A Defeat in Progress–
The Fausts’ famous painting hangs in the Louvre Museum in Paris. Faust is seated at a table engaged in a competitive game of chess. And at first glance, looks like Faust is losing.
His opponent in the chess game is Satan. The devil sits there grinning smugly, thinking the VICTORY is in hand. He is pointing at the chessboard with an evil, gloating look on his face.
As you look at the painting, you can almost hear the devil shouting:
“Checkmate! Games over! I win!”
An international famous chess player was admiring the painting when all of a sudden, he lunged forward exclaiming:
“Wait a minute! Look! Faust has another move and that move will give him VICTORY.”
THE TEXT from Acts 26:16-18: “Another Move!”
 But arise and stand upon your feet: for I have appeared to you for this purpose, that I might appoint you to serve as [My] minister and to bear witness both to what you have seen of Me and to that in which I will appear to you.  Choosing you out [selecting you for Myself] and delivering you from among this [Jewish] people and the Gentiles to whom I am sending you–  To open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of satan to God, so that they may thus receive forgiveness and release from their sins and a place and portion among those who are consecrated and purified by faith in Me. (Amplified Bible)
JESUS HAS GIVEN US PURPOSE:
I remember years ago, when I was asked to give an account of how and when I accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior before a small group. How inadequate I first felt. It wasn’t that I feared standing in front of people to speak, but I thought my story wasn’t….exciting enough. I hadn’t been driving down a road, when a lightning bolt struck the pavement in front of the car; pulling to the shoulder; hearing the audible voice of God saying, “Mel, I have a specific purpose and objectives in mind for you.”
But in saying that, when we accept JESUS out of obedience…for He chose you, you didn’t choose Him; you accepted the calling… out of obedience. The obedience doesn’t stop there at conversion. It’s ongoing!
The Apostle Paul’s Testimony in Acts 26–
We find Paul stating his God-given purpose through his testimony to the whole Jewish Legal council. Also, to three of the highest political officials in Palestine: FELIX, FESTUS, and AGRIPPA. All three hear the GOSPEL MESSAGE because Paul was arrested and imprisoned on false charges.
He was blinded by an arrogant sense of his own importance.
Thought he was on a mission for God.
Though he was defending God…he had gone on the offensive; to wipe out as many Christians as possible.
He was chasing them down everywhere, arresting them, sentencing them to prison, even torturing them if needed.
If they (the Christians) refused to renounce their faith, like Stephen, Paul saw to it that they died as a heretic. Saul, as he was known to the world, quickly became infamous among the Way (what believers were known as before the term “Christians” was applied). Would Paul’s INFAMY put him in CHECKMATE after his obedience to God’s calling?
BUT SOMEONE SAW PAUL’S POTENTIAL– JESUS!
Paul’s testimony– that JESUS turned on the lights for him–blinding him on the Road to Damascus. Now, his eyesight was “20/20” regarding spiritual matters.
3 OBJECTIVES TO CONSIDER:
THE FIRST OBJECTIVE we are to meet is to accomplish the purpose; to move out of a “checkmated” position.
JESUS has given each one of us in the church assembly, the BODY OF CHRIST this command: GO AND TELL! (verse 17)–
“I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles”
“I AM SENDING YOU”:
God has placed you and I to penetrate our community with the good news.
We are a sent people–
In fact, the smaller number in attendance at the church I attend, with various age differences, different occupations–we are all given the same responsibility; penetrate the world, our community, with the Gospel.
None of us live at the church, though you may complain you feel like at times. Most of us don’t work at the church; we live and work among the people outside the church walls. That’s just where God wants us to be. He wants us living out there, moving about, meeting people, being involved in their lives and shining God’s Light around our own lives. Does that sound just to “poetic” for you to grasp and understand?
THE “CHURCH” IS MORE THAN A LIGHTHOUSE:
As some of you know, I sang in a men’s Gospel trio in Southern California in the late 70’s. One of my favorite Gospel Hymns to sing out in the community was, The Lighthouse. The lyrics refer to Jesus as the Lighthouse, and that is certainly true. But since we are Christ’s Ambassadors, we are to represent the “Lighthouse.” The last verse of the song contains a powerful thought:
Everybody that lives about us
Says tear that Lighthouse down.
The big ships don’t sail this way anymore
There’s no use of it standing round
Then my mind goes back to that stormy night
When just in time I saw the light
Yes, the light from that old Lighthouse
That stands up there on the hill.
Please understand, this idea is often a mistake in the body of Christ–the Christian Assembly. We sometimes believe that the CHURCH BUILDING is our Lighthouse and not the Light living inside of us.
It is time for the church to start “wiggling”–MOVING OUT!
I came across a story this past week, of an E.M.T. (emergency medical technician):
Bill Stelianessis was called to a nursing home for a routine transport. While there, he encountered four residents enjoying the warm day, relaxing in lounge chairs, all staring up at the sky. When he looked up to see what they were looking at, he saw a flock of large birds flying by. Then one resident spoke up: “Margaret,” she teased, “for goodness sake, wiggle or something. Those buzzards are getting closer!”
We are going to have to move folks. We are supposed to be “living lighthouses”–guiding, directing, and warning others. We do not ask people to come here to the “building”, for most won’t come. We are to go where they are, and show them the LIGHT.
A SECOND OBJECTIVE–ANOTHER MOVE we are to meet, to accomplish the purpose of Jesus has given us– “…to open eyes…” (verse 18).
God wants spiritually blinded eyes to be opened: “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4-6 NIV).
It is God who created LIGHT in the beginning. HE SPOKE. IT HAPPENED!
He has a method in mind. It’s you and me. We are PARTNERS WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT in communicating the TRUTH–God’s Word.
To LIVE and SPEAK words of truth, so that when people’s eyes are opened, there is something to believe.
Holy spirit never opens the eyes of the heart until there is GOSPEL TRUTH in the mind to believe. We do not SAVE people, and I think most of us already know that. But on the other hand, Scripture indicates His only plan includes our communication–God doesn’t do it without us.
“To open their eyes that they may turn from darkness…“
I remember when I was living in darkness…the “darkness of sin.” Before being saved, I use to think life couldn’t be any better. And those who did…I thought they were more than a bit “nutty.” I thought that DARKNESS was light and LIGHT was darkness.
Are We Hiding the Light in a Paper Sack?
TWO CLASSMATES from Washington State University were discussing their frustrations of dorm life. High up on their list was the difficulty of keeping others from eating ice cream stored in the dorm’s refrigerator.
“I’ve solved that one,” one of them said. “I just wrap my ice cream in a brown paper bag and label it ‘TOFU’.”
It’s possible that the devil has done the same thing. Wrapped up the light (THE TRUTH) in a brown paper bag and called it “TOFU”–as a result, no one is going near it!
SATAN’S POWER OVER PEOPLE:
His power is simply based on DECEPTION. He does so by working hard to keep people away from the TRUTH. So he bends and twists the TRUTH (God’s Word), keeping people at bay and off-balanced. He did that with us…unsuccessfully.
I certainly remember why and how he FAILED. It was because of one small, unattractive looking pastor, living out the truth every time he came to the place where I was employed. Because eventually, after his repeated visits, the opportunity arose… to SHARE the Gospel TRUTH with my wife and I in the living room of our home.
Paul’s Example to Us All.
Paul wasn’t concerned about his own condition, as much as he was about the condition of those who stood before him. While he was standing in chains, he was more concerned about the spiritual chains around the necks of Festus and Agrippa.
WE ARE CHOSEN AND ENTRUSTED WITH A MISSION:
Encouragement Presented. BE A MOVING LIGHTHOUSE!
Those of us who were called–called out of the tunnel of darkness, into His marvelous Light are entrusted with a MISSION:
To remove whatever obstacles that prevent others from rejoicing in the brilliance of God’s unconditional acceptance. We are to GUIDE, DIRECT, SHOW THE LIGHT.
Are the people living in the DARKNESS simply because you are not sharing your light? Have we become CHECKMATED?
WE STILL HAVE A MOVE ON THE “CHESSBOARD”:
Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly far over and above all that we [dare] to ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]– To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever, Amen (so be it) – (Ephesians 3:20-21 AMP).
I see VICTORY in these two verses and the victory is in bringing others to Christ Jesus–letting the Holy Spirit do the convincing while we verbalize the “good news”!.