"Turning the World Upside Down"
Starting a new congregation in a new area is exciting. The work is hard, but the result can be great for God. As we begin a new series from the letters to Thessalonica, let's start with their beginning found in Acts 17.
Turning The World Upside Down
A. I love to travel. I love to experience a new culture, see knew sights and learn about history. I have been fortunate to travel as a child we lived in Great Britain for five years, then to travel around the United States, to live in Alaska for 6 years, to travel to Vienna, Austria, Eastern Ukraine, and Kenya and Malawi, Africa. Each place I have been I have as an adult, I have been able to take God’s word with me and preach to people in different cultures.
B. Paul appears to be a traveler. He loves taking God’s saving message to people who have not been exposed to it, and help them to see that no matter what culture you live in, God is there and the saving grace of Jesus is offered.
C. The book of Acts gives for us a record of events that took place during some of Paul’s travels. On the second time Paul ventures out to share God’s message he does with a new traveling companion, Silas. Along the journey he picks up a young man named Timothy and a medical doctor named Luke. As they traveled into Macedonia they started with some success in Philippi and then moved on after some problems with the people, they continued on to Thessalonica. It is this city and the people that became Christians that we turn our attention to this summer. (READ Acts 17:1-4)
I. The Beginning
A. Starting a new congregation in an area that does not know Jesus but has some people who know the true God was Paul’s general plan of evangelism. Since Jews were now scattered around the Mediterranean world, the teachings of Jehovah had gone with them and synagogues were often built in Greek speaking towns.
B. Even though Jews were supposed to be a light to the world, they often didn’t. But when people who hunger for God realize their concept is faulty and they see something that looks true they are attracted. So it was here.
C. Paul, a Jew, goes to the Synagogue on the Sabbath and begins to teach about what the true Christ and how through Jewish scripture (what we call the OT) proclaimed Jesus to be the Messiah (Christ). At this particular synagogue were more than just Jews. There was also in attendance Gentiles who had come to know the one true God as some women who were of prominence in Thessalonica. As they listened to Paul and Silas, their hearts were opened to receive the true message and a number of them became Christians.
D. For you and me, that sounds great. For the Jews in that synagogue, that caused problems. How would you feel if someone came into this congregation and began to teach something different and a number of the people here decided to leave us and follow that teaching, starting a new church right here in Whitehall? Why it would be a slap in our face, it was would be a public affirmation that those people no longer believe what we teach and have separated themselves from us and now follow a new teaching – in essence condemning us of having a heart that would not listen to the God we proclaim.
E. Would you get angry? YES! Would you want others to know these people are trouble makers? I would guess. In fact, these men (Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke) have been trouble makers all over the place. They have been telling everyone who believes like us that God has a new message and a new messenger named Jesus. I feel their anger. But maybe what is needed today spiritual people who stir the religious kettle with sound godly teaching.
F. Let me push this, would we be ready for that? Do you think the denominations in this area would be ready for people to step into our community and basically tell us we are either misguided or lacking in our spiritual understanding?
II. Trouble In River City
A. I enjoy musicals. One that has some iconic lines is “The Music Man.” Professor Harold Hill comes into River City and tells them they have trouble with capital “T.” There was trouble in Thessalonica after just a few weeks of Paul’s teaching (READ Acts 17:5-7)
B. They Jews were so jealous of Paul’s ministry that they attack him, not with scripture and challenging his teaching, but with wicked men who work the people up and use the same accusation that was used by the Sanhedrin before Pilate – Jesus is a new king, taking their allegiance from Caesar. Trouble with a capital “T.”
C. I don’t know who Jason is, but I like the guy. He is obviously a new Christian and maybe was even a strong Jew whose heart was not only touched by the message, but he welcomed Paul and the company into his home showing great fellowship for this teaching of Jesus.
D. They drag Jason and other believers before the city council and say, “Paul and Silas have caused trouble all over the world.” The KJV says, “have turned the world upside down.” The fact of the matter is this message, this truth of who Jesus is and what Jesus does for us in Salvation had changed the world – one heart at a time.
E. The power of the Gospel was in Thessalonica and it was turning that city upside down. “Lord, give us such a faith as this!” May we be troublemakers for the sin that is so destructive to our community. May the truth be so much a part of our lives that people see the transformation that comes from a life touched by God. Paul and these believers took a world that was in trouble because of sin and put it back into harmony with God’s true message, but the darkness did not like the light.
A. God message continues to turn lives upside down. But in reality, God’s message turns things right side up. Sin is what upsets lives, Jesus came give you the balance back that Satan stole. The Spirit is here to convict us of that upside down sin and to help us walk in the light of life.
B. If you are here today with a life that is in chaos, let me tell you about a savior who knows how fix a mess like me. If you would like His help with our hands to hold, then come forward as we stand and sing.