Summary: This was my final sermon at Michigan Heights Baptist Church after 10 wonderful years as their Pastor.
Introduction: Today is my last Sunday as your Pastor, and I want to offer my farewell sermon based on the farewell that Paul gave to the leaders from the Church at Ephesus.
I. The Past (17-21)
17Now from Miletus, he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. 18And when they came to him, he said to them: “You know, from the first day I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time—19serving the Lord with all humility, with tears, and with the trials that came to me through the plots of the Jews— 20and that I did not shrink back from proclaiming to you anything that was profitable, or from teaching it to you in public and from house to house. 21I testified to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.
As we look back over the past 10 years I want to encourage you to remember the positive things…the things that we accomplished in the name of the Lord. Paul offered some personal clues as to what kind of things we should be looking for, and I hope that as you reflect you will be able to see that I tried to be an example of each of these to you:
1. Serve Humbly
19serving the Lord with all humility, with tears…
2. Teach Practically
20…proclaiming to you anything that was profitable…
3. Preach Faithfully
21I testified to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.
II. The Present (22-27)
22“And now I am on my way to Jerusalem, bound in my spirit, not knowing what I will encounter there, 23except that in town after town the Holy Spirit testifies to me that chains and afflictions are waiting for me. 24But I count my life of no value to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace.
25“And now I know that none of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will ever see my face again. 26Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of everyone’s blood, 27for I did not shrink back from declaring to you the whole plan of God.
As we look at today we are challenged with change. Change isn’t easy…it isn’t supposed to be…that’s often part of why we need it. Some have asked Lenea and I, “Why now? Why are you leaving now?” Our answer has always been the same, “Because that is what we believe God wants from us.” What more can the Lord ask of you and I than that we are willing to say “yes” when He calls?
As we face our present circumstance let these words from Paul be our guide:
1. Run by Faith
22“And now I am on my way to Jerusalem, bound in my spirit, not knowing what I will encounter there
2. Run for Christ
24But I count my life of no value to myself…
3.Run for the Finish
24…so that I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord
III. The Future (28-35)
28Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among whom the Holy Spirit has appointed you as overseers, to shepherd the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood. 29I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30And men from among yourselves will rise up with deviant doctrines to lure the disciples into following them. 31Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for three years I did not stop warning each one of you with tears.
32“And now I commit you to God and to the message of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you an inheritance among all who are sanctified. 33I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. 34You yourselves know that these hands have provided for my needs, and for those who were with me. 35In every way I’ve shown you that by laboring like this, it is necessary to help the weak and to keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus, for He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
So what is ahead? What’s going to happen after I leave? Paul offered a mix bag of views on the future. He pointed out that some negative things would occur: people who would try to divide, destroy, or deceive the church. His challenge was simple: BE READY! While I am not predicting some “hostile takeover” of MHBC when I leave, I do know that Satan is our enemy, and he is the enemy of God, and therefore he is the enemy of this church. Because of all that, he will work overtime to try and destroy this church in this period of transition—DON’T LET HIM! You have the power of Almighty God on your side and you can be victorious if you stay focused on what He has called this church to do.