People Who Enjoy Answers within Problems (Acts 14:19-28) September 4, 2011
If you can enjoy answers within problems, there is nothing to fear in this world. It is not the level of just persevering and overcoming problems. If you come to realize and actually see that they are all answers, you can even anticipate problems (you get excited as if you were on a treasure hunt). Others will try to cheer you up, but you will be so full of thanksgiving that you would laugh when you are alone. In today’s passage, the Gospel-hindering Jews came together, stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city that he was on the verge of death. With that damaged body, however, Paul went back into the city. There he found many disciples. It is not that he found disciples when he endured an unfair conflict, but Satan was trying to stop Paul from finding the disciples God has prepared through persecution but Paul was not deceived and decided to go back into the city. What would have happened if Paul became angry and afraid and went to another region? That is what we would have most likely done. When problems come, we get discouraged, resent others, and run away. In one sentence, Paul was not deceived. He knew that there was an answer God has prepared.
1. After this happened, Paul gathered disciples and said, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” Why so? We all want to believe in Jesus and live a comfortable life to evangelize in full scale and so on, don’t we? Why did Paul say what he said? He was implying that you must have the fundamental solution to all problems and conflicts you run into in your life.
1) Problems and conflicts are supposed to come.
a. That is the world after the fall of Adam and Even in Genesis 3. Because men have the corrupt innate nature, the world is becoming evil more and more. In the background, there is the devil who tempted and crumbled Adam. And he is still working even now. It says in Is.60:2, “Darkness covers the earth.” It says in 2Tim.3:1, “There will be terrible times in the last days.”
b. Moreover, it says in Jn.15:19, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” If you are on the same side as the thief, there is no reason for him to hinder you.
2) But what is the solution you must hold to at all times in all circumstances? Christ has clearly finished all problems. With His blood, He washed our sins, and delivered us from all curses (Priest). We used to belong to the spirit of darkness and live being dragged around by trials, suffering, affliction, fate, and destiny, but now we have the authority to fight and win (King). He will not leave us alone in any circumstances. This is the blessing of Immanuel (Prophet).
3) What is the sure conclusion? God forms you within your problems, and makes all of them into evidence. Jesus said, “You will be my witnesses to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) He did not just mean in a geographical sense. The ends of the earth also signify the end to all problems.
a. God is forming your faith within problems. When things get hard and difficult, you look upon the Lord even more. You will gain faith that you will confess “He alone is my rock and my salvation, he is my fortress.” (Ps.62:1-8) When things get really difficult, comforting words of others are no use. At that time, you will gain that faith that enables you to confess that the Lord alone is your all. Good faith, strong faith, and firm faith are not formed in just one day. Faith is formed through many problems and conflicts as if gold is tested in fiery furnaces. God is forming you right now.
b. God is making your vessel within problems. As He trims your sharp edges, He makes you able to understand all people (sympathy), and enlarges your vessel to the extent you help others. There are people who are full of scars, sense of victimization, and violence due to suffering (You cannot say a thing to them. They will misunderstand and take offensive every word you say.). On the other hand, there are people whose vessels are pruned and formed through affliction.
c. Eventually, God will put all the answers and blessings He has prepared within that vessel as He prepares you. That process is an answer and blessing. Then what conclusion will you come to at last? “Christ has finished all problems indeed. Christ is really the solution to all problems.”
2. When you are faced with problems, there is something you must find within them: answers that God has hidden.
1) Discard all of your fear, discouragement, and resentments, and think just a little bit as you meditate upon it. Think that there is clearly an answer within your problem and find it. Paul who was almost stoned to death went back into that very city he faced persecution. There he found the blessing of all blessings, disciples.
2) As mentioned earlier, God does not answer you just because you withstand the affliction and yield. God has prepared answers and blessings, and as you go forward towards them the devil deceives and hinders you through problems. That is when Paul refused to be deceived. It is like Job’s suffering. After God opened Job’s spiritual eyes and prepared the double portion of blessings, He allowed the devil’s attack. Not knowing God’s true intention, the devil attacked Job. “You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about.” (James 5:11) God anointed David with oil first (God’s selection and plan) and then trained him through King Saul’s attack and persecution.
3. The issue is that you must find answers within all problems with the absolute solution, but when problems actually come, things get difficult. That is why you need the strength from God. It is the strength with which you can wait without being oppressed and find answers.
1) That is what God also promised. That is the power of the filling of the Holy Spirit. It is not about suppressing and withstanding. Receive the filling of the Holy Spirit. Do not try to solve the problem itself (Acts 1:6-8). “Entrust the times and dates to the Father and receive the filling of the Holy Spirit first.” Not only will your problems be resolved, but you will also enjoy the blessings hidden behind those problems. That is why Jesus said “You will be my witnesses to the ends of the earth.” The disciples’ interest was restoring the Judean Kingdom, but God’s interest is in the blessings to the ends of the earth.
2) Receive the filling of the Holy Spirit by three methods and receive strength.
a. Receive strength within the worship you give God. Sunday services, Wednesday regional church worship, Friday Praise and Prayer Night, do you really need strength. Come. Receive strength there. What is worship? It is the time in which you hold onto God’s plan and receive His power.
b. In your daily life, set aside some of your own time to receive strength. This is the one-on-one time with God. Set your scheduled prayer time, and meet one-on-one with God. For the rest of your day, think about God’s plan as you move, see, and feel along, and ask for the filling of the Holy Spirit. That is continuous prayer and 24-hour prayer. “Be joyful always. Pray continuously. Give thanks in all circumstances.” (1The.5:16-18) This is the core of continuous prayer and 24-hour prayer. “Always, continuously, and in all circumstances”
c. Is there very important and urgent matter? Try determinate prayer (Make a resolution to do Early Morning Prayer or fasting prayer like Paul did)
We are God’s people. We are evangelists. We are people who will enjoy answers within problems. I bless and hope that all of you may receive strength to discover answers within problems.