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We all want to make a difference don’t we?
No one wants to live a life like a rock thrown into a pond that makes no ripples, right?
And as Christians, we long to make an impact, not simply for our own fame or for our own benefit, but for the glory of God.
Often times it is easy for us to feel as though we don’t have purpose in this life.
It’s easy for us to feel as though God may have created me and saved me to simply be third string, or a bench warmer.
But the reality is that we all have a purpose and God has placed us where we live and He has placed us in the paths of the people we know for a purpose.
As we look in Acts 17 today, we will find the story of two men who got this and they were men who were so overwhelmed by this truth that they were called, “Men who have turned the world upside down...” But it’s not that they were actually destroying anything, instead they were turning the world the right-side up as they brought for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Do you want to make an impact?
Do you want to “turn Burlington upside down?”
I often wonder what it would be like if we truly grasped the power of the gospel and the promises of God given to us who carry it.
Well, if that’s you today, if you want to make a difference, this is for you.
Acts 17:1–15 (NKJV)
1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” 4 And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.
5 But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.
6 But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.
7 Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus.”
8 And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard these things.
9 So when they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.
10 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea.
When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews.
11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
12 Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men.
13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, they came there also and stirred up the crowds.
14 Then immediately the brethren sent Paul away, to go to the sea; but both Silas and Timothy remained there.
15 So those who conducted Paul brought him to Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him with all speed, they departed.
With that said, if you and I want to be Christians who impact Burlington for the glory of God, there are a two big things we should notice in this passage today:
Have Restful Courage
Now, I know that those two words together sound kind of odd, but there’s a reason I feel like they should be together, and that is that we should not find our courage in our own strength and efforts, but we should courageously live as we rest in the power of the Lord.
You see, Paul’s life was marked by courage, not in himself, but in the God who saved him and sent him with a purpose.
In Acts 9:15, God said this about Paul
In Galatians 5:15-16
And in 1 Corinthians 9:16
Paul was once an extremely committed Pharisee who believed he acted as the hand of God’s authority in persecuting the Christians who he genuinely believed were a cult.
But one day, Christ saved him on the road to Damascus and it was from that day forward that Paul lived in light of grace and lived committed to God’s purpose for him, which was to reach the gentiles.
But in this passage, we find Paul going to the synagogue which he always does.
And what’s intriguing is that this rarely turns out well for him.
He often goes into the synagogue and receives persecution, but Paul has this restful courage about him.
The same should be said of us.
God has placed you where you live, just look at Acts 17:26, and He has saved you for a purpose.
And though there may be nervousness about being rejected as you reach out to those in your community, we can be encouraged knowing that the God who is in control, is the same God that sends us out.
I love this application made by this one commentator.
He says, “Paul’s habit of finding a quick way to connect with those in a new location should make us identify points of contact within our own neighborhoods and cities.
Often Christians find that serving the city provides a great way to make connections leading to gospel conversations.
Volunteering at a youth center, a homeless shelter, a tutoring program, in a home for the abused, in crisis pregnancy centers, or at a local school can lead to wonderful opportunities for sharing the gospel.
Doing so demonstrates neighbor love; it demonstrates care for the whole person.
Similarly, coaching sports provides a great way to get to know players and parents and to win opportunities to speak truth into their lives.
Hosting events in our homes—book clubs, Bible studies, or barbecues—can lead to wonderful chances to talk about Jesus, too.
Even taking walks in your neighborhood or frequenting the same restaurants your neighbors do can provide you with ways to connect with people so that you can have gospel conversations with them.
The idea is to work, play, and enjoy life with gospel intentionality.”
So, if we are going to make an impact together, we need to be intentional with our lives as Christians.
So ask yourself, How can I establish new relationships with people in my community?”
I try to do this by going to the same park with Ella, the same coffee shops and the same barber repetitively so I can develop that relationship with people.
Yes, I also leave tracts when I go out as well.
You don’t have to simply do one or the other only.
But the main thing we need to be thinking of is how can we live as people who see the world through gospel lenses?
Hold To Rich Content
There are some Christians who thrive on being disliked.
And sadly, most of the Christians I know who love being disliked aren’t disliked for the gospel; instead they’re disliked for being offensive knuckle-heads.
If you and I are going to be disliked, let it be for the gospels sake.
The gospel is offensive enough, we don’t need to be jerks for Jesus.
I want you to notice that Paul communicates with these people on the basis of the Word of God.
If we are going to be effective in our mission, we must rely on the power of God’s Word, not our own strength and ideas.
God has promised us that we will be successful when we declare His Word.
There may not be immediate results, or the results may not be what we expected.
But there will be results.
So we need to ensure that we read our Bibles and take it’s truth with us as we go about our daily lives.
James Boice gives 5 results of Paul’s commitment to the Word in his evangelism in 1 Thessalonians
It was blessed by God. 1 Thessalonians 1:5
The People Received the Word. 1 Thessalonians 2:13
Believers tried to model their Christian lives after Paul. 1 Thessalonians 1:6
They Became Models Themselves. 1 Thessalonians 1:7
The Church in Thessalonica became a missionary church. 1 Thessalonians 1:8
This is what we pray for, isn’t it?
That God would save our community through His Gospel and that He would build them up upon His Word.
This is successful outreach!
Now, as we move on to verse 10, we find Paul and Silas in Berea.
Now Berea is way different that Thessalonica.
Thessalonica was a massive city of 200,000 people, but Berea would be consider the middle of nowhere.
Yet Paul’s method is the same in that he handles the Word faithfully.
Now, in verse 11 we notice that this is a different atmosphere than the Jews in Thessalonica.
These guys love the Word of God.
And as Paul teaches them, God opens up their eyes and saves them.
Let this passage be an encouragement to you guys as you lead Bible studies, or small groups, or even have conversations with your friends about the Bible.
Now, the last thing I want to notice is that where there is conversion, there is conflict.
We notice in v13 that the Jews is Thessalonica weren’t pleased with what’s taking place in Berea so they decide to pay a visit.
The reality is that when lives are changed by the gospel, there is certainly a struggle between sin and righteousness.
So, if we want to see Burlington impacted, we need to ask God to give us boldness in our daily lives, we need to arm ourselves with the word of God, and we need to pray that God would save our friends, family and neighbors through our efforts to reach our community.
This is how we impact our families, our teams, our schools and our community.
This is our goal and this is our calling as Christians here in Burlington.
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