Stirring Up & Shaking Off - Acts 13:49-14:7 NIV
Everywhere Paul & Barnabas went, they stirred up strong reactions. Over and over they were forced to leave/flee. They would "shake dust off" - symbolize we've done all we can.
Why study this? Have we become complacent? Does our Christianity impact our world? Are you a force for good in a world of evil? Does evil know you even exist?
#1 - What in my Christian life needs _______________ ?
"So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium." Acts 13:51 NIV
Makes me wonder if we have done all we can? Is there dust on our feet? Dust of not making a difference? To be a Christian means to be a Christ-follower. To follow Christ means to be concerned about the things he was concerned about. Fighting for the RIGHT. Opposing evil at every turn.
Every generation of Christ-followers have their own brand of evil to fight. What for us? Providing shelter to the homeless. Food for the hungry. Refuge for the stranger / immigrant / refugee / persecuted. Stopping slavery / human sex trafficking. Protecting the innocent and the helpless - this includes the lives of the unborn. Becoming fathers to the fatherless. Binding up the broken-hearted. Release from bondage those in captivity to addiction.
There is no shortage of evil around us. What is God calling you to do? Or have we become buried in the dust of our complacency?
What needs to be shaken off?
(a) - My ___________________ ?
“The word of the Lord spread through the whole region.” Acts 13:49 NIV
Paul & Barnabas could easily have stopped being so controversial. The word of the Lord is spreading. Everywhere! Let's not ruin a good thing!
Is it possible that we don't see the evil that surrounds us because we are so consumed with the success of our prosperity? We have good lives, good relationships, good jobs, a good church. Why mess up a good thing?
God wants to shake off the dust of our success so He can succeed through us! Don't allow your success to blind you to the evil around you.
(b) - My __________________ ?
“The Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and
the leading men of the city.” Acts 13:50a NIV
Why "God-fearing women?" Why "high standing" and "leading men?" Because we naturally care about our standing within our society. It matters to us what people think of us. The higher up on the social ladder we see someone else, the more their opinion of us matters.
You may say you don't care about those with social standing, but you probably do care about someone else, who has status in what you do care about.
No place is this more apparent than in our political climate. Our political parties are screaming at one another so loudly than no one is listening. And seemingly no one cares, so long as we have our talking points down. Honestly, I don't think Jesus would be too happy about any of our talking points today. You certainly could not label either side as Christian!
(c) - My ________________ ?
“They... expelled them from their region.” Acts 13:50c NIV
As you read Acts, you'll discover how often Paul was kicked out of each city he visited. Yet Paul was a Roman citizen. That meant he was protected by Roman law. He had rights! The law was on his side! Yet not in any of these places does he stick around to fight for his right of residency. He just shakes the dust off. I've done all I can here. Let's move on to the next opportunity.
How about you? Are you sidetracked by your rights? Do you battle over every little wrong against you personally and meanwhile miss the larger opportunity to fight for the Greater Right?
#2 -What about my Christian life is __________________ ?
"They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas." / "The Jews who refused to believe stirred up the other Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers." Acts 13:50b / 14:2 NIV
So here is the tough question I'm asking myself today - and wanting you to ask yourself: Does my Christian life matter to the evil in the world around me? Does evil know my name? Am I stirring up persecution against me because of the stand I take for RIGHTeousness?
We all can't fight every battle. But we each should have a battle of our own that we do fight. There should be a little controversy to our Christian lives. We should be accused of division from those that want to do that which God defines as wrong. God didn't just save us to get us to Heaven. He saved us to do some good in THIS world first!
3 Stirring Up Areas:
(a) - My _____________________ ?
"There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed." Acts 14:1 NIV
Do I speak with effectiveness for God? Do I write? Do I use my words for God's battlefront? Or do I allow myself to be trapped by only polite conversation, thereby eliminating myself from the issues that matter most? At the end of my life, will my words count for God's goodness?
(b) - My _________________ ?
“So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders.” Acts 14:3 NIV
Connect the dots in this verse from "speaking boldly" to "perform signs and wonders." The speaking boldly always comes first. The signs and wonders (actions) always follows. It is the one-two punch of the effective Christian boxer for the RIGHT. To speak only but never do anything is empty and hollow. To do without speaking boldly "for the Lord" allows others to think that this is your battle for what you think is right, not the Lord's battle for what He thinks is right. You need both the bold words for Jesus and then Jesus' power in your actions.
(c) - My _________________ ?
“The people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, others with the apostles. There was a plot afoot among both Gentiles and Jews... to mistreat them and stone them.” Acts 14:5 NIV
Division between Jews and Gentiles and apostles didn't matter to Paul. He really didn't care so much what people thought of him. He cared deeply about what God thought of him. His focus was not on himself or on others, but on Jesus. What drives you? What others think or what Jesus thinks of you? Your focus on Jesus WILL STIR UP division!
#3 - What fills me with _____________ ?
"And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit." Acts 13:52 NIV
We end today's talk with a word about "Joy." Surprising. Where does joy fit in here? Where is the joy in controversy, division and battle?
Simply this: like the disciples, when I'm doing what pleases Jesus, I'm filled with joy.
God created each of us differently. We won't all fight the same battles. But we encourage each other in the battle for the RIGHT! Church becomes a home base for launching the offensive against the WRONG! Are you in the battle? Do you know the joy of the battle tested?