Summary: Our preparation for the future must be based on God’s loving presence and the good plan He has for our lives.
Preparing for Your Future
Intro: We live in a world where the future seems less and less certain with each crisis and tragedy that happens. We have people all around us reminding us of the things that could go wrong. Gas prices could soar even higher. The economy could collapse. The local mill could close down. Social Security could fail. Terrorists could carry out a nuclear attack on the U.S. Hillary could get elected. The bad news just goes on and on. I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of potential woes. On top of that, we have numerous personal problems that could blow up in our face at anytime. Something bad might happen to one of our family members. Our marriage might fall apart. Our past might catch up with us. We might lose everything we’ve been working toward.
-So how do we prepare ourselves for what seems like an uncertain future? Some go into hiding or seclusion. Some prepare bomb shelters and keep an emergency stock of food and water. Others tuck away enough cash to get them through a tough time. Some make themselves as independent as possible from electricity, water, and other things that might be disrupted by a natural disaster or other calamity. Some of these things aren’t bad ideas. In fact there are some practical ways to prepare for future catastrophes that just make good sense.
-But as we walk with the Lord and learn to trust Him with our future, how can we prepare ourselves for what lies ahead? We’re going to talk about that today as we look at the life of Paul. He was warned that some bad days were ahead of him, but he was also assured of God’s promise that He would be with Him no matter what came his way. That is really the main truth I’d like us to consider today.
Prop: Our preparation for the future must be based on God’s loving presence and the good plan He has for our lives.
Interrogative: Having said that, what role does God play in preparing us for the future?
TS: Let’s look at a few principles that are evident in our text today.
I. God Often Uses Fellow Believers to Prepare Us for the Future (Acts 21:1-4)
1 After we had torn ourselves away from them, we put out to sea and sailed straight to Cos. The next day we went to Rhodes and from there to Patara. 2 We found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, went on board and set sail. 3 After sighting Cyprus and passing to the south of it, we sailed on to Syria. We landed at Tyre, where our ship was to unload its cargo. 4 Finding the disciples there, we stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.
-Paul and his companions spent a week with the believers / disciples at Tyre. Bible scholars tell us that Paul was probably sailing on a large freighter. Part of the rationale for this is the fact that they stayed there 7 days, which is about how long it might take to unload a large freight ship by hand. The Greek present participle for the word, unloading, leads one to believe that it took a period of time to unload the ship.
-Regardless, Paul had 7 precious days to spend with the believers in Tyre, which is located in modern Lebanon. We don’t know much about this church, but church history tells us that after the time of the apostles, the church at Tyre became an important center for the Christian faith. This appears to be a fulfillment of Psalm 87:4, which lists Tyre as one of the cities that will know God in the future. How did the gospel get to Tyre? Well, the first wave probably came after the Day of Pentecost in the year of Christ’s death and resurrection. Thousands of Jews journeyed to Jerusalem for the Day of Pentecost, and it is likely that some Jews or proselytes from Tyre were there and received the gospel, and took it back home. However, the 2nd wave probably came after Stephen was killed by the Sanhedrin and a great persecution arose. Acts 11:19 says, “Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews.” Phoenicia is modern day Lebanon, where Tyre was located. So, the church at Tyre seemed to be pretty well established by the time Paul sailed in.
-Well, as Paul spends 7 days with these believers, he probably teaches them and encourages them to keep living their lives for Jesus – just as he did in all the churches he visited. But these believers did not just sit passively while Paul did all the ministering. No, some of them were hearing from the Lord as well. The HS had revealed to them that Paul was going to face some problems in Jerusalem. So, being the normal human beings they were, they warned Paul not to go there. If you can avoid problems, do so.