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Three Years in Arabia

David Shin


David Shin

Pastor, Hillside O'Malley Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Anchorage, AK



  • September 14, 2019
    12:00 PM
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Father in Heaven you have been so good to us your mercies are new every morning great is faithfulness Lord we are amazed at your patience with us your forbearance your long suffering and we pray this morning that as we open the words of life that you would speak to each and every heart to know what we need you know our struggles you know our burdens you know our place in life and we pray that you would bless us this morning with your spirit may you apply the truth specifically to our situations into our own hearts we ask these things in the precious name of Jesus and men were continuing in our series entitled Lessons from the life of Paul and for today study I invite you to turn with me in your Bibles to the Book of Acts Chapter 9 we pick up right after Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus remember last Sabbath we touched on Paul traveling to Damascus to persecute Christians to take them back to Jerusalem take them to trial and ultimately to their death and on the road to Damascus he sees Jesus. Falls back his eyes are blinded and he recognizes that he has been on the wrong side and for 3 days the Bible tells us that he was not eating probably not sleeping very much not drinking any water and he was blind for 3 days I wonder what was going through his mind during those 3 days as he sat in isolation in an undisclosed location and suddenly. Gone comes to end a nice a Christian living in Damascus and says I want you to go see Saul of Tarsus who had become Paul and we pick it up here he goes to see Brother Saul Paul in verse 17 so Anna nighest departed and entered the house after laying his hands on him. Said Brother saw the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit this is the point in Paul's ministry where his eyesight is restored but the other part that I missed many times as I read the book of Acts was here an anonymous laid hands on saw and the Bible says that in that moment he was filled with the Holy Spirit. This is a recurring theme in the book of Acts where you see that the Apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit and the Bible paints this picture of this metaphor for all of the Holy Spirit being an agency that is poured out and it gives the implication that we as human beings are like the vessels were like cops in a way that have the potential to be filled with different spirits in Acts Chapter 5 The Bible says that Satan had filled the heart of and and Safira and I don't know about you but I want to be filled with the Holy Spirit Amen not an evil spirit all of us have the potential to be filled with different spirits in we can every day ask for the Holy Spirit to fill us we don't want any vacancy in our own hearts because we are spiritual vessels with that potential to be filled with different spirits Paul begins preaching the Gospel and we pick it up in verse 25 and 26 I'll give you the opportunity to read the whole chapter on the Sabbath afternoon verse 2526 then is disciples took him by night and led him down to an opening in the wall bowing lowering him in a large basket the reason why Paul had to flee was he was preaching the gospel you can imagine this man that was a persecutor and was going to drag Kr. Off to be incarcerated had suddenly become a Christian and he was preaching the gospel giving his testimony and he became such a threat to the Jews that they were going to kill him so he escaped through a basket or through the wall in a basket and then in verse 26 The Bible says that he went to Jerusalem now an important principle of Bible study is that you want to compare Scripture with Scripture because the book of Acts moves on to the next notable event but I want to invite you to turn with me to go lation chapter one verse 17 and 18 an important principle is to compare Scripture with Scripture in English and Chapter one Verse 17 and 18 Paul tells us that in the gap between verse 25 and 26 was not several days or several weeks it was actually quite a bit of a period of time verse 17 and 18 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were possible before me but I went away to Arabia and once more to Damascus then 3 years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Seif is and stayed with him 15 days now follow me here because the Bible says that Paul. I was in a Rabia for 3 years before he went to Jerusalem according to the collation chapter 117 and 18. Now that is a quite a period of time now I have it here on the screen for you and so this this gives an indication of the gap between verse 25 and 26 of Acts Chapter 9 you have Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus and if you fill in the blanks and read some of other Paul's writings Galatians tells us that between Paul's conversion and him becoming a missionary to the Gentiles introducing himself to the Jews in Jerusalem there was a gap of 3 years where Paul spent time in isolation in the deserts of a Rabia. Have you ever had a time in your life where you wondered what in the world am I doing here I mean this this was a leave of absence where his life was on hold I wonder how many more books of the New Testament we would have if Paul had been not missing in action for those 3 years but this was part of God's plan how many more churches could we have from an efficiency standpoint but God had Paul missing in action in isolation for 3 years 3 years is a long time have you ever had a time in your life where you're wondering Lord what am I doing here this situation it seems like my life is on hold now I've noticed that it's very difficult to get a direct flight out of Alaska have you noticed that you know other than Seattle. And I prefer direct flights. I I despise layovers. I remember I was flying to Africa. And it was a long flight over the ocean then we had a layover in Paris that was overnight. And because we were so cheap we decided to spend the night in the airport terminal and it seems like they make those seats as uncomfortable as possible I remember trying to spend the night in Paris and I just wanted to get to my final destination the thing about a layover is that you know that this is a temporary holding pattern this is not your final destination this is not the place that God all timidly wants to lead you I wanted to go to Africa I didn't want to hang out in Paris and we were there for what seemed like an eternity in the security terminal with our little blankets if you can call them that just just trying to get some sleep and we slept absolutely 0 during that time in that layover and sometimes following God means a detour. Sometimes following God means that God says I want to put the pause button on your life I want to put you in a holding pattern on a layover when I graduated from the seminary. I was eager to do ministry and I was put in my 1st district in Kalamazoo Michigan yes there is a place called Kalamazoo by the way and Quinten Purvis was my senior pastor I was to be an associate there to be trained as an internal The 1st year and while I was there Clinton said I want you to give worship to these elementary school kids and I want to observe you so I went into our little school that was attached to our church there and gave worship to our elementary school kids and afterwards Quinn says I want to have a conversation with you and he said Do you realize David that those young people did not understand a single word that you said. You can't use words like existential. David you've got a you've got to do something about this and I just come out of the seminary studying bull pen and Bergen Reinhold Niebuhr and all of these theologians and so forth and I was coming off the ivory tower and I could not relate to 2 individuals and I said Praise the Lord that I'll never have to do you the industry all year later the brother in decided that they would place me in a congregation of a 1000 people a multiracial pastoral staff where you have the senior pastor you have the associate pastor yet a full time counsellor and they said David we want you to be the youth pastor. Which meant specializing. And for 3 seemingly eternal years. It's it felt like a long time. I was in Berrien Springs doing youth ministry. I didn't even get to preach but maybe 2 times a year. To the main congregation but every single Sabbath I was giving that lesson to the youth Now don't get me wrong I love youth ministry but I'm just not cut from that particular cloth you know there are individuals that are gifted with youth ministry and I praise the lord for them but I knew that this was not my final destination and here I was in Berrien Springs doing use ministry for 3 years and I would call my mom and I say Mom I just don't know what I'm doing here surely God has made a mistake I mean when's this going to be over. Month after month after month after month now looking back on that experience I wouldn't trade it for the world because every single Sabbath I had to take beautiful heavenly principles. And make them simple and understandable to children every week I would give Bible studies to 10119 year olds and I would have to take biblical principles understood to understandable to a child and and God told me Look anyone can take something and make it more complicated but us a minister of the Gospel you need to take heavenly principles and make them understandable comprehensible and so during that time by the way I met my lovely wife as well during that time the Lord knew what he was doing you know and and I knew that this was not my final destination I knew that this was not were gone was going to lead me but God put my life on hold and said Dave there are some things that you need to learn and so for this time period for 3 years your life is going to be what you think is on hold. It's not going to be your final destination you're going to be in a situation where you're thinking what in the world is going on I know that this is not what I'm supposed to be this doesn't make any sense but going to saying look I want you to stay in this pas period and that's where Paul was for 3 long years he was in the deserts of Arabia a brilliant man a brilliant theologian in isolation because during that time he had a lot of things that he had to unlearn and be reeducated by God You know sometimes you can have too much too soon I've known individuals colleagues of mine that are no longer in ministry today because they had too much too soon they did not have the roots down in order to do ministry and when they got to the limelight it got to their heads and they're no longer in ministry today here Paul was about to become the greatest missionary to the Gentiles in history and God said I want you to be on leave for 3 years before that character takes time. I think of Moses 40 year lay over that's a long lay over 40 years as a shepherd this brilliant man this this general this prince in Israel 40 years tending sheep because that experience was going to prepare him to be a leader I think of David David was anointed as king and then God said I want you to go back and be a shepherd and for years. He was in obscurity running from Saul I think of Joseph years a servant in potter 1st house and then later on in prison I think of Jesus 30 years as a carpenter 3 years of ministry. God takes preparation seriously and he is willing to take the time for it now the thing about preparation is this. Character takes time you know we live in a microwave society where we like things instant instant Rahman instant oatmeal will character in is more like a crockpot it seems to take forever and character is the great harvest of life and God takes us he accepts this just the way we are he receives us just the way we are but then go on says look there's some things I want to work on in your life to make you happy or to make you a more loving and lovable Christian and that character transformation sometimes is painful sometimes he takes us through situations in circumstances where you're wondering how long this is going to be and how long this will last you're wondering this doesn't make any sense in my life but character is the great harvest of life and the way that God transforms our character sometimes is by putting us through circumstances and situations where certain things are revealed in our character that God wants to bring to our attention. Have you have been in the situation that brought out your character they say that when a person is squeezed their character comes out you want to know a person's character be with them in a very stressful situation you will see character arise when we see things come in to our lives that that reveal the evil in our nature it is God calling us to attention to say this is an area I want to work on in your life and here is a tip when God brings something around. Whether it be a circumstance in a situation that you know that God is trying to teach you something sit up pay attention because if you don't learn at that time it's going to keep coming around I learned that and so there have been situations when I'm brought through something in a situation that makes me a little uncomfortable that reveals something in my character the guy wants to work on I want to say I say Lord whatever it is you're trying to teach me please help me to learn now so that this thing doesn't keep coming around that's the way the Lord works he's very merciful in our walk with him and there are certain parts of our character that are blind to us that God is trying to bring out and here it is Sol of Tarsus hated Christians he meets Jesus becomes a Christian and gone says I want you to go into obscurity for 3 years so that you can be really educated in the things of God and he came out on the other side as Paul the Apostle. One of the questions that people may ask is. This may apply to ministry and I'm not a pastor you may say I'm not I'm not Paul. Surely God doesn't lead us there is such similar circumstances in similar situations. Do you believe that God has a plan for your life. Do you believe that God has a vision for you. But you have to if you believe that God exists and God is Love You have to believe I believe that for every individual god has a dream for your life. He has a map for you specifically for you. A purpose for this life and the life to come blueprint that was inspired in have it just for you he's dreamed about the seas dreamed about you and he's like David I have these great things that I have in store for you this vision for your life purpose meaning destiny all of these things I have. A vision for you that will blow your mind this is the forefront of God's thinking when he looks at you uses I have a vision for your life if you believe that you have to believe that there is a preparation plan and if you trust God with your life. Get ready because God many times leads in a very conventional path a path that sometimes simply does not make sense full disclosure here. When I got the call. To not sure if I should share this time when I got the call among friends when I got the call to to come to Alaska. It actually came to 2 times. You know this thing Bubba keeps coming around the 1st time Clinton called and I said I'm just not ready the 2nd time he called. I said I got to pray about this now you need to understand my understanding of Alaska was these little reality shows that I had seen on the History Channel. Like polar bears in a glues. Don't leave now I'll wrap this up very nicely here and so when I got the call I said Lord this isn't this was not on my bucket list. You know this was not on my top 10 calls of places to go and when you look at the trajectory of where the Lord seemed to be leading in in my quote unquote what I thought was the blueprint interject aree Alaska was the farthest thing from my mind all the indicators were leading another direction and suddenly at a certain point in my ministry I'd just been at the church for about almost 8 years and we had just completed and so I mentioned to my wife I think it's time to go you got to leave when they still like you by the way you know praise the Lord not when they wish you would leave you've got to leave one to believe in is good and so I said things are good we just completed this major remodel in our church our church budget was in the surplus and we just completed you know we had a multi-day we had some staff that I had just placed in other places and and wanted to ensure that their future was secure and so it was a good time to leave and I was like All right Lord you know those calls that I turned down prior that that I thought would be a good call to reoccur those calls please bring them back Lord now's a good time and then suddenly my phone rings and Quentin's like Alaska and I said. I thought in my heart I said no no no. And I got on Google Maps and I said where is this place anyway and eyes assumed Dow. And I thought the Upper Peninsula of Michigan was north. I said that's the North Paul I said I can see it I said I said but what in the world I said this this doesn't make any sense and so I prayed about I said I'm not going up there unless it's very clear so I prayed I said we're in Michigan the housing market is terrible I said I will make it very difficult you need to sell the house this week this week if you sell it this week I'll go if not I'll know it's not from you the house sells. That week. I mean this is unbelievable and so my wife and I and our 2 Golden Retrievers we didn't have Hudson yet we drove on the Alcan wood to Golden tree reason few of our belongings we ship the rest of it in a Toyota Prius came up here and I want to tell you that this time period I look back on don't worry I'm not leaving I'm not the same like that but I'm just like I'm just like wow the Lord knew exactly what he was to because this is the best kept secret a man prays look this is paradise you know on so many levels but but from a ministry standpoint the Lord knew what he was doing he always knows what he's doing but sometimes we're like this doesn't make any sense but but just be faithful and follow him wherever he may lead. You know wherever he may lead even if it doesn't make sense from a human standpoint you need to trust God with your life. And go because that's the happiest place you will be and I'm happier than I've ever been before and our son was born here for the rest of his life you have an Alaskan birth certificate all praise the Lord I mean this is this is going tremendous personal growth and and formation character development the Lord knew exactly what he was doing and the Lord needed to bring me out of certain circumstances so that I could reevaluating. My life. Were his gun leading you in your life do you feel like your life is on hold maybe maybe not maybe you're in a situation right now where you're like Lord I know this is not my final destination I mean what am I doing here trust God with your life you know faith of corn he was 11 the 1st aspect of faith is believing that God is some translations say believing that God exists do you believe that God exists you know sometimes we come to church and say all God exists and then when it comes to our finances we act like atheists. You know I'm talking about when we come to our planning and our life we act like atheists we act like individuals or Deists at best that God doesn't exist that God is up there but he's not interested in my affairs of my life where God has a plan for your life and if you surrender your life to him his vision for your life will be fulfilled but get ready for the lay over same and get ready for those situations in your life will God will take you through something you say Lord I simply don't understand where God may be leading but I choose to trust you anyway. Because I believe that God exists. And even more than that I believe that God is love. And that his plan for my life. Was what will bring me the greatest happiness and joy I want to share this poem. From Corey. Corey went through Bradman's a proc the concentration camp she lost her sit stir during that time she was hiding away Jews if you have not read the book hiding place I highly encourage it this is a poem that came out of her experience and she uses the metaphor of a loom and an artist weaving a loom and this loom represents the instrument that God uses to have to put together our lives and I want to read this poem as we as we close this morning this is from Cory 10 moom. My life is but a weaving between my God and me I cannot choose the colors he weave it steadily and I in fullish pride forget he sees the upper and I the underside. Not till the loom is silent and the shuttles cease to fly will God unroll the canvas and and reveal the reason why the dark thread it's are as needful in the weeds skilful hand as the threads of gold and silver in the pattern he has planned he knows he loves he cares nothing this truth condemn he gives the very best to those who leave the choice to him a man that's my prayer that's trust God with our lives. I think of the book education that says when we get to heaven and we look back on our lives and we see the way that God has worked in his masterpiece we'll say Lord even through the trials. I would not have been led to. Any other way. Let us pray. Father in heaven. What a lesson it is from Paul's life. 3 years where his life was on hold 3 years where it seemed like. His life was on detour but it was all part of the master plan and the Lord I don't know where each individual is in this room but you do and father 1st and foremost. We want to dedicate our lives to you. And I just want to make a simple appeal this morning if if you have not fully dedicated your life to the Lord Jesus you want to do so so this morning one invite you to raise your hand this morning said Lord I want to dedicate my life to you today. To the master artist you see these hands father. Father the same breath we want to say to those that have dedicated our lives to you you want to say to us Lord. I. We want to say to you Lord take our lives we want to trust you with our life believing that when we get to heaven we would not have been led and he. Way. Thank you for your faithfulness thank you for your mercies thank you that you're a god that has a vision for our lives. Help us in those times that we can understand. Help us to believe in trust for we ask these things in the precious name of Jesus. And then this media was brought to you by audio verse a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio verse if you would like to listen to more sermons leave a visit w w w audio verse or.


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