Summary: 1. Embrace each other (vs. 1). 2. Encourage each other (vs. 2). 3. Expect some changes in our plans (vs. 2-3). 4. Enlist more helpers (vs. 4-6). 5. Examine God's Word (vs. 7-8; 11). 6. Expect great things from God (vs. 7-12).
How We Can Grow for the Lord
The Book of Acts - Part 71
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - January 25, 2015
*Dr. Wray Ivey was one of my mentors, and an outstanding man of God. In the late 1970s and early '80s, Wray was our pastor at First Baptist Church in Macon, GA. He gave me some very wise guidance when the Lord was calling me to preach.
*One Tuesday night, Wray and I were out visiting, and I was discouraged about our lack of results. There are so many lost people out there, and we were reaching so few.
*It almost seemed like, "What's the use?" But Wray said, "Suppose you were standing next to the ocean, and you saw thousands of people drowning. You have a life ring in your hand. What would you do? Would you give up and say, 'What's the use?' Or would you try to save as many of them as you possibly could?'"
*Of course, we would do everything we could do to save those drowning people. And we ought to do everything we can to reach lost people for Jesus. Everybody needs Jesus! So, our greatest goal as a church must be to grow. This means spiritual growth in the lives of believers, and reaching more people for the Kingdom of Christ. How can we be growing for the Lord? Tonight's Scripture helps us see what the Lord wants us to do.
1. First: God wants us to embrace each other.
*Paul reminds us of this truth in vs. 1. Remember that in Acts 19 there was a near riot by the unbelievers in Ephesus, and now vs. 1 says: "After the uproar had ceased, Paul called the disciples to him, embraced them, and departed to go to Macedonia."
*Paul embraced them. He wrapped his arms around them in genuine Christ-like affection. Church: We must learn to embrace each other. And I'm not just talking about physical hugs. I am talking about getting close enough to each other to care for each other, pray for each other, and be there for each other.
*I am talking about the kind of godly concern I have seen thousands of times in my ministry. Here is an example from Rita Young, one of our long-time friends. Years ago, Rita sent me an email, and here's part of what she said:
"Good morning everyone. Yesterday, a very sweet and dear friend of mine, Terry Flowers Johnson, lost her husband unexpectedly. A couple of weeks ago he had open heart surgery and within two weeks of surgery found himself back in the hospital with pneumonia and a staph infection. They had to re-open him, and he went into cardiac arrest and died on the operating table.
*I ask that you pray for her now as you read this email. She will need so many prayers. Pray that she will lean completely on God because He is the only One who can get her through this. Pray that she will not shut people out of her life. She is so sweet to give out hugs. It is now our turn to give them to her. Trust me; they help more than you know.
*Terry's husband, Jeff, had a friend who had been witnessing to him when they went fishing. When he went into the hospital for the bypass surgery, he had Terry call him to come to the hospital. Jeff accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior when his friend came. We all (and I am including myself) need to be witnessing to our friends because you may be the only one who is a witness to that person.
*Again, please pray for Terry, not just today, but many days to come. My love to all of you. Rita"
*Rita knew what she was talking about, because her own 42-year-old husband had suddenly passed away three years before.
2. God wants us to embrace each other. He also wants us to encourage each other.
*Paul went out of his way to be an encourager. Verse 2 tells us that "when he had gone over that region and encouraged them with many words, he came to Greece." Paul "encouraged" or "exhorted" them with many words. He encouraged them in the things of the Lord.
*He was an encourager, and we should be too. It's one of the most godly things we can do. And we know this is true, because the original word for "encourage" here is basically the same word Jesus used in John 14, when He called the Holy Spirit "the Comforter." God wants us to be like Him. He wants us to be encouragers.
*One of the great pastors and Christian authors of our day is Chuck Swindoll. One of Chuck's teachers and mentors at seminary was Howard Hendricks. Dr. Hendricks remembered Chuck as a real go-getter in school. And Howard said, "I felt this guy was a winner from the moment I met him. He always sat in the front row. His questions were extraordinarily perceptive, and even after class the questions did not stop. It was abundantly clear that this man had a bright future ahead of him."