When He Saw
Acts 17:16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.
Intro: The sense of sight is amazing. Of the five senses that we have, sight is one of the most wonderful. The ability to see is without a doubt one of the greatest blessings of life. The sense of sight affects many aspects of our life; both physically and spiritually.
Our ability to see can be a source of TEMPTATION.
- Genesis 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
Our ability to see can be a source of FALSE SECURITY.
- Exodus 2:12 And he (Moses) looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand.
Our ability to see can be a source of DISCOURAGEMENT.
- Matthew 14:30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
Our ability to see can be a source of ENCOURAGEMENT.
- Acts 28:15 And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage.
Our ability to see can be a source of REVIVAL.
- Genesis 45:27 And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived:
Notice our text:
Acts 17:16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, WHEN HE SAW the city wholly given to idolatry.
I. Paul’s Obligation
The Apostle Paul was only in Athens for a short time.
He was there as a result of continual persecution. SEE vs. 10, 14
He had been extremely effective in Thessalonica – vs. 1-9
Many had been saved – vs. 4
He had been a part of a group of people that TURNED THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN. – vs. 6
He had been effective in Berea – vs. 12 many saved
He no doubt was tired and in need of rest.
- He could have taken a vacation.
- He could have called a time-out and hibernated in his hotel room.
- He could have used the defense that he was tired and needed rest.
- He could have used the excuse that he was all alone and didn’t have a “soul-winning partner”.
- He could have done some sightseeing and bought souvenirs for his friends.
BUT – Paul lived with great weight; a heaviness; a debt to preach the gospel.
NOTICE what he said:
- 1 Corinthians 9:16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!
- Galatians 1:15, 16 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
- Romans 1:14, 15 I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.
Paul couldn’t help it. He HAD to evangelize.
IT WASN’T WHAT HE DID – IT WAS WHO HE WAS!
It wasn’t something the turned on and off; depending on where he was or who he was with or who was watching.
II. Paul’s Observation
The believer will be moved WHEN WE SEE.
- Lamentations 3:51 Mine eye affecteth mine heart because of all the daughters of my city.
I can vouch from personal experience – our eyes affect our heart.
I make it a point to go to a foreign mission field at least once a year; usually twice.
Seeing the need; seeing the world; seeing the condition of the unsaved is life changing.
It’s amazing the impact it will have on you WHEN WE SEE.
It is impossible to verbalize the emotion you will experience WHEN WE SEE.
I have taken every one of my older children on a mission trip SO THEY COULD SEE.
- Seeing the missionaries on their field.
- Seeing the missionary’s wife interacting with the women in the church.
- Seeing the missionary’s kids on the field; living behind walls and razor wire.
- Seeing their church plants and their converts.
- Seeing the fruit of my mission dollars at work.
- Seeing the second generation of soulwinning efforts.
- Seeing the cities of hundreds of thousands of people with no Gospel witness.
- Seeing what God can do with one person, one family, one little church.
It is life changing! Take a missions trip. Save your money, make sacrifices.
Go see for yourself! IT WILL STIR YOUR SPIRIT!!
ILLUSTRATION: Sometimes in South Africa, I would go to the cemetery just to recalibrate my compass. Seeing the rows and rows of empty graves would always reignite my burden. Whenever I got frustrated, discouraged or felt that my labor was in vain, I would think of the hundreds that would be buried THAT WEEK in my city that would spend eternity in hell if I didn’t get to them fast enough.
Jesus was moved with compassion WHEN HE SAW.
- Matthew 9:35, 36 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
III. Paul’s Occupation
Paul took what he saw and used it to propel him into an evangelistic outreach that lasted for DAYS.
He took what he saw and began to occupy his time doing something about it.
NOTE – vs. 17 Therefore disputed he…in the market daily with them…
Paul learned a lot just from what he saw.
NOTE: Your physical eyes can translate truth to your spiritual eyes.
- 23 I passed by, and beheld your devotions. LOOK WHAT HAPPENED:
- 22 I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.
ILLUSTRATION: The signs in the airport and bus stations “IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING!”
It is based on the assumption that if you see something, you are bound to respond.
Because he was LOOKING, it translated into a spiritual discernment.
What he SAW opened up a door for what he would SAY.
His message; his opening; his open door was created by the fact that he beheld their devotions.
His spirit was stirred, but that wasn’t the end of it.
We don’t need more church members that are stirred; we need people go take it to the next level.
If we will simply open our eyes and see what is going on around us, it will stir our spirit.
We can’t afford to sleep walk through life.
We can’t live on autopilot.
We have to be attentive to the needs of those around us.
Conclusion: What are YOU LOOKING AT??
- John 4:35 Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.