Publications: 29 | Followers: 0

_-The Birth of Christianity - cccpinehurst.org

Publish on Category: Birds 0

a Long way to Rome
Acts 20
a Long way to Rome
What would you say to someone you are never going to see again?
a Long way to Rome
What would you say to someone you are never going to see again?For many of us, would that bring a memory of an emotionally powerful moment in our life?Or, would it be tender words of affection and admiration?Or, it may be words of confession and forgiveness?
a Long way to Rome
Many of us have “been there” with family, friends, and church membersIn this context, Paul’s departure in Acts 20 is powerful on the one hand, and perhaps a bit shocking on the otherLet’s look a bit deeper
a Long way to Rome
Context of Acts 20Luke, the author of Acts, is describing Paul’s journey back to Jerusalem with the offering for the impoverished ChristiansThe first half emphasizes Paul’s farewell address to the church in the port city of TroasHe speaks all eveningThe meeting is held on the 3rdfloor of a building
a Long way to Rome
Context of Acts 20A young man named Eutychus is having trouble staying awake, so he sits by a windowAt midnight, he falls asleep while Paul is preaching and falls out of the window to his deathPaul is used by God to perform a miracle to bring this man back to lifeLuke’s focus is not on the miracle, but on Paul’s message
a Long way to Rome
Context of Acts 20The miracle underscores that Paul’s message was from GodBut Luke does not tell us what was Paul’s messageWe may find an explanation of the substance of Paul’s message in what he said to the Ephesian leaders in the last half of Acts 20And, this may surprise you
a Long way to Rome
Context of Acts 20Paul wants to arrive in Jerusalem for the Feast of PentecostTherefore he boards a ship that bypasses Ephesus and docks at Miletus, about 30 miles from EphesusHe sends for the leaders of the Ephesian church to meet him before the ship sails
a Long way to Rome
Context of Acts 20When they arrive, Paul recounts his conduct while in their midstPaul focuses on the nature of his ministryHe describes how his ministry of three years was characterized
a Long way to Rome
Let look deeper at these characteristics of Paul’s ministryWe will find that the characteristics of his ministry are like a funnel, which result in a summary statement that the describes the nature of Paul’s ministryHis whole ministry to the Ephesians can be described by“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”(Acts 20:35)
a Long way to Rome
Where did Paul learn that the essence of his ministry, the description of how he was to live his life, was fundamentally a life of generosity?He learned it from what Jesus taughtLike Jesus, Christians are to build their lives around the principle of generosityAnd we get our surprise in Paul’s last word to the people he loves that he will never see again:
a Long way to Rome
Where did Paul learn that the essence of his ministry, the description of how he was to live his life, was fundamentally a life of generosity?He learned it from what Jesus taughtLike Jesus, Christians are to build their lives around the principle of generosityAnd we get our surprise in Paul’s last word to the people he loves that he will never see again:Be a generous person
a Long way to Rome
Let’s look at descriptions of how Paul’s ministry demonstrated that it is more blessed to give than to receiveActs 20:17-21 are a look backPaul lives with and among the peopleThey had the time and opportunity to observe his true heart and motivesThey observed that he served with humility – putting the interests of others above his – the same mindset that led Jesus to the Cross for sinners
a Long way to Rome
Let’s look at descriptions of how Paul’s ministry demonstrated that it is more blessed to give than to receiveHe served with “tears” – revealing the depth of his love and compassion for the Ephesian’s – he cared – you cannot truly love and be stingyTrials did not stop him from serving – if he had to suffer so people could hear the truth – he suffered, he paid the price so people could receive the Good News
a Long way to Rome
Let’s look at descriptions of how Paul’s ministry demonstrated that it is more blessed to give than to receiveHe did it publicly on stages, privately in small groupsHe shared with Jew and with despised Gentile – everyone received the truth from Paul
a Long way to Rome
Let’s look at descriptions of how Paul’s ministry demonstrated that it is more blessed to give than to receiveVerses 22-24 are a look forward to the futurePaul is determined to go back to Jerusalem – despite the warnings from the Holy Spirit that prison persecution awaits him in JerusalemSelf preservation is not a driving principle of Paul’s life – he must give others the gospel
a Long way to Rome
Notice also that the next verses, 25 – 31, present a contrast between the false shepherds and Paul the true shepherdThe trials that are coming are because of leaders who are not generousThe false teachers pervert the gospel and take advantage of the people because they are fundamentally self-centeredThey are takers, not givers
a Long way to Rome
Paul further notes in v. 31 an admonition to the Ephesian pastorsNote the principle – when you get on a commercial airline, there is always the instruction on how to use the oxygen mask – Adults are to put it on themselves first and then put the mask on accompanying childrenThe reason is the person who does not first put on the mask themselves is that they will not be able to help little children who cannot help themselves
a Long way to Rome
Paul tells the Ephesian pastors that they must first attend to their own relationship with Jesus Christ – then they will be able to care for the people of GodThis is where discernment is found between truth and errorThis is where love is born for the people that Jesus loved so much to die forPeople who spend time with Jesus will have hearts of generosity
a Long way to Rome
Paul closes his message reminding the Ephesians that he never sought any personal gain from his ministryHe went so far as to provide his own income to support himself and his co-workersThe guiding principle for his work among them was the words of Jesus,“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
a Long way to Rome
A note on the sayingThis is the only saying of Jesus found in the Bible outside of the four gospelsVarious scholars point to John 21:25:“Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”It is in the form of a beatitude, which means it contains the word “blessed”
a Long way to Rome
A note on the sayingThe Bible is a book of beatitudesSome form of the word “bless” occurs over 600 times in the Bible, and there are well over 100 beatitudes, verses that begin with the word “blessed”The Book of Psalms begins with a beatitude, and the longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119, opens with a beatitude
a Long way to Rome
A note on the sayingThe greatest sermon ever preached, the Sermon on the Mount, begins with eight beatitudesThere are seven beatitudes in the last book of the Bible and two in the last chapter“Blessed” basically means “happy”God wants you to be happy or blessed
a Long way to Rome
A note on the sayingOf all the beatitudes, this is the supreme beatitudeThis beatitude speaks to the core of the BibleIf you were asked to name the central verse of the Bible, most of us would name John 3:16But, the truth of that verse rests on the truth of this verseThe reason for John 3:16 is because it is more blessed to give than to receive, as Jesus did
a Long way to Rome
You can be happy if you become a generous personYou cannot be happy if you are not a generous personYou and I can name people who are generous and who are happyHowever, can you name any selfish, tightwad who is a happy person?
a Long way to Rome
A final thought on Acts 20Why did Paul give such importance to these words of Jesus?Perhaps there are at least two reasons:LegacyReward
a Long way to Rome
1. LegacyPaul learned from Jesus that giving enables us to leave a legacy to those we leave behindPaul had given his all to his friends in EphesusHe withheld nothingHe preached, taught, prayed, visited, cried, laughed, and even earned his own keep to not be a burden
a Long way to Rome
1. LegacyHis generosity blessed him with the joy of knowing that even though he would never see them again, he was leaving a legacy that would continue to have an impact on the church in spite of his absenceIn Paul, we see that it is more blessed to give than to receive – when we give to others, we leave a mark on them, a legacy that goes on when we are gone
a Long way to Rome
1. LegacyIllustration of Leland Stanford
a Long way to Rome
1. LegacyTakers never catch on to this truthThey make the mistake they can expand the enrichment of their lives by getting more and more and doing less and lessBut the generous have learned that giving expands the impact of their livesPaul’s generosity to the Ephesians was passed on to the next generation of believers – and it has continued to us today
a Long way to Rome
2. RewardFirst, let’s be clear – a generous life will not earn your salvation – it is not by worksBut the Bible speaks of heavenly rewards – reflecting our stewardship of the life in this world that God has given us
a Long way to Rome
2. RewardWe are told in 1 Timothy 6:17-19:“As for the rich in this present age…they are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.”
a Long way to Rome
2. RewardIn this world, we may experience being generous and not being rewardedWe love people – but are rejectedWe stand for morality – but are ridiculedWe serve people and are ill-treated, or not thankedWe share the gospel – our witness is rejected
a Long way to Rome
2. RewardBut, do not be discouragedGod sees what the world ignores or belittlesOne day God will reward every demonstration of love you made, and every effort you made in faith and hopeWhen that happens, your spirit will be filled with joy and you may whisper“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
a Long way to Rome
2. RewardAnd, Jesus has told us our treasure in heaven is secure and will last (Matthew 6:19-20)God rewards the generous
a Long way to Rome
As we close Acts 20, let us consider the illustration of Dr. Jasper Williams, pastor of Salem Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia
a Long way to Rome
What will we do with the dash?Will we leave a legacy?Will we be rewarded when we get to heaven?Will we become a person of generosity like Paul, like Jesus, like many who have passed on?
a Long way to Rome
This what Jesus meantwhen He taught that it is“more blessed to give than receive”
a Long way to Rome
Will you be aperson of generosity?

0

Embed

Share

Upload

Make amazing presentation for free
_-The Birth of Christianity - cccpinehurst.org