Sunday, July 29, 2018

Sermon Starters: Spot the Prophet

Text: Acts 7:44-8:1
Date: July 29, 2018, Countryside Wesleyan Church

  • Background on Saul/Paul--how Stephen must have seemed to him
  • Stephen on trial--he's the bad guy, right?
  • Sermon text
I. Sometimes the bad guy is the good guy (and vice versa)
  • Wow--Stephen sure wasn't trying to "win friends and influence people"
  • These must have been "drips" of truth for Saul, that gnawing God does at our hearts, at our subconscious.
  • Severus Snape in Harry Potter--he's the bad guy, right? (bad guy is actually the good guy, although we were so indignant. We were so sure of ourselves that he was evil.)
  • When pastors/priests fail us (good guy is actually the bad guy, although we were so convinced s/he was a prophet and anointed by God.)
  • Gamaliel in Acts 5 (sometimes we know deep down we're in the wrong, but we continue to fight against God anyway; when we don't know who the good guy is, wait on the Lord; hit the pause button and wait for clarity)
II. Sometimes I'm the bad guy.
  • Paul's story (zeal without knowledge; what were his parents thinking, naming him Saul--a good guy that's a bad guy)
  • Paul immediately makes a course correction--that should be our longing as well. Lord, show me if I am fighting against you.
  • Some individuals--even within the people of God--will never hear that course correction. Take Ahab, the king of Israel, who had the consistent warning of the prophets but never heeded, even though he was an Israelite.
  • David and Nathan--again, David immediately makes course correction.
III. Spotting the prophets with your name on them
  • You'll find them annoying. (Ahab and Micaiah)
  • Be still long enough to hear the dripping of the Holy Spirit, that gnawing on your heart that God does trying to get you to change course.
  • The good gueys will lead you to submit to God more. (a friend who said to pray when I wanted to take Jericho)
  • They'll lead you to love others more. (which doesn't mean you won't get angry--but it's about what you get angry about)
  • Sometimes God lets you hit the wall. (hopefully in this life, unlike Ahab who hit the wall in the next life)
  • Stephen and Paul, the rest of the story
  • Jesus stands at the right hand--indicating who the good guy is. And Stephen gets blessed, even as he is dying.
  • Eventually, "every knee will bow and tongue confess."

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