Summary: Christians are accused of turning this world upside down...but it’s the other way around. Those who think the world would be better off without us will one day get their wish! Link included to Formatted Text version and some great visuals in PowerPoint.
They Turned it Right Side Up!
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. 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 more than 20 other countries, and, thru the website sermon ministry, we have many “unpaid” staff members spreading our message in hundreds 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 seeing souls saved and lives changed! Leaders are influential and are at the top of his “hit list”, so beware!
The average church in America today is 60 people. We have about twice that number who attend here regularly, and a bunch more who are here once in a while. You can’t have that size group 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 get help and 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!