What are you living for right now—God’s plan or your plan? Have you ever wondered if God could use you? In this message, we look at Acts 18 to see how God accomplishes his extraordinary plan through ordinary people.
Whether you guys are in the overflow or you're hanging out in Boise or Tulsa or Austin or in this room here, it is a huge honor and joy to get to be with you guys again. If we haven't had the chance to meet, my name is Drew Worsham. I'm curious. By show of hands, were any of you here last time I was here? Okay. Thanks. That's super encouraging. I'm a little flattered.
I knew coming back there was probably no way I would be able to step up on this stage and not do what we did last time. For the last 15 years of my life, I've spent traveling full time as a professional magician, or illusionist for the Christians who are here. (That's usually a joke. We'll see.) I figured we'd kind of kickstart and do a trick, if that's okay with you guys. Is that cool? Yeah. Usually that's the response.
I was born in the 80s, and I spent most of my years growing up in the 90s. There was this really popular game when I was a kid, and then it kind of fell out of fashion, and recently it has kind of surfaced in popularity. It probably has a lot to do with this 90s fashion trend. Some of you may have one of these. You may have seen one of these. Just out of curiosity, do you guys know what this is? A Rubik's Cube. Yeah. Very good.
Tonight, right before walking up here onstage, a friend of mine, Austin, who traveled with me from San Antonio… We're on staff together at a church in San Antonio. He lovingly patted me on the back and said, "Drew, it's really easy to step onstage as a performer. You've done that for the last 15 years. Or maybe even as a preacher."
Tonight, if it's okay with you, I'd like to maybe step away from the performer side and just speak to you as a pastor and maybe even as a big brother, hoping you would leverage your life for things that really matter in your short amount of time here on planet earth. A lot has changed in my life since September when we were here. My wife and I have a 2-year-old, which is crazy. My wife's name is Jane. We have a 2-year-old named Tilly. She's amazing.
I don't know exactly the timeline, but I think I left The Porch (the Spirit is just moving at this place) and went home and found out a few weeks later that we're pregnant. I don't know if there's a connection. I don't know if it's a Porch baby or not. I'm not sure how that works. So, we're having a son come June, and we're pumped about that. I share that just to catch you up with our lives, but also to let you know we really do love you guys. We love what God is doing here, and this really is a special place.
We can look around, and there are places all over the country that want to tap into the DNA of what God is doing here in Dallas. There are people in San Antonio right now who are gathering together and going, "How do we replicate this? How do we clone this?" because there seems to be a move of God because of the leadership here, and we want to be a part of it. God is doing something really, really cool, and my hope is to kind of step into a moment and keep it spinning. I want to pray for us, and then we're just going to dive into God's Word, and we'll let him speak for himself.
Jesus, tonight, in these next few moments, here's what I know with all my heart: not a single person in this space and in this room needs to hear from me. No one in this room needs a magic trick. No one needs a joke or a story. Father, we walk into this place needing to hear from you, because it's your words that are everlasting. It's your words that have the ability to take a dead person and bring them back to life. It's your words that change us at the core of who we are.
So, Jesus, I'm begging you tonight to speak to us. Speak to us in a way that we really can understand. Speak to us in a way our hearts can interpret. God, I pray we would leave this space forever changed, not because of some lecture or some performance, but because you showed up and you showed off and you spoke to us. God, please, don't let me speak from my own heart or my own thoughts. Let me just be a microphone that amplifies your voice to your people. It's in your name we pray, amen.
I'm not sure if any of you guys remember middle school yearbook day. It's one of those days you wake up with a lot of confidence and put on your Guess jeans pressed to the hilt and maybe a Gap polo. You use some LA Looks to spike that part just right. Just kidding. They're horrific memories. The reason I tell you that is, if you think back, a yearbook is ultimately a snapshot into what life was like back then, what life was like back in that year.
I share that because we're going to dive into a pretty obscure chapter in Acts, chapter 18. What it is, ultimately, is a yearbook with snapshots of what life was like for a few people in the story. Acts 18 is going to introduce us to several people. Like I said, it's this kind of yearbook for the early Corinthian church. We're going to see what they're remembered for, what they lived for, and most importantly, we're going to see a snapshot of how God accomplishes his plan in and through them with ordinary, everyday people.
I'm going to go ahead and give you the punchline. I'm going to give you the thesis. This is what I want you to catch tonight if you hear nothing else: God accomplishes his extraordinary plans through everyday, ordinary people. That's God's MO. He accomplishes his plans to change the world through everyday, ordinary people. That's what this yearbook is going to try to tell you and me.
There is a God who has a plan to make disciples of all nations, and his intention is to use everyday people to carry it out. So, tonight, we're going to meet some ordinary people who were living for God's plan, and we're going to see three signs so you can know whether or not you're living for your plans or for God's plans. That's our goal. Got it? Feel good? Let's rock and roll.
Acts 18, starting in verse 1. Here's what the Scripture says: "After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome." If you've maybe spent some time in the Bible or, unlike me… I didn't grow up in the church, didn't know a lot of this language, but you may recognize Corinth here, because that's where the Corinthians lived.
The apostle Paul is eventually going to write two handwritten letters to the church he helped start here, this church right here. We get to see a little bit of the humble beginnings. The first people who show up in the Corinthian yearbook are Aquila and Priscilla. It's a husband-and-wife duo who have literally been kicked out of their country under religious persecution and have arrived in Corinth as refugees.
Watch this. Don't miss this, Porch. That's where God begins his plan: two refugees. Think about this. When their lives and their plans had totally fallen apart, that's when God stepped in and began to use them to accomplish his plan. When their lives looked totally finished for them…they were just in this survival mode in a new city…God was just beginning to use them in his plan. That needs to be an encouragement or a challenge to some of you tonight.
God takes what looks like dead ends and uses them for new beginnings. Some of you, that's how you walked into this space tonight. You feel as though you're in a dead-end situation, that life hasn't turned out the way you expected it. You didn't get the promotion you were wanting or maybe you lost your job or you're still not married or maybe, worse yet, you still can't get the first date. Maybe you feel like a refugee.
There's great news. Maybe your life didn't turn out the way you planned it or the way you thought it would, but God is just getting started with you. God uses everyday people with everyday problems and everyday situations to carry forward the greatest hope in the world. It's not just that he can use you. It's that he plans to use you. Wrap your mind around that.
So often, it's so easy for us to step into places like this like, "No, no, no. God can use you. That's your job. That's your profession." We feel like our responsibility is just to come and sit in the seats and maybe happily participate, but what if God actually wants to use you? What if God wants to change the world through you? Have you ever thought about that?
God used 12 teenage boys in the middle of nowhere, and he flipped the world upside down spiritually because they believed him. Can you begin to wrap your mind around what would happen if just 8, 10, 12 of you in Dallas or Cincinnati or Boise said, "God, you can use me. There's nothing special about me. If I'm honest, I feel like I'm at a dead end and I have very little to offer," and God shows up and goes, "Good. I was waiting for you to figure that out."
Let's keep going. He goes on in verse 2. "And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks." We find Paul… He's making tents during the week, talking about Jesus at night, and then on his days off he went and preached. Verse 5:
"When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, 'Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.'"
Finally, the summer interns have arrived, Silas and Timothy. Paul shifts his focus from tentmaking to preaching the good news. Now real quick. If you're like me and reading this Scripture, you get to this part where he says, "Your blood be on your heads," and if we're honest… Let's just be honest, if that's okay. Can you do that in church? I think so.
If we're honest, this is a little intense. It comes across like this is one of those things an angry fundamentalist would say. Like, if you share your faith with your friends and they don't believe instantly, you just look at them and scream, "Your blood be on your heads!" To be honest, I'm not sure if that's going to win you a lot of friends, so maybe don't try that. Lest you think Paul is lacking some compassion here, I want to give you a quick context.
I want you to know these are the exact same men and women Paul longs to see come to faith. He knows all he can do is share the love of Jesus with them. Paul feels the burden that unless he shares the gospel with them, he in some way shares the guilt of their condemnation. If he doesn't share with them, that weight is on him and lands on his shoulders. We know he loves these people so much. Two chapters later, he's going to say, "I testify that I'm innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God."
Paul knows he cannot control someone's response. Good news, Porch. The people God is sending you to, the people God has called you to love, he has called you to use your life as a spotlight to point to Jesus… You can't change their minds. I don't care how smart you are. I don't care how many books you've read. The truth is if you can talk them into it, the next person is just going to talk them out of it.
Only the Holy Spirit, only God himself, can open the eyes of the heart of a person and let them see Jesus is the treasure that he really is. Whoa! That's a huge burden off your shoulders. Real talk. The reason we don't tell people about this Jesus who has captured our hearts and our lives is like, "What if I mess up? What if I say something wrong? What if they ask me a question I don't know?"
Just to give you a helpful hint… Maybe this will free you up. When someone asks you a question you don't know, you just say, "I don't know." I'm blown away at how groundbreaking that is for so many of us. Let me give you a quick example. You come up to me afterward and go, "Hey, Drew, real talk. You really love your wife?" I go, "Yeah."
"What's her name?"
"How many freckles does she have on her nose?"
"I don't know.
If that matters to you, I'll ask her if I can count them when I get home tomorrow, if that's a big deal for you." Me not knowing the answer to that question doesn't change the fact that I'm absolutely in love with that woman, the fact that I'm doing life with her. That's the beauty of following Jesus. Just because you don't have an answer… You go, "I don't know. I'll try to go figure it out. I'm sure it's on the Internet somewhere or somebody on the Porch staff will hook me up. I'll find out for you." There's so much freedom. I think that was for somebody tonight. I'm not sure for who, but there you go.
Let's jump to verse 7. "And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God." That just means he was a Gentile. He was non-Jew; he was a Christian. "His house was next door to the synagogue. Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized."
The next two people we meet are these two guys with very strange names: Titius and Crispus. One is a Gentile believer, non-Jewish believer, and one is a Jewish believer. I want you to see this. Titius puts his neck on the line by housing Paul, one of the most wanted men in the region at this time. Then Crispus, who's a synagogue leader, ruler of the faith, hanging out with these people, is putting his job on the line.
So, both of these guys are risking a lot. Crispus essentially is putting his job on the line by believing in Christ, and Titius is putting his neck on the line with his community and his friends by housing a guy who really isn't that popular. Their bios, if you were to look in their snapshot of their yearbook, would say they gave up their reputation and risked their careers to follow Jesus.
The verse ends with "Many Corinthians believed." This is the whole point of Acts 18 and, really, the whole book of Acts: God is going to do extraordinary things through everyday, ordinary people. I think that's what God wants to show us in this chapter. Regardless of your background, your race, your profession, or your relationship status, God has a plan for you, and it ends with people falling in love with Jesus and becoming his disciples.
Even Paul… We often put the apostle Paul on a pedestal, and rightfully so in many ways. I mean, the greatest missionary our faith has ever known, starting about 13 to 14 churches across Europe and Asia and Africa. He goes on to write about 75 percent of the New Testament. Yeah, yeah. He's on the Hall of Fame, but he was also just an everyday guy. Look at the next three verses.
Verse 9: "And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, 'Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.' And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them." The first thing God says to Paul is "Don't be afraid." Why? Because he was afraid. Paul was afraid. He had already been beaten and rejected, and he knew he was going to get beaten and rejected again.
This is very important. Paul is an everyday guy just like us. He's not Superman. He's scared of what's coming, which should encourage you. Paul is an everyday guy with a 9-to-5 tentmaking job, trying to serve God during a few of his free hours on Sunday, and a fear of what following Jesus will get him into. When it comes to faith in Jesus Christ, there are no extraordinary people, just an extraordinary God. Just everyday people God uses for extraordinary things.
He has a plan for you and me too. What this entire chapter is pointing you and me to is this truth: God accomplishes his extraordinary plans through everyday people. His plan? To make disciples of all nations. His tools? You and me. God used people with pretty stable career paths, and he used people whose lives had totally been flipped upside down. He even uses interns. What did they have in common? They chose to live out God's plan for their lives and not their own.
The slogan in their yearbook would have been "Trading our plans for God's plans." Here's the question I want to leave you with tonight. Hopefully, you'll have a chance to discuss this as you go hang out and grab coffee or hang out in the lobby or go grab a drink with friends. What plan are you living for right now? What plan is guiding your decisions, influencing your relationships?
You're all living for a plan. The question is just…Which one and whose? So, here's what I want to do. I want to go back through this chapter and show you three signs to help you evaluate whose plans you're ultimately living for. Here we go. These are three signs that you're living out God's plan for your life.
Paul moves in with Aquila and Priscilla here. He works with them. We know from other places in Scripture he develops a deep friendship with them. That's why you see him… When he's in Ephesus and he leaves the church there in verse 18… By the time he writes to the Corinthian church, he mentions them three times throughout the New Testament. He's constantly referring back to them.
Aquila and Priscilla then take their lives and, later on in this chapter, they meet a guy named Apollos. Apollos is essentially a fairly brand-new believer in Jesus, but he doesn't know the whole story. So Aquila and Priscilla go, "Hey, man, we'd love to include you," and they invite him into a conversation that we don't know if it was just one time over coffee or if it was months. They began to go, "Let's share the whole story with you," and they invested in him.
This is so interesting, just something cool to notice. Timothy, who's the intern in verse 5, is watching Paul invest in Aquila and Priscilla, who then invest in Apollos, and sometime later, Timothy gets a letter from Paul. In 2 Timothy 2:2, he says, "Hey, Timothy, what you've learned from me, entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." "Timothy, what you saw me do by investing in others, invest in others. What you watched me do, you do that. Pass it along. This world is not just about you. Invest in others."
Porch, can I ask you to pause for a second and think about your yearbook? If we took a snapshot right now of your life, what would you be remembered for? How you're remembered is directly related to who and what you invest your time and energy into. Just think about that. High school… If you invested in chess club, drama club, sports, that's what the snapshot shows. Where you invest your time and your energy shows you what you're living for and what you're investing in.
Who are you investing your life into? Can we get real for a second? Here's what many of you think right now: "Drew, listen. I'm just trying to figure it out. I'm just trying to figure this job out so I can hopefully maybe get a date, so I can hopefully maybe get married, maybe settle in, maybe get some kids." Real talk. What happens is we go, "Well, I'll start investing in others once this happens."
I think I shared this with some of you last time. Here's what will happen. "Once I get married, Drew, I think I'll have a lot more free time to start investing in people around me." Then you're like, "Actually, that wasn't true. It's kind of crazy. But I bet when we have kids… Once we have kids and a bunch of little people running around, I'll have a lot of time to invest in others. Well, maybe when they graduate. Maybe…"
Here's the deal. Many of you, sadly, will spend the rest of your lives saying, "Maybe then," and you will spend the rest of your life living for your plans and not the plans God has for your life. Tonight, I love you enough to step into this moment and to say: you may be missing out on God's best for your life because you've made it all about you.
I'm grateful to have had a youth pastor when I was 17 years old not only invite me to an event but invite me into his life and teach me what it looks like to be a dad when I didn't really have one and teach me how to love a wife when I didn't have that as an example. I'm grateful Danny gave his life so I could know Jesus. I'm grateful for a guy named Scott who was a young man trying to figure out ministry and how to perform on the street. He just said, "We'll worry about the magic later. Let me show you what it looks like to follow Jesus and not lose your mind while on the road."
Church, who are you investing into? Are you willing to live for God's plan in your life and then pass it along to those around you? That's it. That's discipleship. It's choosing to give your life over to what God wants to do with it, to make your decisions and build your relationships based upon what God has called you to and then bringing others along for the ride. If that sounds scary, perfect, because that leads us to the second sign that you're living for God's plan.
In Matthew 28, Jesus says, "And lo, I will be with you to the end of the age. My presence is with you." Colossians 1 would tell us that the hope of glory you and I have is that, for whatever reason, the presence of God Almighty… The moment you say yes to Jesus and push all of the chips in, Texas Hold'em style, and you're like, "My life? Sure. You can have it," and you step off the throne of your life and let him be captain… For whatever reason, in that moment, the presence of God Almighty, the same God who spoke the world into existence, chooses to take up residence inside of you.
Church, do not be underwhelmed by that fact. So many of us… I can tell. You just look at me like, "Yeah, yeah, Drew. Big deal. We know that. God is in our hearts. We went to vacation Bible school. We can sing the songs. We can even spell it. He's deep, deep down in my heart," whatever the motions are. Are you kidding? The God of the universe, the Creator of all things that we know, lives and dwells inside of you? The same power that rose Jesus Christ from the grave now courses through your veins? Are you kidding me?
Real talk. We want the promises without the action. The promises are for action. He gives him his presence and security because he expects him to be a part of his plan. What we want is, "God, I want you to be with me, and I want you to keep me safe, and I just want you to let me do whatever I want to do." It is a fatal flaw of the Western church that you believe God is some cosmic genie in the sky who just wants to bless your plans when he has a whole new plan for your life that's way bigger and way greater than you could ever imagine.
So many of us are searching after security while at the same time running from God's presence. We're searching for security, but we're actually running from the very thing that's going to give us security and the hope we want. A couple of months ago, my daughter Tilly… She's 2. She's just learning to walk and stuff, and she's into everything. I'm trying to change her diaper, and she's just crying. I'm like, "Let me just clean this mess," but at the same time she's running from me.
I keep trying, like, "No, no. Let me take care of you. Let me clean you up. I know you don't want to be in the mess. Let me wipe this down." As I'm trying to get this diaper off her, she's crying, and everything in me is like, "Sweetheart, I'm not trying to take from you. I'm not trying to steal from you. I want your joy more than you want it. I'm not trying to take from you. I'm trying to help you. I'm trying to allow you to be clean and to flourish and to thrive, but you keep running from me."
The very thing so many of us desire and hope for, we're running from it and trying to build our own plans and live out our own security. The question is…Is your security found in Christ or is it found in your plans? Another sidenote. If you know Jesus, if you really have experienced his love, have your plans changed? How has the gospel changed your plans? I submit to you if they haven't changed much, you may not know Jesus.
If tomorrow morning I wake up and something horrific happens to my wife, my whole life is shattered. My plans are different, not just for tomorrow night, not just for the rest of the year. I'm messed up. Here's why: because I actually know and love Jane. If you found out tonight the gospel was one giant hoax, that none of it was real, all made up, how would your life be different tomorrow? If the answer is "Not much," you may not know him.
I didn't know this was going to be this heavy. I'm sorry. Like, "Never again." We're walking out of here questioning. Church, I hope you know I love you. I'm fighting for you. I really do want you to experience all that Jesus offers you.
All of us in this room are living for one of three things, one of three symbols, if this is helpful for you. Either your plans are pointing to a ladder…this is all about you climbing and trying to achieve something…or some of you are living for a couch. It's all about comfort. It's about you playing it safe. It's about you getting enough retirement. It's about you having a nice enough car. It's your comforts. Or it's for a cross. You take your plans and your life, and you can fit them into any one of those three symbols.
Let me give you a quick example. Some of you are like, "Hey, listen. Real talk, Drew. I'm trying to get married. I want to be married. I'm tired of being single." That's a great plan, but it falls in one of those three things. You either want to get married because you're trying to keep up with your friends and you need to climb up that social ladder and you feel like that's going to help you out or it's a couch.
"Drew, I'm discontent. I feel lonely. I feel like that person will offer some comfort to me and will make me feel better." Or you see it through the symbol of the cross, and you're like, "Here's real talk. Marriage has nothing to do with making me happy." It's nowhere in the Bible. It's a philosophy that's a little under 100 years old. God cares way more about your holiness than he does about your happiness.
"So, God, I'm stepping into this marriage, and I'm going to take the same posture of you. It doesn't matter if I'm served; it's all about me serving this person and helping lead them to the throne room of Jesus. It's probably going to hurt really, really badly, but I want to give my life away to this person because the cross is the symbol I've chosen to dignify my plans. If that doesn't happen and I never get married, I can still be a servant, and none of the plans change."
God wants to use you to do something extraordinary in Dallas/Fort Worth. I started this whole thing with the Rubik's Cube. What's beautiful about the Rubik's Cube is there's really nothing special about this. It's a bunch of plastic pieces that are on a little swivel device that moves. Legitimately, you bought these at Target. There's nothing special about them.
What makes the difference for the Rubik's Cube is whose plans it chooses to submit itself to. On its own it stays here jumbled and confused and frustrating. Put it in the wrong hands and it gets even worse. There's nothing ordinary about the Rubik's Cube. What makes the difference is whose hands the Rubik's Cube finds itself in. Tonight I want to leave you with this. Watch.
Porch, God has this rich history of taking the broken, confusing pieces of our lives and doing something absolutely extraordinary with it, but you have to place it in his hands. So tonight, I don't know what the next step is for you, but I encourage you to sit for a second and go, "God, what are you asking me to give over to you?"
Maybe not rush into the song or rush off to get coffee. Maybe just sit and go, "Jesus, what are you saying to me tonight, because I want to say yes?" Tonight, if you are in this room and you don't know Jesus, surrendering your life is step one. He loves you, and if you hear anything else from me tonight, hear this: he is absolutely worth it. Church, pray with me.
God, I don't know what you're doing in this room, but I know you're moving. God, I pray you would take these next few moments and speak to your people. Would you lift our eyes to see you, to experience you, and, God, we walk out of this place forever changed? We need you.