I have a new series out called Live.Breathe.Be and it based on the Apostle Paul’s conversation with the philosophers at Athen’s Aeropagus, where Paul said,

For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

Acts 17:28

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Message One: What Are You Living For?

Opening: Mimic Challenge

Jimmy Fallon has a game where you must imitate a noise, with just your mouth, that Jimmy does with an object. Take a look at these videos and use similar objects or choose your own objects.

Mimic Challenge One

Mimic Challenge Two

Choose two students and give them three noises to imitate. Choose a winner.

Transition:

Say: Do you ever have flashbacks to important moments in your life? Good or bad? (Maybe share a flashback moment of your child being born, etc.)

Tonight I will start with the Apostle Paul in his present day and then offer a flashback of his life to give you a context of what his life was like before this moment. What was he living for?

We open up with the Apostle Paul who had just been beaten, arrested and jailed traveling to another town and speaking at a synagogue.

Present Day

Read: Acts 17:1-4

When Paul and his companions had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,” he said. Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women.

Paul is proclaiming a new life, something he experienced in a dramatic fashion, more on that later.

Say: I wonder if Paul had flashbacks to this moment from his resent past,

Flashback

Read: Acts 7:54 – Acts 8:1

When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.

While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

And Saul approved of their killing him.

Say: I wonder is Paul ever had this flashback while he was, proclaiming Jesus. It must have been a powerful moment for him to realize that his life was so different now. I imagine this is why Paul is so passionate in his letters to the churches about grace because he experienced this grace first hand.

I wonder if Paul flashed back to the kind of person he was and wondered, “was I really him?”

God can take hardhearted, misguided people, who believe they are doing the right thing, living the right way for the right reasons and transform their lives.

Let’s look at that life changing moment for Paul where he met the Lord,

Read: Acts 9:3-9

As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

Could God change your heart so drastically that five years from now you’ll have a flashback and wonder, was I ever that person? The answer is yes. Let’s flash forward to a letter Paul wrote to a young preacher named Timothy.

Flash-Forward

Paul later said of himself, before he met Christ,

Read: I Timothy 1:12-17

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Closing

What are you living for? Paul was living for the destruction of this new faith called The Way and thought he was doing the right thing.

What do you live for, breath for and have your whole self wrapped up in?

Maybe you’re living a wild life and believe that it doesn’t hurt anyone else, your life is fine. Maybe you live for pleasure. Maybe you live for money. Maybe you live for fame. Maybe you live to be number one at any cost. Maybe you want a simple life and keep to yourself. Maybe you have your whole life planned out.

Not of those things are wrong in and of themselves, but if it excludes God, you have some idols on your hands.

God is working in the background, just like He was with Paul, and wants to offer you a new life, a new purpose, a new road to walk on, something else to live for besides yourself.

Close in prayer

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