Summary: When Christians get serious about their faith and venture beyond their comfort zones, they have a much deeper appreciation for the support God gives them.
When Foundations Shake
1. In his book Fuzzy Memories, Jack Handey writes: "There used to be this bully who would demand my lunch money every day. Since I was smaller, I would give it to him. Then I decided to fight back. I started taking karate lessons. But then the karate lesson guy said I had to start paying him five dollars a lesson. So I just went back to paying the bully." Many of us find it is easier just to pay the bully than it is to learn how to defeat him. [Sermon Central, David Yarbrough]
2. Fear is a strong bully. I wonder how many it affects our service for God?
3. As Paige and Amy shared their missionary trip experience, they both express how good it was for them to get out of their comfort zones. But we rarely make such choices.
4. Fear makes us conform. Both teens and adults give into peer pressure because they fear mockery, they fear being alone and deserted and disapproved by others.
5. Jim Elliot wrote, "The world cannot hate us, we are too much like its own. Oh that God would make us dangerous."
6. Persecution and threats were a new experience to Peter and John; they were becoming dangerous.
• When they arrested Jesus, Peter was bold for a few moments.
• John was the bravest, in some ways; but he had connections.
• But to minister under the shadow of persecution was a new experience.
Main Idea: When Christians get serious about their faith and venture beyond their comfort zones, they have a much deeper appreciation for the support God gives them.
TS ----- > This support takes several forms.
I. FELLOWSHIP: A Spiritual Family (23-24)
A. The Encouragement of Sympathizing EARS
One of the greatest ministries on earth is the ministry of listening.
Some of you are going through times right now where you just need others to listen…nothing more
B. Solidarity Through United PRAYER
1. In a way, William Carey is considered the first modern missionary, way back in the 1700’s.
ILLUSTRATION After hearing an account of the spiritual needs of India, the secretary of the meeting remarked: "There is a [spiritual] gold mine in India, but it seems almost as deep as the center of the earth. Who will venture to explore it?"
"I will venture to go down," said (William) Carey, "but remember that you must hold the ropes."
2. We "hold the ropes" for others through financial support, moral support, and prayer. Do not underestimate prayer.
3. Prayer is both vertical (worship) and horizontal (helping others). In its horizontal aspects -- especially in group settings, it shows love, concern, and camaraderie.
Application: God supports us through fellowship in a specific church. Do we take advantage of that opportunity? Are we there to support others?
II. SCRIPTURE: A Foundation in the Word of God (25-26)
A. Guidance as to what to EXPECT
1. This is the era is which the Kings of the earth rise up against the Lord and against His anointed. This era ends when Jesus returns to reign. Because the disciples were aware of this passage, they knew that their experience was typical.
2. John tells us that there are "many antichrists" that arise before the big one.
3. When you know the Scriptures well, you can anticipate so much of what happens in life…more realistic about human nature and the course of life
B. The ASSURANCE of God’s Word
When God explains beforehand … a reassurance that the seemingly crazy things in life that happen are compatible with a sovereign God.
III. THEOLOGY: A Framework to Interpret Life (27-28)
A. God’s SOVEREIGNTY
1. Note the phrases in this prayer that highlight God’s sovereign hand: "You made" (24), "You spoke" (25, and "You decided."
2. In verse 28, we see the paradox of human responsibility and God’s predestination. προορι’ζω = to determine beforehand, to mark out with a boundary before (like a coloring book)
3. God governs in human affairs, even in the death of Jesus Christ. From the viewpoint of bystanders, they could not understand it. In retrospect, we see the genius of God.
4. Herod and Pontius Pilate thought they were free agents; but God was using their evil dispositions for a good end, our salvation
5. Note that all people are represented as guilty: "Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed."
6. This is the prime example of a phenomenon we frequently see, God’s holy irony.
B. The Right WORLDVIEW
1. Our theology and worldview should be the same.
2. Who am I? What is the purpose of my life? What is God like? How can I be right with God? How can I know right from wrong? What is the purpose of government, family? What is my responsibility to others?