Sermons

Summary: I preach expository messages, and this is from my series on the book of Acts.

“Mistaken Identities”

Acts 14:8-18

December 16, 2007

(NOTE: I began my message with a slide show of "celebrity lookalikes", which can be easily found via a Google search.)

Mistaken identity can be fun…(SLIDE SHOW)

This man was never really President; he is not Bill Clinton.

Nor is this man our Vice-President, Dick Cheney.

Would you have voted for either of these two men? That’d have been a problem, since neither of them has ever run for president.

This guy was never a top gun or a rain man, and he wasn’t’ born on the fourth of July.

This man was never Bond, James Bond.

Nor was this man ever the Terminator, or the Governator.

And this guy never made anybody an offer they couldn’t refuse, at least not that we’re aware of. (Brando)

You…you talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? (DeNiro)

This is not Roy Orbison. Oooh, ooh, pretty woman.

Oooh, ooh, pretty woman. (Julia Roberts)

Oooh, ooh, pretty woman. (Michael Jackson)

Not the richest ex-con in America. (Martha Stewart)

Not the richest man in America. (Bill Gates)

This guy probably couldn’t teach you a thing about golf. (Tiger)

This guy never played a swashbuckling pirate. (Johnny Depp)

This guy never made beautiful music. (Paul McCartney)

This guy never made great movies. But then again, neither did this guy. (Michael Moore)

This guy is such a close match for that guy…what’s his name…that he could have fooled me! (Elvis)

U2? (Bono)

And the guy on the left has actually been arrested twice, for looking like the guy on the right! (Osama)

Mistaken identity can be fun. And it can be tragic.

Headline in Wednesday’s AJC - DNA test frees man who served 30 years

John White confesses he’s no angel, and admits that he committed the robbery and drug offenses that earned him prison sentences of 7 and 2 years in the 1990s. But the Meriwether County man always said he was innocent in the 1979 rape of a 74-year-old Manchester woman. White, who was convicted of the rape and sentenced to life in prison, was released from the Macon State Prison in Oglethorpe Monday night after new DNA tests ruled him out as the rapist. White was arrested six weeks after the August 11, 1979 rape, and the victim, who had also been beaten and robbed, picked him out of a photo line-up. She later picked White, then 20, out of a line-up, and he was found guilty the following May of rape, aggravated assault, burglary and robbery and sentenced to life in prison plus 40 years. He served about 10 years of that sentence before he was paroled in 1990.

In 2004, White wrote a letter asking for help from the Georgia Innocence Project (GIP), a non-profit organization started in 2002 that uses DNA testing to free those wrongly convicted of crimes. The GIP took on the case, and discovered earlier this year that while a piece of human flesh found at the crime scene had been destroyed, hairs collected and linked to White through microscopic analysis were still on file at the Meriwether County Superior Court Clerk’s office. In early November the evidence was sent to the GBI Crime Lab for DNA testing. Thursday the lab determined that the hair did not come from White, but from another person already in the DNA database.

White admitted that he hasn’t always lived a "model life," but said he has "no fear" of his future behavior resulting in another arrest. "I’ll try the best I can to rebuild my life," he said. "The first thing I’d like to do is embrace God a little bit better." We should pray that John White will do just that.

I want to talk today about several cases of mistaken identity that we find in the middle of Acts 14.

Paul and Barnabas are in the middle of their first missionary journey when we find them in Acts 14. After spending time in Iconium, seeing some come to faith but facing threatening opposition, the apostles journey to Lystra. Lystra, a city of unknown origins, was made into a Roman colony by Caesar Augustus in 6 B.C., who brought veterans of the Roman army into it, along with their families. These represented the ruling class, with commerce and education being overseen by a few Greeks living in the town. The population was mostly uneducated Lycaonians, and if there were any Jews living there, they were few; we find Paul preaching, not first in a synagogue as was his typical custom, but in the open air. This very likely indicated that there weren’t enough Jews living in Lystra for there to even be a synagogue. It is as Paul is preaching that we find our first case of

I. Mistaken Identity: A Lost Cause - :8-10

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