Summary: Paul was ready for his final goodbye. How can we get ready?
Getting Ready for Our Final Goodbye (Part 1)
Sermon by Rick Crandall
McClendon Baptist Church - Dec. 5, 2007
*The rest of Acts 20 is an extremely important portion of Scripture. In these verses Paul reflects on the past and tries to prepare the church leaders of Ephesus for life without him. In vs. 25 he tells them that they will never see him again in this world. -- But Paul was ready for that final goodbye. How can we get ready?
1. First, we must be intentional about getting alone with God.
*Paul knew very well that Christians need to get alone with God on a regular basis. So in vs. 13, Luke says, “Then we went ahead to the ship and sailed to Assos, there intending to take Paul on board; for so he had given orders, intending himself to go on foot.”
*John Phillips explains that: “The distance between Troas and Assos was about twenty miles. Paul determined to walk that distance. He wanted to be alone. The others agreed to meet Paul at Assos, boarded a coasting vessel, and sailed away, rounding Cape Lectum and heading for Assos.
One of the problems of a busy life is the lack of time to be alone with God. Paul evidently felt the need for spiritual renewal. The third missionary had been extensive and strenuous. His visit to Jerusalem, which he felt could no longer be postponed, was one fraught with peril. Paul needed solitude in which to think over the past, prepare for the future, tune up his own soul, and be sure he was walking in God’s will. Then, too, he needed to give final instructions to the elders of the great Ephesian church. Already the winds of heresy were beginning to blow across Asia Minor, and within a generation Gnosticism would be in full bloom. Paul needed to think through the best way to bring together the Ephesian elders and pray about his last message to those men.” (1)
*Just like Paul, we need to be very intentional about having times alone with God. That may be a private retreat like we see here, but most often it involves a daily time of prayer, Bible study and reflection. This will not happen by itself, because we are all bombarded by distractions and a busy schedule demanding our attention.
*Erma Bombeck told about going to class on “Tidying-up Your Life.” Of course, she got there late, but here are some of the questions she saw on the board when she got there:
-Are candles in your house a touch of romanticism or because you forgot to pay your utility bill?
-Are you still living out of moving cartons when you have been in your home for 15 years?
-Do you often misplace things you use regularly – like door keys, glasses, or children?
-Do you forget important occasions like birthdays, appointments and Christmas?
-Can you open your closet door without hurting yourself? (2)
*Most of us have too much clutter -- not just in our closets, but in our lives. Most of us tend to be way too busy, so we have to be intentional about getting alone with God. Take time -- make time for personal Bible study and prayer.
2. The best way to get ready for our final goodbye is to be intentional about getting alone with God. -- And put the right priorities on your time.
*Of course you will not be able to get alone with God unless you do put the right priorities on your time. We have to recognize that we can’t be in two places at the same time. The choices can be hard, but we see Paul making one of these tough choices in vs. 14-16: “And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and came to Mitylene. We sailed from there, and the next day came opposite Chios; the following day we arrived at Samos and stayed at Trogyllium; the next day we came to Miletus. For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost.”
*A.T. Robertson tells us that: “It was only a year ago that Paul had left Ephesus in haste after the riot. It was not expedient to go back so soon if he meant to reach Jerusalem by Pentecost.” (3)
-And remember that Paul had a good reason for going to Jerusalem. They were carrying a large collection of money for the poor Christians there. But the point is that he had to make a choice. We can’t be in two places at the same time, so the question is: “Are we making the right choices with our time?”