Pastor Carolyn Poteet


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Sunday

August 4, 2019


Preacher

Pastor Carolyn Poteet


Sermon

"Speak My Language "
 

Scripture

Psalm 71:15-18
Acts:17:16-31









































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August 1, 2019

"While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there." 
            Acts 17:16,17

Greetings in the Name of the Lord, Jesus Christ!
 
Welcome to August! Does anyone else feel like the summer has flown past? As we begin to think about the new school year, it is good to take a few minutes to reflect on who God is calling us to be as His witnesses in our schools and workplaces.

A Tale of Three Cities

In Acts 17, Paul and his team visit three very different cities. In the first, Thessalonica, Paul went to the synagogue as usual to share the Good News of Jesus the Messiah. Many people turned to Christ, but one major force came against him: Jealousy. The opposing Jews got so jealous of his success that they formed a mob to stop him. Jealousy has been destructive to the work of God for millennia. Even today, jealousy can be an insidious power fighting against the gospel. It can be jealousy between Christians and non-Christians, between individuals, or even between churches or pastors. That kind of jealousy seeks to destroy rather than build up. The jealous person becomes eaten alive with bitterness, and the recipient of jealousy can be blocked as Paul was from sharing the gospel. All of this has its roots in #10 of the Ten Commandment, "Do not covet." Let us all work to flee this sin of Thessalonica and build up one another especially in sharing the Good News!

After the riot in Thessalonica, Paul and Silas traveled to Berea. They met a very different crowd, who Luke describes in v. 11 as "of more noble character than the Thessalonians." Then comes a line that warms all pastors' hearts: "They received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." What joy that must have brought Paul. They were eager to hear Paul's teaching about Jesus, and they didn't just leave it there. They explored for themselves what Scripture had to say about it. If I or Pastor Steve or Pastor Linda or anyone else ever preaches a gospel that contradicts Scripture, you have my permission to call us out for that. Don't take my word for it - take God's Word for it!

As successful as the work in Berea was, though, the jealous Thessalonians squelched the ministry of Paul once again. He had to flee Berea for Athens.

In Athens, we see one of the most detailed descriptions of Paul's method for reaching Gentiles. First, Paul sees. He looks around the city and sees not just with his eyes but with his spirit. Verse 16 says his spirit is deeply disturbed by the city full of idols. He senses just how lost they are and how far away they are from the One True God.

Seeing enables him to speak their language. He learns where they are coming from and what is important to them, and then he adapts his message to something they can understand. He finds a connecting point, the altar "To the Unknown God," and starts from there. Then instead of going straight into Jewish teaching, he talks about creation, something all humans can relate to. He ties this to Greeks' own philosophers with the quote, "We are his offspring."

After Paul sees and speaks their language, he shares the gospel of Jesus Christ. After he has established a bridge to their culture and understanding, he invites them to repent and turn to Jesus, "the man [God] has appointed...[and] raised from the dead." (Acts 17:31).

We can learn a lot from Paul's methods as we seek to share the gospel to our school mates, colleagues, and neighbors. Ajith Fernando, director of Youth for Christ in Sri Lanka, sums this up by saying, "Christians must be sensitive to people's needs and aspirations, see how Christ meets them, and use them as steppingstones for communicating the gospel."

This week, I encourage you to start by asking God to help you see. Ask God, "Help me to see what you see." The founder of World Vision, Bob Pierce, used to say, "May my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God." As we begin to see what God sees, we can begin to learn their language - what are their needs, what is important to them, how do they understand the world. As we become students of our culture, God can help us create bridges from the lost world to the Good News of Jesus Christ.

There is no secret formula to make someone instantly become a Christian, but with these tools and a whole lot of prayer, the Lord can equip us to be ready to share our faith with those around us. May God give us eyes to see and ears to hear!

Blessings,
Pastor Carolyn
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