LESSON #3: PERSEVERANCE

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[On this particular day we had some issues with a mic, super exciting! So, here is a rough transcript of that message! Hope this message benefits you and encourages you to HANG ON!]


“ROAD-TRIP Lesson #4: PERSEVERANCE”



I love the song called “I Refuse” by Josh Wilson. [We played this song during service, I’d encourage you to look it up on-line and take a listen!] Those lyrics really get to my heart…

“I don’t want to live like I don’t care. I don’t want to say another empty prayer. I refuse to sit around and wait for someone else to do what God has called me to do myself. Or I could choose, not to move, but I refuse.”

I believe that what we’re doing in Millwood Station is making a difference. That couldn’t happen without y’all who’ve been praying, sending out cards, delivering biscuits, and I think there’s so much yet to be in the days ahead.

I want to encourage you towards living life with less regrets, living a life that refuses to miss opportunities that God wants you to be a part of that could potentially change the world, beginning with people you see in front of you every day.

Whether the distance is short or far, the Lord desires for all of us to go on ROAD-TRIPS to get to those people.
For several families, road-trips will be happening this week during Spring Break, as families travel to get away from everyday life as they know it.

During those traveling times, we can all say that we’ve had things go wrong on road-trips….
…Car problems.
…Road-Work.
…Sicknesses.
…Traffic.
…Wrecks.
If it can happen, it will happen on a road-trip!

On one such road-trip a few years back, we were within 15 minutes of our destination and we faced a major setback. The students bound for camp were so excited, the van is moving, and we end up behind the road crew replacing reflectors after the winter where’d they’d been scraped off with plows. It was a two-lane, steep, inclined, curving road with zero visibility, and no chance to pass. In front of us was the road crew: I don’t know if you’ve ever seen this before, but a man slides out, swipes a tar-like substance on the ground, slaps reflector down… he gets pulled 7 feet forward, a man slides out, swipes a tar-like substance on the ground, slaps reflector down… over and over and OVER! The last 15 minutes of our drive turned into nearly 2 hours!

The same is a true description of most road-trips for all followers of Christ and for the church as a whole. We are meant to be people who leave our surroundings to share the Gospel in as many places as we can.

We are made to be ROAD-TRIP-ing people.

And when we go, we will have things go wrong along the way….
….A distraction halts the conversations….
….An emergency arises….
….Or we’re sharing the Truth of Christ and things just plain don’t go well (they asked a question we can’t answer, they openly rejected us, made fun of us, snubbed us, nobody seemed to want what we offered) and here we are, feeling like a failure.

What do you do when things go wrong?

There is a lesson in Scripture that really encourages me when things go wrong. I’d like to share it with you. It’s found in Acts 14. If you’ve got a Bible, please turn there with me.

Things go great at the end of Acts 13, many turn to the Lord, and at the same time, the city is stirred up against Paul and Barnabas and a group of people drive them out. They count themselves worthy to follow in Christ’s steps and they head on to the next place, let’s start with Acts 14, vs. 1….

1Now at Iconium [they’ve left Antioch, and this is now around 80 miles southeast] they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed.
2But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers.
Some of the greatest damage that can ever be done against the church is often done by the hands of those who call themselves “the church,” see themselves as a part of the “church”, but they look nothing like Jesus describes the church.

This is a great example of that right here: You’ve got Jews who separate themselves physically from Gentiles for religious reasons, calling them dogs, outcasts, but when it comes to opposing what the Lord has done through Christ, they link arms with the Gentiles long enough to “poison their minds” against what Paul and Barnabas are teaching!

On normal days we don’t want to have anything to do with you, but today calls for an exception. Misery loves company, and gossip isn’t any fun if no one is listening! So, they’re willing to break their own rules for this!
Step back with me and look closely at these verses: they think they are protecting the church, but they are actually hurting the church.

This was not so cut-and-dry as we read it here, the worst kind of “stirring” and “poisoning” doesn’t all ways happens by those “out there,” but often by many who are a part in a way, but they’re really “unbelieving,” just like these guys.

How can you identify them? Jesus said this in Mt. 7:15-16…
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them…”

If someone’s actions, life, and words speak opposition about Christ, Christ’s followers, and Christ’s church, do the math y’all, most likely they do not care for Christ, and if they are hanging among the church, they are dangerous, “ferocious wolves” and we should always guard the church for danger, especially danger from within.

What did Paul and Barnabas do at this point? RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN! No, look at vs. 3….
3So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.
Great things are happening here and at this point, the more the opposition arose, the more determined they seemed to be!

The Lord gave signs and wonders to accompany God’s Word’s authenticity and genuineness!
But things continued to get worse…. Vs. 4….

4But the people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles. 5When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, 6they learned of it and fled….

They endured a LOT of opposition, but a certain point was reached, and they decided that nothing else of value could be done here, so they had to leave.

What do you do now? They are following Jesus Christ to a “t”, leaving one city and headed to the next and this happens. Is there a Plan B, Lord? Last part of vs. 6….

[When they fled, they….] fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country,
[What are they going to do there?....]

7and there they continued to preach the gospel.
These guys are intense, aren’t they?
There were Antioch, far from home….
Speaking for the Lord, success mixed with persecution.
Speaking for the Lord some more, more persecution, then leaving.
Next town…. Leaving Antioch, headed to Iconium.
Speaking for the Lord, success mixed with persecution.
Speaking for the Lord some more, more persecution, then leaving.
Next town…. Leaving Iconium, headed to Lystra & Derbe.

What can we learn from these guys?
They had a die-hard hearts that would never give up!

Can you imagine the devastating effects and the tales that would be told …. “BREAKING NEWS: Paul and Barnabas met their match in Derbe, it was more than they could handle, and in this town, they hung it up!”
NEVER!

Paul is the same man who’d say to his young protégé, “No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please His Commanding Officer” (II Tim. 2:4).

ROAD-TRIP LESSON #1: SPEAK, you never know who’s listening.
ROAD-TRIP LESSON #2: When you speak, SPEAK THE BOOK.
ROAD-TRIP LESSON #3 (What we learn from these first verses in Acts 14…, I’ll write this on the screen for you): PERSEVERANCE!
The first time you go camping with your family on a road-trip may be your last, if you don’t know what to expect!
….Nobody told you about the bathhouse.
….Nobody told you about the mosquitos.
….Nobody told you about those park attendants.
….Nobody told you about the area of the campground you thought was a gas tank, but it turns that tube was taking a terrible substance from the camper!

There will always be “unknowns,” but it’s nice to know a little of what you can expect.

As a follower of Christ…..
…The recipient of your Gospel witness will not always rejoice.
…The Red Sea will not always part when you want it to.
...Sometimes, the right decision you need to make will be HARD, harder than you ever imagined it would be!
In the middle of your ROAD-TRIP, it’s not that things might go bad, they will, but the example of these men who went from one ROAD-TRIP to another is this….
PERSEVERANCE!

Why shouldn’t you give up during the hard times of opposition/persecution/rejection?
Hard times are normal in the life of a genuine believer.

When the early church faced its very first persecution for following Christ, their response was not “God deliver us,” but a prayer meeting where they asked the Lord for more boldness! Go home and re-read the story in Acts 4.

Have you lost sight of the fact that we are in a war, and in a war we experience attacks.

When Paul was training up Timothy, he said this in II Tim. 3:12, “…everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…”
Not maybe, but they “will be persecuted.” Don’t be surprised!
But don’t end there….
Hard times can be a blessing the Lord entrusts to you, as a platform for His Name.
You know those words of Jesus in Matthew 5: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
The following verse is where Jesus speaks of you being the SALT OF THE EARTH and the LIGHT OF THE WORLD!

Earlier in Acts 5 do you remember how those followers of Christ described themselves after their hard times? They left “rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name” (5:19).

Hard times are meant to grow you, not destroy you. Some of us have experienced stunted growth in our walk with the Lord because we’ve never really walked through a trial with the Lord.

C.S. Lewis wrote, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people, for an extraordinary destiny.”

Now, think through this side for me….
*If your hard time does destroy you and pretty much knock you out, please hear me, this can be a sign that the Lord’s Word has never taken root in you to begin with. One of the greatest tests of the genuineness of someone’s faith in Christ: how do they handle hard times?

Prov. 24:16 says, “…though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity.”

If God’s Word is choked out by the worries of this life, Jesus describes this as seed that bears no fruit.

If that’s you, today is a great day to ask the Lord for a brand-new start. Tell Him you’re sorry, ask the Lord for forgiveness, ask Him to give you a new heart, ask Him to help you follow Him, all the way.

We live in a world where people give up on almost everything, if they think there’s something better around the corner. Where are the men and women, boys and girls, who will never give up in their pursuit of Christ and making Him known? Those are the ones going on ROAD-TRIPS that will change the world, just like Paul and Barnabas.



Regular people being changed by a REALLY BIG GOD.