A man was shoveling snow in his driveway when 2 boys came along w/ shovels and said, “Hey Mister, can we shovel your driveway…only $2!?” He said, “Can’t you see I’m doing that?” “Yes sir, that’s why we asked…we get most of our business from people who are halfway thru and feel like quitting!”
Unfortunately, today there are a lot of people quitting on God. But the Apostle Paul never quit and never gave up! After deliverance thru an earthquake from the prison at Philippi, most would have decided to go back home, but Paul and Silas continued preaching the gospel.
In ch. 17, these 2 move on to Thessalonica, Berea, and Athens. And each city responded differently.
In Thessalonica they resisted the Word, in Berea they received the Word, and in Athens they ridiculed the Word.
And that’s what we can expect today when we witness for Jesus.
Let’s talk about Thessalonica first. This city was located on the main highway of the ancient world. It was called “the Ignatian Way.” [slide] It connected the eastern and western portions of the Roman Empire, and it was a strategic city for the work of the Lord. It was the capital city of Macedonia, and the center of commerce in that area. Paul knew that if he could reach this city he could reach anywhere!
And that’s what our church is striving to be: not just a local church, but a “regional” church. The gospel should disseminate outside of these walls locally first, but also to “regions beyond”. We should be affecting towns outside our city limits, and bordering counties, and other parts of the state, the country, the world!
We can praise God for the influence we’re having around the world thru our missions program, with paid staff members called missionaries representing us in many other countries, and, thru the website sermon ministry, we have many “unpaid” staff members spreading our message in thousands more places in our state, nation, and around the world. These pastors and missionaries are using our materials, and all indications are that God is using them to get this good message out…now that’s exciting!
We can know that Paul was only in Thessalonica for 3 weeks, and yet he founded a great NT church during that time. And years down the road he wrote his first letter to them…
I Thess. 1:8
For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.
This church started out of a riot. Paul was winning people to Lord, and suddenly a riot erupted…because when you preach the gospel, not everybody is gonna like it. The devil is constantly battling a Bible-preaching church—from without or from within, or both! Satan doesn’t yield an inch without putting up a fight. In this case it was the unbelieving Jews that he used.
v. 4-5 The devil used people to do his dirty work. Let’s be aware that he will use any of us, even unwittingly, to do some of his tasks. The Bible said for us not to be ignorant of the fact that he works that way. He can use me, and seeks to regularly…pray for me! And don’t let the devil use you to become a part of trouble in a church that’s preaching the gospel! Leaders are influential and are at the top of his “hit list”, so beware!
You can’t have a group of people and all agree on everything all the time. Not everyone will see eye to eye on all matters, but we should all be humble enough to say, as Jesus did, “not my will, but Thine be done!”
This passage says the troublemakers gathered together “lewd fellows of the baser sort” [v. 5]. They knew who to go to in order to garner agreement, and it’s always that way, because troublemakers gravitate toward their own kind, and they always attract others who have an axe to grind…to their sympathetic ear! They’ll jump on board when the garbage truck goes by…of gossip, grumbling, criticism.
It takes determination for Christians to say, I don’t want to even accidentally be used of the devil to be a hindrance to God’s work…but I want to be used of God to be a help to God’s work! I don’t want to be a discourager, but an encourager! I don’t want to be a stumbling block, but a stepping stone!
Notice what was said about Paul and his party…
v. 6 So which way is up? Were they correct in what they were saying? This is an upside-down world…nothing is the way it’s supposed to be…did God really intend on His earth being this way? …the world is in chaos and confusion, and America, which God originally prospered as a Christian nation, is very much an upside down place…the whole world has been that way ever since the fall of man and sin entered the scene…but that wasn’t these apostle’s doing…the devil had already turned the world upside down a long time before. What Paul was trying to do was fix it, and turn things right side up!
*Homes—Satan tries all he can to turn them upside down w/ families who don’t see each other, don’t talk, or when they do, it’s negative and argumentative. He slips in financial hurdles and tests of faithfulness. His plan includes leaders in the home, but they are televisions, computers and video games…not in proper balance.
*Young lives—we have quite a growing group of young people now on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. Satan will do all he can to turn them upside down by introducing drugs, alcohol, porn, and the occult to them.
*Churches—there’s a big bull’s-eye atop the few churches like this one that are left in America today. This service is full of serious minded Christians…and we pose a serious threat to Satan’s dominion in this city and around the world. His greatest desire is to close the doors of this place. He tries to turn my heart upside down, or get me to quit. His goal extends to others in leadership. Don’t act surprised when this happens!
God can help turn the truck around and help turn our “worlds” right side up. We should all focus on turning wrongs into rights. God wants each of us to turn OUR world right side up. Our worlds include workplaces, schools, family reunions, and our homes.
It takes 3 things to turn the world right side up:
1. We must exemplify the Savior
Paul exemplified the Savior in 2 ways:
v. 2 “as his manner was” – it was his habit to go into the synagogue, the church! This reminds me of somebody else [Jesus] in Luke 4…
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
So, in Acts 17, Paul is exemplifying the Savior in his worship. He knew that on God’s day he was to be in God’s house w/ God’s people, studying God’s Word.
Think about this: Jesus went to church Sabbath day after Sabbath day His whole life, and the Bible says that in those days the Jewish religion had become a dead faith…they had substituted ritual for relationship/they had religion w/out reality/sacraments w/out spirituality/…on one occasion Jesus said, this is supposed to be a house of prayer, but you’ve made it a den of thieves!
Think about it…this means that for all of His life, the Lord Jesus attended a “dead church”! …and yet He was faithful! How much more faithful should we be in attending the church of the living God?! We should be habitually faithful whenever the doors are open. Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it…how do you feel about it?
This morning’s message was from our Wed. nite series. Could you be missing something? Could you come out and join us?
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Paul went “as his manner was”. He was exemplifying the Savior in his worship. He knew the fact that the devil doesn’t take days off, and neither should we from serving God…it’s work to be faithful, but it pays!
This is not a little thing/minor concern…it’s a matter of faithfulness. Shame on the Christian who treats the holy day as a holiday.
It’s one thing to have to work, but another to be at the lake during church/at baseball field/in park…or being bad testimony to relatives! [just tell ‘em they’re welcome to come w/ you, but don’t choose them over God!] It’s shocking, but true, that some will pray for lost family members, but then do the unimaginable when they come to visit and leave it up to their guests whether the whole group goes to church or not!
It’s not only a matter of faithfulness, but a matter of our testimony and our influence…you see, we’ll never turn our world right side up if we’re not exemplary in our worship, which is square one, the most basic building block of serving God.
Paul exemplified the Savior in his worship…
v. 4 He was winning people to the Lord. Everywhere Paul went he left behind a trail of new converts. In Acts 16 we saw 3 marvelous conversions, and they were the first of thousands in the new world of Europe!
Now be honest: What kind of trail do you leave behind you? Ps. 23 says surely goodness and mercy shall “follow me”…so, what follows you? Is there turmoil and conflict in your wake, or blessing? Some have a negative spirit and everywhere they go they leave foul footprints … brightening rooms just by leaving them!
What do you leave behind in your workplace? What do you leave behind as you leave the dinner table? What do you leave behind at the beauty shop?
Ill.—There’s just something about a beautician’s chair that brings out the stupid in people…they dump their life stories and the poor beautician’s a captive audience left with their burdens. Do the chemicals seep thru the scalp or something?
What do you leave behind?
We’ll never turn our world right side up w/ a mean, critical, angry spirit. Being a grouch is a defense mechanism for some, but it only turns others off.
If you wanna turn your world right side up…here’s the key:
Let them see Jesus in you! Exemplify the Savior in your worship/ walk.
Ill.—little girl at s.s./teacher asked her to recite the books of the NT/she said, it begins w/ Matthew and it ends with “revolution”!
She wasn’t far off, because Jesus will revolutionize your life…he’ll turn your family right side up/ …finances/children/job/ coworkers/ relatives/neighbors…and it all begins when you get saved. Have you been saved?
2. We must explain the Scriptures
v. 2-3 Everywhere Paul went he had the Savior in his heart and the Bible in his hand. It wasn’t his persuasive salesmanship or his personality plus that won them. He wasn’t using pop psychology, either, just trying to help people socially.
Joke—guy said he spent 4 years at the Harvard Psychology Dept. Somebody asked him, “Oh, you studied psychology?” “No, they were studying me!”
There’s power in the Word, and that’s what he used. Paul did 3 things:
A. He “Reasoned”
v. 2 Gk. Dialegomai = dialogue, conversing, answering questions. He didn’t just preach…it was a 2 way street, hearing where they are coming from.
He answered their questions. And one of the best tools any of us can have in our bag is to be able to discuss and answer people’s questions from the Word…they have questions, and we should have the answers, and unlike back in school, we should share our answers!
1 Peter 3:15
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
Wouldn’t you love to be there and hear Paul do this?! He’s convincing these Jews that this Jesus IS their long-awaited Messiah.
“Hey, if He was our Messiah, then why did He die on a cross?”
What would you say? What scripture [OT] would you use?
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.  He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head saying,  He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.
For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.
They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
“So, what’s all this about a resurrection?”
What would you say? Psalm 16:10
For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Then Paul concludes dramatically with v. 3…[read]
v. 4 “and some of them believed!”
Let’s not be intimidated w/ questions. Don’t be afraid to ask them…they’re not dumb unless not asked.
2 Tim. 2:15
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Have daily devotions and be empowered by the Word!
B. He “Opened” = explaining what it meant, preaching, teaching, illustrating…it’s the idea of “opening people’s eyes” to truth…the light goes on and they understand.
C. He “Alleged” = to lay along side of. He was taking he OT and laying it beside Jesus, His life, and His ministry.
For instance, he could show them… Micah 5:2
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
Then he could lay aside that where Jesus was born…no one chooses where they are born!
The OT said Jesus would come from the tribe of Judah/Isaiah predicts it would be by a virgin, and 300 more prophecies…building a case!
This is how we turn people’s world right side up…reasoning, opening, alleging!
Ill.—Charles Darwin, father of evolution, once visited a remote Pacific island in search of evidence. He found a people so uncivilized that he predicted they were still evolving and it would take thousands of years for them to come to live, wash, eat, behave, and think like normal humans. He revisited several years later, and to his astonishment, they had been made over, unrecognizable they were. He asked what happened, and he was told, “The missionaries came!”
God’s Word does revolutionize!
Paul exemplified the Savior, explained the Scriptures…
3. We must extend the Salvation
He gave an invitation, so they could respond. People need changed, not just stirred…that’s what our altar is for! Some today ask why we “put people on the spot.” We don’t want to offend, but we all need to be “on that spot.” The Holy Spirit then knocks on the door, on the spot, and then the ball is in their court! Then and only then it’s up to them!
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