The Perfection Of Plan B - Acts 11:19-30 NIV
#1 - In this broken, imperfect world, we often live out ____________________ .
Or at least that's the way it feels. (1) our plans. (2) our relationships. (3) our families move away. (4) we lose our loved ones. We ask "WHY?"
"Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch." Acts 11:19 NIV
Underline "scattered." Many of these Jewish families lived in Jerusalem for generations - going back 1,000 years. Now persecuted. Run for their lives, leaving all they knew behind. Surely they asked "why?" In our heads we understand that we live in a broken world and that God is/will redeeming it. But in the meantime we just feel often like all our plans/hopes/dreams/desires aren't the way they should be.
Lysa TerKeurst wrote book, "It's Not Supposed To Be This Way." Life can look so different than we expect. Some events catch us off guard. Some shatter us. What do we do when God's timing seems questionable? His lack of intervention hurtful? His promises doubtful?
In this sermon 1) affirm God's good purposes prevails, 2) How we respond to Plan B, 3) leave you with some good news about Plan B.
"Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6 ESV
We treat this as salvation verse, i.e. God brings our salvation to completion. But let's not forget that Paul is writing this from prison. He wants to be there with the Philippians - that's his Plan A. In prison (Plan B) he affirms God's working to complete what Paul cannot. Not just the gospel, but their "partnership in the gospel." Paul loves them and wants to be with them. Yet he is confident God is bringing about the completion of His purposes and His work in them. ==>
#2 - It may feel like Plan B to me, but God's purposes are never __________________ .
"Some of them ... went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus." Acts 11:20 NIV
These Jewish Christians are forced to relocate. Some go to Antioch. Eastern tip of Mediterranean. Secular city. City ranked 3rd in Roman Empire (behind Rome, Alexandria). Political intrigue. Cults. Sensuality.
Not a place where good Hebrews would want to live but...
"Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails." Proverbs 19:21 ESV
Sometimes our plans/wishes/desires don't work out the way we want them to. We end up living in a place we didn't intend. We end up with neighbors we didn't want. We're surrounded by a culture that doesn't have the same values as we have. "God, why? What's happening?"
"The Lord's hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord." Acts 11:21 NIV
Know that even when we feel like we are living Plan B, our God has not left us, forsaken us. His power is not gone. "The Lord's hand was with them." Greeks (non-Hebrew people) were coming to Christ! And not just a few. "A great number of people."
As we think about this, we need to ask ourselves, 'How did they do it?' How did they live without a defeated attitude? Appears just the opposite. They must have lived in such a way that they were attractive to their Greek neighbors = We want what you have! God redeemed their Plan B (along with rest of world). How do I...
#3 - The key to living out Plan B redemptively is ____________________ .
"News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch." Acts 11:22 NIV
Even Jerusalem church had to respond. This is not just a household (like Roman centurion.) This is large sections of a secular city turning to Christ - what does this mean? How should we respond to them? Sent Barnabas...
We have to respond too. We have to be purposeful about it when things don't work out the way we want. Not just que sara sara. We have to work / struggle to bring our outward life (Plan B) into agreement with...
"We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 ESV
If we don't struggle with it, then we (A) are forcing our disappointment down deep and not dealing with it, and (B) aren't really being effective w/ those who watch our lives, and even worse (C) are faking it!
A. Look for ______________________ .
Ok God, I know you're working all things together for good. I know I love You. I believe I'm called according to Your purpose, so what's going on here? What's YOUR plan?
"When [Barnabas] arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts." Acts 11:23 NIV
Barnabas arrives and sees God's grace. He is glad. He encourages. And notice "them all" - not just the Greeks. The displaced Hebrews. He is a reminder that God is doing some really good things in Antioch! When your life turns into Plan B, look for God! Look for what He is doing!
B. Look for _______________________ .
If God is redeeming this moment, maybe I can partner with Him and find a hidden opportunity too!
"Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people." Acts 11:25-26a NIV
Paul is a great asset just waiting around in his hometown of Tarsus. Was forced out of Jerusalem. But Paul is not only Hebrew. Also a Roman citizen. Who could best meet with / teach / help mature / understand a Greek culture? Paul could bridge that gap! What an opportunity! When your life turns into Plan B, look for those hidden opportunities that you'd never have looked at before. (Because, after all, everything was great!)
C. Look for ______________________ .
"The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch." Acts 11:26b NIV
Christians literally means "of Christ." These people, those Greeks joining this new faith were "of Christ" now, so they were named Christians. It wasn't Christians who named themselves. It was the outsiders. It may have even been said with derision.
Their attitude? Let's own this! And our name was born! This isn't just a matter of the right PMA, of turning our frowns upside down. No one wants a fake celebration. But the truth is there IS reason to celebrate, if we can be flexible and faithful to find it.
#4 - Ultimately the Spirit of God transforms Plan B into __________________ .
"Agabus stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread... The disciples, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea." Acts 11:22 NIV
Famine was coming to Jerusalem. Those still living there will be facing starvation (also a definite Plan B, right?) But no one (other than God) can see that coming. God turns Plan B into Plan A. Send Jewish Christians out. Make many new Christians. Take care of the Christians back home.
Conclusion: This sermon is easier to preach than to live out. We have to know in our heads that God is good, His purposes prevail. Then we have to be purposeful to discover it, believe it, and live it out.