Summary: God is always at work in our world: 1. Choosing His people (vs.17). 2. Protecting His people (vs. 17). 3. Patiently leading His people (vs. 18-21). 4. Righteously judging all people (vs. 19-22). 5. Passionately seeking for His people (vs. 22).

God Is at Work in Our World - Part 1

Series: The Book of Acts - Part 43

Acts 13:13-22

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - May 25, 2014


*Church, we have started to follow the first missionary journey of Barnabas and Paul. And in tonight's Scripture John Mark leaves the team to go back home. We will look into this setback when we get to chapter 15. But tonight, I want to start focusing on the message Paul preached when they got to another city called Antioch. This Antioch was in Pisidia, which is part of Turkey today. And as we read vs. 13-22, think about how God works in our world.


*I like what Paul said in vs. 16, "Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen!" Larry Sarver told about a 6-year old boy who was struggling to listen to a sermon one Sunday, a long sermon.

*After church, the little boy asked, "Dad, what does the preacher do the rest of the week?" His father replied, "Son, he's a very busy man. He takes care of church business, visits the sick, studies the Bible. And he has to take time to rest up. You see, preaching in public is not an easy job." The little boy thought about that for a moment, and said, "Well, listening ain't so easy either!" (1)

*And sometimes it's not. But Paul wants us to listen here, because he's got some important things to tell us about God. Paul wants us to know that God is at work in our world. So please listen to some of the great things our God has done, and still does in the world today.

1. First, God worked by choosing His people.

*As Paul said in vs. 17: "The God of this people Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm He brought them out of it."

*When it says that God chose the people of Israel, it means that He chose them for Himself. Why did God do that? Was it because they were smarter or better looking than other people? -- No. Was it because they had better behavior than other people? Again, the answer is no.

*The reason God chose them was because of His sovereign grace. And Christians, by His grace we are every bit as chosen as they were! In John 15:16, Jesus told His disciples: "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you."

*Also remember what Peter said to Christians in 1 Peter 2:9-10:

9. . . You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

10. who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

*And listen to what Paul said about Christians in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31. This is from the NLT:

26. Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world's eyes, or powerful, or wealthy when God called you.

27. Instead, God deliberately chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose those who are powerless to shame those who are powerful.

28. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important,

29. so that no one can ever boast in the presence of God.

30. God alone made it possible for you to be in Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made Christ to be wisdom itself. He is the one who made us acceptable to God. He made us pure and holy, and he gave himself to purchase our freedom.

31. As the Scriptures say, "The person who wishes to boast should boast only of what the Lord has done."

*The best way I can understand us being chosen by God is adoption. Speaking to Christians, Ephesians 1:3-5 says:

3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,

4. just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,

5. having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,

*Christians: God chose us to be adopted into the Family of God! Think about the kind of love on display when families choose to adopt children. Kay Strom gave the example of 11-year-old Jeremy. He had been abandoned by his birth mother when he was just a little baby.

*Jeremy had grown up in a series of foster homes. The only times he ever saw his birth mother were the 3 times she had come to town for court hearings to block Jeremy from being adopted. How cruel she must have been. Finally, the judge was able to free Jeremy for adoption, but it took 11 long years.

*Rachel Carter was Jeremy's 4th grade school teacher. She was also the mother of three girls. Rachel's heart had gone out to Jeremy on the very first day of school that year. Mrs. Carter was specially moved when the little boy introduced himself by saying: "I'm Jeremy, and I don't have a family. -- I never will because I'm too old for anybody to love me."

*That's what Jeremy thought. But before the year was out, Rachel and her husband decided to adopt that little boy. At the end of the school year the adoption was finalized, and Jeremy proudly told the principal, "When school started I was nobody. -- Now I'm a Carter." (2)

That's a great story of adoptive love. And of course, Jeremy's new parents knew they were going to adopt him before Jeremy did. Christians: It's the same way with our adoption by God. But because He IS God, Ephesians 1:4 can say: "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world."

2. God was at work choosing His people. -- He is also at work protecting His people.

*Again in vs. 17: "The God of this people Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm He brought them out of it."

*When the Lord called Moses, He knew that Pharaoh would resist letting the people go. And God promised to send terrible judgments on Egypt. In Exodus 3:18-20, the Lord said to Moses:

18. . . "You shall come, you and the elders of Israel, to the king of Egypt; and you shall say to him, 'The Lord God of the Hebrews has met with us; and now, please, let us go three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.'

19. I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not even by a mighty hand.

20. So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My wonders which I will do in its midst; and after that he will let you go."

*Those wonders came in the form of ten terrible plagues that God sent on Egypt. The last plague was death for all firstborn men and beasts, except those protected by the blood of the Passover.

*After that terrible night, Pharaoh let God's people go. But he quickly changed his mind, and planned to crush them when they were trapped against the Red Sea. But the Lord opened the Red Sea for the Children of Israel to escape. Then God brought those walls of water crashing down on the people who were trying to destroy His people.

*The same God who sent ten terrible plagues upon Egypt, the same God who told the Children of Israel to sacrifice a spotless lamb, and put his blood on the doorpost, that God is our God! And 1,400 years after He passed over those blood marked doors, Jesus Christ came to be the ultimate sacrifice for us.

*He came to give us the ultimate protection. He came to die on the cross, because He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. "With an uplifted arm He brought them out of (Egypt)." And with an uplifted arm He saved us from hell.

*God is at work in our world protecting His people, but He is not always going to work like we think. The last thing the Children of Israel expected was for the Lord to part the Red Sea. And the Bible tells us how often the Children of Israel grumbled about God's care in the wilderness.

*So Melvin Newland reminded us that in Isaiah 55:8, God said, "My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways.'' God's ways and thoughts are infinitely greater than ours.

*And Melvin said: "A friend of mine stated that he had this truth driven home in a way he didn't expect. When his daughter was 12 years old, it was discovered that she had scoliosis, a curvature of the spine. He took her to three doctors and they each said that her case was not severe enough to warrant any treatment other than corrective shoes and certain exercises. He was told that she would simply have to live with that the rest of her life.

*My friend says that he often prayed to God that she might be healed of her scoliosis, but his prayers were not answered. The curvature of the spine grew worse, not better.

*The daughter grew up and got married, but shortly after her marriage she and her husband were in a head-on collision. They were both seriously injured. X-rays revealed that the 6th vertebra of her neck was cracked. And that particles of bone were deeply embedded in the muscles around her spine. The doctor explained that this was an injury that would eventually heal itself, but it would take a long time.

*Then the doctor said something that my friend hadn't expected. He said that her scoliosis probably saved her life. If her spine had been straight then probably her neck would have been broken, and she would have been left paralyzed or dead. But she was hit in such a way that the curvature of the spine cushioned and absorbed the blow, and only a cracked vertebra was the result.

*If his prayers had been answered the way he wanted, he might not have a daughter today. God's ways are always wiser than ours!" (3)

3. God is always at work protecting His people. -- He is also at work leading His people.

*We see the Lord's patient leadership here in vs. 18-21:

18. Now for a time of about forty years He put up with their ways in the wilderness.

19. And when He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He distributed their land to them by allotment.

20. After that He gave them judges for about four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.

21. And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years.

*How patient God was with them! Over and over they disobeyed. Over and over they rebelled. For them to want a human king was a huge rejection of our Heavenly King, but God patiently led them along. He was leading them to salvation. He was leading them to the Promised Land. And He was leading them to the place of obedience. That's where God wants us to be.

*A thousand years ago, King Henry III of Bavaria got tired of court life and the pressures of being the king. So he applied to enter a local monastery, because he wanted to spend the rest of his life in that peaceful atmosphere.

*The wise leader of the monastery was a monk named Richard, and he said this to the king, "Your Majesty, do you understand that the pledge here is one of obedience? That will be hard for you, because you have been a king."

*"I understand," answered the king. "The rest of my life I will be obedient to you, as Christ leads you." "Then I will tell you what to do," said the monk. "Go back to your throne, and serve faithfully in the place where God has put you."

*And that is what the king did. When King Henry died, he was called: "The King who learned to rule by being obedient." Or you could say: "The King who learned to lead by learning to follow." (4)

*And the best thing we can ever do is learn to follow God. The best thing we can ever do is learn to obey the Lord, no matter what He asks us to do. In Philippians 2:12-13, Paul said:

12. Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;

13. for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

4. God is at always at work leading His people. -- He is also at work righteously judging all people.

*We see the Lord's righteous judgment in 19-22:

19. And when He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He distributed their land to them by allotment.

20. After that He gave them judges for about four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.

21. And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years.

22. And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, 'I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.'

*God destroyed the seven nations in the land of Canaan because of their unbridled wickedness and devotion to Satan. God later removed Saul as king, because in 1 Samuel 13 and 15, King Saul rebelled against the Lord. Saul rejected the word of the Lord, and he refused to trust in the Lord.

*The Lord is the righteous Judge of all the earth. So Galatians 6:7-8, says:

7. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

8. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.

*Larry Kalajainen told the story of a country newspaper that ran a series of articles on the value of church attendance. One day the paper got a letter to the editor that said: "Print this if you dare. I have been trying an experiment. I have a field of corn which I plowed on Sunday. I planted it on Sunday. I did all the cultivating on Sunday. I gathered the harvest on Sunday. And hauled it to my barn on Sunday. I find that my harvest this October is just as great as any of my neighbors' who went to church on Sunday. So where was God all this time?"

*The editor printed that letter in the paper, but added this reply at the bottom: "Your mistake was in thinking that God always settles His accounts in October." Out God is amazingly patient, but He will settle His accounts. (5)

5. God is at work righteously judging all people. -- He is also at work passionately seeking for His people.

*We see an example of God's seeking in vs. 22, where Paul said this:

22. . . "When He had removed him (i.e. King Saul) He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, 'I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.'"

*The Lord God said: "I have found David." And when Jesus came into the world a thousand years later, He said that He had come "to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke 19:10)

*Luke 15:1-7 explains it this way:

1. Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him.

2. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them.''

3. So He spoke this parable to them, saying:

4. "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?

5. And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

6. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'

7. I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance."

*I am so glad that Jesus was willing to come to West Monroe, Louisiana to find me! Aren't you glad He came searching for you?


*Next week we will finish Paul's sermon, and take a much closer look at the Lord's sacrifice. But tonight, we can see so clearly that God is at work in our world:

-Choosing His people.

-Protecting His people.

-Patiently leading His people.

-Righteously judging all people.

-And passionately seeking for His people.

*Keep trusting in the Lord to work in your world!

(1) SermonCentral sermon "Three Things Needed for Reaching the Lost" by Larry Sarver - Luke 15:1-10

(2) Kay Marshall Strom, "Seeking Christ" - Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1994 - pp. 106-107 - Source: sermon "Adopted!" by King Duncan - Ephesians 1:3-14

(3) SermonCentral sermon "Easter: King of the Jews" by Melvin Newland - Matthew 27:11-31

(4) SermonCentral sermon "Prayer and the Call of God" by Guy Caley - Acts 13:1-5

(5) Larry R. Kalajainen, "Extraordinary Faith for Ordinary Time" - CSS Publishing Company, Inc, 1994 - Source: - 10/17/2004