Sermons

Summary: Dealing with people means adjusting to a variety of responses. Some are just nasty, bitter, agitators; others more open-minded/gracious. Some are open to the Gospel, others become adversaries, while others do not embrace the Gospel but are not hostile.

A Contrast in Heart Attitudes

(Acts 17:1-15)

1. “On a highway in Indiana, about 20 cars were trailing behind a slow driver in the passing lane who wouldn’t change lanes. When Indiana State Trooper Sgt. Stephen Wheeles noticed the line of traffic, he decided to do something about it.

“Wheeles, … in southeast Indiana, pulled over the woman driving the vehicle for violating the state’s “slowpoke” or “move over” law…. The law …states that drivers traveling in the far left lane must move over if the car behind them is going faster.

After Wheeles tweeted a picture of the car with a reminder of the law on June 16 both the trooper and the tweet went viral.

“’I stopped this vehicle today for a left lane violation on I-65. The driver had approximately 20 cars slowed behind her because she would not move back to the right lane.’

“…The driver was given just a warning, with Wheeles saying that he didn’t ‘think she was really clear on what the law in Indiana was as far as using the left lane.’

“The Indiana State Police said they’ve written nearly 5,000 warnings and 331 tickets for the left lane law since it went into effect.

“Meanwhile, Twitter users from all over the country have implored Wheeles to take a job in their own states, with the sergeant happy to field the offers.

To one Tennessee resident, Wheeles wrote back, ‘I love Tennessee but unfortunate- ly, my enforcement powers stop at the Ohio River…Sorry!!’” http://allthatsinteresting.com]

2. Troopers have to deal with all kinds of people. So do we sometimes.

Main Idea: Dealing with people means adjusting to a variety of responses. Some people are just nasty, bitter, agitators; others are more open-minded and gracious. Some are open to the Gospel, others become adversaries to the Gospel, while yet others do not embrace the Gospel but are not hostile.

I. The Thessalonian Jews: Mostly BALKING at the Gospel

A. Paul, as usual, began sharing the Gospel with the JEWS in a synagogue (1-3).

1. He was Torah observant

2. His scholarship gave him an open door

3. He demonstrated how Jesus fulfilled prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures.

B. The Jewish population POLARIZED (4-5).

1. Some Jews and God-fearing gentiles, especially some notable women, chose to believe and follow Jesus (4)

2. Others turned against Paul’s group out of jealousy or envy:

“ …envy is the pain caused by the desire for the advantages of others”

• Math equation: covetousness + pride = envy

• Cain murdered Abel out of envy. A dangerous sin.

“If envy is the pain caused by the desire for the advantages of others, jealousy is the pain caused by the fear of losing our advantages to others.” Psy Today

….in some small rural churches, powerful families will undermine a pastor who is becoming too popular because the families are afraid of losing their influence…

3. Interestingly, these men who taught ethics hired low-lifes to form a mob

— In religious conflicts, many people feel they can break the rules

4. Raises the question, “How much influence does the Bible have in your life?”

C. Paul was forced to LEAVE (6-9).

II. The Berean Jews: Mostly EXAMING the Gospel in Light of the Old Testament Scriptures

A. Their example sets the tone for how YOU should be.

B. Good churches constantly seek to ADJUST themselves to Scripture.

We seek to tweak our doctrine, re-examine our ethics, address contemporary issues.

[Evin W.] I remember, years ago, teaching on what I believe is the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. Not stated as a parable. But an entire belief system was developed around a text that could very well be a parable. Two compartments, Torment & Paradise.

C. In contrast, most of the Thessalonian Jews thought they had attained PERFECTION in their beliefs and practices.

D. Do you take the NOBLE, Berean approach to what you believe, or do you simply believe as you were reared?

• Eugenesteros = good genes = a certain class of mind = attempt to be fair

• Social class not correlated to a noble mind; wealthy people may have unfair, narrow minds, poor people may have open, fair minds.

• Raises the question, “How much influence does the Bible have in your life?”

1. When we are tired, we revert to the familiar and go by habit (Thessalonian).

2. If we are to focus and head in new directions, it is best if we are rested and begin developing better habits in tiny ways. Like our 3 minute prayer times. Not a lot — you can do it.

III. Why the OPPOSITE Responses?

Two nearby cities, both part of the Roman Empire and Greek culture, had a significant Jewish population. In one city, the Jewish people by and large were not open to the Gospel; in another they were. Why?

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