Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg

with Tom Fuller

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Escape or Deliverance?

Acts 25:1-26

I?ve had the opportunity to interview several presidents and ex-presidents. I?ve done stories with movie stars, and the heads of large multinational corporations. \r
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There is an aura around people like that ? an aura of power, prestige, fame, or riches. They emanate the aura ? perpetuate it, use it to intimidate and maintain their position.\r
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It makes it very very difficult to win the rich and famous to the Lord. They insulate themselves from having to deal directly with others on a one on one basis. We see that even the Apostle Paul ? the king of witnessing, has trouble reaching the powerful of his age for Christ. It?s too bad because God doesn?t have a contest to see who can collect the most money before He comes back. God doesn?t care who we know or who we control. One day soon He?ll simply open up the books and determine who knew His Son and who didn?t. Those that do go to heaven, those that don?t, well, don?t.\r
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Today we?re going to see Paul before kings and officials ? and we?re going to talk about why he chooses to go to his death, rather than escape a trial.\r
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24:24-27\r
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When speaking to the ?rich and famous? we need not to shy away from difficult topics like: righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come.\r
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These are rock bottom issues ? watershed issues that we all need to deal with ? the fact that without Jesus? righteousness we are not right with God ? that we cannot simply live our lives any way we see fit at the moment ? and that we all will be held accountable for our actions at the judgment.\r
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We want to sugar coat everything and be perfectly PC in order not to rock the boat. That?s a trick of the enemy. When Jesus was here he made no excuses about sin and repentance. He was not rude but said it like it is. \r
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We need not to be afraid of telling people ? ?You know, the Bible teaches that without Jesus? sacrifice on your behalf you?ll be eternally separated from all that is good.?\r
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25:1-12\r
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Why did Paul do this? Basically because he realized he could no longer expect fair treatment by either the Jewish Sanhedrin, or the Roman authority in Palestine. It was the right for Roman citizens to appeal to the emperor ? in this case Caesar Nero.\r
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25:13\r
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Agrippa was the grandson of Herod the great. Oddly ? Bernice was his sister. There were many accounts of his incestuous relationship with Bernice so this wasn?t exactly a very good judge of character.\r
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25:14 ? 26:18\r
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Paul gives the now familiar defense to his conduct and the account of his conversion.\r
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He adds an interesting note ? here for the first time we see words that Jesus spoke directly to Paul about his commission. Jesus tells him that he has been ?appointed? as a servant and a witness. \r
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This is important because it lends credibility to Paul?s credentials as an apostle. The requirements were: to have seen Jesus, and receive a commission from him. \r
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26:19 ? 32\r
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Agrippa tells Festus that Paul could have been released had he not appealed to Caesar, but it is unlikely given the political climate that he would have been set free.\r
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Sometimes getting set free from something is not what God has for us ? is not His will for our lives. Think about that the next time you find yourself embroiled in a major trial. You can get relief ? but should you?\r
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Escape vs. Deliverance\r
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There is a big difference between escaping a trial and being delivered from it. And I want to use a brief example from Scripture to illustrate it.\r
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1. David v Saul\r
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Saul (1 Sam 13) was experiencing trouble with the Philistines. He deployed his troops and waited. The trouble got worse and his men started to get nervous. Some of the men started to desert. Saul was waiting for Samuel to come and make a sacrifice to God before they engaged the enemy. \r
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Apparently Saul got impatient and finally decided to perform the sacrifice himself so they could go to battle and get this thing over with. Bad choice.\r
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Just as soon as he was done, Samuel arrived, incensed that Saul had jumped out ahead of the Lord ? and announced that God was ripping the kingdom away from Saul. \r
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David, (1 Sam 24) on the other hand ? was undergoing a severe persecution by none other than Saul ? who wanted to kill him. David was on the run, knowing that God had chosen him as king. \r
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David was hiding in a cave ? Saul was looking for him. He came into the cave to use it as a restroom. This was David?s moment, the men with him said ? you can kill Saul, escape the persecution and do what God has called you to do ? become king.\r
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David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul?s cape. Afterward he was grief-stricken and said ?God forbid that I should do such a thing.? David experienced a long time of struggle following that incident ? and had to wait and run and hide many times until he became king.\r
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The Point\r
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The point is this: God may have placed you in a situation where a) the circumstances are very uncomfortable, and b) you see a way to get out of it.\r
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To escape means to use your own power to avoid trouble. Deliverance means God uses His power to take you out of trouble. It?s all in the timing. If you leave a three minute egg on for two minutes you get a slushy awful inedible mess. If you escape from a three minute trial in two minutes God doesn?t get to work the results He wants to in you.\r
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James 1:4 ?Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.?\r
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We must let God finish what He?s started in us ? even if that means patience, even suffering. To make a diamond it takes three things: a lump of coal ? that?s us, great pressure ? that?s the trial, and a long long time ? that?s patience.\r
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Before you simply act on your impatience, do this:\r
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1 ? Be patient\r
2 ? Be prayerful\r
3 ? Be observant\r
4 ? Be humble\r
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1. Be Patient\r
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Ps 37:7-11 \r
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;\r
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,\r
when they carry out their wicked schemes. \r
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8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;\r
do not fret--it leads only to evil. \r
9 For evil men will be cut off,\r
but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land. \r
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10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;\r
though you look for them, they will not be found. \r
11 But the meek will inherit the land \r
and enjoy great peace. \r
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2. Be Prayerful\r
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Proverbs 3:6\r
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.\r
KJV\r
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To acknowledge is ?to know? ? we must be so close to God that we know what He would do, where He would go.\r
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3. Be Observant\r
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Matt 10:16\r
I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. \r
NIV\r
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As I?ve mentioned before ?shrewd? means ?thoughtful? and comes from the idea of both intelligence and skill. We need to be aware of our surroundings as a snake uses special tools to stay aware of what is going on around it. \r
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1 Peter 5 tells us to be ?alert? because our enemy prowls about. Know when the enemy might be tempting you to break out ? to escape ? to run ? even to sin in order to avoid trouble.\r
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That?s the other part of Matthew 10:16 ? be innocent as doves. It means to be unmixed ? don?t accomplish God?s will in your life by using the world?s means of success. Don?t cheat your employer to win people to Christ.\r
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4. Be Humble\r
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1 Peter 5:6\r
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. NIV\r
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?Stay under? ? that?s what it means. The picture that comes to mind is of a fox hole. I had the opportunity to watch as a group of Canby high school students dug fox holes to the exact measurements of those dug in WWI. \r
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The British had to alter their design to build a berm above ground because their foxholes were too shallow and they were getting shot. Then they started building them in zig zags so that the aircraft couldn?t just strafe down the foxhole and kill them all.\r
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When the battle rages around you ? the tendency is to panic and run screaming from the foxhole to escape.\r
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But God?s hand is upon us even when the battle rages around us ? if we ?stay under? it. Then, Peter says ?in due time? God will lift us up ? either when the battle is over or when we are ready to face the battle or be delivered from it.

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