We continue our sermon series entitled ‘Opening Times’. Preaching from Chris Hughes.
The service will also include communion.
Some people, like the apostle Paul, are restless and need to be constantly on the move, unable it would seem to stay in one place for any length of time. And so, after two long years in Antioch, it was time to hit the road again for his second missionary journey, this time to revisit and strengthen the previously planted churches (Acts 15 v 36 & 41.)
Having done this, things then started to get somewhat confusing in terms of where they were to go next! They attempted to enter Asia (Acts 16 v 6), then Bithynia (v 7), but on both occasions the Holy Spirit slammed the door shut on such moves.
Take home truth – Divine guidance is not always ”yes,” sometimes can be negative, with the answer being “no” as a door is firmly closed.
Eventually Paul and his team arrived in the port of Troas where he received a vision of a man from Macedonia pleading with him – “Come over to Macedonia and help us” (v 9 – for other visions received by Paul see – Acts 9 v 3 – 4 & 12; 18 v 9 – 10; 23 v 11; 27 v 23 – 24; & 2 Corinthians 12 v 1 – 6.) The divine guidance was now positive, the answer was yes, the door was being opened. So, Paul and his team urgently headed for Macedonia, and in particular the city of Philippi, where upon arrival they inform us that – “we stayed there several days” (v 12.) Doing what?
- Resting and recuperating.
- Praying about an evangelistic strategy due to the lack of a synagogue (Romans 1 v 16.)
- Walking around (as in Athens – Acts 17 v 23.)
Then after those “several days” had elapsed, they went down to the river and spoke the Gospel to a women’s prayer meeting, where a rich merchant called Lydia became a Christian. In her conversion experience it is possible to detect the role of the believer, the unbeliever, as well as the role of God himself in the salvation process: –
“We sat down and began to SPEAK to the women who had gathered there” (v 13 – the believer.)
The role of the believer is to speak the Gospel message during times of informal conversation (1 Peter 3 v 15.) This of course pre-supposes that you know the good news and are able to articulate it.
Challenge – Are you able to speak the Gospel message clearly and concisely when opportunity knocks?
“One of those LISTENING was a woman called Lydia” (v 14 – unbeliever.)
The role of the unbeliever is to listen to the Gospel message (Matthew 13 v 9) with the main responsibility for effective communication of such truth being with the speaker, rather than with the listener.
Challenge – Do you need to tweak your Gospel presentation so that people will listen more effectively?
“The Lord OPENED HER HEART to respond to Paul’s message” (v 14 – God.)
God’s role is to take the spoken word, as well as the listening ear, and using both to open the human heart to the message of salvation and to bring about the new birth (2 Corinthians 5 v 17.) Only God can do this, which takes the pressure off you in terms of evangelistic results and minimises disappointment. For you may well sow, while another, often much later, may well reap (John 4 v 37.)
Challenge – Do you need to recalibrate your expectations when it comes to evangelism?
- How do you react when you are on the receiving end of negative guidance that is closing doors and clearly saying “no” to you?
- Have a think about the community in which you live. What would be an effective evangelistic strategy to reach that community for Jesus?
- Imagine that you have a “seeker” sitting in the chair opposite you. They are eager to know how they can become a Christian. What would you say to them and how would you say it?
Title: Open heart surgery
Reading: Acts 16 v 11 – 15
Preacher: Chris Hughes.