Living Upright In An Upside Down World
(Scripture: Acts 17:1-7)
This passage of Scripture is one of those texts that needs little elaboration or explanation if any at all. It is inspirational just as it is read. The context in which these words are found is both ENCOURAGING and CONVICTING.
The Book of Acts tells the INCREDIBLE HISTORY of what happened after Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension: HIS FOLLOWERS TURNED THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN. Look with us at the beginning of the Church that Jesus died and filled with the Spirit!
• So on Fire
• So Powerful,
• So Life-changing was this early Church that it literally "turned the world upside down"
• Could perhaps the Lord do the same thing IN and THROUGH us today?
We need some saints ready to shake up our world in the same way that the early believers and Thessalonians shook up theirs.
• Where there was darkness - they brought light
• Where there was hatred - they brought love
• Where there was sadness - they brought laughter
• Where there was bondage - they brought liberation
• Where there was death - they brought life
These new believers took a world that was TIRED – TROUBLED – TANGLED – TIED UP -- TRIPPED UP and they put that world back on its feet. But something has happened the past 2,000 years since Jesus ascension and Paul and the new first century church preached and proclaimed the Good News. It seems that everything has been turned upside down in the world in which we live today. Biblically speaking, it seems that nothing around us is right side up, and certainly that makes it so much harder for those of us as Christians to live as we should.
• Society says that sin should be an acceptable choice, and that we have no right to offer even a gentle word of correction
• Society encourages us to keep our values and our morals to ourselves
• Society says that right may not always be right and that wrong may not always be wrong
• Society wants everyone to come out of the Closet except the Christian
• Society has no problem voting on the definition of marriage. In fact, some even within the Lord’s church are pushing to redefine scriptural marriage
• Even some within the church are working to change worship from God-centered to being man-centered
• Others are working to redefine the distinct roles of men and women in the home and even within the Lord’s church
Can you imagine what it could be like? What would happen if everyone who professed to be a Christian LIVED THE LIFE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS that God has called us? It would be said of us as it was said of them that the changes in the local communities would definitely be attributed to these who have turned the world upside down.
• Communities would change
• Counties would change
• States would change
• Schools would change
• Family structure would change
As we approach the 17th chapter in this book of Acts - the Apostle Paul, along with his friend and co-missionary, SILAS, have just been released from jail in Philippi. Actually, God did the releasing. Shattered the jail by an earthquake. The church in Philippi has been established and bless the Lord a small congregation of believers has now been formed.
The pressure was on. The locals, along with the rulers of Philippi, didn't want Paul and Silas or Timothy around. Or for that matter, they probably didn't want Luke around, though he remained. As we come to Chapter 17, PAUL -- SILAS -- TIMOTHY have left Philippi after a harrowing experience. Paul and Silas having been beaten with rods - bruised and bloodied, had been thrown in a dark inner dungeon. They had gone through all kinds of pain having been placed in the stocks that stretched their limbs and cramped their muscles. Through it all, Jesus Christ had been glorified and consequently they had rejoiced.
• And now, they have left Philippi
• It might be a time when you would assume that maybe they should start thinking about whether or not this Christian journey was worth it
• Perhaps contemplating whether this whole idea of missions could be done some other simpler way and perhaps with less pain
• But we find their mindset stayed on Jesus and on their assignment at hand
As they left Philippi, they went immediately, VS.1 says, "TO THESSALONICA." And here we see, again, this TREMENDOUS UNDAUNTED SPIRIT that characterized Paul. I believe it was David Livingston who said it like this - “I AM PREPARED TO GO ANYWHERE AS LONG AS IT IS FORWARD.” I believe this statement really echoes the sentiments of the Apostle Paul.
• I wonder how many of us have that same tenacity
• How often do we suffer a set back and get mad at God and take a spiritual vacation?
• How often do we get our feelings hurt in the church and then drop out or quit?
• How often do we refuse to support the life of the church to prove a point?
• How many of us are prepared today to go Forward for the Lord?
ACTS 17:6 says “THESE THAT HAVE TURNED THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN HAVE COME HITHER ALSO.” Paul and Silas, two REFUGEES from the jailhouse at Philippi, had traveled one hundred miles on the Roman interstate known as the EGATION WAY through the cities of Amphipolis, and Apolonia, to the city of Thessalonica. It was there they went into the synagogue and for three Sabbath days reasoned with them from the Scriptures concerning the Lord Jesus Christ.
• Some of them were persuaded
• Of the Greeks a great multitude
• Of the chief women not a few
The Jews were jealous of this great multitude of converts, and enlisted some of the STREET GANGS - referred to as vile fellows and assaulted the house of Jason where Paul and Silas were staying during their trip to that city. When they broke down the doors, Paul and Silas could not be found, so they literally dragged Jason, and a few converts into court with the charge, “THESE WHO HAVE TURNED THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN HAVE COME HITHER ALSO.”
They said -- "These, that have turned the world upside down have come here also." Now, that's a very interesting definition of two people. "These that have turned the world upside down." It's amazing, just the statement itself, that any man or any men could be men who so affected the world that the people said, "They're turning it upside down." Can you imagine?
• There are people who live their whole life and the world doesn't even know they're alive
• There are people who are couch potato’s and neighbors don’t even know they live next door
• There are Christians who have absolutely no effect on anything
• There are Christians that all they do is go to Sunday Worship and that’s it
• Here were two people of whom the world said, "They've turned us upside down”
• Living Upright in an Upside Down World
What a tribute to Paul and Silas! Wherever Paul went, things happened.
• Souls were saved
• People took sides
• Feelings were stirred
• Decisions were made
• Lines were drawn in the sand
Paul did not slip into town, hold a few QUIET MEETINGS - ENJOY SOME GOOD HOME COOKING - PICK UP A GENEROUS HONORARIUM - slip back out of town again without anyone knowing or caring that he had been in town. I’m talking about Living Upright in an Upside Down World. Do we as Christians today make any difference at all? Are those around us aware of the Holy Spirit working in us?
How did the early disciples turn the world upside down? What was the secret to their success?
As hard as I try to allow God to order my steps, I must admit this morning that I still have areas in my life where I RELY MORE ON MY OWN POWER AND DESIRE than on the strength of the Holy Spirit within me. As a consequence there are times when I will fail to
do what is Godly, and even if I do what is Godly it is sometimes not for a Godly reason but a HUMAN REASON.
• We are trained from our early childhood to stand on our own
• Society dictates how we should respond to situations
• We are taught to be self sufficient
• We are taught not to have to depend on anyone
• Sometimes it is uncomfortable yielding our life to the Holy Spirit
• Living Upright in an Upside Down World
How can we today, Turn our World Upside Down for the advancement of the Gospel? What people think of God is often based on HOW WE REPRESENT HIM. Represent your Father well and let them see Him for the awesome God He truly is. As we all know, CHILDREN RESEMBLE THEIR PARENTS. God is looking for men, women, boys, and girls who will Resemble Him - stand on GODLY PRINCIPLES - who are determined to let the work of good outwork the work of evil, and who are willing to confront the powers of evil and be about our Father’s Business.
Until someone is bold enough to say “FOR GOD I LIVE AND FOR GOD I’LL DIE - and is willing to work to effect change, our realities will remain the same.
It is the Holy Spirit that must CONVINCE – CONVERT.
Paul was the proclaimer, the Holy Spirit was the persuader. Paul fully recognized the Holy Spirit’s power. Paul’s preaching had carried conviction because of the power of the Holy Spirit. I am talking about Living Upright in an Upside Down World – Through the power of the Holy Spirit we can Live Right just as the first century Church, we too can Turn the World Upside Down for the Sake of the Gospel:
• Organizations will not turn the world upside down
• Personality will not turn the world upside down
• Money will not turn the world upside down
• Ordinary men and women filled with the power of the Spirit of God will do it
Believers, it is important that we make the decision, through the power of the Holy Spirit to turn our world upside down.
--Preach until change comes
--Teach until change comes
--Share Your Faith until change comes
--Pray unto a change comes
Reflections Ministries / Calvin Wyatt / e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow us Daily on Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn