Acts Series #23
Back to the Beginning:
When Church Was Church
Preaching the Word
Dodge, Shake, and Sift
1. Dodging Rocks
Persecution is NOT unexpected
John Wesley and fear that his lack of persecution was the result of Sin
Persecution is the normal response of people who do not understand
2 Tim 3:12 "… everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus WILL be persecuted"
Persecution is inspired work of Satan --- it is what he does --- he is the Accuser of the Brethren --
A. Live in the Spirit
1. 2 Tim 1:7,8 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God
2. Reckon yourself dead
Romans 6, Romans 8 tells us that we are dead to sin, 1 Cor 15 tells us that Christ made us dead to death, and so we are only alive to Christ … what can they do to dead folks? I've never heard a dead person complain about their surroundings, about insults, or injury.
4321 Like Being Whipped With Roses
In 1651 in Massachusetts, Rev. Obadiah Holmes, because he held a prayer meeting in his home, was ordered to be whipped by Governor Endicot. So severe was the whipping that for days he could lie only by resting on the tips of his elbows and his knees and yet when the last lash had fallen, he looked at his tormentors and through bloodstained lips cried, "Gentlemen, you have whipped me with roses!"
3. 2 Cor 4:8-10 we are hard pressed on eery side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted by not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our boyd
4. Gal 5:25 since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit
B. Love Not Your Life
1. Rev 12:11 - - How is Satan Defeated? They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.
2. Luke 12:4,5 … do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more 5 but … fear him who, after killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell.
C. Love The Fellowship
1. Mt. 5:11,12 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me 12 Rejoice and be glad …
2. You have been initiated in the fraternal order of suffering with Christ as our leader, President, Suffering Savior and Victorious Lord
3. Phil 3:10 I want to know Christ and the power of resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead
a. you will not know Christ fully without suffering
b. it conforms you to his image
So, do not be discouraged, surprised, angry, disillusioned when you face persecution just keep your head up, dodge the Rocks, fix your eyes on Jesus … The Holy Spirit will care for you
Stand behind the shield of face and the rocks will bounce off harmlessly
6832 Pressed Out
Pressed out of measure and pressed to all length,
Pressed so intensely it seems beyond strength;
Pressed in the body and pressed in the soul,
Pressed in the mind till the dark surges roll;
Pressure by foes, and pressure by friends,
Pressure on pressure, till life nearly ends,
Pressed into loving the staff and the rod;
Pressed into knowing no helper but God;
Pressed into liberty where nothing clings,
Pressed into faith for impossible things;
Pressed into living a life in the Lord,
Pressed into living a Christ-life outpoured!
-Walter B. Knight
2. Shaking Off the Dust
We're talking here about the Psychological Aspects of the persecution and rejection
Perhaps the two biggest reasons that more people don't share their faith or they STOP sharing their faith
A. Recognize Reality
1. they aren't rejecting YOU
2. you haven't failed
3. the only "bad" witness is the one NOT given
4. a mistake filled non-trained, non-professional witness, butchered scripture reference, mangled grammar, offered in faith and sincerity is better than no witness and can be a powerful and authentic witness
5. It is NOT up to you
B. Remember No Rejection
1. Let it GO
2. I was obedient
3. I was faithful
4. My Responsibility is Over
5. Leave them in God's Hands
Phil 3:13 I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead I press on toward the gaol to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward
C. Resume the Journey
1. move on - Paul's attitude was "if you don't want the good news, I'll take it to someone else"
2. NEXT - speak the truth you don't have to spend a lot of time defending it …
3. Success is around the corner … down the street, in the next town, after the next witness
6843 "Wellington Defeated … "
The Duke of Wellington led the English forces against those of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. News of the history-making battle came by sailing vessel to the south coast of England, and it was wigwagged by semaphore overland toward London.
Atop Winchester Cathedral, the semaphore began to spell out the eagerly-awaited-for message. A dense fog began to settle down just as the words "Wellington defeated" were finished. The semaphore could no longer be seen, and the heartbreaking news of Wellington's defeat spread throughout London.
Before long, the fog lifted and again the signaling semaphore atop the cathedral became visible. This time it spelled out the complete message of the battle: "Wellington defeated the enemy!"
Don't let the dust of rejection block the message of Victory … Shake it off and when the dust settles Victory belongs to the Lord
I heard an old Dear sister in a testimony once say that her favorite words in scripture were not the famous or profound but the simple words "and it came to pass"
Shake it OFF …. Don't take the little grain of dust with you shake it off
Don't be weighed down by the dust of doubt
Don't be dirtied by the dust of fear
Don't be blinded by the dust of despair
shake it off
Get you a Holy Shoe Shine and Shake off the Dust from the bottom of your shoes
Every believer who moves forward proclaiming the Gospel of Peace has perfectly manicured feet, wearing gloriously shined shoes? Why do I say that?
Isaiah 52:7 How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God Reigns"
3. Sifting for the Gold
There has never been a person who challenged conventional wisdom that didn't have to shake off dust of rejection and dodge the rocks of persecution …
If Persecution and Rejection are two of the biggest reasons more people don't go on mission for God and don't share their faith as a Witness to Christ, then a Third Reason is because they don't understand the Treasure at Stake
There's Gold in them thar Hills …
A. Souls For the Kingdom
1. Be filled with the Spirit and you can join God in winning souls for the Kingdom
2. this is about the Kingdom not about you. This is not time or do you need for you to prove yourself or take offense; because they have NOT attacked you and This is Kingdom Business
4. Don't worry about the False Christians and False Teachers along the way … not everyone who cries Lord, Lord is one of HIS.
5. Expose the Error
6. Remember this is a Spiritual Battle, a Kingdom battle. So keep dodging, keep Shaking, because Men and Women, Boys and girls, Young people are under the attack and influence of the Evil One.
7. People are disillusioned and deceived
8. Paulas was an intelligent, prudent man, he was "able to put things together" - that's what the word translated "intelligent" meant - Yet he consulted a sorcerer, the word literally meant "astrologer" This man had a great hold on him --- yet how many intelligent people even today seek it. They've got to read their Horoscopes. They seek the counsel of the stars … The Only thing the stars do is declare the Glory of the Lord.
9. BY THE WAY … that may seem, harmless but it is NOT a game nor should be handled lightly. Do not PLAY or dabble with seeking after Satan. You know most of these infomercials etc with Astrologists now will say "For Entertainment Purposes Only". Well the only one really Entertained is Satan as he plays with your life and confuses you and laughs all the way to the depths of Hades and back
B. Salvation and Forgiveness for the Soul
1. The Opportunity to Share Christ with a lost soul is an Open Door of Opportunity to Join God in the Work of Salvation and Reconciliation
2. Clarify the Truth for those who are seeking but clouded by confusion and misinformation
3. You may hear someone say "I think it's time to get my life straight" - that's God moving in their lives
4. Tell them the good news - v32
5. Why is it good news? V33 -
a. through Jesus our sins are forgiven
b. we are justified and complete
6. If you do it right, people will invite you back … leave the door open as long as they are willing
7. If you get a second chance, chances are they will bring someone else into the discussion
8. vv47,48 - show Israel rejecting God and God moving fully toward the Gentile nations - specifically here it is talking nationally the word "Gentiles" is the word "ethnos" meaning nations - saying that just as God had selected the Nation of Israel to be in a unique national relationship with him his purpose in them was to reveal himself to the entire "ethnos" all of the nations - had been appointed all to come … Of course we can't overlook that No one comes to God except God draws us we can't come to him and God makes appointments for all of us and those who respond to the appointment and believe receive Eternal Life
9. God knows who will believe, so just keep telling and trust him with the results
One more thing as you sift for Gold.
Paul says elsewhere we don't "muzzle the ox" but let them eat grain while they grind it … so in the business of sifting for Gold there is …
B. Something For Your
"take a little something for yourself"
1. filled with joy
2. filled with the Spirit
a. seeking souls
b. shaking off discouragement
c. is a humbling experience -- in order to shake off discouragement you must humble yourself
d. we are emptying ourselves of self and
e. the more SELF is removed the more room there is for the Spirit to FILL you with himself
f. so, I would say you need the power of the filling of the Spirit in order to witness, but I would also say that the more you witness the more you will be filled with the Spirit and Joy
g. it becomes a wonderful cycle because the more you share the more you are filled with the Spirit and Joy and the More you are filled the more you will empty of self and the more you do that the more you release to the filling of the Spirit and on and on
3. The Crown of the Soul Winner
a. Phil 4:1 Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord
b. 1 Thes 2:19 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20 Indeed, you are our glory and joy
4. How can we compare the difficulty, temporary suffering, and inconvenience of witnessing for the Gospel, to the Gold that is produced.
5. No Old Prospector that has struck Gold ever complains about the back breaking work, heat, sweat, blood, and tears once they have tasted Gold
6. We just need a taste … a Shift in our focus.
a. The runner training for the marathon doesn't see the miles put in, She sees the Finishline.
b. The Footballer in Summer two a days doesn't pay attention to the heat he is thinking of the Joy of February and the Super Bowl.
c. The Cardinals in March weren't complaining about the rigors of Spring Training, they were thinking about October and the World Series we are still owed from last year.
>> There is a story I read this week … Dr. Criswell tells of a great debate many years ago on the great Religions of the World. This was to be between a Christian and a Buddhist. A great crowd gathered.
The Buddhist priest was suave, intelligent, and gifted and presented Buddhism as a belief of contemplation and meditation. The crowd listened enraptured by his words and delivery. Then a weak unprepared preacher stood. He offered an uninspired argument and presentation of Christianity. He argued that God was to become a man and be incarnate, his arguments that God would die on a cross for our sins. Everything he said seems to fall limp and powerless. When he finished the Buddhist priest stood in rebuttal. He began a cleaver, calculated response to destroy the very idea of faith in Christ as Savior and God. Then he sat down. The preacher looked unsure of his response and hesitant. Then, Someone stood high in the balcony and resolutely sang out
All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name
Let Angels prostrate Fall
Bring forth the royal diadem
And crown him Lord of all …
Others began to Join as they sang
Ye Chosen seed of Israel's race
Ye ransomed from the fall
Hail him who saved you by his grace
And crown him Lord of all …
A great throng joined in
Let ev'ry kindred ev'ry tribe
From this terrestrial ball
To him all majesty ascribe
And crown him Lord of All …
The Buddhist left quietly and now, I join them in singing
OH that with yonder sacred throng
We at his feet may fail
We'll join the everlasting song
And crown him Lord of All …
You don't have to be perfect
You don't have to be powerful
You don't have to be prodigious
You just have to proclaim Christ and him crucified
In Christ alone
I place my trust
And find my glory
In the power of the cross
In ev'ry victory
Let it be said of me
My source of strength
My source of hope
Is Christ alone
Fear not, Persecution - dodge it behind the Shield of faith … they cannot hurt you
Fear not, Rejection - shake it off and move on with the message
NOT BEING a Witness,
not proclaiming Christ,
Not gathering Gold for the Soul, For the Kingdom, For the Glory of God
Be a Witness for Christ