These are notes on the sermon, Break The Cycle Of Misfortune, preached by Pastor Joseph Prince on Sunday, January 7, 2024, at The Star Performing Arts Centre, Singapore. We hope these sermon notes will be an encouragement to you!
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With pandemics, economic instability, wars, and natural disasters happening around us, there is no doubt that the world we live in now is getting darker and darker, and that we are in the end times. To top it all off, mental health issues, especially in young people, are becoming increasingly prevalent.
Amidst the chaos that continues to unfold in the world, many of us may feel like we have lost a sense of favor or blessings in our lives. Compared to the times in the past, the church as a whole seems to have fallen short of the calling and blessings that God has for her.
This message is for those of us who desire to restore what we have lost in the area of our good success, and to restore the glory of Christ to the church.
Success, or prosperity, in the Bible is not just about materialism or money. Joseph of the Bible was described as a prosperous man even when he was a slave (Gen. 39:2, 5), and all that he did, God made it to prosper. Now, the key to this success is that the Lord was with Joseph. So while godly success can lead us to financial abundance, it begins from a place of soul prosperity, of intimacy with the Lord, where you are thriving from deep within.
As children of God, we can remain confident in our heavenly Shepherd. God’s heart for us, even during challenging times, is to bless and provide for us so that we can thrive in every area of our lives.
“Now all these things happened to them as examples (tupos or types), and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come."
—1 Corinthians 10:11 NKJV
The stories and characters in the Bible are patterns that God has given us to learn from in the end times. They are first, lessons for the church, which can also be applied to our personal lives as well.
Acts 27 holds a crucial message for us today as it contains lessons and truths for the church and tells us why the church has lost the good success it had enjoyed in the beginning. The story begins with Paul embarking on a journey toward Rome. At one point in this voyage, Paul had warned the ship’s crew not to leave the port they were sheltering in as he perceived that the “voyage will end with disaster and much loss,” but the crew persisted in setting sail. Not long after, they encountered a fierce storm that lasted for days, endangering the lives of all who were aboard the ship.
This story in Acts is a picture of the church straying away from the teachings of Paul and the new covenant. We see this when Paul tells the ship’s crew, “Men, you should have listened to me.”
The entire Bible is for us to study and feed on. But God has given Paul a special honor to write two thirds of the New Testament epistles. Paul is the apostle who taught us about justification by faith through the finished work of Jesus Christ. He also spoke about the rapture and the holy Communion. The Bible tells us that these teachings, although written and taught by Paul, are the word of the resurrected and ascended Jesus (1 Thess. 2:13).
“Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of His power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.”
—Ephesians 3:2–9 NIV
The message of the new covenant is especially important for us to deal with the times we live in. We need to re-establish ourselves in the true gospel of Jesus Christ! When we see Jesus’ finished work, we receive His peace, and when we experience His person, we receive His joy. We can begin to thrive again in our souls when we receive God’s Word (Isa. 55:11–12)! And when we lean into His grace, He is the one who is faithful to restore.
“But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days. Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight. There were many lamps in the upper room where they were gathered together. And in a window sat a certain young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep. He was overcome by sleep; and as Paul continued speaking, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down, fell on him, and embracing him said, ‘Do not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him.’ Now when he had come up, had broken bread and eaten, and talked a long while, even till daybreak, he departed. And they brought the young man in alive, and they were not a little comforted.”
—Acts 20:6–12 NKJV
“Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread”—Here, we see that the disciples in Troas gathered, as was their tradition, for the breaking of bread to remember the Lord’s work on the cross, not so much to hear Paul preach.
And yet Paul, who was “to depart the next day,” “spoke to them and continued his message until midnight . . . and even till daybreak.”
Once again, this passage of Scripture highlights how the early church was focused on gathering to remember the finished work of the Lord and to listen to Paul teach. Today, many believers have lost this focus on the Pauline revelation and teachings, as well as the importance of gathering in a local church.
Let’s look at the four different “timings” mentioned in this passage of Scripture:
1. First day of the week
In the Bible, the first day of the week refers to Sunday. Throughout the New Testament, we can see that Sunday is a special day ordained by God.
Jesus was raised on a Sunday (Luke 24:1–6), and John 20 records that after His resurrection, our Lord went to visit His disciples in the upper room where they were hiding from the Jews. Thomas was not there when the Lord appeared on that first Sunday, and as a result, began to doubt the truth of the Lord’s resurrection. Our Lord did not appear to Thomas immediately to dispel his doubts, but waited till the following Sunday to assure Thomas of His finished work!
In Acts 2:1–3, we see that the gift of the Holy Spirit was given on a Sunday, and our Lord revealed Himself to 2 disciples on the road to Emmaus, also on a Sunday (Luke 24:13).
So we can see the significance placed on Sunday, the “first day of the week,” by the Father and our Lord, and there is a special anointing when we gather in the Father’s house on a Sunday! Gathering on Sundays also signifies that there has been a change from the old covenant to the new covenant, from law to grace.
Under the old covenant, the Jews observed the Sabbath on Saturdays, meaning they worked before resting, just as God did in the creation of the world (Gen. 2:2). Under the new covenant, our Lord Jesus has perfectly completed the work of redemption, and we, the beneficiaries of His finished work, rest and remember all that He has done for us before we start to work.
Parents, perhaps you find it challenging to encourage your children to be in the Father’s house on Sundays. Do not be discouraged. Continue to bring your children, and as they see your excitement to be in the house of God and to receive from the Lord every Sunday, they will eventually catch that spirit.
2. The next day
This is symbolic of the rapture, the imminent departure of believers to be with the Lord, and God’s heart for us is to enjoy the season we are in right now here on earth. The Bible exhorts us to take life one day at a time (Matt. 6:34), and to live our life with readiness for when Christ returns for us.
“continued his message until midnight”—Midnight is the darkest time of the night and symbolic of the dark times that we are living in today. Acts 20 shows us that even as the world gets darker, we must continue to press in and listen to the Pauline revelations recorded in God’s Word.
Then in Acts 20:8, we are told that “there were many lamps in the upper room where they were gathered together.” This is reminiscent of how the Israelites had light in their dwellings in Exodus 10:22–23 despite the “thick darkness in all the land of Egypt.” The light here is a supernatural light and it reassures us that when the world is covered in darkness, as children of God, we can always find supernatural light and illumination in Him!
This timing is also symbolic of Jesus’ return. In the natural, daybreak or dawn is when the morning star can be seen in the heavens before the sun rises. So for us, new covenant believers, we are to wait at daybreak for our Lord Jesus, the Bright and Morning Star (Rev. 22:16), to appear. Meanwhile, those who are still under the old covenant await the “Sun of Righteousness” (Mal. 4:2–4).
Aside from knowing and navigating the times in the world out there, there is also another important lesson that we can learn from Acts 20. This can be found in what happened to the young man named Eutychus.
“And in a window sat a certain young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep. He was overcome by sleep; and as Paul continued speaking, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down, fell on him, and embracing him said, “Do not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him.” Now when he had come up, had broken bread and eaten, and talked a long while, even till daybreak, he departed. And they brought the young man in alive, and they were not a little comforted.”
—Acts 20:9–12 NKJV
Eutychus in Greek means fortunate, well-fated, successful. And he was a young man, a picture of our young people today.
We are told that Eutychus sat “in a window,” depicting how many of us, especially the younger generations, are sitting on the fence today, listening to the Word preached, yet being distracted by the world around us, be it the chaos that is unfolding or the “promises” of the world.
As a result of this lack of focus and attention, Eutychus “was overcome by sleep; and as Paul continued speaking, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead.” Now, this is a serious indictment!
When we lose sight of the truth of Paul’s teachings, like Eutychus, we will fall from the place of grace, resulting in a loss of our soul prosperity, our sense of good success and fortune, and even death in certain areas of our lives. Hence, it is imperative that we, as a church and personally in our lives, get off the fence and be fully rooted in the gospel of grace!
“But Paul went down, fell on him, and embracing him said, ‘Do not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him.’” In performing this miracle of raising Eutychus from the dead, Paul is showing us that though we may have fallen from grace, or have lost our soul prosperity, our Lord Jesus is so kind, good, and faithful to come down to where we are to pick us up. And with a warm embrace filled with His grace, He brings back to life the areas where we have experienced death or loss!
Finally, Acts 20:12 tells us that “they (the believers in the upper room) were not a little comforted,” meaning they were very much comforted! Our Lord’s embrace of grace not only restores and brings back to life, but it can also comfort us in the most troubling of situations.
Beloved, there is a common misconception that Christianity is a religion that gives you a list of do’s and don’ts to follow. Those who think this miss the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, that is, grace. Grace does not reward you when you do right and punish you when you do wrong. Grace meets you where you are and embraces you regardless of what you have done.
Grace does not cause you to lose out on the “benefits” that the world offers. In fact, grace supersedes what you can ask, think, or imagine (Eph. 3:20). Grace loves on you till your heart overflows with His goodness, till your soul prospers and the abundance overflows into every area of your life!
So in the year ahead, let’s continue to keep our focus on the Lord, the person of grace Himself, and on the truths that He has revealed through the apostle Paul. And let’s continue to gather together to exalt our Lord and to remember His finished work!
We hope these sermon notes blessed you! If they did, we encourage you to get the sermon and allow the Lord to speak to you personally as you watch or listen to it.
© Copyright JosephPrince.com 2024
These sermon notes were taken by volunteers during the service. They are not a verbatim representation of the sermon.
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