Damariscotta Baptist Church
Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

09/04/16 Sermon - More Than Fair-Minded

“More than Fair-Minded”

Acts 17:1-15


We are continuing with our reading about Paul’s second missionary journey. Paul asked Barnabas if he was willing to go. Barnabas said yes, that was good. 

However, Barnabas wanted to bring John Mark along too. That was bad, because Paul would have not allow John Mark to join them because he had betrayed them before. So they go their separate ways which is good, because they doubled their efforts, Barnabas and John Mark went one way and Paul chose Silas to join him and they go another. When Paul and Silas get to Lystra they were joined by a young man named Timothy, that was good.

However, the three men wanted to go to a certain region but that was bad, as the Holy Spirit did not allow them to go there. Then Paul received a vision of a “man of Macedonia”, that was good, because the Macedonian man told him go over to Macedonia. So Paul and his companions immediately set sail for that region. When they got to Philippi the gospel message was received by a group of women led by Lydia and they establish their Philippian headquarters at her house, which was good.

But as they were going to the place of prayer they encountered a spirit of divination who was residing in a slave girl and Paul gets annoyed and removes the evil spirit from the girl, which is good.

However, the owners of the slave girl became irate because their major source of extra income was gone. So the owners drag Paul before the authorities with charges of disturbing the city and encouraging customs that were against the Roman law, which is bad.

Without a trial, Paul and Silas are flogged and thrown into prison, and while in prison there is an earthquake, which is bad.

But, it actually turns out to be good, because the jailer and his entire household become Christians and are baptized. The next morning the magistrates told the jailer he could let the prisoners go, which was good, but Paul and Silas said it was bad, because the magistrates had publically beaten them, and they were Roman citizens, so before they would leave the magistrates had to come and publically release them and apologize. Which they did, which was good, but they also asked Paul and Silas to leave the city, which was bad.

But Paul and Silas did go back and say their goodbyes to Lydia and the other believers and encouraged them before they left, which was good.

Which brings us to today’s Scripture.  

Paul and Silas arrived in Thessalonica and the first place they go, was the synagogue. Paul continued to preach that Jesus had to suffer, die and rise again, in order to fulfill the Jewish Scriptures. He must have done a good job because we read that a great multitude believed.

Most of those who believed were devout Greeks, but there were also a good number of Jewish women.

We also know from the book of Philippians that while Paul was there he received financial support from the Christians in Philippi. This would also mean that he was supported in prayer which had prepared the hearts of those who were listening.

Just like during his first missionary journey, there were also those who were not persuaded. They were envious, or frightened Jews who wouldn’t do the nasty work themselves but managed to find some evil men in the marketplace to create a mob and stir up the city.

The mob goes to the house of the man named Jason and searched for Paul and Silas. When they did not find them they attacked Jason and some other men who were there.

When they get in front of the rulers of the city, the mob of men from the marketplace manage to give the Christians an off-handed compliment. Their comment was “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also…” Basically they were saying that ever since these men have showed up in our town, they have impacted us in such a way, that nothing seems to be the same any more.

We should be so accused today. Having faith in Jesus should turn our world upside-down. When you step back and look at it, the powerful and prominent of this world are seen as to be on top of the pyramid and look down on the weak and insignificant. But Jesus came and turned that pyramid upside-down by saying, “If you want to come to Me, you have to come like a little child.”

In 1 Corinthians 1:27, Paul wrote that God has chosen the foolish and weak things of the world to confound the wise.

Jesus told of a parable in Luke chapter 12, where there was a rich man who amassed great wealth, and yet all he could think of was building bigger barns and storing all his wealth. The world would make that man a government leader and recognize him as a powerful, prominent man; Jesus turned it all upside-down and called the man a fool, because he had done nothing to get his life right with God.

In reality, God was working to turn the world upside-right again. In God’s eyes if you want to be great in His kingdom, you need to be a servant of all. The world sees that as being weak, and calls God’s plan foolish. It is up to us to decide who is correct.

The men from the marketplace didn’t stop with this accusation they continued by saying Paul and Silas were preaching against the decrees of Caesar, and stating that Jesus was “king” which brought fear to those in the city, because they did not want to get into trouble with Caesar.

But their fears were unfounded. Because Christians are actually better citizens then before, because we are asked to lift up prayers for our officials of government, which are more helpful than can be imagined.

The Roman magistrates didn’t actually have Paul and Silas, so in order to keep some type of semblance and avoid a riot, they fined Jason and the others and called it a day.

Paul and Silas decided it was best to leave immediately, in order to keep the Christians who lived in Thessalonica from being persecuted more. They went to the city of Berea and began evangelizing the same way. However, in Berea, we read the people were more “fair-minded” than those in Thessalonica, and received the word with all readiness. The way they did this was by searching the Scriptures daily to make sure that what Paul and Silas were saying was actually true. Again, many of them believed, along with Greeks and women, as well as men.

Another interesting note, although Paul had just left Thessalonica and he had only spent a few weeks there before he was forced to leave, he must have had a lot more to share with them, because it was at this point Paul wrote the letter we call first Thessalonians. Many theologians feel 1Thessalonians was Paul’s first letter.

I think we can learn a great deal from those who lived in Berea, when Paul and Silas arrived.

The Bereans were being taught by the most famous apostle and theologian in the First Century, who was the author of at least 13 New Testament books. Yet, we read that they were “more fair-minded” than the others.

Are we more fair-minded today?

How often do we search the Scriptures, so that we know the things we hear are so?

Are we like the Bereans and questioning the things we hear and searching the Scriptures daily to find out whether the things we hear are so?

When we come to church do we come with a sense of readiness? Which means with open hearts and clear heads.

Many times we may come to church with an open heart, but our heads are so full of what we saw on the television or read in the newspaper, or maybe our heads are filled with everything else we have to do, or with the last conversation or discussion we had?

Today I am going to ask you to try being fair-minded. As we come to the Lord’s table and remember what Christ has done for each of us, let’s do our best to do so fair-mindedly. Let’s take time right now to place all of the details of our day, or week or whatever is in our heads that may distract us from thinking of Jesus, and put them at the foot of the cross. And let us take time to put all of the pieces together that make up what we are doing here today as we take the bread and the juice.