Summary: This sermon encourages us to persevere and rejoice in our work for the Lord even when life doesn’t meet our expectations.

The Great Adventure

Acts 16:11-40

August 11, 2002


A. [illustration, James Dobson, New Man, October, 1994, p. 36.]

This is an exert from an article that James Dobson wrote in 1994 about Stephen Hawking, whom I believe has since died…

Stephen Hawking is an astrophysicist at Cambridge University and perhaps the most intelligent man on earth.

He has advanced the general theory of relativity farther than any person since Albert Einstein.

Unfortunately, Hawking is afflicted with ALS Syndrome (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

It will eventually take his life.

He has been confined to a wheelchair for years, where he can do little more than sit and think.

Hawking has lost the ability even to speak, and now he communicates by means of a computer that is operated from the tiniest movement of his fingertips.

Quoting from an Omni magazine article: He is too weak to write, feed himself, comb his hair, fix his glasses--all this must be done for him.

Yet this most dependent of all men has escaped invalid status.

His personality shines through the messy details of his existence.

Hawking said that before he became ill, he had very little interest in life.

He called it a "pointless existence" resulting from sheer boredom.

He drank too much and did very little work.

Then he learned he had ALS Syndrome and was not expected to live more than two years.

The ultimate effect of that diagnosis, beyond its initial shock, was extremely positive.

He claimed to have been happier after he was afflicted than before.

How can that be understood? Hawking provided the answer.

"When one’s expectations are reduced to zero," he said, "one really appreciates everything that one does have."

Stated another way: contentment in life is determined in part by what a person anticipates from it.

To a man like Hawking who thought he would soon die quickly, everything takes on meaning--a sunrise or a walk in a park or the laughter of children.

Suddenly, each small pleasure becomes precious.

By contrast, those who believe life owes them a free ride are often discontent with its finest gifts.

B. What do you do when life doesn’t meet your expectations?

1. When life doesn’t turn out the way you expected, do you throw in the towel?

2. When marriage turns sour, do you give up?

3. When careers take alternate routes, do you turn in your keys?

4. When your body looks a lot worse than you had thought, do you just let it go to pot?

5. What do you do when things don’t go the way you expect?

C. Today we continue in Acts 16 where we find the apostle Paul in the Macedonian city of Philippi and nothing goes according to expectations.

I. Expectation: going to pray

Acts 16:11-13a, From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day on to Neapolis. 12 From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days. 13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer.

A. After receiving what we refer to as the Macedonian vision, Paul and his companions begin travelling through the region of Macedonia.

1. Last week we looked at verses 6-10 of this chapter where Paul was trying to go into the regions of Phrygia and Galatia in order to preach the gospel in those places, but the HS kept them from going there.

2. Then Paul received a vision of a man from Macedonia standing on the shore begging him to come over to Macedonia to help them.

3. So Paul and Silas and Timothy and Luke set out for some of the cities in Macedonia.

4. Last week we talked about the vision that Paul had been given by God for his ministry and we talked about the vision that God has given for our ministry here at Somerset.

5. Today we see Paul beginning to fulfil his vision by moving through the cities of Samothrace, Neapolis, and Philippi in the region of Macedonia.

B. The rest of this chapter takes place in the city of Philippi.

1. Luke tells us that Philippi is a Roman colony.

2. He tells us that it is the leading city in the region of Macedonia.

3. And he tells us that they stayed there several days.

4. We also know that Philippi is the city to whom Paul later wrote the book of Philippians where he emphasized the importance of having an attitude of rejoicing.

C. And Luke tells us that on the Sabbath day, they were expecting to go to the place of prayer.

1. If they were expecting to go to the place of prayer, we can assume that they were expecting to spend some time in prayer.

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