Summary: 1. Get alone with God (vs. 13). 2. Pursue the right priorities (vs. 14-16). 3. Determine to be devoted to the Lord (vs. 17-19). 4. Strive to spread the gospel (vs. 20-21; 24). 5. Keep focused on our finish (vs. 22-24).
How to Get Ready for Our Final Good-bye (Part 1)
The Book of Acts - Part 72
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - February 1, 2015
*In this Scripture, Paul and his mission team were at the end of Paul's third missionary journey, and were on their way to Jerusalem. This part of their travels began at Troas, where Paul preached all night. That night God miraculously brought a young man back to life, after he dozed off and fell from a third-story window.
*The rest of this chapter is an extremely important portion of Scripture. In these verses Paul reflected on the past. He also tried to prepare the church leaders of Ephesus for life without him.
*In vs. 25, Paul will tell them that they would never see him again in this world. But Paul was ready for that final good-bye, and God wants us to be ready. With this background in mind, let's begin by reading vs. 13-24.
*God wants us to be ready for our final good-byes. How can we get ready?
1. First Christians: We must get alone with God.
*We must be intentional about getting alone with God. Paul knew this very well, so in vs. 13, Luke wrote: "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 explained 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 coastal vessel, and sailed away, 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 journey had been extensive and very strenuous. His planned visit to Jerusalem, which he felt could no longer be postponed, was one filled 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. Most of us tend to be way too busy, so we have to take time, make time for personal Bible study and prayer.
2. How can we get ready for our final goodbyes? We must get alone with God. We also must pursue the right priorities.
*Of course, we will not be able to get alone with God unless we pursue the right priorities for our time. We have to recognize that we can't be in two places at the same time. The choices can be very hard. And in vs. 14-16, we see Paul making one of these tough choices:
14. And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and came to Mitylene.
15. 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.
16. 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. And remember that Paul had a good reason for going to Jerusalem. They were carrying a large collection of money for the poor, struggling Christians in that city." (2)
*The point here is that Paul had to make a hard choice: Spend some of his precious time with his close friends in Ephesus or hurry on to Jerusalem. And I know it goes without saying, but we really can't be in two places at the same time. So, the question is: Are we making the right choices with our time?
*Ed Young is the long-time pastor of Second Baptist Church in Houston. He is also a long-time friend of Cliff Barrows. When Cliff's wife, Billie, died in 1994, Ed was asked to preach the funeral along with Billy Graham.