1. Hello, listening friends.
2. Thank you very much for tuning in to this very last message in the series that we’ve been preaching.
3. We are calling it, “Looking Up”… when life knocks you down,”
4. and it is based on the life of the Apostle Paul from the Book of Acts;
5. and I want to begin this last message with a fact.
6. It is a fact that it is always easier to start something than finishing it.
7. It doesn’t take a great deal of discipline to be enthusiastic about the commencement of something;
8. but it takes a real commitment to see it through;
9. and, as we come to the end of this series of messages from the life of Paul, we come to a very intriguing ending.
10. It is not the kind of ending that you would expect.
11. Most of the Book of Acts has been concerned with the Apostle Paul;
12. and you would expect that it will end by telling us what happened to the Apostle Paul;
13. and I want you to turn with me, please, to the very last Chapter, Chapter 28 of the Book of Acts, verse 30 and 31.
14. This is how the Book ends:
15. “For two years, Paul stayed in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to him and he preached the Kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.”
16. That’s how the Book ends;
17. but, if you are curious, like me,
18. you have to ask the all-important question.
19. Why does the Book end without telling us what happened to Paul,
20. or, what happened to Peter,
21. or, what happened to Philip?
22. None of that is here at the ending.
23. Why do you think the Book ends that way?
24. Because Dr. Luke, who was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write this history, is more concerned with the Gospel than the preachers of the Gospel.
25. He was more concerned with the power of the Gospel to convert people to Christ than with the instruments God uses to bring these people into conviction;
26. and, today, I want to show you three principles from Acts 28.
27. These principles will unlock the secret to finishing well.
28. I think every one of us wants to finish well.
29. It is a lot easier to start well, but it is much harder to finish well;
30. and Chapter 28 of the Book of Acts will help us unlock the secret for finishing well.
32. you must believe that obstacles will not hinder the plan of God.
34. objections will not halt the work of God;
35. and, thirdly,
36. obedience will harvest the blessing of God.
37. To finish well, you must understand that obstacles will not hinder the plan of God for your life.
38. One of the biggest reasons why some Christians do not finish well is discouragement.
39. The moment they hit an obstacle, they give up.
40. The moment they face problems, they give up;
41. but, from the human perspective, the Apostle Paul’s life was filled with obstacles;
42. and each obstacle that the Apostle Paul faced in his life was designed by Satan.
43. It was designed to stop his ministry.
44. Every one of these obstacles were planned by the enemy to destroy the work of God.
45. Persecution was a hindrance.
46. Imprisonment was a hindrance.
47. Being beaten and stoned and falsely accused were all hindrances;
48. and Paul had his fair share of all of them;
49. but, through it all, the Apostle Paul believed that obstacles cannot hinder the will of God.
50. They may have bound Paul in chains,
51. but they would not bind the power of the will of God.
52. They may have tried to gag him from speaking,
53. but they could not gag the power of the Word of God;
54. and that is why he could keep going in the toughest of times.
55. My listening friend, I want you to listen very carefully.
56. There are two sides to every obstacle that you face in your life.
57. There is a human side and there is God’s side.
58. From your side, obstacles appear as huge boulders;
59. but, from God’s end, they are only stepping stones to get you to the top of the mountain.
60. From the human side, obstacles are frustrating;
61. but, in God’s hand, they are mere instruments He uses to sanctify you and bless you.
62. I want to speak to every one of you who are facing insurmountable obstacles in your life right now.
63. I want to speak to you with confidence in the Word of God
64. and in the God who promised in His words.
65. All of you, who are facing difficulties, must stop seeing these obstacles from your point of view
66. and begin to see them from God’s point of view;
67. and realize that God wants to use these obstacles to fulfill His plan in your life;
68. so, we see the first secret to finishing well, here from the life of Paul, is that obstacles will not hinder the plan of God;
69. but, secondly,
70. he saw that objections will not halt the work of God.
71. One of the greatest temptations today is to see people openly objecting to the truth of the Gospel;
72. and the most important thing to do, when you see this, is not to be intimidated.
73. One of the greatest temptations for Christians is to be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
74. Throughout the Book of Acts, Paul was facing these objections;
75. and, yet, the reason he finished well is because he understood that objections will not halt the work of God;
76. and we see another objection that Paul faces, here in Acts 28, when his ship was wrecked on the island of Malta.
77. Paul suffered misunderstandings and false accusations.
78. When a snake bit him, people said that this man escaped from the shipwreck, but he must be a criminal,
79. and that is why he could not escape the bite of the snake.
80. This was a false perception;
81. and, after a few days, when he did not get sick,
82. they immediately changed their minds about him;
83. and they wanted to worship him as a god.
84. As I said before, people are fickle;
85. but Paul understood that objections will not halt the work of God.
86. Again, when Paul went to Rome, he shared the truth about Jesus;
87. and he taught that Jesus is the Hope of all prophecies from Genesis to Malachi;
88. and, as he began to describe Jesus as the Fulfillment of all hopes and all dreams of the Old Testament,
89. many people objected and rejected his message;
90. but Paul knew that objections cannot halt the work of God.
91. My friends, none of us can stand in our own strength.
92. None of us can stand without the power of God.
93. None of us can persevere without the power of the Holy Spirit;
94. so, to finish strong, you must understand that obstacles will not hinder the plan of God.
95. You must understand that objections will not halt the work of God.
97. in order to finish strong, you must believe that obedience will harvest God’s blessing.
98. There is one thing about the Book of Acts that I don’t want you to miss.
99. The Gospel said that the Apostle Paul preached in Acts 28,
100. and the Gospel that Peter preached in Acts, Chapter 2,
101. is exactly the same Gospel.
102. It was not two different Gospels because it was preached by two different persons,
103. or, preached to different people,
104. or, preached in a different environment,
105. or, preached in a different setting.
106. The commonality that Paul and all the great men of God shared was their obedience to preaching the truth of the Gospel,
107. without compromising it and without watering it down.
108. Today, there are people who are trying to modify the Gospel just a little bit.
109. Now, let me confess to you that obedience might not be easy;
110. but it’s the only way to peace.
111. Obedience might not be comfortable;
112. but, in it, you find your only comfort.
113. Obedience might not be popular;
114. but it is your only way to blessing.
115. It is the only way to please the Lord.
116. Paul’s obedience may have led him into house arrest in Rome
117. and into three years in prison,
118. but was that a waste of time?
120. Because, in the prison in Caesarea, he was able to preach to the kings and the governors;
121. and, under house arrest in Rome, he wrote some of the most exciting Epistles that he was led by the Holy Spirit to write.
122. When you are obedient, you will see God in control of all of your circumstances.
123. You will discover that there is no time that is wasted;
124. and you will find no effort that has been misplaced,
125. and no sacrifice has gone unnoticed by God,
126. that there is no obedience that will not be blessed by the Lord.
127. When you are obedient, even your prison will be turned into a pulpit,
128. because that’s what happened with the Apostle Paul.
129. From historical accounts, we know that the Book of Acts does not tell us about Paul’s end.
130. We know that he was released after those two years
131. and he traveled for two more years and, then, he came back to Rome.
132. Eusebius, the historian, tells us that Paul was arrested during that time;
133. and he was beheaded on the Appian Way;
134. but, from God’s perspective, the details of Paul’s death were not important.
135. It doesn’t mean that God didn’t care.
136. Listen to Psalm 116, verse 15.
137. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”
138. How Paul died is not important.
139. What is important is that he finished well.
140. What is important is that he was able to say, “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. Therefore, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award me on that day.”
141. Listen, my listening friends, as I conclude, to the rest of the verse from 2 Timothy.
142. After Paul said those words that I just mentioned to you,
143. he goes on to say,
144. “Not just only for me, but for all those who love His appearing.”
145. The crown of righteousness henceforth is waiting for you when you finish well, my listening friend.
146. Will you finish well?
147. Will you understand the secrets of finishing well?
148. Let me give them to you again -
149. that obstacles will not hinder the plan of God,
150. that objections will not halt the work of God,
151. and that obedience will harvest the blessing of God.
152. Until we meet in a new series of messages, I wish you God’s richest blessing.