Summary: How can we help God's Church? 1. With hospitality in our hearts (vs. 15-17). 2. With gratitude for God's goodness (vs. 17). 3. With God's love for the lost (vs. 18-19). 4. With patience for other people (vs. 20-26).
How to Help God's Church
The Book of Acts - Part 76
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - March 1, 2015
*In this Scripture, Paul and his mission team were on the last leg of Paul's epic third missionary journey, and they arrived in Jerusalem. John Phillips explained that it was about sixty-five miles by road from Caesarea to Jerusalem. Some of the Christians from Caesarea decided to come along. These knew of someone in Jerusalem with whom the others could stay. (1)
*Paul was about to enter a period of trials and tribulation. All of his travels from now until the end of the Book of Acts will be as a prisoner of Rome. But tonight, we will explore what happened when Paul first arrived in Jerusalem. With this background in mind, let's begin by reading Acts 21:15-26. And as we read, please think about how we can help God's Church.
*Do you ever need help in life? I need help all the time. If my computer goes down, I need help. If my temperature goes up, I need help. If my power goes out, I need help.
*Thank God that there are people around us who are able to give us help! But the flip side of that truth is that God wants us to be helpers too, and all of us can help God's Church. How can we do it?
1. First: With hospitality in our hearts.
*We can help God's Church with the kind of hospitality we see in vs. 15-17. There, Luke gave this report:
15. . . After those days we packed and went up to Jerusalem.
16. Also some of the disciples from Caesarea went with us and brought with them one, Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we were to lodge.
17. And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.
*Paul and his mission team were almost to Jerusalem, but where would they stay when they got there? John Phillips pointed out that there weren't a lot of places for them to stay, even among the Christians in Jerusalem. The reason why was because Paul had brought Gentile believers with him. (1)
*Remember when Peter went into Cornelius' house in Acts 10:28? Cornelius was a Roman centurion, and the very first thing Peter said was, "You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean."
*Jews allowing Gentiles into their homes was not specifically forbidden by the Law God gave to Moses. But the Scribes and Pharisees added layer on top of layer to God's Law. And by the traditions of the elders, allowing a Gentile into your home was very criminal. (2)
*But there was a kind-hearted Christian from Cyprus who had a home in Jerusalem. His name was Mnason. The KJV says that he was an "old disciple," and he probably was old. But the main idea was that he had been one of the first believers. He might have even been one of the original 70 Jesus sent out in Luke 10. (3)
*Don't you know those Gentile believers loved listening to his stories of the earliest days of the church? Thank God for people like Mnason who are willing to open their hearts, and willing to open their homes, even to people they do not know.
*And we may not have a place for people to stay, but God can still fill our hearts with gracious hospitality. It can show up in things as simple as a big smile, a warm welcome, and a good handshake. Our hospitality can also shine through the excellent meals we have in our church.
*Christian hospitality is crucial in the life of our church and every church. May the Lord help us to be like Mnason, overflowing with God's hospitable love.
2. We can help God's Church with hospitality in our hearts. And with gratitude for God's goodness.
*God wants us to be grateful for all of His goodness in our lives. Unfortunately, the church in Jerusalem is an example of the way NOT TO BE. Yes in vs. 17, we see a flash of gladness in their hearts. There Luke said: "When we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly."
*But John Phillips explained, "This was the only bright spot in the story of this visit of Paul to Jerusalem. What was it that made the Jerusalem Christians so glad? -- Was it the money? If so, their appreciation was short lived. It is not even recorded that they so much as thanked Paul for all his efforts, or his Gentile friends for their generosity." (1)