Levi Lusko - When God Doesn't Make Sense
If you haven't yet you can grab your seats. We do love you and are so glad you're with us on Facebook Live, on YouTube. We're ecstatic to have you with us by joining us all around the world on the podcast, after the fact. And I mean I got a message to preach today. I am ready, I'm excited. While I organized my notes let me just tell you that we're really thrilled that after over a year being suspended, and not being able to physically be in the Deer Lodge State Prison, we had our very first gathering this last week on Tuesday. Just absolutely over the moon about it. Just thrilled with what God is allowing us to do. They're rotating the prison population by 25% at a time, and allowing them to come into the service. So they'll only be able to come to the gathering, or be eligible to, once a month. But we're happy just being at all. We've been sending video files in, but now to be back and doing this. Even if it takes a whole month to get them all, that's amazing. Which is not too unlike outside of the walls of a prison.
People showing up about once a month. I'm just kidding. We hope you come more often than that, especially right now. God is just speaking so much to us through this series of messages. And it's been incredible. And if you have a Bible, Acts, chapter 16. And as you turn in there, let me just say how excited we are as well about our movement conference coming up. Students, sixth grade through 12th grade, from all across our church and all across the whole country coming together for a time experiencing God, connecting together. It's going to be amazing. We'd invite you, if you have students to get them here to prioritize them being in Kalispell. There are online options as well. But if you can and are physically able to get to the conference in person it's going to be incredible.
But Acts 16, I want to preach to you a message that I'm calling when God doesn't make sense. When God, if we're honest, we could say sometimes from our perception he just doesn't make sense. Have you ever felt that? Maybe was pain you were experiencing. Maybe was a problem that you were presented with. Maybe it was just you had stalled out in something that it seemed like He was in it, and all of a sudden you're just standing there. If we can be real and take off our halos for just a minute in this gathering. And just together acknowledge the fact that there are times when we're just left going what are you doing? Or even maybe where are you at all? Acts, chapter 16. We're going to see Paul the Apostle, who for him things have been going really well. Really well. You're like, how well have they been going in Acts, chapter 16? Well, in verse 5, it says, "So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they were increasing in number daily".
Healthy things grow, right. This is how it should be. And that's the whole point of the second missionary journey. They wanted to strengthen the churches they had started. They started churches on one trip, and now they're coming back and they're going hey, how is this that we started doing? And they're working, there they're pruning, they're weeding. Things have to be tended. Things in your soul can't just be left to themselves. You got to fight for it. And so that's what Paul and his crew were doing on this trip. There was some hard moments. There was some crazy stuff that happened, people stuff, it's just real. Doing ministry, doing life, stuff you just go sideways with people you never thought you would. The guy who discipled Paul the Apostle, Barnabas, they had a falling out just most recently here. And so things were hard, but in the midst of it God was there. And it was clear God was up to something. And that brings us to verse 6, the ominous dun, dun, dun, dun. "Now when they had gone through Phrygia", she's in the Black Eyed Peas, I think. "And the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia".
So we're all clear, my Bible says they were forbidden, not by Lucifer, but by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. That same Holy Spirit that Jesus said was going to come upon us and give us power to preach the gospel. Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and then ends of the world. And he didn't say, except Asia. We are just absolutely not down on preaching there. So Paul has it in his heart, has it in his spirit, to preach the gospel in Asia. And as he tries to, he was forbidden. Forbidden by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in Asia. "So after they had come to Mysia, they tried to go in Bithynia, but the spirit did not permit them. So passing by Mysia, see they came to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, come over to Macedonia and help us. Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them".
I remember, Oh, I need my TRX straps. Here, bring those on down. I love to travel with workout equipment that can fit in my suitcase. And my favorite to bring with me is these TRX straps. No, go ahead and bring them on down all the way. These are amazing because their tension straps that use your body weight in exercise. So you can throw this top of the strap over the door in your hotel room. And pretty much all hotel rooms have doors. You can't be sure what physical equipment there will be at gyms in hotels around the world, but you can be pretty sure they all have doors. And once your straps over them, you can do bicep presses. And I think they call that a preacher's curl, which is appropriate. And you can do triceps. I mean you have to kind of find the angle you need to do. You can work your triceps. You can do rows. Bring them down a little bit more. Yeah, that will be about good. You can do rows. It's amazing. You can work your back all you want. And you can, oh, bring them all the way down to the ground, you can do planks on them, which is kind of weird. Because I mean obviously you can do, that's good right there. You can do regular planks on the ground. But if you do a, hmm can't remember how you do this. It's been a minute. Oh get over here. You get this. There we go. Nailed it. There we go.
So then you can do a plank and you're having to stabilize yourself. But I was on this website because some one Sunday I was about to preach. And I was like, I need to work my chest, it was chest day. And I was like, I need to figure out some chest, now there's normal like you can do normal push ups on them, of course. And you can do these like clock things where you do like one at a time. And you can do all that stuff. But then I got on this YouTube video with this guy like, Oh, I'm sure the best chest workout there's ever been in history the world. All YouTube videos start that way. And bam! And then he's like, smash that bell, hit that subscribe button, right. And then he's like, so here's what you do. He said, you put your TRX straps up to the highest thing you can, and then you kind of rotate away from them. And then he said, you can do basically handstand push ups. And I'm watching this video, and I'm like this guy looks like the most ripped person in the history of the world. But I could probably do that. That'll be safe. Now, I can't get away from them, here, give me a little help.
So here's what he was doing. Let's just go a little higher, and a little higher, and a little higher. OK, there we go that's good. Perfect. So he's doing basically these handstand push ups, just going for it like crazy. And that's what I was doing except I got the most wicked, vicious abdominal cramp I've had in the history of the world. Here, bring me down. This is very good. All right, thank you very much. No, no, no, so check this out. So I'm hanging upside down. And I had this horrific, I don't know if you ever had an abdominal cramp, but I felt like this ab muscle was trying to get out of my body like it was an alien. It was all knotted up, and it was protruding. And I'm like Oh, Lord, help me. I'm on one hand, here. And right then, I get a hamstring cramp. So now I'm hanging upside down, like contorted. I fear like I'm going to fall and break my neck my wife's going to find me and just have so many questions about what went wrong here.
But I thought of that story when I was reading this passage. It's a Sunday morning and I'm just all tied up in knots upside down in the air. And that must be a little bit how Paul the Apostle felt. Trying to preach the gospel, trying to do a good thing. In fact, many people think he was trying to get to Ephesus, and then he was going to head into the region that contained the seven churches that Jesus would later write to in the book of Revelation. And so his motivation was good. I've been appointed to preach, that's why God sought me. That's why he touched me, and saved me, and spoke over my life what he wanted me to do. And I went through a whole wilderness period. I mean you think about what we talked about last week in the message. If you weren't here last week, we talked about Elisha. And we talked about how Elisha had to want it so bad, and some of us don't want it bad enough. And that is we don't want it bad enough to persevere through the necessary desert season that God almost always prepares people with and through.
And so a lot of times what God gives is he gives us a calling, but then he just makes it seem as though everything in the world is going upside down besides that calling. So that he can prove that we still trust Him. He can develop some muscles of faith in us. You see this in Elijah, you see this in Elisha, you see it in David. You see it for sure in Paul, that he was driven by the spirit into the wilderness. Right. I mean, just the amazing story we read last week was where Elisha was watching his master Elijah go up into heaven. Right, and I thought we could act it out here. So give me a little lift here. Here's Elijah, and he's just going up and, I'm just kidding. I'm just kidding. We're not going to act that out. Elijah goes up into heaven, and they told me that winch she has a 200 pound weight capacity, so we're not going to see if that's factual today. But basically, Elijah goes up to heaven. And this mantle falls and lands on Elisha, and he gets to go to this great ministry.
And it seems like it's so instantaneous, but first he had to persevere through a period that may have been as long as 18 years. Where it seemed like the calling that God had given, the original dream that God had given him, was never going to come to pass. And Paul similarly had faced a multiple year long wilderness period. He was able to preach, he was anointed to preach, he had proven the concept that he could preach. Went pretty sideways early on. Had to get let out of the city in a basket, long story. But basically it was his time to shine. Except the spirit drove him into the wilderness for a time of pruning, a time of developing, a time of testing. The reality is many of us are gifted and skilled far beyond the level of our character, far beyond the level of our integrity. And so at times we can all end up in positions where we could do things, but God knows that it would destroy us if it first didn't take some time to build some deep foundations in our lives. And so that's what Paul had just endured, and now he's out of it. Right. So now it's like, finally everyone agrees. The church, yeah, go!
And so he tries to go. He's like, I got this dream in my heart. I got this vision in my heart. I got this God idea. And what's the God idea? Going to go preach in Asia. How many of you would agree that sounds like a pretty good thing that God would get behind. I mean we didn't say make meth in Argentina. You know what I'm saying? Like what part of this is a bad plan? And I think the times when we can be the most confused with what God is doing is the times when we're trying to do something that He should, by all rights, bless. He should be getting behind that. Now all of a sudden He's forbidding, the Holy Spirit forbade Paul from preaching in Asia. Here's what I believe. I believe God wants to use your confusion as navigation. He wants to use your confusion as navigation. Paul's in a moment where he is confused here. He's confused about why God won't let him go into this area. So he's like, find I'll go into Bithynia, sorry. Right and I'll go over here. And God's not letting him go in here.
Now you're like, how is God leading him? How is God forbidding him? How is God doing this? The leading of the Holy Spirit is interesting. It's something that you have to catch, more than you can be taught it per se. But the more you listen to the Holy Spirit, the more you wait for the Holy Spirit, the more you foster your relationship with the Holy Spirit, the more in tune you'll get with His leading. So where to start? We'll, start at the beginning. Ask God to fill you, you could do it today. Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit. If it's been a long time since you've interacted with God's spirit, ask him to refill you. Ask him to fill you afresh. I've never gotten on the stage of this church a single time of my life without asking God to fill me afresh with his Holy Spirit. And the more you're listening, the more you're waiting, the more you're pausing, the more you begin your days with just a few moments to be quiet before Him. Or when you feel confused in life, it's especially imperative that you seek Him and look to Him. And I was thinking about the Holy Spirit this week, and I was getting my shoes on to go to work. And I noticed that when I put my foot down on the ground, it just immediately some sensation hit my brain. That doesn't feel right. And it's because I had put the left shoe on the right foot.
Now the interesting thing is it went in, it filled the space. It just was wrong. And that's how it is when God leads you a lot of times. You just know instinctively and instantly something's wrong. Something and I imagine Paul was about to go, and just right then it felt like his left foot was and the right shoe. He just felt, God you're not in this. And I think when you're listening to that, you sense that still, small voice of His is leading that. Because it's like that. It's not necessarily going to be some big sign, some big omen, some huge word. Someone interrupts you, you never met at Burger King, like put the whopper down, thus sayeth the Lord. Right. If it happens, that's amusing. That's a great start to a story, right. Whether it's right or wrong, it's amusing at least. But I think a lot of times it'll just feel like, Oh, wow this isn't quite right. God leads, it's subtle like that. But the more you pay attention to Him, like a horse that gets good at responding to its rider, the more He doesn't have to use a lot of force. He's not having to break out the spurs, He's not having to get out the riding crop. It's just you just feel a shift in the weight. You can sense the Holy Spirit leading like that.
And Paul had grown, no doubt, during his years in the desert where we know nothing about him except that he was seeking God. He was he was growing strong in his faith. In that desert season he had come to know very clearly when God was in something and leading. And he was probably confused when I can't go here, so I go here. Well, you can't go you can't go there either. Why am I being forbidden? Why am I being Forbidden I feel like God told me this week that sometimes the reason we're told no we can't do things is for freedom. Could it be that God talks freedom inside of things that he forbids? Forbidden freedom. He's trying to get to freedom, and so he forbids. Is not that the case in the Garden of Eden? He knew we would be separated if we took the fruit from this tree. He forbade it. He said don't touch that tree. Don't eat it. Why? Because he wanted us to have freedom. Freedom from sin. And when you're not married yet, right.
If you're looking and living your life according to God's word and that's your goal. For me and Jennie, I know that when we were dating we had read in the scriptures as we were following Jesus, that one of the things that would honor God in our relationship was to save this gift of sexuality for when we were married. And so one of the things we had to say to each other all the time was, it's not no, it's just not now. It's not no. Because how we feel is good. And God doesn't activate your sex drive at the altar. It would be nice if that was how it worked, but it was there, man. I'll tell you what. It was there during our dating, it was at our engagement, it was there three days before we got married. It was there when we were licking the stamps and putting them on the RSVP envelopes. And we had to keep trying to stop making out. And it was there every minute of it. The point we would say to each other is it's not no, it's not now. Why has God forbidden it? To get us the freedom. To get us to a place today where as man and wife we're not constantly wondering, did she cheat on me? Has he cheated on? Does he have affection for someone else?
You see we were showing each other a long time ago how we feel about God's standards, and how we feel about forbidden fruit. And we, with each other, were the forbidden fruit back then. Now, the forbidden fruit has changed. There's always forbidden fruit. And whatever God forbids it's always to get us to freedom. And that's one of the ways in which God will use your confusion as navigation. For Paul it's trying to get to Asia, and it doesn't work. So what does he do? He wakes up from a dream and realizes maybe just maybe the reason God said no to Asia was because he wanted me to go to Europe. And I hadn't even thought of Europe. Europe wasn't even on my radar. Macedonia was not something I had thought of. I thought if you want to reach the world you've got to reach the big influential commercial centers. And man that's Ephesus, and that's Thyatira, and that's Smyrna. You got to get into those cities. I want to reach those. That was how he thought he was going to change the world. But it is confusion he listened long enough and was receptive enough for God to smuggle some freedom in to what he had forbidden. And I believe God wants to do the same for you.
So he has this dream. And in his dream a man from Macedonia, which is a European area or region. The equivalent would be our states today. Although, today Macedonia is a country. And they call it FYROM, the former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia. And in his dream, a man from Macedonia, and we don't know how Paul knew. Maybe he had a name tag that just said from Macedonia or something right. But in his dream, a man who's from Macedonia was just saying please help us. Please help us. They weren't even on his radar. But Paul's confusion became the catalyst for God to give him some navigation. So he wakes up and he goes, guys I got it. He says, Timothy, Timotheus in the Greek. Right, you got to love that, Timotheus. If you know a Timothy, just please promise me you will promptly begin calling them Timotheus because that's the Greek for his name. He was just young kid too, by the way. 16, 17 years old. Some people think just this young guy, but God's hand was on his life.
Don't you ever let anybody tell you that you have to be grown up in years for God to use you. God wants to use you right now, young people. God wants to use you to touch the world. God wants to use you when you're 16, 17, 14, 11 years old. I believe God has His hand on the students of this generation, of our church. I believe God is calling out young people to see that His spirit is in them now as they follow Him. And that God wants to use you to impact your high school. Most decisions for Christ in the world come before people hit the age of 18. And so who better to reach them than someone at the same station of life than them. And some just think, well, I've got to get out of high school, man. I got to get out of here. You'll never be able to go back there. You'll never walk into that school again. You'll never have the chance to walk into that soccer team again. God wants to use you now to touch those people. And I can't walk into a high school campus and just sit down at the lunch table and start sharing Jesus with people and living beautifully around them, but you can. And God wants to use you to do that, just like he used Timothy.
And mom and dad, don't forget that part of the reason that Timothy became such a man of God was because when he was a little kid, his mom and his grandmother they preached the word to him. They hid the scriptures into his heart. And so later on, as he was preaching all around the world, it was because of these little things that he was being taught when he was just a little guy. And so I just want to encourage you then to not miss out on the chance you have to hide God's word in your children's heart to make sure it's a part of their lives. I was telling Lennox the story of Jonah last night. I said, do you want me to tell you Jonah? He goes, yes, tell me the story of Jonah, dad. Because he ran from God, who told him to go to Nineveh. And then he went on a boat, and when he was on the boat he fell into the water. But he was eaten by a great fish, dad. And then he got spit up on the beach, dad. Tell me the story about Jonah, who when he was on the beach finally did preach the gospel in Nineveh, and obey God. And then he just smiled at me. And I was like, inception. Well played, sir.
You want me to tell you the story. I said, but you forgot the worm who ate the covering over his head. He goes, ah, the worm! Right. I still know a little bit more than him, he's three. But not much, man. The kids bright. So Paul, Timothy, Silas, and we know Luke's in the crew. How do you know that, Levi? Because of verse 10. Notice verse 10, it says, "Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia,", Luke wrote the book of Acts. And this is the first section of several sections that are "we" sections. And any time Luke shifts into "we", it means he's including himself in the story. So at some point along the way, no doubt in the whole getting Timothy and getting shut down trying to get into Asia section, Luke, who's a medical doctor, joins the crew. Now it's a bad sign that God, in his Providence, included a doctor in the crew. Because it's almost like, He only gives you things you'll need for the future. So if one day God's like, you know what you should probably have a physician around you. I'd be concerned, right. But that's exactly what God did for Paul. And we're going to see exactly why he needed that.
All right. So verse 11, "So therefore sailing from Troas, we made a straight course to Samothrace, and the next day came to Neapolis, and there we came to Philippi, which is the foremost city of that part of Macedonia, a colony". Now I know it's just a couple of verses, this is 134 miles. So he wakes up with his dream, maybe it's Macedonia. And he's got, I mean they got boats and trains and planes and automobiles, there wasn't Uber. It was thing, it was a thing to get there. But they would have enjoyed it and had fun. "And we," he says, "were staying in that city for some days. And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city", here we go, River Wild, "to the riverside where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there". "Now a certain woman named Lydia", I love that she's called a certain woman.
When we're introduced to Timothy it's a certain disciple, named Timothy. I mean it's not just some random person. In God's eyes you are a certain person. He sees you individually. He sees you distinctly. It's not just a bunch of women were there. It's a certain woman named Lydia was there. And God sees you, and He knows you. He has plans for you. Come on put it in the chat, I'm a certain disciple. I'm a certain disciple. I'm a certain disciple. Come on, say it to your neighbor. I'm a certain disciple. The certain disciple, whose name was Lydia, she "heard us. Now. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshipped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household were baptized she begged us, saying, if you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay. So she persuaded us".
How Paul must have been laughing when this woman came to Christ. Because first of all, how unsuccessful things had been and how frustrated he had been, to try and get to Asia. But had he gotten to Asia, this woman here in Macedonia never would have experienced Jesus. The set up this beautiful. And God is just clearly weaving. He's using, do you see that he uses confusion at times as an element of his navigation? He allowed a confusing season to come. Why? So that he would get here. But a lot of people don't get to the pay off, don't get to the ending, because they give up somewhere in the beginning. They give up when it's confusing. What is your threshold for confusion? That's really what this message boils down to.
I was listening to an interview with Bill Gates recently. Because I figured we talked about Steve Jobs last week so it's only appropriate we move on to the PCs. Because we got the Mac's, now we got the PC's. But Bill I have an enormous respect as a brilliant man, of course. But he said, it was so interesting. It just hit me so hard, and I couldn't get it out of my mind. Is that he was being asked, what do you attribute your success to? And interestingly enough he said, I'm just really good at being confused. I'm really good, he said, at being confused. One of my greatest assets is, he said, I'm willing to be confused. He said, most adults the moment they're confused they think something's wrong. He said, so they start learning new things. They stop attempting new things. Because when they feel confused by something, they feel like, Oh it's a mistake. And he said, I feel it all the time.
He said, I go into a new subject. I get interested in a new thing, whether it's toilets for sanitation crisis. Or it's this to get kids vaccinated in Africa. He says, when I get interested in something, he said, there's always a moment when, he said, I feel like a fraud because I'm supposedly a genius. But when I'm trying to get my head around something, I feel like an idiot. And he said, when I feel confused and when I feel like a fraud, he said, I realize that's when a lot of people say, well then forget that. I'm not supposed to be here because it's hard. Because I don't get it, because it doesn't make any sense to me. They just think something's wrong. He said, but that's when I lean in. And that's when I just go buy 10 books on it. And that's when I lock myself away, and that's when I call 10 people that are brilliant on that subject. And I keep at it, and I keep going, and I keep studying until I feel like I have, he said, honestly I'm not the smartest guy in the world. He goes, I'm actually embarrassed that I only speak one language. And how stupid is that? This guy like invented computers. I mean he thinks I'm so stupid. But, he said, I'm just some person who's willing to be confused.
Let me say something that might feel a little bit provocative, but I really believe it's true. To the degree that you are comfortable being confused you determine how much God can do through you. Because almost always the greatest things that God does, it start with confusion. It starts with this doesn't make sense. That's the point of faith. Faith is having to trust God when it doesn't make sense. Faith is having to trust God when it feels like things are out of control. And to the degree that you are comfortable, not walking away, but saying I'm fully confused I don't get this at all. But you know what you're not getting rid of me. I'm just going to stay right here and study. I'm going to keep reading, keep praying, keep dreaming. You don't let me go to Bithynia? You don't let me go to Asia? Cool, I'll go to Macedonia. I'm willing to be confused. And because of that, he got to encourage this woman named Lydia.
There are three things that are really beautiful about Lydia. It's her hunger, her heart, her home. Her hunger, her heart, her home. The text tells us that she was a seller of purple. You know like interesting, I didn't know someone could own a color. Well, she sold the dye that allowed garments and cloth to be made purple. We know purple was, in this time, the Versace or the Louis Vuitton of its day. We know that from Jesus, actually. Jesus told a parable about a man in Luke, chapter 16. And he said this guy was so wealthy, and to get in people's minds a picture, He said all he ever wore was purple. This guy, Luke, chapter 16, all he ever wore was purple. And if you're only wearing purple the people in Jesus' day would be like, whoa. All he wore was purple? How could anybody afford to wear, because it was this certain shellfish that you got the dye from and it was just the most rare thing ever. And apparently Lydia had the Market? Cornered on purple, on purple dye. And so she is like the Ralph Lauren of the New Testament. I mean she is just like whoa. And she's standing by the riverside when Paul gets to Macedonia on the Sabbath day.
Now what's the deal with the Riverside? Now, Paul said the gospel goes to the Jew first and then to the Gentiles. That's how he said that it worked. Because Jesus was Jewish, is Jewish, and came from the Jewish nation and so salvation was offered to them first. And then it would expand to the rest of the world. Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, then the ends of the Earth. And so what he would do and he would get to a new city is he would first go to the synagogue. Now there wasn't a synagogue, see almost a th-synagogue. There wasn't a th-synagogue. There wasn't a synagogue in Philippi. And so he knew that if there were any Jewish people that what they would do, because during the captivity when there wasn't a synagogue, they had stood by the rivers. Because it was a symbol of God's presence. The sound of rushing water. It hearkened back to Eden. It looked forward to the new heavens and the Earth and the river of life coming from God's throne that makes everything fresh.
And so that's where they would go stand and have their services. So he figures there's no synagogue here, but maybe there's a couple of Jewish people that are down by, and sure enough there's a crew, some women, down by the synagogue. Presumably Jewish women. And among them was Lydia, who was not Jewish, but she was interested in and what these Jewish people had to offer. And her presence there speaks of a hunger. She hadn't fully converted, the text tells us. She was she was interested, she was seeking. There was something in her heart that, how crazy is that? Wealthy beyond imagination, we know that. The seller of purple, just wealthy. So she had everything you normally would think, if I had that I'd be happy.
Some of you, today, you think well I'm not happy but I don't have, and I can think of 10 things that if I could have those things certainly I'd be happy. But I got news for you. There are people who have those 10 things, and their list includes some other things. Everybody's looking for peace. Everyone's looking for forgiveness. Everyone's looking for eternal life. Everyone's looking for the same things. And this woman who had everything. Influence and success and wealth, she's just standing there by the river going I wonder if it's in Judaism. I wonder if it's in this. And so Paul shows up, and he listens for a while. He listens to the scriptures that they're discussing, and he does what Jesus did. He says, the scriptures you're reading, which come from the Old Testament are all about Jesus. And he explained, that Jesus came fulfilling the law. That the answers that Lydia was looking for weren't going to be found in keeping the Ten Commandments, they weren't going to be found. They could tell you in the Old Testament who God is, but you'd have to understand who Jesus is, Paul said, to really have it click in your heart.
And so that's the second thing. We move from her hunger to her heart. Paul didn't tell her to do anything. Standing right there by the river. Maybe she was baptized in that same moment because the text says that she was baptized. But after she gave her life to Jesus, she was baptized. She didn't have to first go and clean up her life. She didn't first have to go and make any changes. All she had to do was believe and Jesus came into her. And that's because the gospel is not behave and you'll be saved. It's believe and receive salvation in the name of Jesus. And so Lydia finds God coming into her heart, and what is her instant reaction? If God's in my heart then I want Him to use what's in my hands. And what was in her hands was a very big house. She's has this huge house. We know it's huge because she's able to say to Paul's whole crew, like Yeah I got a room for Timothy, I got I got a room for you. Right. I got space for Silas. I got, even Luke. Get that doctor on over here, we'll give him his own room, you know. And so she's able to have them over.
And I love this. That in verse 15, it seems like they resisted because it says, "So she persuaded us". So she wasn't having any of it. She's like, where are you staying? Well probably a hotel. Which hotel? You have reservation? Have you taken care of it yet? How many stars? How did it do on the oyster website? No, no, no. You're coming with me. Right. Now all of a sudden she shifts into like business, you know, just getting stuff done mode. And so Paul was like, yes ma'am, Lydia. We're going. We're going to your, but how beautiful is it? Her hunger led her to Jesus coming to her heart. Once he's in your heart, it should immediately pivot where now you want Him to use what's in your hands. Use my house, use my resources, use my gifts that I have. I want to build the church. I want to build the kingdom. And I want you to use what I have to touch people around the world. Next business trip I'm going on, the people I meet you better be certain at some point it's going to come up. Well how was your week, Lydia? Well I gave a lot to Jesus. Right. And just this instant desire for God to begin to work in her life.
And for some of you, you might feel like you've stalled out. And I would ask you, have you stopped at saved? Did you let him in your heart, but now you're not letting him use your house? He wants you to begin to use all the things that He's given to you to begin to bring Him glory. And you will find such peace and such purpose and such strength flowing through you. As you get to wake up every day feeling like, man I'm on a mission. And I love that she had a big house so she was able to use it. Someone told me today, he goes, can you believe that some Christians have a big house? I'm like, that is such a small minded, narrow minded, perception. If you have a lot, God wants to use a lot. If you don't have a lot, Yeah, God wants to use the little that you have. But let's just believe that whatever God blesses us with we can use it for His kingdom. And that is exactly what Lydia did. What I'm really trying to say, second point is, that your lowest moment might lead you to someone else's highest moment.
Some woman hurting, someone afraid. But for God to get Lydia to the highest moment He was willing to say, Paul, let's go through a low moment. The low moment was the confusion. The low moment was the valley. The low moment was like, I'm sort of an apostle and stuff. And I can't seem to be able to preach anywhere because the Holy Spirit keeps forbidding me to preach. But it wasn't his freedom, it was her freedom. God had her freedom on His mind so he was willing to let Paul be forbidden a few times. And I believe that just continues to be something we can see play out in our lives. For notice what happens in the text next. Verse 16, "Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl", not just anyone. God had his my mind on her, His eye on her. He got Paul, nope, you can't go to Asia. There's a little slave girl that needs me too, and so I'm going to get you here. "Possessed with the spirit of divination", the actual translation is possessed by the spirit of Python, which connects her to the false worship of the god, Apollo, from this whole Greek and then Roman pantheon of worship.
But the Bible tells us that behind every false god is actually a demon that's masquerading. Basically trying to get the attention off of Jesus. And so that's what this girl was held captive by. And somehow, some way, she was able to tell fortunes because of this demonic influence in her life. And notice it says she brought much profit by fortune telling to her masters. "This girl followed Paul and us, and she cried out, presumably in pain, saying, these men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation. And this she did for many days". As Paul was doing ministry in the city in the church, which I forgot to even tell you this, which was started in Lydia's huge house. Which is awesome. So the church that blossomed in Philippi that he will later write an entire epistle back to, it was started at the generosity of this woman. Who used her financial means and resources to allow the church to continue to be built.
And so I just want to say on the subject, thank you to every person who has ever given to this ministry. And helped me preach the gospel around the world. And it's because of you that we're able to send this podcast out. It's because of you people that are coming to know Christ. It's because of you that certain Lydia's, and certain little girls, are coming to know God. So thank you for your generosity that allows us not only to send outreach dollars by the millions out, but also to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ at this moment it's because of you. And I'm grateful. But Paul, this tells me Paul is a human being like me, greatly annoyed. You think Paul is perfect? Oh, no. He is not. Super irritated is the actual Greek translation. Turned and said to the spirit, this by the way, is the only documented case of a miracle coming out of someone just being pissed off in the Bible. "He turned and said to the spirit, I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And a demon came out that very hour".
You see another example of Paul, and I imagine Paul just laughed at the frustration he felt. Because back there and in Bithynia and Galatia, God you don't make sense. And you know how stupid I look in front of these Padawan learners who have given their lives to follow me? Luke's like, I'm all in. I'm coming back with my shield, or I'm coming back on it. And Timothy, not to be outdone, was like I'm going to die with my boots on. Right. And Silas was like, y'all I'm your ride or die, Paul. And Paul was like cool, we're going to Asia. Man it's going to be crazy in Asia. You don't know what's going to happen in Asia. So they're like, all right. So they're all getting themselves psyched up, warpaint like ready to go. Like full outfits and uniforms, and so off they go. And Paul's like I've got the wrong shoe thing happening, guys. And they're like, sure. Cold feet. I mean, just how it would have felt. Paul would have felt like God, you don't make sense here. What are you doing?
Now, he sees. You allowed me to be at my lowest so that I would take my eyes off myself, and see that someone else needed to be lifted up because they were even at a lower place than me. I love it so much. All right. So we continue on. Because I want you to understand that what we're seeing here is, in Europe being converted, and this is a massive moment. Because European converts in all of history, which is really where Christianity began to flourish from and then impacted the whole world from. Which of course it started in Jerusalem. God knew it needed to get to Europe so that it could touch the world. The very first convert to Christianity in Europe was a super successful wealthy person who had everything. And the immediate next person the gospel touched, a slave who was owned and had nothing. And the message is clear. Jesus is the only hope of humanity, whether you have everything or you got nothing, you need Jesus. And He is the only one who can heal you, change you, save you.
And it's amazing because, I want you to see this, this is just pretty, it's poetry. We started out with a woman who had everything. And then he now frees from the enemy's grasp someone who had nothing. But then right there in between is the next person who represents just the average person. Who's kind of right there smack dab in the middle. This blue collar guy, a jailer. There's this jailer in Philippi who God had his eye on as well. A certain jailer you can be assured of in heaven's perspective. And you're like well if God wants to see a jailer get impacted, you're like, how's He going to do that? Did he come down to the riverside too? No, God knew that it wasn't going to work to get the jailer to come out. So God decided to send the preacher into the jail.
And that's the good news bad news because Paul would need the doctor that he had brought on the expedition by the time this day is over. And it's going to lead to our final point. And the final point is this, good deeds often get punished. But God has a plan for that too. Good deeds often get punished. We worked through our confusion. We worked through moments where it's low. We worked through hard times. And we get the payoff is, Oh, I see what you're up too and now we do something good. And we feel like we're going to be rewarded by heaven, but the cycle just starts over at that point. And now we're back to the beginning, back at confusion. You're like, what's going on? Well, jump into verse 19. "But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities. And they brought them to the magistrates, and said, these men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city; and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe".
When the Lord does a great work, the enemy always opposes it. You have to understand that. You got to expect it. There's always dynamic breakthrough, followed by demonic backlash. And so this person's been free, the devil doesn't like that. So he's going to agitate. And that's what he does. And so now, verse 20, they brought them to the magistrates, we already saw that. Verse 22, "Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them,", so now Paul and Silas, their backs are ripped apart and they're bleeding. "They threw them into prison commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed".
"And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had all fled, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, do yourself no harm, for we are all here. Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, sirs, what must I do to be saved? So they said, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your whole household". "And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who are in his house. He took them the same hour of the night washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. He brought them into his home, set food before them; he rejoiced having believed in God with all his household".
Come on, give God praise because this is beautiful. It's perfection. So what do we do, what do we do, to begin where we started, when God doesn't make sense? From these verses we just read, I want you to jot down these six things. Number one, we don't take it personally. You see, when God's not making sense our immediate responses is I must have done something wrong. I must be out of step with you. You must not care about me. No, no, don't take it personally. Because don't take this the wrong way, it's not all about you. There's something so much bigger than you and bigger than me. And so when we see that happening, we forget we're part of an army. And when God's working in an army, he's doing this over here. He's got to stage things over there. And sometimes you get something ready over here for a while, and it's not needed until something else happens. And then He can bring something else in. So when you're like, well God, you're confusing me. You don't make sense. And why would you do this? Just stop and remember it's not all about me. There's something bigger that I signed up to be a part of and it's God's kingdom.
So don't take it personally. There's, playing chess, times when you're going to leave a piece unmoved. Why do you love the pawn so much, what about me? This is going to come at a time and a place. Don't take it personally when His hand is off you for a while, or so you think. Secondly, don't lose sleep over it. I love, and I don't know if you noticed this, when Paul couldn't get into Bithynia and couldn't get to Galatia, that would be just the sort of thing that would rob us of our sleep. But how did God get through to him? He was in a dream. The only reason he was able to dream is because he was still prioritizing rest. Don't lose sleep over it. Some of you today feel like God hasn't spoken to me for a while. God has forgotten about me. He's not letting me do the things I want to do, and I'm calling on my life to do. And hey, rest. Rest. If you're in a holding pattern get the rest that you need. Rest. There's going to come a time of surging ahead, and when that time comes be ready. And God broke through because he was sleeping. You're like well, easy for you to say. Yeah, but Paul. And not just Paul, Peter.
There's a crazy story in Acts 12. Peter's about to get put to death. James had been killed by Herod, and he saw that the enemies of the Christians loved it so much that he put Peter in jail too. And the text tells us, look at this, Herod was about to kill Peter. The next morning Herod's going to kill Peter. And Peter, what was he doing? Was he fretting, or was he stressing? Was he sleeping, was the writing last minute appeals? No. The text says that when the angel came to find him, he was fast asleep. Not even just a little bit asleep. The message translates and says, asleep like a baby. And the angel had to basically strike him to get him up. He's like Oh, sorry. Can you imagine having such faith in God's plan that even on death row, the night before your execution, you're just sleeping like a baby. How could he do such a thing? How could he have such peace? He knew that it was all in God's hand. If God wanted him to go home tomorrow, he's going to go home tomorrow. If God wanted to get him out of jail, he was going to get him out of jail. But me staying up all night isn't going to make a difference about it at all. And neither will it for you.
So don't take it personally. Don't lose sleep over it. Thirdly, don't stop singing. Don't stop singing. Paul's back's been beaten bloody. He's in jail as a reward for healing a little girl and helping Donna Versace get to know Jesus. It would be easy for him to be like you know what, he doesn't stop singing though. And a lot of times the mistake that we make is when we don't feel it, we don't sing it. When we don't feel it, we don't give it. When we don't feel it, we don't do it. But we got to free how we feel from what we do. We got to come to a place where we realize that our worship is the most important when it's the most painful. When it's a sacrifice of praise. Come on, is there anybody at Fresh Life Church today who would say I'm going through it. I don't feel it. Maybe I even feel far from God. Where is He? But God I'm going to praise you. I'm going to worship you. I'm going to open up my mouth and give you glory because you're good. And when we do that, oftentimes, the feelings come as a gift. Because worship is not a feeling expressed through actions. It's an act of obedience that oftentimes develops feelings on the back end.
Number four, don't get too comfortable. Don't get too comfortable. Paul has a reminder of this by being in Philippi. Philippi was considered part of Rome, even though it was far from Rome, it was in Macedonia. But is considered Rome because it was a colony, and a colony was considered Roman soil. Kind of like an embassy. If you went to Nigeria, but you went to the US Embassy in Nigeria, if there is one. I know there's deposed princes from Nigeria. I don't know if there's, because I got emailed by one on one time. But I know there's embassies, and if you're in an embassy, you're in American soil even though you're far from America. Philippi was Rome away from Rome. And Paul would use that analogy when he wrote to the Philippians telling them don't forget, we as Jesus people are an embassy. The soil of our lives, the soil of our bodies, is part of heaven. I know we live on this Earth, but we're a part of heaven. We're an extension of heaven. So don't get too comfortable here on this Earth. Don't get too comfortable in this life. Keep your heart set on heaven. Come on stay on your toes, a light touch. We're going to go home one day, and then that home is going to come back down to this world. But that's our real home, God's kingdom. In the meantime, we're supposed to be focused on the mission and not just get lulled into sleep here and get focused on this life.
Number five, don't keep it to yourself. Whatever God's done in your life, don't keep it to yourself. What to do when God doesn't make sense? Whatever you've been blessed with, bless others with. Your experience, your testimony, the resources. You have a big house, you have the opportunity to travel to different places. That's different people you're going to interact with, and sit next to on airplanes. and do business meetings with. You can do an excellent job conducting your affairs, but then as God gives opportunities to bless people by sharing the Jesus story of what God's done in your life, don't keep it to your self.
And the most importantly, number six, don't give up. Don't give up. Getting shut down here, going to keep preaching. Shut down here, not going to stop preaching. I'm going to keep preaching. You put me in a jail, I'm going to preach the gospel to the jailer. A little demon possessed girl, I'm going to share liberty and freedom with her. I'm just telling you, when things go wrong and go wrong and go wrong, just use that as motivation. God must have something different for me. Must have something great He's preparing. If it's not this, it's going to be that. But I can't wait to see. I still believe, I still got faith, I still got, TRX straps are interesting because it's such a simple thing, but a genius thing. And you look at something like this and you go, who thought of this? Oh, his name's Randy Hetrick. Randy Hetrick is the founder of the TRX company. He invented a genre, suspension training. How did he do that? Well, with a jujitsu belt. This is my friend Travis' and it has seen some miles, my goodness gracious. He's got like multiple black belts, anyhow.
And I said I needed one for this prop and he allowed me to use it. But Randy was, shout out Straight Blast Gym. He was a part of jujitsu, but he was also a Navy SEAL. And he, by mistake, brought his jujitsu belt on a deployment to South Asia somewhere. And he was unpacking his bag that he had hastily put together. And he realized that stuck to his flight suit was this jujitsu belt. And he just laughed to himself. Like I'm far from my jujitsu gym, I don't have my gi, I'm not going to be needing this here in war. Right. But he laughed and he remembered that it was there. And then they were just stuck. There was just a whole period where he was just stalled out. And a lot of the guys were frustrated because they couldn't get a good workout. And I mean they were doing push ups and pull ups, but he just wanted to work different parts of his body. And so he realized, hold on I got my jujitsu belt.
And so he took some webbing from a parachute strap, and he tied it to the center. And he tied a big knot in the webbing. And he threw it over a door and shut the door. And then he kind of realized I could, hold on, I could do this workout, I could do that workout. He was holding the handles of his jujitsu belt. He was doing all these different workouts. And pretty soon the other Navy SEALs were like, hey, man, what are you doing? He's like Oh, nothing. Just working out with my wicked awesome belt that I totally intentionally brought overseas. You don't have one? And so he said the guys were like, hey, could you make me something like that? And so he would find other webbing, and he would trade them a case of beer for their own TRX strap. But he was just doing it for the guys on his unit to stay fit until the next thing came along. Not having any idea it would lead to a $70 million a year company.
Come on, that's a great story. It's a beautiful story. And in the process invent a whole company. But it was not just like that to that. I mean when he got back home and he realized it was a company, he decided to go to business school first. And he was laughed at because here he is kind of older and all the young kids there. And he had a push through confusion and push through obstacles. And when he would sell the vision to people they didn't get it because they had never heard of suspension training. They didn't know eventually this was going to be in every gym in the entire country and homes all around the world. And it would sell out during COVID and no one for the life of them could get a TRX strap because everybody and their mother was buying them.
So there was confusion along the way. And I love two things, and we're almost done here, from this story. Is that it started with him thinking I can't lift weights because I don't have any weights. And then realizing hold on, maybe I do have weights because every one of us have weight and we are weight. So he thought he couldn't work out because he didn't have weight, and then he realized the weight he wanted was with him all along. He just needed the right leverage for it. And then the second thing. And I love, we're done here, is that it started with something being in the wrong place. That belt didn't belong in his bag. It was only a mistake that caused it to be there, but that mistake caused a door to be opened. And so it is for you. At times it feels like God you made a mistake, where are you? Why'd you allow this? God what's going on? Have you lost my number? Do you not care about me? Do you not want to work through me anymore?
I'm telling you a mistake in your life, or so it would seem, always leads to a doorway. And so Paul never did get to go to Asia. Never did get to see, on this trip anyhow, people from Asia come to know God. Or did he? Or did he? A lot of people think that Lydia was the man from Macedonia. It was just a dream. He was confused. He thought it was a man, but it was actually Lydia, come help us. But that's not what the scripture tells us. I think that the man from Macedonia was the jailer. Lydia, the text tells us, was a seller of purple from where? A city called Thyatira, which is Asian. I want to get to Asia. I got a burning for Asians. I want to get to Asia. I want to get to Asia. I want to get to Asia. No, Paul. Forbidden. Forbidden. Forbidden. Because God knew, that had he gone to Thyatira and started preaching, the person that he had his eye on reaching an influential person he wanted to reach first would have been in Europe.
So Paul thought God was saying no, but God was just saying not yet. She's on a business trip. She's in her second home. She's here right now. I got to get you to Europe to reach the Asian. And then down the road once a church is started in this Asian business woman's home in Europe. Then I'll let you, when I'm good and ready. You see God's delays are not always his denials. And God has a way when we just follow Him, when we just follow our shepherd, when we're just following our Savior, of giving us the desires of our heart. It just won't always be exactly like we thought it would be. But we can trust Him. Come on, give God a good amen if you believe it.
And so Father, we thank you. We thank you that we can just trust you, and leave the rest up to you. And sometimes our experience might feel like it's screaming at us to doubt you. It's screaming at us to disbelieve you, to disobey you, to dismiss you altogether. But I pray we would just simply trust you. On the basis of the cross, at the cross you proved forever what lengths you're willing to go to to save us. And how you are able to take what looks awful and looks bad and use it for good. So give us perspective in our trials. Give us perspective in our difficulties, what we feel like we're chained to. Help us to believe that our singing to you, not only can free us, but can be used to inspire freedom in those around us.
If you would say I resonate with this message. I have been confused by God, but I want to see this navigation today. If that's you I'm describing, could you just raise up a hand. Just raise up a hand to God. Say God, I'm committed. I'm all in. If you feel comfortable, just say:
God I want you to use what is confusing to me for your glory. I see that you're up to something. You do all things well. Thank you, Father for the freedom that's flowing in this place through your spirit. Open our eyes to see what we can't see. And to trust you.
You could put your hands down. And I want to give an invitation, like was given to Lydia like was given to the jailer. If you're here today and watching online, watching this message, and you've never given your life to Jesus, there's nothing you need to do. It's all been done by Christ, who died for you and rose from the dead. And if you trust Him as Savior he will come in and make you new and make your heart his home and begin to use your life. All you have to do is accept his free gift of salvation. It's like this. You just say, God, I need you. You can say that right now. Say it with me if you're ready to trust Christ.
God, I need you. I'm lost without you. Come to live in my heart and use everything I have in my hands. Because of the Resurrection and Jesus's death for me, I believe my sins are paid for and I am born again. So thank you God for new life. I give you mine.
And with every head bowed, every eye closed, if you just gave your heart to Christ, if you just asked Him to come to live inside of you. Whether as a dedication, your first time ever making a decision like that, or perhaps as a Prodigal Son or daughter who has come home to your Father. You're rededicating your life to God. I want to give you space to nail that down. So I'm going to count to three, and when I get to three I want you to shoot your hand up in the air. This is you saying I'm giving my heart to Christ. Today is my day of salvation. When I get to three, shoot your hand up. Whether you're watching online, or at one of our locations. One, two, three. Shoot your hands up! Shoot your hands up!