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Who Do You Think You Are? Acts 21-23

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Today was a glorious day. 

Yes, it was a bit on the warm side, but given all of the rain recently, days like today remind us of all of the amazing blessings that we have here in Northern Virginia.

But we should ask ourselves, as Pastor Ed did today, whether all of our domestic pleasures make us something less than we are really meant to be.

Today Pastor Ed, took us through Acts 21, Acts 22 and part of Acts 23 looking at the epic story of the Apostle Paul’s final journey back to Jerusalem.

Paul had been serving in the Roman city of Ephesus when he felt the spirit calling him to return to Jerusalem. Although we cannot know for certain what Paul’s internal feelings were, we could all feel, as we listened to the story, the almost palpable sense of foreboding that this Journey would be more difficult than any task that Paul had previously faced.

As we listen, we cannot help but wonder how we might have fared in Paul’s place. Would we have been as deeply surrendered to the calling of the spirit? Would we have been as willing to hang on through the trial? Would we have been able to keep the long term perspective – that our salvation is assured – and that the Lord will satisfy our deepest needs?

We might imagine that Paul was significantly different than you or me, but as we listen to the story of the warnings Paul received in Tyre and Jerusalem, we cannot help but imagine whether Paul feared what might happen to him.

As we think about our own submission to the pressures the world places on us, we wonder how Paul was able to stand up with such resolve and such willingness to share the story of his own salvation with those who could not bear to hear him – and who would kill him given the chance.

What amazes us so much about the Apostle Paul is the strength of the spiritual fire within him that allows him to stand up for his faith despite the obvious threats to his life and welfare.

We cannot help but ask ourselves again, how Paul’s spirit can remain so raw and untamed, how it could remain so unconformed to the pressures of the world despite the real threats to his life. How can we explain it? And what does it mean for our lives?

Perhaps Paul’s untamed “barbarian” spirit is the same spirit that resides in each of us. Perhaps Paul just had more clarity on his assignment.

We all need to ask ourselves, whether we know our purpose – and whether we are pursuing that purpose or whether we are taking our dictates from, and allowing ourselves to be domesticated by the world around us.

Who Do You Think You Are? Acts 18-20

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This week, Pastor Ed continued the sermon series in Acts, covering chapters 18-20, about the end of Paul's second missionary journey and the start of the third.

Paul was a spiritually awesome dude, but that's not the story of these chapters.

This is not Paul's story, it's God's story -- putting the exact right people in exactly the right places.

He's done that at Gateway.

That's what God does.

This is God's story.

Paul got to participate, and so do we!

We get to live in God's story!

The New Testament isn't a book of stories about awesome people -- It's God's story.

And it's still God's story.

We need to do less, not more.

Themes from Paul's life:

1)  Surrender.

Not spiritual awesomeness, but surrender to the spiritual awesomeness of God. (Acts 20:22-24)

None of us gets to be people for whom it all falls into place.

We have an addiction to control and self-reliance.

Have you surrendered lately?

2)  Spiritual Grit

Paul refused to quit.  (Philippians 3:12)

The tougher it gets, the harder you hang on.

3)  An Eternal Perspective.  (Acts 20:34-35)

"It's more blessed to give than to receive."

*Remembering* -- I remind myself, because I'm looking toward heaven.

Figure out how to surrender more and more to a spiritually awesome God.

I Corinthians 4:16 -- We're renewed day by day during "our light and momentary troubles."  Paul had an eternal perspective.

Paul needed to surrender every day.

He had to hang on.

He remembered constantly where he was headed.

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Then we thought and prayed about which of those three areas we need to work on now.

Is there something we need to surrender?

Do we need to hang on?

Do we need to remind ourselves of an eternal perspective?

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