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Victorious Service for Our Savior

The Book of Acts  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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1. God will give us strength (vs. 19-22). 2. God will give us a strategy (vs. 20-25). 3. God will give us support (vs. 23-30). 4. God will give us success (vs. 31).

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Victorious Service for Our Savior

Acts 9:19-31

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - Feb. 2, 2014

BACKGROUND:

*Please open your Bibles to Acts 9, as we think about serving our Savior. This chapter begins with the meeting Saul had with Jesus on the road to Damascus. At the time Saul was one of the most vicious enemies of God's Church. But on that road, Saul met Jesus in a blinding flash of light, and his life was totally transformed.

*After he was blinded, Saul had to be led by the hand into the city. But the Lord sent a faithful Christian named Ananias to help Saul miraculously regain his sight. Then Ananias helped Saul begin to understand what had happened on the road.

*Today's Scripture helps us understand how God turned Saul into the Apostle Paul, one of the most devoted Christian servants in history. And this matters a lot, because God wants all Christians to be devoted servants of God. With this background in mind, let's begin by reading Acts 9:19-31.

INTRODUCTION:

*Have you ever thought of yourself as a servant of the Lord? Christians: God wants us to be His servants. Paul certainly considered himself to be a servant of the Lord, and he was careful to mention this fact in his letters.

*For example, in Romans 1:1, Paul introduced himself as "a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God." Then in 1 Corinthians 4:1, Paul said, "Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God." In 1 Corinthians 9:19, Paul said, "though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more." And in 2 Corinthians 4:5, Paul said, "We do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake."

*Paul considered himself to be a servant of God, and that makes sense, because Jesus Christ also came as a servant. In Matthew 20, Jesus called His disciples to Him and said:

26. . . Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.

27. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave

28. just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.''

*Jesus called Himself a servant, and He wants us to live in service to our God. As Rick Warren once said: "You were made to contribute, not just to consume. God made you to make a difference. And what matters is not how long you live, but how you live. What matters is not the duration of your life, but the donation of your life. The Bible says we’re created to serve, we’re saved to serve, we’re gifted to serve, and we’re commanded to serve." (1)

*But how can we be the servants God wants us to be? -- God's Word shows us in this Scripture.

1. First notice that God will give us strength.

*God will give us all the strength we will ever need, and Paul’s story proves this truth to us. Please look again in vs. 19-22:

19. And when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.

20. Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.

21. Then all who heard were amazed, and said, "Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?''

22. But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.

[1] God gave Paul two kinds of strength in these verses. In vs. 19, he was strengthened by the food.

*The word for strength here means that Paul was "invigorated." He was strengthened physically for the work God wanted him to do. It’s the same word used when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before the cross. In Luke 22:42-43, Jesus said:

42. . . "Father, if it is Your will, remove this cup from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done."

43. Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.

*Jesus was strengthened. Paul was strengthened. And God will give us the physical strength we need to do what He wants us to do.

[2] Then down in vs. 22, we see another word for "strength."

*Here God's Word says: "Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ." The strength here in vs. 22 is where we get our word "dynamite," and it’s talking about the dynamic, spiritual power of God's Word and His Holy Spirit.

*God wants us to have this same kind of spiritual strength. And we know this is true, because this is the same word Paul used in Ephesians 6:10, when he told us to "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might."

*God wants every believer to have His spiritual strength. One reason why is because God's strength helps us overcome our past.

*Imagine how Paul must have felt when he realized how wrong he had been, and how many people he had hurt. That realization could have led to paralyzing guilt, but God gave Paul the strength to overcome it. God gave Paul the strength to make a brand-new start in life. And the Lord will do the same thing in our lives.

*God also gave Paul the strength to overcome opposition to the Gospel.

*Yes, in vs. 23-25, Paul had to leave Damascus, because some of the unbelieving Jews plotted to kill Paul. And many of the Jews in Damascus could not be persuaded of the truth. But in vs. 22, they could not overcome Paul’s teaching. The Christ-rejecting Jews just got more confused and confounded, because of the strength that God gave to Paul.

*God wants to give us that kind of spiritual strength. But it’s even better to say that God IS our strength. So, again Ephesians 6:10 tells us to "be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might." God Himself is our only real strength, and He will give us all the strength we need to do what He wants us to do.

2. We can be the servants God wants us to be, because He will give us strength... -- And He will give us a strategy.

*In vs. 20-22, Paul helps us understand the Lord’s strategy, so please listen to these verses again:

20. Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.

21. Then all who heard were amazed, and said, "Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?''

22. But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.

[1] In these verses, there are two key parts to our strategy. First, Paul preached the good news about Jesus.

*As vs. 20 says, "Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God." Paul spoke the truth about Jesus Christ. And I like the fact that he didn’t lollygag around. Verse 20 says Paul started immediately.

*Are you putting off doing something that God wants you to do? Are you putting off giving your testimony? What about inviting someone to church? Now is the time to do it.

[2] Paul preached the good news. -- Then in vs. 22, he proved the good news.

*Saul "confounded the Jews. proving that this Jesus is the Christ." How did Paul do that? He did it with the Word of God. Under God's leadership, Paul looked into the Old Testament, and found verse after verse that obviously pointed to Jesus and the sacrifice He made for our sins.

*I’ve read articles where people said the Word of God isn’t enough to persuade people anymore. Don’t you believe it! If they are going to be persuaded about Jesus Christ, it is going to be by the Word of God! If they are going to be saved, it is going to be by the Word of God! As Paul wrote much later in Romans 1:16, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. . ."

*Church: We can stand on the Word of God! Mitchell Gonzalez gave this great testimony: "I saw my two-year-old daughter Natalie carry my Bible by the case’s handle. She dragged it in front of a tall table we have. And as I was about to take it away from her, she took the Bible, and laid it on the floor. Then she stood on it, and reached up to take something from the tall table."

*In that moment, Mitchell said it was as if the Lord spoke to him and said this: "If you would take my word, bring it where you need, and stand on it. You’ll reach things you couldn’t reach before." (2)

*The same is true for us! And yes, there are many strategies to help us spread the gospel. Sunday School is a strategy. Upward football, Orange, and Vacation Bible School are strategies for our children. Teaching in other countries is a mission strategy for spreading the gospel. Even the concert-movie night is a strategy for us. But ultimately, our strategy must be based on the Word of God, because "it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes!"

3. We can be the servants God wants us to be, because He will give us a strategy... -- And He will give us support.

*God will give us all the support we need, and it often comes from each other. It turns out that we really do need each other! In vs. 23-25, Paul desperately needed support from the Christians in Damascus. It was a matter of life and death.

23. Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him.

24. But their plot became known to Saul. And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him.

25. Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket.

*That was not the only time Paul needed this kind of life-saving help. Verses 28-30 give us another example.

28. So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out.

29. And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him.

30. When the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus.

*Paul was one of the bravest men who ever lived, but it’s important to see that there was a time for Paul to "head for the hills." There was a time to speak, but there was also a time to leave. And we must seek God’s wisdom on what to do when.

*But what would have happened to Paul, if his Christian friends hadn't been there to help him escape from Damascus and Jerusalem? -- Possibly the worst. So be there for other people, and thank God for Christian help!

*In vs. 26-27, God used Barnabas to help Paul in a very different way.

26. And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple.

27. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.

*Where would Paul have been without Barnabas? -- Left out in the cold, and that's where we would be without each other. The longer I am a part of this church, the more I see the wonderful blessing that you are to me and each other. The truth is that we need each other!

*Paul needed helping hands to get out of Damascus. Paul needed a helping hand when he got to Jerusalem. Paul needed more helping hands to get out of Jerusalem. And God knows that we will need helping hands too, especially when it comes to serving the Lord.

*God will give us the support we need. Take comfort in this truth, and do everything you can to be a helping hand for God's Church.

4. We can be the servants God wants us to be, because He will give us support. -- And He will give us success!

*God will give us a measure of the success we see in vs. 31: "Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.

*Where did this spiritual success come from? -- It has to come from God. That’s why in John 15:4-5, Jesus said:

4. "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

5. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing."

*Our success has to come from God. That’s why Acts 2:47 says the early church was "praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved."

*After Stephen was stoned, the church was scattered by persecution, but Acts 11:20-21 says they:

20. . . spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus.

21. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.

*Then in 1 Corinthians 3:5-7, Paul said:

5. Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one?

6. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.

7. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.

*Spiritual success has to come from God, and it will come from God. That's why in Galatians 6:7-9, Paul said:

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.

9. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

*And in 1 Corinthians 15:57-58, Paul also said:

57. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

*God will give us the spiritual success we seek for His church. But just like Paul and Barnabas, we all have to do our part.

*And what a difference we can make! We can make a difference right here at home through our personal witness and the programs in our church. We can also make a difference anywhere the Lord sends us. All of us can make a difference for the Kingdom of God.

*Alexander Maclaren was a very well-known British preacher in the 1800’s. Once Maclaren got an unbeliever to promise he would come to Maclaren's church for four Sundays, and listen as Maclaren presented the gospel.

*That lost man was faithful to his word and came to church. He listened intently to Maclaren’s sermons, and after the fourth message he was saved. The preacher was delighted and could not resist asking which of the four sermons brought the man to Jesus.

*The new Christian replied, "Your sermons, sir, were helpful, but they were not what finally persuaded me." Then he said what changed his mind was an elderly woman he helped on a slippery sidewalk. He said, "She looked up into my face and said, 'I wonder if you know my Savior, Jesus Christ. He is everything in the world to me. -- I would like you to know Him too.'" (3)

CONCLUSION:

*All of us can make a difference for the Kingdom of God. And with that woman's spirit, we surely will!

*Do all you can to serve the Lord, because God will give us His strength, His strategy, His support, and His success.

*Let's ask Him for these things right now, as we go to God in prayer.

(1) Adapted from SHAPED FOR SERVING GOD - The Purpose Driven Life – Part 5 - Saddleback Church - Lake Forest, CA - Rick Warren - Oct. 26-27, 2002

(2) SermonCentral sermon contributed by Mitchell Gonzalez

(3) SermonCentral sermon "Do All Roads Lead to Heaven?" by Jeff Strite - Acts 17:16-34

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