Summary: Paul desired to finish the work God had called him to do. – Ask the Lord to help you fulfill the ministry He has directed you in. Even though we may not know what the future holds, we know who holds the future.
Four Essential Perspectives to Give to those you are Discipling – Acts 20:16-38
Illustration: There is power in peer pressure. One day as I took my campers, from the Navigator Eagle Lake Camp, in the mountains of Colorado Springs, to the dining hall, the rumor spread that we were having lima beans. When 100 campers crowded into their tables only to see the lima beans served we all waited with bated breath to hear the response of the young campers to day’s menu. Just then a squeaky voiced boy shrieked, "OOOh. I hate lima beans." After that no one even bothered to touch one lima bean on their plate. Be aware that there is a power in social-cultural suggestions that must be considered in every congregation.
Driving up from Beersheba, a combined force of British, Australians and New Zealanders were pressing on the rear of the Turkish retreat over arid desert. The attack outdistanced its water carrying camel train. Water bottles were empty. The sun blazed pitilessly out of a sky where the vultures wheeled expectantly.
"Our heads ached," writes Gilbert, "and our eyes became bloodshot and dim in the blinding glare...Our tongues began to swell...Our lips turned a purplish black and burst." Those who dropped out of the column were never seen again, but the desperate force battled on to Sheria. There were wells at Sheria, and had they been unable to take the place by nightfall, thousands were doomed to die of thirst. "We fought that day," writes Gilbert, "as men fight for their lives... We entered Sheria station on the heels of the retreating Turks. The first objects which met our view were the great stone cisterns full of cold, clear, drinking water. In the still night air the sound of water running into the tanks could be distinctly heard, maddening in its nearness; yet not a man murmured when orders were given for the battalions to fall in, two deep, facing the cisterns."
He then describes the stern priorities: the wounded, those on guard duty, then company by company. It took four hours before the last man had his drink of water, and in all that time they had been standing twenty feet from a low stone wall on the other side of which were thousands of gallons of water.
From an account of the British liberation of Palestine by Major V. Gilbert in The Last Crusade, quoted in Christ’s Call To Discipleship, J.M. Boice, Moody, 1986, p. 143.
1. Look Backward – 18-21 (The importance of historical retrospect)
A. Methods of Paul’s ministry – vs 20 - I never shrank from telling you the whole truth either publicly or in your houses.
B. Character of Paul’s ministry “Paul recalls his life from the first day and for a period of three years (vs 18) I have done the Lord’s work humbly and yes with tears having endured trials. It is important to learn lessons from the past or we are bound to repeat mistakes. People can build upon the good successes of the past of those who have gone before us by imitating their faith. (Heb. 13:7)
C. Paul’s ministry was well rounded – homiletical, interpersonal, visitation, hermeneutical, social, physical, financial and spiritual.
D. Paul’s message was one of repentance and faith vs 21 – I have one message and that is turning from sin and toward God. And faith in our Lord Jesus.
2. Look Forward – 22-24 – And now I am going to Jerusalem drawn there irresistibly by the Holy Spirit except suffering and jail awaits me.
A. Paul desired to finish the work God had called him to do. – Ask the Lord to help you fulfill the ministry He has directed you in. Even though we may not know what the future holds, we know who holds the future.
B. 2 Tim. 1:12 – Nevertheless I suffer these things, but I know whom I have believed.
3. Look Inwardly 25 – 31
A. There is a necessity for pastoral counsel and warnings based on what Paul did know that the Ephesian elders would not see him again.
B. He bore solemn testimony that he had worked conscientiously for their salvation and edification under the plan and purposes of God.
C. He called for them to proclaim the whole counsel of God. And not to withhold anything
D. He called for special care on the elders for the congregation to take heed to themselves so that they would not become indifferent or arrogant about their position and power.
E. He called for shepherds to be examples and teach, preach, lead and feed.
F. He called for sound doctrine for the sake of themselves and the flock as savage wolves would attempt to threaten and intimidate the flock.
G. There is multiple uses of presbyters and episcopates indicating that there was seniority and order of supervision in their midst.