Summary: Today we will look into the heart of the Apostle Paul. We will come away from that experience assured that there’s no fellowship on earth compare to what Christians have experienced. We will know today in our message titled “Good-bye” that: God directs ou
Today we will look into the heart of the Apostle Paul. We will come away from that experience assured that there’s no fellowship on earth compare to what Christians have experienced. We will know today in our message titled “Good-bye” that: God directs our paths, God demands our labors and God binds our hearts.
I. God directs our paths (v.25)
"Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again."
Paul spoke these words to the elders of the Ephesian Church. Paul was on his way to Jerusalem, and he believed, with good reason, that he would never see these men again. He had a solemn burden on his heart for this church he loved. He believed that God was leading him away from his friends for the rest of his earthly days. From His initial encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus, Paul became acutely aware that the Lord determines the direction of our lives! That’s not to say that everything is predetermined after all we have free will and our choices often cut against the grain of Gods plans. Yet! God directs our paths! If we will allow Him access to our hearts our wills we can know that His hand rests on our shoulder steering us in the way that is right.
In November I975, 75 convicts started digging a secret tunnel designed to bring them up at the other side of the wall of Saltillo Prison in northern Mexico. On April 18, 1976, guided by pure genius, they tunneled up into the nearby courtroom in which many of them had been sentenced. The surprised judges returned all 75 to jail. (SermonCentral.com)
Paul’s words were based on his own impressions of mounting opposition to the Gospel message. He had surveyed the scene. Harsh realities were apart of his daily life. The Holy Spirit according to verse 23 had warned Paul that in every city prisons and hardships awaited him!
When was the last time you heard this Pastor or any other called people to faith in Christ with the admonition that prison and hardships would follow their commitment?
My dear friends goodbyes are apart of this Christian journey! The Lord who call’s you has the right to determine the span of your service. We so often get caught up in the comparison game. We assume (wrongly) that God will do this or that and when it doesn’t happen in the way we would prescribe, our Faith falters!
In the Gospel of John 21:18-23 we see that the desire to compare was no stranger to the Apostle Peter!“I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!" Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, "Lord, who is going to betray you?") When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?" Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me." Because of this, the rumor spread among the brothers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?" God directs our paths!
Brethren, God knows the very “best” for your life. Allow Him control of your path, He will guide though the path if steep and difficult, He will guide and that’s enough! God directs our paths.
II. God demands our shares (vs. 28-34)
"And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”
God has been good to us in the past, he has graced us with wonderful people and relationships, but a time of goodbye is not a time to lose focus upon ministry. If anything the transition makes it doubly important for each of us to insure they are fulfilling their responsibility to the community of faith.
Though Paul is addressing those with leadership responsibilities, I think we can rightly apply it more broadly, for the Scripture plainly teaches that EACH of us who has trusted Jesus for salvation has a gift and a calling from God and a responsibility to serve our brothers and sisters fulfilling that God given tasking.