Acts 14: 1-28

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There was once a young man who suffered seriously from depression. He was grappling with all kids of issues, memories, fears, and guilt. It was quite serious, so upon his pastor's recommendation he went to see a doctor and was prescribed some medication to cope with the depression. But he wasn't satisfied with the results, so he went back to his pastor to talk about it.
"All the highs and lows disappeared. I don't like the lows. In fact, they're terrible. But the highs went away as well. Now I just feel like a cow, mooching around, never getting excited about anything. I can't live like that. It's just not me."
The young man eventuality came off the medication and began working with a counselor who, through patience, wisdom, and prayer brought him through the worst of his struggles. But the pastor couldn't get the young man's words about highs and lows out of his head. It seemed to him that in some ways, the young man's condition was a lot like the condition of the church in the Western world.
He writes this:
[Western churches are] "by and large, respectable. All right, we are not as socially acceptable, in many places, as we once were. But there are two things you won't find much of in our ordinary day-by-day life. [#1] You won't find much in the way of persecution. Nobody is stirring up and poisoning people's minds against us (well, they do sometimes, but not as sharply as they might).... [#2] You won't find much in the way of signs and wonders. Nobody is running and jumping about the streets showing that God has healed them (well, they do sometimes, but we are normally so afraid of 'extremism' and of charlatans claiming to be healers when all they're interested in is money, that we tend to fight shy of even the possibility of healing)."
[He then writes]...
"I can't help reflecting that [the Western church has] become like my young friend on medication. The lows have gone, but so have the highs. What is the medication that we have taken which has made us the ecclesiastical equivalent of a herd of cows, mooing and mooching to and fro, doing nobody any harm, but never getting excited either? Nobody much gets healed, and nobody much gets stoned." (N.T. Wright, Acts Volume 2, 23-24)
What a contrast with the picture we see in Acts 14
  • Go there to follow along 
  • As we follow Paul and Barnabas on the last leg of their first missionary journey, we're going to see glorious highs and deadly lows.
  • We'll signs and wonders and the miraculous
  • And we'll see anger, pain, persecution, and yes, someone will get stoned.
  • And along the way, through both the highs and lows we’ll see an example of perseverance.
  • But this is more than a story about two men who persevered two thousand years ago. It’s written for our instruction so that we can persevere today.
By God’s grace, we can persevere through the highs and lows of following Jesus.
  • As we travel with Paul and Barnabas, we’re going to notice Five Arenas (filled with highs and lows) where perseverance is necessary.
#1 — By God’s grace, you can persevere through the highs and lows of...
1) Relying on God
But what does this have to do with relying on God?
  • Read vv. 1a
    • They’re going right back to the synagogues!!!
    • That type of persistence and courage comes from God!
    • Have you shared the Gospel with that neighbor/friend/family member already? Do it again!
Key — “they remained” (v.3)
#2 — By God’s grace, you can persevere through the highs and lows of...
2) Deliverance from Trials
  • Read vv. 5-7 “they continued”
    • It’s not necessarily wrong to seek deliverance from trials
    • Used to think that following Jesus meant always doing the hardest thing (when I almost said “no” to PBC)
Notice the lows/highs of deliverance from trials...
    • Following Jesus is hard!
    • 2 Timothy 3:10-12You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted
  • The High —We get to experience God’s deliverance!!!
  • Job 42:5—“I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you”
#3 — By God’s grace, you can persevere through the highs and lows of...
3) Gospel Ministry
Notice the lows/highs of Gospel ministry...
  • The High Lives changed!!!
  • Colossians 1:28-29 — Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works within me.
  • The Low  The Minister Misunderstood
    • Would I tear my clothes and grieve like they did? Or would I secretly like being confused with a god?
#4 — By God’s grace, you can persevere through the highs and lows of...
4) Physical Pain
    • 2 Corinthians 4:17 — For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.
  • The High —you’re in good company!!!
    • Susan Thomas—Promotion
      • Acts 5–after the Apostles were beaten they left “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.”
    • Matthew 5:11-12 Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
#5 — By God’s grace, you can persevere through the highs and lows of...
5) Life in the Church
  • The Low Opening yourself up to the church often hurts!!!
  • The High you’re not running the race alone
    • Hebrews 10:24-25 — And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
    • We need each other!!!
By God’s grace, you can persevere through the highs and lows of following Jesus.