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?
B. Open Doors (v. 6-7)
1. After the encouragement (and probably money) from Macedonia, Paul went to preaching full-time. And that worked well in the synagogue for a couple of days, but then that was over. The Jews began to line up a defense against a crucified messiah, and blasphemed Christ. Therefore, Paul symbolically and physically told them that they were responsible for their own destruction. Then he probably was wondering where he would go next, when he got the opportunity to gather at the home of Justus, which just happened to be right next door! So with the windows open, preaching to the gentiles, the Jews of the synagogue could still hear the gospel.
2. Rev 3:7-8, 1 Cor 16:9,
3. Illustration: He’s an on time God, yes He is…, tell about the opportunity Ronnie Owens got to minister in areas that missionaries were not allowed, tell about the doors closing for us to have Fall Challenge Week
4. Note that open doors does not necessarily mean no opposition. But just when Paul was probably about to look for another place to minister, or look for the closest jail cell, God provides a way to continue. Isn’t that just like God to have us wait until the last minute, and then provide what we need? Next time you get kicked out of the synagogue; look for an open door next door. Remember that God does not promise to open a door in every circumstance.