Sunday, June 16, 2013

From Acts to Revelation Part 78 – Rome

From Acts to Revelation
Part 78  – Rome
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | |

Remember, Luke is recording he and Paul's travels.

The last two weeks have revealed Paul and the crew of his prison vessel. Bound for Rome, running aground, and leaving the 276 men shipwrecked on the island of Malita.

There, Paul was bitten by a snake, but lived, and the inhabitants of the island began coming to him for healing.

They eventually left on a new ship, and arrived in Rome, where Paul is greeted by more believers. Who came to see him when they heard of his arrival.

Remember, Paul is in Rome because the Lord told him to come to Rome and preach the Paul, during his trial in front of King Agrippa and Festus, appealed to Caesar, so he would be taken to Rome.

Paul, in his obedience, receives special protection, privilege, and treatment, not because he is compliant to his captors, rather, because he is obedient to Christ.

Saul was rejected as king because he failed to utterly destroy the Amalekites, instead choosing to keep the best of the best for himself and to sacrifice to God. But God didn't want his sacrifice, he wanted obedience.

I Samuel 15:22
“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
    as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
    and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”

Today we will see how God desires OBEDIENCE rather than SACRIFICE.

Acts 28:16-20
16 When we got to Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him.
17 Three days later he called together the local Jewish leaders. When they had assembled, Paul said to them: “My brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or against the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. 18 They examined me and wanted to release me, because I was not guilty of any crime deserving death. 19 The Jews objected, so I was compelled to make an appeal to Caesar. I certainly did not intend to bring any charge against my own people. 20 For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.”

In today's scripture we will see;
1.      God desires obedience over sacrifice
2.      Blessings come through obedience
3.      Obedience is “how” we serve the Lord

a.      Special treatment, first by God (called blessings)
i.       We see God protecting Paul, and giving him special treatment during the storms and trials in his life...why?  Because Paul is obedient.

a.      He protected Paul at the Temple by bringing in the Roman guards when the Jews attacked him.

b.     He protected Paul with over 200 armed soldiers while he traveled for his trial.

c.      He protected Paul from the hurricane, which shipwrecked the Roman prisoner ship on Malita.

d.     He protected Paul from the venomous snake bite on the island.

e.      All because Paul is Obedient.

b.     Special treatment by the Centurion
i.       He protected Paul on the ship, not wanting him killed
ii.    He gave privilege to Paul to teach and preach freely

iii. He allowed Paul to preach on the ship.

c.      Special treatment by King Agrippa
i.       Who said, "If Paul had not appealed to Caesar, I would release him, for he is guiltless."

d.     and now, special treatment by Rome
i.       They provided him with special guard, and quarters

ii.    They allowed him to walk the city, talk with people, teach and preach as well as call meetings with the believer's and Jewish leaders!!!

e.      Why?
i.       Paul received blessings, protection, benefits, and special treatment BECAUSE he was obedient to the Lord.

ii.    Obedience is actively (doing) serving God, doing things the way He commands.
a.      Not the way you think it should be done, or in the manner you think is best, rather, doing WHAT God says, the WAY God says, WHEN God says.

b.     That, is obedience

iii. Paul was told to go to Rome and preach the Gospel, and he did.

iv.   We need to be actively serving too, if we wish to have these same blessings in our life.

a.      Calling the believers he found in Rome (vs. 15) and the Chief Jews in Rome.
i.       We know from scripture that the believer's and the Chief Jews were not working together, because when Paul addresses them in vs.17, he calls them "men and brothers".

ii.    There is a distinction between the two sets of men.
b.     Paul states, "I did nothing, yet I am a prisoner"
i.       Notice, Paul has endured trials, imprisonment, beatings, floggings, stoning, left for dead, shipwrecked, bitten, and all of these are his daily trials and tribulations, and yet, he continues to receive blessings from God, as well as special treatment, and protection because of his obedience.

ii.    We are told in scripture, "Storms will come...", we "Will have trials and tribulation...", we "Will have difficulties...", all of these things promised in life, for the believer, and the non-believer.

a.      However, when the storms come, those who have built their house on the rock (Jesus), will be able to withstand these storms. The man who does not build his life on the rock, has built it upon sand, and will come down with a great crash when the storm comes.

c.      Paul makes it clear in his statement to the brothers and Chief Jews
i.       All of this is because of his proclamation of Christ as the Messiah of Israel and the Savior of the world.

a.       I Samuel 15:22
“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
    as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
    and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”

b.     Most people who believe in God have hopes of his approval in this life and for the eternal life to come. Furthermore, seeking God’s approval will naturally be followed by an expectation of his blessings as well. However, those seeking to be approved by God must be cautious when attempting to seek his approval.

i.       While God is able to know the thoughts and intentions of every person, he cannot be manipulated into issuing blessings to those who approach him in inappropriate ways and for inappropriate reasons.

c.      Proverbs 16:25 says, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”
i.       The Pharisees of Jesus’ day are a prime example of those seeking the blessings of God in their own ways, yet at the same time were being rejected by God.

ii.    In speaking to a group of scribes and Pharisees, Jesus said to them, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe …, and you have neglected the weightier provision of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.” (Matthew 23:23).

d.     The scribes and Pharisees were assuming that God was blessing them because they were issuing sacrificial tithes and offerings. However, Jesus rebuked them for neglecting the greatest of acts — i.e. justice, mercy and faithfulness.

i.       These religious leaders believed they had God’s approval for blessings, while all along; God was rejecting them.

e.      David, king of Israel, came to realize that all his sacrificial living before God was not at all what God desired of him.

i.       While under deep repentant conviction of sin, David exclaimed in a prayer to God “You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it. You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” (Psalm 51:16-17).

f.       The thing King David came to realize, which the Pharisees failed to realize, is that a relationship with God through a repentant faithful life is more honorable and pleasing to God than any sacrificing.

i.       Speaking of the time of eternal judgment, Jesus said, “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you.’ ” (Matthews 7:22-23).


1.       God desires obedience over sacrifice
2.       Blessings come through obedience
3.       We need to live a life of obedience, remembering justice, mercy and faithfulness
4.       Your tithes, offerings and sacrifices are worthless, if you are not living in obedience to the Lord.

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