Summary: Exposition of Acts 18:1-17 broken up into two messages about the encouragement Paul received from God in Corinth
Text: Acts 18:1-17, Title: Divine Encouragement, Date/Place: NRBC, 11/9/08, AM
A. Opening illustration: Talk about the saints that experienced depression and discouragement: Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Job, Elijah, Jeremiah, Spurgeon, and Luther—talk about his wife telling him God is dead.
B. Background to passage: Having left Athens under his own power and by his own will, Paul is discouraged. We read in 1 Cor 2:3 “I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling.” It had been a rough few weeks for Paul mentally and physically. And now he was alone in his 53 mile walk to Corinth, the Las Vegas of the day in Greece. This largest, most influential, most depraved city sat right on the isthmus between the two parts of Greece. It had a reputation for being immoral and transient. It was synonymous with prostitution. And so this is what he came to after his 53 mile hike alone. But not completely alone, Satan walked with him, accusing him, and bringing about discouragement. But never fear, Christ is near…
C. Main thought: In the text we will see five things that God uses to encourage believers
A. Friendships (v. 2-3)
1. The first thing that God does for Paul when he comes discouraged is provide some new friends. This couple would become some of Paul’s greatest friends. We see them all through scripture for the rest of the NT. They were probably believers, since Paul stayed with them. They had come from Rome, where a church already existed. They had a common trade, and were like-minded in the Lord. Then came Timothy and Silas with encouragement from all the new friends back in Thessalonica, Philippi, & Berea.
2. Rom 16:3-4, 1 Cor 16:19, Gen 2:18, Eccl 4:9-12, 1 Sam 18:1, Pro 18:24,
3. Illustration: "Where’s Harry?" he was asked. "Harry had a stroke of some kind. He’s a couple of miles back up the trail." "You left Harry laying there, and carried the deer back?" "Well," said the hunter, "I figured no one was going to steal Harry." Seventy percent of pastors do not have a close friend, confidant, or mentor, Leslie Parrot has this to say about friendship from the book Relationships: Friends make the ordinary-running errands or eating lunch, for example-extraordinarily fun. And good friends ease our pain and lighten our heavy load….Not only are friends good for the soul but for the body as well. Friends help us ward off depression, boost our immune system, lower our cholesterol, increase the odds of surviving with coronary disease, and keep stress hormones in check. A half dozen top medical studies now bear this out. Their findings didn’t seem to be influenced by other conditions or habits such as obesity, smoking, drinking, or exercise. The thing that mattered most was friends. What’s more, research is showing that you can extend your life expectancy by having the right kind of friends
4. God never intended for us to go through life as lone rangers. If we want to beat discouragement, we will do better with friends. But in our day, we seem to be too busy to have real friends. We seem to feel like we can make it without them. And real friendship requires a large time investment. It requires years, and it requires honestly, loyalty, and commonality. There are lots of people out there that just need a friend. People who are hurting, depressed, and fearful. If that is not you, then you can be that friend to someone else. And especially in the church, shouldn’t be just be each other’s friends?