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Signs of Servanthood

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“We have to humble ourselves and the way you do that is by serving other people.” --Tim Tebow
INTRO - We are in our 4th week of this 10 part series drawn from the book of Acts.
Last week we studied the words of Stephen and considered how important his message concerning Moses continues to be even for us today.
This morning we are turning in Acts to a verse that relates Paul’s activities in the early church.
Paul, as you know, was against Stephen, but here he is for God.
Paul is now a new creation with a new purpose.
EST - Our text will relate what Paul did after being saved.
ESS - Our message will relate three characteristics that can be part of our lives.
OSS - Our time will conclude with the challenge to invite God to make us better proclaimers of the Gospel.
TRANS - We join Paul declaring that Jesus is the Son of God in the synagogue in Damascus.
The synagogue was a place primarily use for worship by Jewish people.
The Greek word from where we get synagogue meant “group of people” or “collection of things.”
While we don’t see clear OT reference to the synagogue, it is noted frequently in the NT where it references a building.
The earliest mention comes from an Egyptian inscription that records the building of a synagogue some time between 247-211 B.C.
Many literary proofs tell us that synagogue worship was established prior to the 1st century.
One interesting note is that during the 2nd Temple period the synagogue was considered a “house of assembly” but, the dispersed Jews called it a “house of prayer.”
Scholars suggest that the Hebrew “house of prayer” was later changed to the Greek “place of meeting.”
Regardless of the term used to describe it, we are joining Paul at a building where the Jews practiced worship, prayer, and religious study.
The earliest 1st century Jerusalem synagogue had the inscription “the reading of the law and the teaching of the precepts.”
Lets join in with the text by first asking:

What does it say?

Acts 9:20 ESV
And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”

What does it mean?

Well, this is sure a quick turnaround.
Paul went from shouting “kill him, kill him” to saying “He is the Son of God” referencing Jesus.
Now, keep in mind that Jews didn’t say God’s name.
Here, Paul uses the Greek word for God.
Have no doubt, Paul is saying Jesus, meaning “Yahweh Saves” to the Hebrews, that he is the “Son of God.”
Paul went from persecuting the Christians to proclaiming Jesus on the same level as God.
That is what got Jesus killed; to the Jews, he made himself out to be just like God, to be God!
Paul started serving God zealously.
From zealously serving the devil to zealously serving the Lord in only days.
Let’s look at this a bit.

The spirit of serving “And immediately he proclaimed Jesus”

Some version say, “At once,” and others “straightway.”
It’s the same word used to describe the scales falling from his eyes just prior to this:
Acts 9:18 ESV
And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized;
It means “at once” or “directly.”
It describes Paul’s enthusiasm.
Paul is inspired by his salvation.
Ananias counseled him and he couldn’t wait to get out there serving Jesus.
We can’t accuse him of wasting time.
Paul went straight to serving God.
When a person is truly saved, zeal for Christ comes over their soul.
That zeal is observable.
People who drag their feet after claiming to be saved make me wonder if their salvation is real.
Like Moses, Paul later had to spend some years in Tarsus prior to being the missionary God called him to become.
Still, this time of service and his enthusiastic testimony tells us much about the post-conversion person Paul became.
So, this teaches us that enthusiasm for Jesus leads a person to strongly desire to serve God.
What’s next?

The schooling while serving “he proclaimed Jesus … saying, “He is the Son of God.”

Two things


Preaching Theme “he proclaimed Jesus”

I love this theme.
Paul preached about Jesus.
Everyone needs to hear this message.
I preach on all kinds of themes, but this it the most important of all of them.
A message without Jesus is not preaching.
Jesus is the main reason why I preach; people need the Lord.
I can tell you that when I preach Jesus, people get all uptight.
It was no different for Paul in the 1st century.
Even so, Paul preached passionately.
He took the religious and pious Jews to Jesus school.
He schooled them.

Preaching Theology “He is the Son of God”

Some fail to preach sound doctrine.
Some fail to preach Jesus of the Bible.
Paul preached the Deity of Christ.
Paul preached the sound truth about Jesus.
Some make him to be a martyr, great teacher, and that is good.
However, many fail to mention that He is very much God.
That kind of preaching makes Jesus out to be nothing more than human.
So Paul schooled them, taught them, he had a theme and a theology.
A good story has a setting.
I mentioned that a bit earlier.
Where is this occuring:

The site for serving “in the synagogues”

Christ was not so well recieved in the synagogues.
Paul’s service is not glamorous, but one that requires courage.
The people are not happy to receive Paul’s preaching about Christ Jesus.
This is the sort of place where Jesus is rejected.
Sometime that rejection was know to be cruel.
What can we conclude from Pauls service in the synagogues:

Two things

Paul’s service is courageous

It always takes courage to be a witness for Jesus.
Paul’s story teaches us to face people with attitudes toward our message.
Paul knew the attitude the people in the synagogues had toward Jesus and still went in preaching.

Paul’s service is consecrated

Paul is not responsible for the reception of the message.
Paul teaches us that Christians are responsible for the delivery of the message.
The Bible is clear:
Acts 1:8 ESV
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Just like Paul, all Christians are called to be witnesses.
Consecration is not dependent on being accepted or being rejected.
Consecration falls on the faithful.
We’ve noted that Paul went right to work, he was excited to serve.
We identified what he preached, he even took the educated “back to school.”
He preached Jesus is Lord!
Last we noted that Paul served even when it might had been a little scary; he went courageously.
Also, Pauls courage consecrated his service; Paul started serving and God blessed him in doing so.

What does this mean to me?

What passion-draining things can you eliminate from your life?
If you were to start serving God differently, what might that look like?
Is there a setting where you are hard-pressed to talk about Jesus?
What might Jesus think if you went ahead and talked about him anyway?
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