Summary: a stewardship sermon on evangelizing based on a WELS sermon study
September 28, 2003 Acts 16:6-15
Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day on to Neapolis. From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days.
On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.
Several months ago I was able to go to Oceans of Fun with my wife for our anniversary. After some time of going down the water slides and what not we decided to relax a little in the wave pool. We had gotten about two thirds of the way out before the waves came, when I noticed something at the bottom of the pool. It looked like the body of a small child. I looked at the man next to it to try and determine if he was teaching his child to swim or something. But when he didn’t seem to notice it or care, I suddenly realized that this was not his child, and this child was not moving. My heart was pumping about a hundred miles an hour, and for a moment, I was completely panicked. In a moment of panic, I reached down about five feet grabbed the child by the arm, and pulled it to the surface - only to find out that it was a rubber mannequin of a child. I thought to myself, either they are doing a test of the lifeguards or someone is playing a cruel trick.
If you’ve ever been in a situation like that - where someone is in desperate need of help - crying for it - it’s just natural for your body to get energized. There are records of people who have ripped doors of their hinges and lifted a seemingly impossible weight in a time of emergency. As Paul was sleeping one night on a missionary journey, he heard a call. It was a man of Macedonia, crying out to him and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” How would Paul respond? How would you respond?
Help us! A Cry For the Gospel
I. It’s God’s call
There’s a voice crying to you this morning and every day you are alive. It’s not the voice of a Macedonian, however. It’s not in the wilderness. It’s the voice of a Galilean from Bethlehem. His voicing is saying to you, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” (Mark 16:15) He’s asking, “who will go and work today? Fields are ripe and harvests waiting - who will bear the sheaves away?” No matter how hold, how young, how rich or how poor, as a Christian - you have a call from God to spread the Gospel. That is ultimately what you are here for. The problem is that somewhere along the line many of us have lost our focus on what we’re really here for. I see many Christians today getting so far in debt that all they can think about is how to pay off their stuff, or so focused on their work or school that they miss the big picture. As a result of this, deep inside most of us feel guilty - because the voice from Galilee keeps calling to us - and we know we’re not doing what we COULD or what we SHOULD to reach out. So when we hear another sermon about evangelism, we immediately become uneasy.
The ultimate question comes down to “how”? For Paul, the answer seemed to be rather simple. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So the remainder of Paul’s life was spent on three to four missionary journeys. It seemed that the Holy Spirit had a way of directing them where He wanted them to go - as can be seen in today’s text. Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. That was when Paul had the vision of the man from Macedonia. Luke writes, After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. As an Apostle, Paul somehow knew that this dream was from the Holy Spirit - and he was supposed to go and preach at Macedonia.