Jesus said that anyone who has faith in Him will do greater things than what Jesus did himself. The book of Acts is the report of early Christians who had faith to do these greater things that Jesus promised. Consequently these historical information recorded in the book makes it a good source to learn about Christian ministry. In today’s sermon I am going to present to you four principles that makes Christian ministry effective as seen in Acts 16:16-34.
1. Seize the opportunity
A. For Philipans ‘Most High God’ meant a Phoenician deity, for Jews it was the Lord our God and for Greeks it meant Zeus
B. For Jews ‘Salvation’ meant deliverance from sin. For heathens it meant freedom from superstitious powers
C. These words the fortune teller uttered rang a bell in the minds of all. Paul and Silas immediately used the opportunity for ministry
2. Eliminate all distractions
A. The girl’s real motive for confession was to draw people’s attention and build her own reputation as a fortuneteller
B. Ultimately the words of the demon within her were getting more of a hearing than the proclamation of the Gospel itself!
C. Paul commanded the evil spirit to come out in the name of Jesus Christ and eliminated the source of distraction
3. Stand strong in the Lord
A. Paul in exorcising the demon exorcised her master’s source of income. Furiously they accused Paul and Silas of tyranny
B. Eventually allegations turned into a riot. They were flogged severely and put in jail with their feet fastened in stocks
C. The rioters would have expected the missionaries to loose morale. Paul and Silas were so strong in the Lord they prayed and sang hymns instead
4. See the bigger picture
A. God has a purpose even in chaos. It was through this chaos situation the church of Philip was born
B. The ex-fortune teller, the jailer and his family became the first members of the new church
C. Paul and Silas even in their seemingly despairing situation did not loose morale because they were aware that God has a bigger plan
Seize the opportunity: Surfing requires a surfable wave. The surfer can’t make the wave however. He just spots a surfable wave and surf it. The wave must be spotted before it’s washed out. So that the surfer doesn’t have to wait for another one.
Rick Warren in ‘Purpose Driven Church’ says that opportunities are the same. They occur when you least expect them. We can’t invent them either. Miss it means to wait for another.
Paul was excellent in recognizing and utilizing opportunities, (Acts 17:23; Philipans 1:18). Are you Dreaming of an effective ministry? Then grab every opportunity that God sends on your way.
Eliminate all distractions: Quest for fame is a great distraction, (not to mention lusting after riches and women). It is the greatest enemy of any effective ministry. Paul was well aware of this, (1 Thessalonians 2:6-7). When God’s servant seeks after fame the scope of his ministry is shifted from God to himself. This shifting of scope is capable of bringing an effective Christian ministry down to its knees.
In a world where Christian ministry has become a profession most ministers can’t help but succumb to these distractions. It is important that servants of God watch out for such distractions and eliminate them in order not to loose the influence in ministry.
Stand strong in the Lord: Influential ministries always become a target of persecution because the devil is not going to sit back and enjoy as people get saved and added to God’s Kingdom. How do we stand strong during persecution? Through prayers of course, (James 5:13).
The conversion of the Jailor and his family reminds us that no matter what, Gospel must be preached. When you do the Spirit of God will move. It has been proved that church growth reaches its peak at the face of persecution. Then stand strong and preach without ceasing, and the Lord will use you.
See the bigger picture: We get very excited at individual miracles which is not wrong by the way but not seeing that it is just a small component of a much bigger plan is dangerous because failure to grab the full picture means chances are high that we will backslide in ministry.
Paul and Silas were aware that God brought them to Philip for the purpose of planting a church. They were sure nothing can stop them from fulfilling their mission in Philip (unless God changed His mind). In ministry see the bigger picture. When you do, nothing can prevent you from moving forward.