Find God and hope on St Paul’s odyssey

 

Sermon Outline

Worth reading

Acts  Chapter 15-18

Introduction

You know the feeling! It’s time to speak at an important meeting.

One of my drill instructors used to shout when I was in the Navy  – ‘you give the best show with preparation, perspiration and panache.

Paul’s Second Missionary Journey

These qualities we see abounding in Paul’s Second  Missionary Journey.

  • Since it must have proved long, arduous and dangerous.
  • It must have tested his courage, stamina and intellect.
  • But, above all, it must have challenged his faith in his message.
  • However, he overcame these obstacles superbly by using preparation, perspiration and bucket loads of panache.

paul-second-missionary-journey-map

Authority

Now, Paul got his authority for his second missionary journey from Peter himself; the de facto head of this strange new religion called Christianity. This must have bolstered his confidence that he could speak not for himself but for God.

Visits in Asia Minor

Paul also did not waste time after he got this commission. Since he set out on his travels immediately and with renewed purpose. Sensibly he returned to the communities he had set up in Asia Minor and there:

  • He advised on the issues that were dividing them.
  • He encouraged them to build a communal spirit of inclusion and frank discussion.
  • He stressed unity in diversity provided they followed a few ground rules.
  • He helped them bring others into this community.
  • And he did all of that by overcoming doubts calmly, thoughtfully and with the words from the holy spirit.

The vision of Man from Macedonia

Next, Paul received one of the most famous visions in the New Testament. Called the Man from Macedonia, it was the dream to conquer Europe and the whole Roman Empire for Christ.

Talk about thinking big!

280px-V&A_-_Raphael,_St_Paul_Preaching_in_Athens_(1515)

Travelling in Europe

But when Paul crossed over to this new territory, he did not change his methods. He chose synagogues and if that did not work; he went out to talk to people in spiritual want:

  • Want for some purpose in the mundanity of their world.
  • Want for some hope that there is meaning to living.
  • Want for a vision of a better life even eternal life

People in want

Who were these people in want?

  • They were the poor such as a slave girl.
  • They were merchants such as the wealthy businesswoman Lydia.
  • They were the great philosophers of Athens.
  • In fact, they were every woman and every man.

Yet, it did not matter what the status of each was – he preached the same message.

It was to:

  • Look into your heart and listen to what you have known for ages.
  • Be open to the Spirit of Christ offering riches beyond this world.
  • Join the growing band who have found God in Christ; the God in whom we live and move and have our being.

Be Bold like Paul

In the week gone by, I read a blog post that suggested that when we write we should do so with drama. This meant that when telling a story we should do it with the literary equivalent of giving it our all.

So, when putting pen to paper we should put on one heck of a show.

Only then will we get the reader’s attention.

Well, I am not sure that this suggestion will always work.

So, I responded to the blogger saying that to write with such passion needed boldness.

To which my correspondent replied –

Write your truth, even if your fingers shake against the keyboard.

 

Well, I suspect that Paul wrote with his fingers shaking on his quill. But he always argued logically, authoritatively and with courage.

dancing_group_free

Lessons for Today

His lessons for us, here and now, then is clear.

First, we need to be bold in the authority to speak, to speak up and speak out.

  • That doesn’t mean shouting, but it means it’s OK to make a point.
  • It’s Ok to give the Spirit a voice.
  • It is more than OK to say what Christ would say.
  • For then we are offering his vision to others and that is his mission statement.

Second, we need to recognise that those who are looking for God, come in a gamut of disguises.

  • That means working tirelessly to realise when it is time to speak.
  • Then when we do, may we draw on our own reason and experience to bring to light what is already in their hearts.
  • Since then with gentle persuasion, their minds will be open and we will help rescue their souls.

Finally, our goals should always be to:

  • Give strength.
  • Build relationships.
  • bring all into the community of God.

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Conclusion

As we leave behind the story of Paul’s journey, we must:

  • Speak up with the authority of the Spirit
  • Discuss with thought, wisdom and compassion.
  • Commit to making Christ’s vision happen for others.

 

My preparations for writing this sermon is here

 

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