Summary: A sermon looking at the hazards and opportunities as we start a building program
“I CAN DO ALL THINGS, EVEN BUILD A CHURCH!”
Acts 16:22-30; 2 Tim 3:12.
Some of you might be wondering about the title of this message in relation to the Scripture passage. Normally, a message with this title would be associated with Philippians 4: 13 where at the end of a discussion about financial security and economics, Paul talks about God’s provision that allows him to face things with a steadfast confidence, and this message will eventually make that connection.
This morning we are kicking off our “Together We Build” capital fund raising campaign. The whole purpose of this campaign is to raise the money and build our new worship center, and I won’t sugar coat things one little bit, it won’t be easy. Even though we all know that we are at a point where we must build, it won’t be easy. Even though we all believe that this is the step that God is leading us to take, it won’t be easy! I hope you all understand me here, building a new church building will not be easy! Its going to be a hard task that will stretch us, a lot! But it is not impossible either! In fact, it is well within our ability to do, especially if we go into this understanding the hazards facing us, and being aware of the opportunities before us. That’s why I chose this passage, to identify the hazards that we face and to point out the opportunities that are before us. To help us all come to that point where we realize that we can do all things, even build a church!
Please open your Bibles to the Book of Acts, chapter 16 and lets look at verses 22 to 30. While you’re finding the passage let me give you a little background information to kind of set the scene.
The year was around 52 AD. Paul was on his second missionary journey and the Holy Spirit had called him and those traveling with him to Macedonia, located just East of Italy and North of the Mediterranean. Their travels took them to Philippi, a Roman colony and one of the leading cities of Macedonia. On the Sabbath, Paul, Silas, and Luke were walking by the river outside of the city gates, seeking a place to pray. As they were going on their way, a female slave who was demon possessed and being used by her masters to earn money for them as a fortune-teller, was following them and yelling,
“These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.”
Verse 18 tells us that she had been following them around, and doing this for many days. Paul had finally had enough of it, and turned and cast the demon out of her.
As a kid did you ever throw a rock at a hornet’s nest? If you did, the reaction was about the same here, because you see if a man’s god is his money and you mess with his money you are really messing with his god, and nothing will make a person madder than messing with what they worship. So they grab ahold of Paul and Silas and drag them before the authorities. Now here is an interesting thing. If you read this chapter carefully you’ll notice that they apparently had gone about in Philippi relatively unnoticed until now. It was because of this incident and the uproar of the merchants that Paul and Silas come to the attention of the authorities, and the end result of this whole thing is that Paul and Silas are beaten, placed in chains and thrown in prison. That brings us to our study text for this morning.
Let’s read Acts 16, verses 16-30.
If we are going to be successful in this building campaign, I believe the first thing we need to do is to be aware of the hazards facing us.
I. THE HAZARD OF SATAN
No sooner did their ministry begin to bear fruit when the Devil began to harass them and divert them from the true ministry. Paul said in Ephesians 6: 12:
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
We have to be aware that the moment we decided that this was God’s direction for this church to take Satan started laying plans to trip us up.
Now I don’t really think that I have to state the obvious, we are at war! Some of you here this morning already know better than I do just how Satan is attacking you, financial problems, relationships that are in jeopardy, families that are under attack, jobs that are failing. We’re well aware of these kinds of things and hopefully, being aware of them we can put on the armor of God and stand firm as Paul instructs in Ephesians 6. But there are other, more subtle ways that Satan can attack us and divert our attention from our true ministry. If he can cause us to focus on ourselves, and this new building program, to the exclusion of everything else, then Satan wins, because as good a thing as this new building might be, its not what God has called us for. When we start being more concerned with the applause we get from others for our efforts in this undertaking, Satan wins, because, as nice as it is to have others appreciate what we do, that isn’t why God called us. When we start letting our personal wants take priority over the needs of the body or more importantly, the needs of the lost, Satan wins, because you see what we must always keep in mind is the true ministry that God has called us to. We’re building this building so that we can see more people saved and so they can have a place to worship and grow as Christians. It’s not for our reputation, or our status and we must always remember that. So the first hazard is to realize that our enemy is not the messenger of flesh and blood, but the Spirit within that messenger.