Faithlife Sermons

Being Intentional with your Circumstance

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The persistent popcorn cornel.
You cannot control what someone else does, but you can control you.
The book of Acts provides us view of the early church and their faithfulness to carry out the mission of making disciples of all nations. Acts chapter 1 promises power through the Holy Spirit and we see the evidences of that power carried out through the mission of the early church. Amazing life change takes place at Pentecost as thousands repent and turn toward Jesus for salvation. A terrorist named Saul (who went around persecuting Christians) is radically brought to the light on the road to Damascus. No longer is he persecuting Christians, but he becomes the one teaching and sharing the message of the Way. He himself finds himself in the midst of persecution.
We learn and see a lot about the life of Paul in the book of Acts. Acts however is not meant to be a biography of the Life of Paul, but a example to us how the early church was faithful to the mission of taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth. We see their willingness to be faithful despite potential hostility, or with whatever circumstance they find themselves in. The Gospel is brought to light and it is revealed that the saving grace of Jesus Christ is available to both Jews and Gentiles, to anyone who believes.
Uncle Ben, “Remember, with great power, comes great responsibility.”
We find ourselves at the end of the book of Acts in chapter 28. Gospel intentionality reigns supreme despite the circumstance Paul or anyone finds themselves in.

Jesus + Circumstance = Intentionality.

The Apostle Paul was radically changed on the road to Damascus. His life did a complete 180. No longer the one feared, but the one people, Jews specifically, were going after. They did not like that Paul was going around talking about the Way.
Acts 18:6 ESV
And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”
This did not stop Paul’s efforts to reach the Jews. He let up at this moment, but soon enough, he would return seeking to connect them to Christ. Sharing the Gospel with Gospel intentionality was Paul’s mission. He radically changed his way of thinking. Wherever he went, he wanted to be on mission. He wanted it known that the Gospel was for both Jew and Gentile.
Jesus’ impact on Paul’s life changed his circumstances. Really, it led him to new circumstances he would not of personally dreamed of. When we accept Jesus, it effects the way we function.
We will see in Acts 28:17-23 that Jesus + Circumnstance = Intentionality.
Acts 28:17–23 ESV
17 After three days he called together the local leaders of the Jews, and when they had gathered, he said to them, “Brothers, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. 18 When they had examined me, they wished to set me at liberty, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case. 19 But because the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar—though I had no charge to bring against my nation. 20 For this reason, therefore, I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain.” 21 And they said to him, “We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken any evil about you. 22 But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.” 23 When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.

Jesus + Life Change = Faithfulness

Acts 28:23–28 ESV
23 When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. 24 And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. 25 And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet: 26 “ ‘Go to this people, and say, “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” 27 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ 28 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”

Jesus + Holy Spirit = Boldness

Acts 28:30–31 ESV
He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.
God is doing amazing things throughout the life of Paul and the early church. They are being faithful despite their circumstance. They are being intentional. What fuels this intentionality.
Jesus + Holy Spirit = Boldness
Acts 1:8 ESV
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Paul did not waste time in prison. He used this time to share the gospel and encourage the churches.
Colossians 4:2–6 ESV
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Again, where does this power come from. What is stopping this power. Nothing.
Continue in prayer, be watchful
Pray for us to have an open door for the Word
Pray that we can declare Christ.
Walk in wisdom toward outsiders. Use your time (use your circumstances well).
Philippians 1:12–14 ESV
I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
Believers are becoming confident in the Lord. They are being bold! The work of the Lord is going forward unhindered. Paul is sharing the gospel, even with the guards. The whole imperial guard is hearing the gospel because of Paul’s boldness. This is motivating the church and it should motivate us.
Philippians 1:19–23 ESV
for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.
The Holy Spirit is propelling the early church to be faithful to the Great Comission. If we are saved, we must be bold.
Tenacious efforts to share the Gospel by the early church, despite their circumstance, got us to this point in history. Because of their willingness to go, we have opportunity to thrive in each and every circumstance we find ourselves in. No Coronavirus, no threat from the Government, or anything should decrease our tenacity, if anything, it should increase our tenacious efforts to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
In Application:

Gospel intentionality does not return void!

Isaiah 55:11 ESV
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
My best will never be enough, but combined with His power and grace, I’m bold and unstoppable .
God deserves my best and I will lay it all down until I rest.
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