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Check your Roots!!
Saul was one of the witnesses, and he agreed completely with the killing of Stephen. A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem; and all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria. 2 (Some devout men came and buried Stephen with great mourning.) 3 But Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison.
4 But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went. 5 Philip, for example, went to the city of Samaria and told the people there about the Messiah. 6 Crowds listened intently to Philip because they were eager to hear his message and see the miraculous signs he did. 7 Many evil[a] spirits were cast out, screaming as they left their victims. And many who had been paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.
Saul whose life was turned around and his name changed was there
I will not look in the life of Saul but I want us to know that you are never far too gone for God to use you
We can talk about forgiveness and mercy -and what it looks like all is lost, and then God captures your heart
But today I want us to look at what follows after the killing of Stephen
“A great wave of persecution began” The Pharisee, Saul included thought they had won by killing Stephen and now they went for the others
Saul went house to house- there was no peace or any place to hide.
I feel like this is a timely message and we need to pay extra attention because, a time is nearing for greater persecution
Think about it – these guys have been uprooted from their normal lives, some are thrown in jail and others are run off away from home
I wonder what that would look like today- In our busy, cell phone in hand life, if we had to be run from our homes for speaking the word of God.
For believing and testifying what God has been doing.
These believers were preaching the truth, the life of Jesus killed and resurrected, yet they were sought to be killed
The bible says that they “and all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria.”
The believers were scattered – When I first read this, I thought that they scattered and ran away and hide. But no, that not what they did
They preached the good news about Jesus whenever they went
How deep are you rooted in Christ that you see one of your believers killed, the others put to jail and you are next, you go to another city and instead of hiding and letting things cool down, you end up preaching the good news
“4 But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went”
I know that these believers were praying for Stephen, for their fellow believers, yet God did not answer their prayers the way they hoped.
I wonder what happens to us when the word around us falls apart. When prayers don’t get answered the way we are hoping
- When a loved one whom we have been praying for loses the fight
- When a kid we have been raising right decide to deviate from the truth
- When we lose a job even though we were on our knees praying for God to keep providing
What happens to us when we get pushed by life to the end of our limits
Stephen is gone, they are now running away – they are scattered everywhere …they are all alone
I want you to see this word picture…this is that moment when you are all alone and the end doesn’t look great.
BUT! The believers preached the good news – The bible goes to the extent of giving us example about Philip.
Here is the secret – It doesn’t matter where you go, if the WORD of God is in you, you will withstand the storm.
If you are truly rooted in Christ, you will withstand the storm.
You can’t help but proclaim the good news
The story of the sponge – these guys are squeezed and all that comes out is the good news
I like to put myself in their shoes taking my current state in consideration
- Beautiful wife, lovely kids, good job…friend, Church…and all at once, all these is taken away and I am forced to be in a new place
- Where would my heart be? I am sure I would still love Jesus, but my question is would my love be so that God can take care of me? – Which He will
- Or would my love be shown by dying to self (my own desires) and spreading the good news regardless of my current situation?
- As I started preparing this message, I couldn’t convince myself that I would stand in a place of these believers
I had to check my roots! Check your roots!!
Psalms 1:1-3 Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.
Where are you getting your nutrition?
Those that drink from the fountain of the Word of God, are like a tree (with heathy roots) , a strong tree that will withstand heavy storms, one that will bear fruits even in the times of lack
How often are you drinking from the fountain of the Word of God? Sunday and some Wednesdays?
These believer, bore fruits even in their worst time because they were filled with the word of God
vs“ 6 Crowds listened intently to Philip because they were eager to hear his message and see the miraculous signs he did. 7 Many evil[a] spirits were cast out, screaming as they left their victims. And many who had been paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.
There was great Joy in that city
What a contrast – These believers came from a place of pain, torment, a place where there was not hope, death and despair loomed in the streets
Yet, none of that messed their fruits, if anything they turned their misery to bring the good news and hence they brought joy
Some of you cannot even get past a starbucks coffee that’s a few degrees colder than ordered.Waiting for it to be fixed ruins the rest of your day and the day of those around you
How are you going to survive, when persecution comes?
I urge you to Check your roots!
Psalms 30:1-5 I will exalt you, Lord, for you rescued me. You refused to let my enemies triumph over me. O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you restored my health. You brought me up from the grave,[a] O Lord. You kept me from falling into the pit of death. Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones! Praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.
In other words, if your roots are firmly planted, though the storm may come at night, the winds might be great, and night may be long….
Joy comes in the morning!
If your roots are not planted in Christ, am sorry but joy will not come in the morning
Luke 6:46-49 So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? 47 I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. 48 It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. 49 But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house right on the ground, without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.”
We might not know until after the storm and it may be too late.
Check you roots!
Where is your hope planted – in my job, my family, my ability, my skills, my friends, ___________?
What happens when we lose it all……are we going to still praise the Lord
Ecclesiastes 1: 1-2 These are the words of the Teacher,[a] King David’s son, who ruled in Jerusalem “Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!”
Ecclesiastes 1:16 I said to myself, “Look, I am wiser than any of the kings who ruled in Jerusalem before me. I have greater wisdom and knowledge than any of them.” 17 So I set out to learn everything from wisdom to madness and folly. But I learned firsthand that pursuing all this is like chasing the wind.
We read this and just assume that they are just words. But these believers had the experience firsthand. If they were holding on to their stuff, their knowledge, their wisdom, their class, their homes, their cars, …then when scattered …that would have been it.
Think about the economic collapse of 2007-2009 – People were killing themselves and their family
And it’s easy to point fingers at them …what will happen when there is a knock at your door and you are told to choose closing the door and going back to bed or standing up for Christ and losing it all?
Check your roots!!
If Christ is not your number 1, then you have nothing.
Are you spending intimate time with God…praying, fasting, reading you word constantly
Psalms 119: 27-30 Help me understand the meaning of your commandments, and I will meditate on your wonderful deeds. I weep with sorrow; encourage me by your word. Keep me from lying to myself; give me the privilege of knowing your instructions. I have chosen to be faithful; I have determined to live by your regulations.
Keep me from lying to myself…even better Lord, please checking my roots,
Psalms 139:23-24 – Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
When is the last time you asked God to check your roots, to see if there is any rot, breaks, worms, dead parts, – to see if there is any anger, jealousy, pride, bitterness, …the list goes on, things that will weaken your roots.
Nothing would shut up Philip. He goes from Jerusalem to Samaria (103Km 22hrs- walk) and has the audacity to preach the word of God
Acts 16: 22-26 22 A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. 23 They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. 24 So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.
25 Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. 26 Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off!
Psalms 105:1 – Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples.
Psalms 119:10-12 – I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, Lord; teach me your decrees.
Psalms 119:105 -Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.
Jeremiah 20:8 -9 When I speak, the words burst out. “Violence and destruction!” I shout.
So these messages from the LORD have made me a household joke. 9But if I say I’ll never mention the LORD or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can’t do it!
It may look like a bad thing, but the truth is … the burning fire gave them a purpose and made them not dwell on the bad things that just happened.
I pray the same for you today- That you will not be able to contain what God had put in you. That you will be empowered to speak even in the midst of danger.
This evening, ask God to open your eyes so you can see your roots.