· ACTS 20
· Paul is at Miletus, about 40 miles from Ephesus
o Called the elders of the church of Ephesus to meet him & the Miletans on the beach.
· He tells them, “you know me.”
o “I’m not revealing anything new to you.”
o He’s going to commission them for the ministry.
o He’s not sure they’ll ever see him again.
o He’s living in uncertainty as far as the future is concerned.
o He knows that wherever he goes the Spirit is warning him of what’s coming.
· “I was serving the Lord with all humility of mind, with tears, with trials…”
o “You know I’ve served the Lord with humility of mind…”
§ God has been very good to us.
§ He just keeps blessing.
§ It’s an interesting thing, when God begins to bless, you probably have one of the greatest dangers in ministry.
§ If you can explain why God is blessing, you’re in trouble.
· If you think it has anything to do with you, that you have some kind of a secret, that God has chosen you because of your ability or whatever
§ Humility of mind – very important, because the danger of success is we begin to lose that humility.
· We begin to attribute that success to something other than God’s grace.
§ God is good, and He wants to bless
· But often He knows He cannot bless, because the success causes a person to stumble.
· They think it’s them instead of God.
§ God allowed Chuck many years of dismal failure – 14 years in the ministry.
· Struggled for those 14 years.
· Hard time
· Even so, it was a necessary time
· God had to empty him of himself, his confidence in his abilities
· “God has prepared us for the work that He has beforeordained that we should walk in them.”
· In looking back, Chuck can see how God allowed him to go through those years, so that when He began doing His work, Chuck would not be tempted to take any glory for what was going on.
· God prepared him through the failures in the ministry for his future ministry
§ It isn’t your ability that He is interested in at all; He’s interested in your availability.
§ It’s amazing what God can do when you get out of the way and allow Him to move.
o “…tears and trials…”
§ Tears over failures, mistakes, trials, going through hard experience
§ Yet in all of it learning very important lessons, learning about the faithfulness of God, His provision
· Holding back – don’t. You’re to minister, not in a reserved kind of way
o “Well, I have 10 minutes for you, so make it snappy and say what you have to say…”
o Be available for the people
· “And I showed you and taught you publicly and from house to house”
o Paul didn’t just minister from behind the pulpit, but he got out and was with them and showed them by his life.
o He wasn’t ashamed to make tents to provide so that he might not be a burden
o Showing them that we’r e not above work
o Our greatest sermons aren’t from the pulpit but away from it
§ Letting people see the Word in our lives
§ Letting them see what it is we’re teaching
· People are not going to learn nearly as well as when you can demonstrate with your life
· It’s interesting that the first word of the Gospel is “repent.”
o Surely a great need of our world today
o Of ourselves today
o It’s not about what we have done, what we can do – it’s about showing them Jesus, pointing them to Him
· Paul then speaks about his circumstances…”I don’t know what’s going to happen, but the Spirit’s warning me.”
o Paul went in with his eyes wide open
o The Lord warns us it won’t be easy, so that we don’t have to be blindsided.
o If you’re afraid of what might happen, you might not ever go where God calls to begin with.
· “I don’t know what’s waiting for me, but I know it’s bad.”
o Yet, Paul felt constrained to go
o He felt it was necessary to go
o So his attitude, knowing the difficulties, still went.
o “I know the future’s going to be bad, but none of these things move me.”
§ All that mattered to him was faithfulness, not the consequences of faithfulness.
o Let what happens happens, let them do what they will, let them say what they’re going to say
§ You be faithful.
· “that I might finish my course with joy.”
o I want to finish my course with joy.
o Many people have a great start, but a poor end.
o It’s a lot of times because we’re not following the exhortation of Paul to serve the Lord with all humility of mind
§ You think you’re above the laws of God
§ You’re an exception
§ It really was all about you and how awesome you are
§ Don’t think “it can’t really happen to me.”
· IT CAN!!! IT WILL!!! If you don’t take heed!
· Finish well!!!
· Paul was pure of the blood of all men.
o He didn’t compromise the truth
o Didn’t try to give people an easy way in
o Declared all the counsel of God
o Our goal – to fully declare to our people through all of the counsel of God
§ If you don’t take your congregation through the entire Bible, you can’t really claim this.
§ Don’t skip.
§ He honors His Word above even His Name
§ He will bless His Word
· The people will grow strong and blessed in the Word of God
· And so, Paul’s final admonition to the elders: Feed the church.
o “Feed My sheep.”
o Feeding of His sheep is the only response of the one who truly loves Him.
· Chuck’s challenge to us: Take heed to the flock of God over which He has given us the oversight.
o There are people coming to our churches coming to hear the Word of God, to find answers to the problems of life
§ Take heed to the flock of God
§ Feed the sheep, that they might grow in their knowledge of the Lord and in their walk and relationship with Him
§ Be faithful in feeding the sheep.
· Who knows? With the condition of our world today, who knows if we’re going to have another one of these conferences?
o We may not have the same freedom we have now, in not so long from now.
o If it becomes against the law to preach the Word of God, send Chuck a file in the package we send him, and he’ll see if he can’t somehow break out.
· Preach the Word!