

b. TAKE BELIEVERS AS PRISONERS

c. TO OBEY THE CHIEF PRIEST

b. A STRONG FAITH

i. PAUL GREW MORE POWERFUL – SPIRITUAL POWER

1. COMMUNION WITH GOD

2. UNDERSTANDING OF THE WORD – FOR THE FIRST TIME, PAUL HAD THE ILLUMINATING POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

ii. PAUL HAD AN ARTICULATE FAITH

1. STRONG IN THE SENSE THAT HE COULD SHARE HIS FAITH IN A CONVINCING FASHION.

2. THE RESULT WAS CONFUSION FROM THOSE WHO HEARD! THE MEANING IS PERSONAL UNREST. TODAY, WE MIGHT CALL THAT CONVICTION

iii. PAUL HAD A SERIOUS FAITH

1. HE TOOK TIME FOR GOD

2. LUKE SAYS, “NOT MANY DAYS” THE JEWS SOUGHT TO KILL HIM. SO, PAUL WAS LOWERED IN A BASKET AND WENT TO JERUSALEM.

3. WHAT WE DO NOT REALIZE IS THAT THE “NOT MANY DAYS” IS IN REALITY THREE YEARS

Galatians 1:17-18 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus. 18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days.

4. IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY AND TRIAL, PAUL WAS SERIOUS ABOUT HIS FAITH. WE NEED TO BE SERIOUS ABOUT OUR FAITH.

a. HE KNEW THE ISSUES – FOR HIM IT IS HIS VERY LIFE

b. DO WE KNOW THE ISSUES? FOR US IT IS THE LIFE, VITALITY, AND FUTRE OF OUR CHURCH

c. PAUL EXACTED A PLAN. FOR HIM IT WAS TO BE LOWERED DOWN A WALL

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