6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: verse by verse through Acts

[2] Where are the genuine people today? Where are they? It doesn’t seem like anyone tells the truth any more. And you know what, it doesn’t even seem like people are expected to be truthful any more. Lying is commonplace, accepted and even expected from time to time. Do we have any politicians here this morning? No? Good. Let’s talk about them.

I mean, is it possible to get a politician to give us an answer to a question that matches up with the last time he answered that same question and one that actually matches up with the truth? To a politician lying isn’t considered a character flaw anymore – it’s considered strategical maneuvering.

But it isn’t just politicians that are disingenuous. What about lawyers? What about the news media? What about certain salesmen? What about the hundred emails a day that we receive stating that we’ve inherited millions of dollars from some prince in Ethiopia?

[Insurance verification letter story.]

The point is, we’ve become a culture where words mean very little any more because we’re so suspicious that people are lying to us. And rightly so! I mean, when someone you don’t personally know is trying to convince you of something do you find yourself wondering if they’re telling you the truth?

In our world today talk is cheap. Words are on the clearance shelf and nobody’s buying them any more.

But even though our culture has become extremely cynical, people are still looking for something to believe in. People are still looking for someone they can trust. People are still looking for purpose and direction and truth.

So when those people look at our lives, when those seekers look at our church, what will they see? Can others look at our lives and see genuine people who serve the living God?

Now I’m not talking about when people listen to what we say. I’m talking about when people look at our lives and see who we really are. You see, [3] when our lives do the talking, people take notice. Actions speak louder than words.

[4] Saint Francis of Assisi once said, “Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.” People need to see the gospel of Christ in us before they are going to listen to us verbalize the gospel.

Now before we go any further we need to make one thing very clear. Who we really are on the inside will eventually show itself on the outside. So when people see who we really are will they see someone passionate about Jesus Christ, or will they see a hypocrite. What will people see when they see us for who we really are.

In this morning’s passage we’re going to see a group of believers in Jesus Christ who got noticed because of the lives they lived. Their actions caused others to listen to their words. Turn with me to Acts 11 where we see God again working amongst the non-Jewish community. And the first thing that we’ll learn from these people is that [5] who we really are moves us to action.

[Read Acts 11:19-21.]

When Stephan was killed for the faith a great persecution arose and many Christians fled Jerusalem for safety. They found themselves in non-Jewish territories like Antioch which was the third largest Roman city at that time. Antioch was a huge city, a wealthy city, but it was also a very pagan city.

When these Jewish believers got there they started telling the Jews that already lived there about Jesus Christ. But the believers who were of Greek descent, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, they began reaching out to the non-Jewish community in Antioch. And as a result God did an amazing work amongst the gentiles in that wicked city.

You see, those gentile believers were moved to action because of who they were on the inside. They knew the gospel was for all people so they made sure everyone there got to hear it regardless of their heritage.

While most were reaching out to the Jews, who were at least the moral people group there in Antioch, they were reaching out to the gentiles, the most outwardly pagan and immoral people in Antioch. But they were simply doing what their Lord had told them to do – “Preach the gospel to all creation.” Who we really are moves us to action.

If you’re a complacent Christian who’s faith is cold, that’s who you really are. And the actions you’re moved to are mostly for yourself.

But if you’re a Christian who’s faith is alive and, well that’s who you really are. And the actions you’re moved to do are mostly for the Lord and for others. And I find that these kinds of people don’t need a lot of motivation to do things for the Lord. When an opportunity comes to serve they are on the front lines ready for action.

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