Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Sermon Starters: Acts 21:3-14

1. The setting of this passage
  • Paul is on his way to Jerusalem at the end of the third missionary journey. 
  • He has a group of representatives with him carrying an offering to the church of Jerusalem, an offering he has been working on for years. He may even see the gift as a fulfillment of prophecy (not to mention a peace offering with HQ, a place that doesn't exactly have him on their guest speaker list)
  • Everywhere he stops, people in tune with the Holy Spirit are telling him he is headed for BIG trouble. (Jaws music in the background... Danger, Danger, Will Robinson... There may be trouble, ahead)
  • At Ephesus, he tells them he has a good feeling he'll never see them again.
  • The quite bizarre Agabus takes his belt, ties it around his own hands and feet, and no doubt in a creepy Igor voice says, "The man who owns this belt will be bound in Jerusalem."
  • Seemingly conflicting messages from the Holy Spirit: 1) DANGER, DANGER and 2) Move on to the next port until you get to Jerusalem.
2. People pleasers usually end up ticking everyone off.
  • You please one person today and in the process displease another. Then when you try to please the second person tomorrow, you tick off the first person. Those who try to please everyone end up with everyone upset at them (Erasmus is a good historical example).
3. At some point you have to make the best choices and decisions you can.
  • You are not perfect. Everyone is a package, with strengths and weaknesses. You have to accept that you are not omniscient. You may not make the right decision every time. Deal with it.
  • There are nevertheless decisions that you have to make. Maybe you are a parent, a job you don't have to have any qualifications to have. Maybe you have a position of leadership or authority.  
  • As human beings, we are created in the image of God. That means our well being is also something God charges us with. Most people don't need the reminder to take care of themselves--most people are selfish. But some do. Some people have a charge from God to consider their own joy.
4. So we move on to Jerusalem, despite the warnings.
  • We pray.
  • We consult others.
  • We check ourselves, to make sure we are not just being selfish or ambitious or fleshly.
  • And we go on to Jerusalem, remembering the ultimate outcome is in God's hands.

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