- Sermon Notes
Power & Influence That Blesses
March 21, 2021
We’re going to look at a story about the Apostle Paul and how he stood firm in the face of powers against him, to con-tend for the truth, the Gospel and bless others along with way.
I found this story personally intriguing because, like many of you, I’ve encountered the power of resistance to the Gospel and the positive power associated with trusting God with the gifts and influence I’ve had.
• I grew up just outside a powerful place; Washington DC – a city synonymous with power & influence, unfortunately the abuse of both.
• I’ve seen power & influence used in a positive way in business and unfortunately a not so positive way.
• As a follower of Jesus, I’ve seen the blessing of using God’s power of the Holy Spirit and the power of His word, in my life as a husband, father and ministry leader.
We are all experiencing a very American Gov’t topic – Power & Influence – and we see in this Bible account a man’s love for power that self-destructed his life.
From this story, we will cover how you and I, as followers of Jesus Christ, living in our day, can live with power & in-fluence that doesn’t ruin God’s best for our lives.
We begin with Paul & Barnabas – pastors in the Antioch church – God called them to be the first missionaries of the day – this is Paul’s 1st missionary journey.
I. Contend Earnestly For The Faith
3 things we learn initially:
• Where they went (MAP) – Cypress is Barnabas’ homeland.
• John Mark was along as their helper.
• Barnabas and Paul initially went to the Jewish Synagogues first – we know this from historic writings and that there was a large community of Jews in Salamis.
• The significance became a life-long strategy for Paul. First place he visited was the local synagogues.
Romans 1:16; For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Paul believed they deserved this courtesy.
• Paul knew of their familiarity with OT scriptures, so he didn’t think he’d have to explain everything to them.
• Just needed to show them as Jews who Jesus was and what he promised.
• Paul’s expectation was the Jews would believe – didn’t always work did it?
• He repeats this strategy in every city he goes to.
A. Trust the scriptures reach
Capital city Politician named Sergius Paulus – and Ely-mas…a false prophet.
For those who love history and how it further proves the scriptures; Sergios Paulus is recorded in Roman records in Cypress – serving as proconsul – a chief magistrate or governor – exactly when Paul and Barnabas showed up – recorded in Roman records ~ 49AD.
The Proconsul, an intelligent man – wanted to hear the word of God. Let’s hear what they have to say…he was interest-ed…implication clear – he was paying attention!
When you share the Gospel, you have experienced this, some are more interested and engaging with you. Trust the power and influence of the scriptures – Every time!
B. Trust the Holy Spirit to expose darkness
When we share the gospel, we engage the enemy of souls in spiritual combat, so we must be prepared for spiritual battle.
Hebrews 4:12; For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Here Elymas pushed them away – arguing with Paul – making him mad.
• Now Paul is not the right guy to make mad.
Paul fixed his gaze on Elymas – filled with Holy Spirit and unhappy! – why would any of us want to make Paul mad and have him fix his gaze on us?
A curse comes his way – Paul says in v10;
“You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the dev-il, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord?”
Sergios now believed – of course he did – he was amazed at the teaching. Luke, the author, didn’t say he was amazed at the events, but at the teaching.
We should all be amazed at Jesus teaching – His life – His promises to us – the power in His name.
• Trust the Holy Spirit in you to guide you in resisting darkness and poor choices.
• Allow your gifts, areas of influence and God given power to be guided by God’s Spirit, not by your flesh.
Our world’s POV is – there is no absolute truth so we are told to be tolerant of every -ism and -ology because who’s to say what’s right and wrong?
Paul believed it when the Bible says it was God breathed and inspired and absolute truth.
John 14:6; Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.
Jude 3; Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all time handed down to the saints.
Contend earnestly – opposing someone’s interest in Christ like Elymas was like trying to keep someone from joining Christ in Heaven – you simply cannot do that without con-sequences.
II. Let Passion For Truth Guide You
We can be nice, kind, gentle and respectful, but we do not have to be pluralistic when it comes to the truth of God.
• It is not intended to be treated that way. We should con-tend for the word of God – we can do it nicely & respect-fully.
• But we need to do it passionately & like Paul – there is on-ly one way to heaven…contend for that truth.
What happened to Sergios Paulus?
• Church records / history: Sergios left Roman politics to follow Jesus – and travel with Paul.
• When Paul went to Spain towards the end of his life, he took Sergios with him – going through France, he commissioned him the leader of the church in southern France.
A. Trust God in the battle for truth
When it comes to behavior – Why did Elymas oppose Paul?
• Easy…all about power, cancel culture of the day, resistance to truth exposing who he really was.
• Without Sergios he was done, Sergios would no longer look to Elymas for his foolish magic or sorcery…he would be done – he was the #1 spiritual advisor on the island – a false prophet, holding great power nonetheless.
• Sergios becomes a follower of Christ – Elymas watched his influence fade away – Paul and his message was a threat to his love of Power.
John 8:12; Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Truth in our lives overcomes darkness – the result for Ely-mas was self-destruction.
This hasn’t changed a bit! You don’t have to look to our State or Federal Gov’t to understand this. People interested in Power make all kinds of unwise choices, choices that damage others, damage themselves – there has been no change…
What I learned from growing up in the Washington DC area was countless people come to Washington not even looking for or wanting power.
• But if they stay long enough, it’s like a smog that hangs in the air and before long people find themselves absorbed by it.
• At one time or another all of us have gifts that provide us influence – a form of power – some of you may have positions of power in your jobs and you never imagined hav-ing the power you have. Is that bad?
Power & influences can be wonderful – as long as we handle it properly – with biblical principles, so power doesn’t corrupt our character.
• It can warp our spiritual senses and we are prone to make poor decisions like this Elymas.
What should we do to avoid these trappings – using whatev-er gifts, influence or power we have in the wrong way?
B. A thankful heart produces humility
We need to see influence & power as a direct gift from God. Our ability to use them with humility and for His purposes, producing fruit, depends on this truth.
Psalm 75:6-7; For not from the east, nor from the west, Nor from the desert comes exaltation; But God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another.
God put you right where you are today – your role in family, career position – your own business perhaps – a single mom ministering to others, a widow/widower who can minister to others – all areas of influence and blessing.
• All a sacred stewardship that’s entrusted to you by God’s pleasure – He can take it away at anytime. Stewardship, not entitlement.
When a person begins to see power this way through God’s lens – they are no longer distant or arrogant – God’s graciousness and kindness is reflected – and given the position he’s given us – Humility is produced!
Colossians 3:12; So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience;
Important – we need humility.
• Look at people whose influence and power destroyed them, they got arrogant.
• Humility comes from recognizing that any power, influence and success we have, it’s all at God’s pleasure and He can take it away just like that.
Illustration – In our private business life, during times of blessing or challenge, we often reminded each other God reigns over it all – at His pleasure.
Proverbs 23:4-5; Do not weary yourself to gain wealth; Stop dwelling on it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings Like an eagle that flies toward the heavens.
Wouldn’t that be a powerful life verse for our Gov’t servants in power?
Many people think influence & power is something you can get and hold onto. But, not what the Bible says; it says power “sprouts wings and flies off like an eagle…”
C. Serving others our most powerful gift
Remember the story in the gospel – about the disciples dis-pute that arose over who was the greatest of all…and Jesus said to them –
Luke 22:25-27; And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles domineer over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors. But it is not this way for you; rather, the one who is the greatest among you must be-come like the youngest, and the leader like the servant. For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.
To those of us who are followers of Christ – think about it, how much power & influence did Jesus have at his disposal? Cure the Blind, Deaf, Lame, raise the Dead.
Did Jesus ever use that power to benefit himself – can you give me one example, ever?
• I can’t think of one either…what did He say; I didn’t come to be served, I came to serve you…and that’s the biblical view of power – not about us – not about amassing re-sources or taking advantage of others…
• So it doesn’t matter your lot in life, your career, your gifts & talents – He wants you to use the power given to you by the Lord Himself to serve others –
One of our greatest challenges is how to speak truth in a contentious environment – how to contend for truth without angry debate. How to use our gifts, influence and power to be peacemakers.
Proverbs 15:1-2; A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise makes knowledge pleasant, But the mouth of fools spouts foolishness.
Colossians 4:6; Your speech must always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.
I want you and I to stay faithful to all the blessings that got us to this point in life…and I know that when we are gone, there will always be those who may say this and that about what they didn’t like about us.
• What will your legacy be?
That’s what this topic of Power is all about. To use what God has given you to serve and benefit others and be willing to speak the truth even when it’s resisted.
Handle well what He has blessed you with.
Acts 13:4-12 NASB
4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5 When they reached Salamis, they began to proclaim the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews; and they also had John as their helper. 6 When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they found a magician, a Jewish false prophet whose name was Bar-Jesus, 7 who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the magician (for so his name is translated) was opposing them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9 But Saul, who was also known as Paul, [a]filled with the Holy Spirit, stared at him, 10 and said, “[b]You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not stop making crooked the straight ways of the Lord? 11 Now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and not see the sun for a time.” And immediately a mist and a darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking those who would lead him by the hand. 12 Then the proconsul believed when he saw what had happened, being amazed at the teaching of the Lord.