Upside Down is Right Side Up! Part1 Acts 17:1-6
A man was shoveling snow in his driveway when 2 boys came along with shovels. “Hey Mister, can we shovel your driveway? It will only cost $2.” He said, “Can’t you boys see I’m already 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 Satan gets most of his business from people who have made it half way and fill like quitting on God.
Now I don’t know about you but after being delivered from an earthquake and from prison at Philippi, with all that happened to Paul, I might have thoughts of going back home, at least for a while. But Paul and Silas continued preaching the gospel. The Apostle Paul never quit and never gave up.
As we move on to chapter 17, Paul and Silas 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.
We can expect these same responses, today, when we share Jesus.
Thessalonica was a prime location, located on the main highway that connected the eastern and western portions of the Roman Empire.
Paul knew that if he could reach this city his reach would be endless. His vision was far reaching and that’s what I want our church to have more than just a local vision. I want us to be a church with a vision for the world.
We should be reaching our city and county but also the other parts of this state, the entire country and the world!
Let me tell you a little secret. Paul was only in Thessalonica for 3 weeks and during that time, he founded a great NT church. He started with a handful of believers, which is proof that it doesn’t take years, it just takes a handful of dedicated believers, willing to make a difference.
The church at Thessalonica actually started out of a riot. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but when you preach the gospel, there will always be those who aren’t going to like it. The enemy of the gospel is constantly battling a Bible-preaching church and his attacks will come from outside the church as well as from within and sometimes both! Satan doesn’t yield an inch without putting up a fight.
In the case of the church at Thessalonica, it was the unbelieving Jews who were used to do the devil’s dirty work. I have said, in the past, that we give Satan too much credit but understand that he works through people the same way that God works but for different results.
Look at verses 4-5. The devil uses people to do his dirty work and we must be aware that he will use any of us, even unknowingly, to do some of his dirty work. The Bible said for us not to be ignorant of the fact that he works that way. He can use me just as easily as he can you and he seeks to do so on a regular basis. That’s why it’s so important that you pray for me as I pray for you!
Whatever you do, don’t let the devil use you to become a troublemaker in EBC!
He will use you to turn others against the ministry or against each other.
Leaders, you/I are at the top of his “hit list”, because you are influential so watch out!
This passage says the troublemakers gathered together.
See they knew who to go to in order to get help and agreement.
The truth is that it’s always been that way and it will always be that way because troublemakers gravitate toward their own kind. Those who have an axe to grind always attract others who have an axe that seems to need sharpening. They’re always looking for those who will lend a sympathetic ear!
You can believe it or let it alone but they’ll quickly jump on board when the garbage truck of gossip, grumbling, criticism rolls by.
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. What I want is to be used of God to move the gospel forward! I don’t want to be a DIScourager, but an ENcourager! I don’t want to be the one causing others to stumbling. I want to be the one clearing the way!
Notice what was said about Paul and his party, in verse 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. The world is in chaos and confusion, and todays America is as upside down as she can get. We know the world has been that way ever since the fall of man when sin entered the garden but that wasn’t Paul’s or Silas’ fault. The world was upside down long before either of these men were born.
What Paul was trying to do was turn things right side up!
Think about this.
*In our Homes—Satan tries all he can to turn things upside down. It amazes me to watch families, today. I’ve watched many sit in restaurants or in homes with their heads down, looking at a screen. (Suzanne and I are guilty of sitting in the living room like this but we know when enough is enough) They don’t see each other, except on the screen of their electronic devices. They don’t know how to talk to each without using their thumbs or when they do, it’s negative and argumentative. For the most part, the true leaders, in the home, are televisions, computers and video games. The enemy has managed to turn the order of things is upside down.
He slips in a few financial hurdles and tests of faithfulness. His plan includes reordering God’s intended structure of the home, by convincing us to believe that living as husband and wife, without being married is acceptable in the eyes of God or that God is fine with changing the Biblical description of marriage.
*Young lives—our young families, young people, and small children are in danger. Satan will do all he can to turn them upside down by introducing sex, drugs, alcohol, porn, and even the occult to them. He will do whatever he can to draw the next generation away from God!
*Churches—have a big bull’s-eye placed on their roof. Especially those churches whose people get serious minded about spreading the gospel. When we get serious we become a major threat to Satan’s control over this city and around the world. His greatest desire is to close the doors of EBC…and he’s come close in the past. He will try to turn my heart upside down, or get me to quit just as much as he will tempt you to throw in the towel.
His eye is on others in leadership, whether deacons, teachers, or otherwise.
Don’t be surprised when the enemy of God begins to whisper in your ear!
God wants each of us to turn OUR world right side up, by turning wrongs into rights.
It takes 3 things to turn the world right side up: This week we’ll only look at 1
1. We must demonstrate the Savior. Look at verse 2.
I honestly don’t believe the world sees a proper representation of Jesus being demonstrated in many churches today.
Paul, however, demonstrated the Savior both in his worship and in his walk
Paul demonstrated Jesus in worship. [Luke 4:16 NKJV] “So He [Jesus] came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day…”
So, in Acts 17, Paul demonstrated the Savior in his worship. He knew that on God’s day he was to be in God’s house with God’s people, studying God’s Word.
The Bible says that in those days the Jewish religion had become a dead faith.
The people had substituted ritual for relationship. And on one occasion Jesus even said, this is supposed to be a house of prayer, but you’ve made it a den of thieves!
Even though there seemed to be little, if any, true worship happening Jesus was there Sabbath day after Sabbath day His whole life.
Even though the church was spiritually dead, He was faithful in His attendance!
How much more faithful should you/I 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.
Is your attendance proof of how you feel about that? I’m not talking about having to work or vacation but not being present just because you feel like it.
[Heb 10:25 NIV] “not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Paul went “as his custom was”. He was demonstrating the Savior in his worship. He knew the devil never takes a day off, from fighting God and neither should we from serving God! This is a matter of faithfulness.
It’s NOT ONLY a matter of faithfulness, but a matter of our testimony and our influence. We’ll never turn our world right side up if we’re not demonstrating faithfulness in our worship.
I can’t tell you how many times, in the last 20+ years I’ve seen guest come into the church, expecting to be met by the people who invited them; only to find out their friends took a “lazy day.”
I know that people to have to work on Sunday, these days but I am amazed at how there always seems to be time for everything else, during the week but Sunday rolls around and we’re too tired, too sick or just not interested in God.
Many will pray for lost family members, but when they come to visit they never mention church and time after time I’ve been told about those lost loved ones coming for a visit but believers left it up to their guests whether anyone goes to church or not!
Paul not only demonstrated the Savior in his worship…
· He demonstrated the Savior in his walk. Look at verse 4.
Everywhere Paul went he left behind a trail of new converts. In Acts 16 we saw 3 conversions, which were the first of thousands in the new world of Europe!
What kind of trail do you leave behind? Is there turmoil and conflict in your wake, or blessing? Some have a negative spirit and everywhere they go their footprints stink. We all know people who can brighten the room simply by leaving!
What kind of trail does EBC leave behind?
What do you leave behind in your Sunday school class or Bible Study?
That’s not a question for teachers only.
What do you leave behind as you leave the dinner table? What do you leave behind wherever you go?
We’ll never turn our world right side up demonstrating a mean, critical, angry spirit. Being a grouch may be your defense mechanism but it only turns others off.
Have you been saved? If you are saved…are you demonstrating the Savior in your worship? Do people see Jesus where you work? Are you demonstrating Jesus with your finances? To your children? Can your relatives/neighbors see the Savior living in you? Are people finding Jesus because of the trail EBC leaves for them to follow?
Someday each of us will die. Here’s the question I asked myself, Wednesday morning. Am I leaving a trail for the next generation to follow? Will there be someone to carry on, when I’m gone? Will EBC have a generation of believers to carry on, when we’re gone?