6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: I would like to thank Pastor Jerry Shirley for sharing this series on Acts. It has been a blessing as well as a great help. I have used these for our church, as I spend my days caring for my dying father.

Developing the heart of a servant part 2 Acts 20:18-38

We discussed, last Sunday, the need for faithfulness…to our families, in our finances, to the fellowship of the body, and to the faith.

Today, as we continue developing the heart of a servant we will need to think about two more things that for many may be hard to handle.

2. Humility Look at verse 19

In spite of all his greatness, Paul was a humble man. Many Bible scholars believe the Apostle Paul was one of, if not the greatest Christian in all of the Bible.

Paul, however, didn’t go around bragging about it. He could have said, “That’s right, I’m Paul and I wrote half of the New Testament.

He never said that, but here’s what he did say, in:

[1Co 15:9 NIV] “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”

[Eph 3:8 NIV] “Although I am less than the least of all the Lord's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ,”

[1Ti 1:15 NIV] “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst.”

We are, each of us, unworthy of the grace that God offers through Jesus Christ. Paul understood and you and I must understand that apart from Christ you ARE nothing and can do nothing.

It’s so easy when God blesses us to develop a big-headed opinion of ourselves. We love to celebrate our “accomplishments.” We tend to forget that God is the One Who made it all possible and He alone deserves the glory!

I read about this flea that jumped on the back of an elephant. One day they crossed a wooden bridge and when they got to the other side, the flea whispered in the elephant’s ear, “did you feel her move when WE walked across?!”

Humility is tough to develop in your life, especially when God does something great thru you!

We sometimes want to take credit for the things that God does in and through us. So often when God does something great we might get to thinking WE’VE done something great, like Grandma Bessie’s rooster who thought he made the sun come up. Every morning, this one rooster’s crow sounded just like he was saying. “Look what I did!”

The truth is that without God working in and around us, we can do nothing.

Jesus said in John 15, “I am the vine, and you are the branches.” If the branch is not connected to the vine there will be no fruit…

[2Co 3:5-8 NKJV] “5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as [being] from ourselves, but our sufficiency [is] from God, 6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 7 But if the ministry of death, written [and] engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which [glory] was passing away, 8 how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?”

Paul says, it’s the Holy Spirit that does the work.

Now don’t get me wrong; we should work hard, and try to use every tool at our disposal. I like the statement I read that says, we must work like it all depends on us but we must pray as if it all depends on God. We should because it does! The work is ours to do but God is the power and authority behind the work.

So as we develop the heart of a servant, we must be found faithful. Also we must be humble.

3. Compassion. Look at verse 19 and notice that Paul says “with many tears”

Some men believe that real men don’t cry. They say that a weak man cries or even shows emotion but Paul was not a weak minded man or some crybaby. He was a man as brave and bold as a lion. He was a man who endured unbelievable things for the cause of Christ. He was beaten on several occasions. He was tortured, imprisoned, slandered, stoned and left for dead. Yet he never backed up and never backed down.

Yet, in spite of having the tenacity of a bulldog, he had a heart of compassion.

We see this in verse 31 (READ) “with tears”

3 things brought Paul to tears, and the same 3 things ought to bring us to tears…

a. Paul wept at the very thought of backslidden Christians. Christians living in deliberate sin.

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