Don’t let anybody count you out – Jesus has His hand on you and you’re unsinkable until your work is done.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello friends, how are you? Doing alright? Well, I trust so. Join with me now in the 14th chapter of Acts. For those of you who are just starting with us, what we do is to go through a book of the Bible, verse by verse, and yours truly tries to put a handle on the truth so that you can get a hold of it for yourself. See, the Bible is true forever, absolutely true, whether or not anybody believes it or reads it. Paul says, “Let God be true even though every man is found to be a liar.” And so, although the Bible is true, it becomes of value to you when you get hold of its truth for yourself and apply it to your life. This then is my purpose, to put a handle on it for you, so you can get a hold of it for yourself. We’ve been following Paul and Barnabas as they are on their missionary journey. And they went to Antioch, and then from an Antioch, they went to to Iconium, and then from Iconium they went to Lystra and Derbe. And right now we’re looking at what happened to them in connection with their ministry at Lystra.
First of all, when the impotent man who was healed was leaping and walking, the people decided that these two strange visitors must be the gods come down to them in human form. There was, I am told, a legend in that area that Jupiter and Mercury walked about looking for someone to give them shelter, and no one did, until finally they stopped at the home of some poor peasant, and he became greatly blessed and rich and so on. This was the legend. And so they had this in the back of their minds, and when these strange people did such wonderful works among them, they thought, “Well, these must be the gods.” So they called Barnabas “Jupiter”, and they called Paul “Mercury”, and they were going to do sacrifice to them. Well, the Apostle said, “Don’t do that. We’re just ordinary human beings like yourselves, and we’re bringing you the good news of the Gospel that you should turn from these vanities,” of worshipping idols they meant, “Unto the living God which made Heaven and Earth and the sea and all things that are therein.” Well, at that point, they could scarcely restrain them, even with their vigorous protest from offering sacrifice.
Now, the last time we got together, I reminded you that it only takes one verse, Verse 18, it said, “With these sayings scarce restrained they the people that they had not done sacrifice unto them.” But the next verse, the very next sentence says, “There came thither certain from Antioch and Iconium who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city supposing he’d been dead.” One moment they were sacrificing to them, the next day, or days, they were murdering or attempting to murder them. Now, isn’t that something? Popularity is fickle. Young person, older person, remember, make your decisions in life, not on the basis of what people say, but on the basis of what God says, because public opinion is fickle, and popularity is fickle. And you may be a hero one day and a bum the next, but if you’re doing the will of God, this is what counts; be sure, be sure that you are in the will of God.
One of our students approached me the other day and said, “I’m so confused about all these differences in doctrine that different people have.” For the first time in her young life she had been exposed to the fact that Christians even disagree on certain doctrinal matters, and she said, “I’m so confused about it, and I’m just ready to give up.” Well I said, “Why don’t you, instead of majoring on differences, why don’t you major on the things you know?” I said, “Let’s go down some of the things you know. Do you know you’re saved?” “Oh yes, Brother Cook. I know I’m saved.” And her face just lit up with the joy of the Lord. Well, I said, “Are you certain that you want God’s will in your life? Have you settled that you want His will, or are you still fighting His will?” “No,” she said, “I want His will, with all my heart.” Well, then I said, “The Bible says if you want God’s will, that’s what you’re going to get. In all thy ways, acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths. And the Bible says God will keep you. You who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time. And faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it. And God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, being confident this very thing that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
Now I said, “You can trust the Lord, can’t you? Are you sure you can trust the Lord to keep you?” “Oh yes,” she said, “I’m sure I can trust Him to keep me.” Well, I said, “Now, look what we have here; you’re sure you’re saved?” “Yes.” “You’re sure you want the will of God?” “Yes.” “You sure this minute that you’re in the will of God?” “Yes.” “Are you sure that God’s a big enough God to keep you?” “Yes.” Well I said, “Why worry?” She smiles and she says, “You know, I never thought of that.” [chuckle]
Yes, be sure that you’re in the will of God, don’t worry about about what people say. Be sure you’re in the will of God, and then go ahead. Some day I’ll give you a little rundown on how to know the will of God. Would you like that? Alright. Well, it says they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city. Have you ever been dragged anywhere? I mean, literally? This is what they did, they dragged him out of the city. And you can be sure that the bruises and the lacerations that… And the contusions that he had suffered in the process of being stoned until he lost consciousness, this was compounded by being dragged along the rough cobblestoned streets or dirt streets of the city. I tell you, it probably took a good deal of washing and careful bandaging to take care of all of the dirt and other material that was ground into that poor bruised bleeding body in the process of being dragged out of town.
Just so simple a matter as the simple statement that they dragged him out of town, supposing he’d been dead, they left him on the town dump as a dead body. Well, there he was, and he said, “While the disciples stood round about him, he rose up and came into the city, and next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.” A couple of thoughts here; one was, never count the servant of God out. Never imagine that because you have done your worst, or because the world has done their worst, let’s put it that way, because I’m talking mostly to people who love the Lord, I know that. Never imagine that because the world has done its worst and opposition has done its worst, never imagine that the battle is lost, because it isn’t.
That’s what Paul says in a different place. This is some of the background of what made him able to write as he did. He said, “We are persecuted but not forsaken.” And somebody has translated that, “Knocked down but never knocked out.” Knocked down but never knocked out. See? Well, alright, that’s the whole deal. We’re under pressure but we don’t lose the battle. He says, “As unknown and yet well-known, as dying and behold we live. As chastened and not killed, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing and yet possessing all things.” And that’s 2 Corinthians 6:9. And it says, “As chastened and not killed.” I think it’s Phillips, isn’t? Or Ken Taylor, one of them that gives that paraphrase of “as knocked down”. “We live close to death, but here we are still very much alive. We’ve been injured, but kept from death.” I think it must be Phillips that says, “Knocked down, but not knocked out.” You’ll have to take my word for it, because I can’t look all these things up when I think of them. [chuckle]
The point is, here’s a man who, out of the real experience of having been just about killed, he says, “Look, we’re unsinkable because we’re filled with the Spirit of God, and we’re God’s ministers, and we’re doing God’s will.” Alright? Always going through it but never going under, that’s another way of paraphrasing that. So here’s Paul, while the disciples stood around, he rose up, came into the city. Don’t count God’s servant out because he’s down. And listen, believer, don’t trump on somebody that’s down and say, “Ha-ha. I told you so.” Remember what Paul says in Romans 13, “To his own master he standeth or falleth. Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, and he shall be holden up, for God is able to make him stand.” God is able to make him stand. That’s Romans 14:4. So, don’t trump on somebody that is down. Don’t count him out, because God doesn’t count him out.
David may be down and saying, “When I kept silence, even my bones became old through my roaring all the day long. For a day and night thy hand was heavy upon me, and my moisture is turned into the drought of summer.” But God had mercy on David and Solomon, his son later on is able to pray, “Don’t forget the mercies of David. You had mercy on him, have mercy on me.” That’s the sense of it. Peter is going out to weep bitterly, because he denied his Lord. But the Lord Jesus restored him and made him the voice of the baby church there at Pentecost Day. Simon Peter, the man who denied his Lord was the first one to own his Lord under the pressures of those post-Pentecost days. Never count a man down and out just because of the pressures that he’s under.
God, is able to make him stand. That’s a tremendous truth. And listen, I’m talking to somebody who’s discouraged this morning. Now, I don’t know who or where you are, my dear friend, but I’m talking to somebody who is just discouraged enough to give everything up. And you may even have had dark thoughts of self-destruction. You thought, “Well, I’ll die and then they’ll be sorry.” You know, that sort of a thing. Listen, it’s always too soon to quit. This is what Dr. Edmund of Sacred Memory used to say, “It’s always too soon to quit.” Don’t count yourself out even though you may be down. Believe God, take fresh hold on the mercies and the blessing of God. Learn from Paul the apostle; while they stood around him supposing him to have been dead, he rose up and came into the city. Don’t let anybody count you out because Jesus has His hand on you, and you’re unsinkable until your work is done. Hallelujah. Aren’t you glad that’s so?
Now, another thought here before our time is gone, it said, “As the disciples stood round about him.” Now ladies and gentlemen, not all of us are called to be as much in the public eye as the Apostle Paul. Not everyone is a Billy Graham, or a Billy Sunday, or a Charles Haddon Spurgeon, or a Wesley, or a Finney. We’re not all in the public eye, some of us are pretty obscure, aren’t we? That’s right, I think if I died tomorrow, the buses would still be running, they wouldn’t shut down. Most of us are pretty obscure, and the world doesn’t know much about us, but Paul was, he was the center of attention there. Okay, what about everybody else? Did they run and hide? No, it says they stood round about him. They also took their stand. Now, it’s not a question notoriety, it’s a question of faithfulness. Do remember that it isn’t how famous you were, it’s how faithful you were. And the Holy Spirit of God has immortalized these disciples at Lystra because they were faithful and they stood there on the junk heap, standing around what they thought was a dead body, but they were faithful.
And the Spirit of God reminds us of that. So, you be faithful today, will you? And reap the blessing of God as a result. Now, let’s pray.
Dear Father, keep us on the job for Thee and grant Thy Spirit to fill each of our lives, I ask in Jesus’ name, amen. Amen. God bless you, dear friend, all the way.
That’s all for now till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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