Scriptures: Acts 16:6-10 & Acts 17:16-34
Pastor Clyde’s November 13, 2016 Sermon
(6) 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. (7) When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. (8) So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. (9) During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” (10) 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.
(16) While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. (17) So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. (18) A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. (19) Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? (20) You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.” (21) (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)
(22) Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. (23) For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.
(24) “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. (25) And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. (26) From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. (27) God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. (28) ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’
(29) “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. (30) In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. (31) For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”
(32) When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” (33) At that, Paul left the Council. (34) Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.
1. I have to tell you that sometimes things do not work as you think they will in the pulpit.
2. I remember one time that I was going to do a demonstration about the effects of sin.
3. I had a worm in alcohol, a worm in a jar with cigarette smoke, and a worm in chocolate syrup.
4. They were all clearly labeled. I held them up to the congregation. The worm in alcohol was dead; the worm in cigarette smoke was dead; the worm in chocolate syrup was dead.
5. I asked the congregation what you could learn from this. One woman jumped up and said, “If you drink, smoke, and eat chocolate, you will not get worms.
6. Today we continue our journey with Paul.
7. We said that he is the second most important person behind Jesus in Christianity.
8. One-half of Acts is devoted to him as well as 13 books of NT are ascribed to him.
9. We looked at his early life, his in-between years, and his first missionary journey.
10. Today we look at his second missionary journey which probably took place around 42-52 AD.
11. We left him in Syrian Antioch and he now thinks that God is calling on him to go back out in the field.
12. He and Barnabas has a falling out over John Mark and Barnabas leaves him to go to Cyprus.
13. This shows that even good Christian friends sometimes disagree. They later reconcile but they go their separate ways now.
14. Accompanying Paul this time is Silas or Silvanus who was an important figure of Syrian Antioch.
15. Paul wants to go back to the churches he had established in Galatia and encourage them.
16. This time he goes overland to Derbe and then to Lystra where he was stoned by the people.
17. No one ever said that Paul was not doggedly determined. He goes to Iconium where he was threatened by death.
18. These are the places that will receive his letter that we call Galatians.
19. It is at this point that Paul begins to encounter roadblocks. He wants to go to Bithynia which is far to the north but he says that the HS prevents him.
20. Has that ever happened to you? You think that you hear the word of God and want to get going with a new ministry and things just do not work out.
21. I believe that all of us have thought we were following a call from God and then found that it did not work out.
22. Was the call wrong? Most of us do not have a burning bush or God talking audibly to us.
23. We just hear a whisper and maybe we are wrong. Robert Schuler said that when he had a call from God, he made a list of ten ways to accomplish it.
24. If he reached step ten and the project was still not working, then he figures he just had heartburn.
25. We have many calls on our lives. We have mission trips; we have mission opportunities here in town; we have Sunday school.
26. You just have to listen, then act on the call and see where it leads.
27. Paul did the next best thing; he went on to Troas and waited on God.
28. He has a vision of the man from Macedonia telling him to come on over.
29. Now he makes his first foray into what we call modern Europe.
30. Paul makes his way by ship to Europe with Silas, Timothy, and probably Luke.
31. They land at Neapolis and go on to Philippi.
32. Philippi was a Roman city crowded with ex-soldiers.
33. It was the practice of Paul to go to the synagogue when he came to a town. Philippi did not have a synagogue.
34. It took ten married Jewish males to have a synagogue.
35. The practice was that, if there were no synagogue, then the Jews would go down to the river to pray.
36. Paul went there and found no males but all females.
37. He preached the love of Jesus who healed Mary Magdalene, was merciful to the woman caught in adultery and spoke with the Samaritan woman at the well.
38. The first convert in Europe was Lydia who make purple cloth.
39. She was baptized with her household and offered Paul and his companions a place to stay—the first church in Europe.
40. I want to speak a minute about baptism.
41. What happened to Lydia when she was baptized or when you are baptized.
42. Paul has given us different metaphors.
43. First, we can say that we die to the old life and are reborn with Jesus.
44. No matter what we have done, no matter how bad our life has been, we are new creatures in Jesus Christ.
45. It also tells us that our sins are washed away. Again, we deal with things that we are not proud of.
46. We may feel burdened by our life choices. But our sins are washed away with baptism.
47. We become clothed with Christ rather than stuck in our old selves.
48. We are defined as a child of God. God puts his mark on us.
49. We are a new person who belongs to Jesus Christ.
50. Nothing else has a claim on us now.
51. In Philippi, you can go to the river and remember your baptism or be baptized.
52. I ask you now to remember your baptism and how God put his mark on you.
53. Something else happens in Philippi and it is one of the most famous stories about Paul.
54. As usually happened, Paul was having a great success when something happened to turn people against him.
55. In this case, a slave girl had the gift of telling the future. She began to follow Paul and Silas until Paul got tired and cured the girl.
56. The only problem was that she could no longer tell the future and her owners were upset about the loss of revenue.
57. They dragged Paul and Silas to the magistrates.
58. They accused them of disturbing the order and they were beaten with rods and sent to prison.
59. Now, let me ask you. Suppose you went on a mission trip with us to Nicaragua or to North Dakota?
60. Instead of being thanked and treated well, you are arrested and beaten. Then you are sent to a cold cell to await justice.
61. What would be your reaction? Would you blame God and get angry?
62. Some people think that, as soon as we get saved, then there will be no more pain and no more heartache.
63. They forget that we live here, on earth, in the real world.
64. Things happen and sometimes we suffer.
65. The NT is clear that good Christians suffered, sometimes because of Christ.
66. Paul and Silas began to sing hymns and to praise God with the other prisoners listening.
67. They turned to God rather than away from God.
68. Did you know that you most powerful testimony comes when you are suffering?
69. Jesus was crucified and Paul was beaten and eventually killed. Are we better than they are?
70. Paul knows that God is with them and sings.
71. Later Paul writes what is considered his happiest letter to the Philippians—from jail!
72. Today, busloads of people go to Philippi to see and hear about Paul, not the magistrates.
73. After this, Paul goes to Thessalonica, Berea, Athens and then to Corinth.
74. One of the things you should know about Corinth is that it is located on a small isthmus.
75. People developed a method where slaves could pull a ship across this narrow band of land and save many days of sailing time.
76. One thing happened because of this—there were lots of slaves there.
77. Second, they wanted to entertain the sailors while they were there.
78. Because of this, lots and lots of taverns developed and prostitution.
79. There was a temple there to Aphrodite—the goddess of love.
80. Paul wrote 4 letters to Corinth in an attempt to deal with some of these problems.
81. I believe that we live in Corinth today.
82. Sexual messages abound in our culture; we see things on TV that we once had to sneak around to see.
83. The internet makes pornography available to anyone at any time.
84. We have lost something holy and healthy.
85. Paul was accused of allowing this because he spoke of the freedom from the law.
86. He says that all things are permissible but not all things are beneficial to us.
87. He writes that we must glorify God with our bodies.
88. Let me give you an example.
89. Have you ever gotten a cake out or a bag of potato chips? You eat a little and it is fine.
90. Then you eat some more and you don’t even like it that much.
91. Finally, you eat all of it or way more than you wanted. You feel sick and guilty.
92. That is where we are today.
93. What is meant to be good becomes evil.
94. Remember baptism; things go wrong but stay with God; and honor God with your body.