Summary: All believers are stewards of the Kingdom of God. As we meander through life, we need to face the realities about keeping the Kingdom a priority while doing what we can to improve its future impact.
Keeping Kingdom Central Despite Life’s Winding Paths
1, Life can be filled with amazing coincidences.
2. Stephen and Helen Lee had just gotten engaged when they made a shocking family discovery. While looking through family photos during their engagement party in New York, they realized that the bride's mother and groom's late father had nearly gotten married in Korea in the 1960s, but moved onto other relationships because their parents disapproved. By incredibly narrow odds, the two loves of Lee's father's life—from two different sides of the world, no less—now share grandchildren decades later [bestlifeonline.com]
3. Life can take winding paths are return to a certain destination.
4. My dad was a printer. Back when Cuneo press moved from Chicago to Kokomo, he was offered a good-paying job here by a friend. He didn’t go. I sometimes feel God meant me for Kokomo, because I ended up here anyway.
5. Although life’s paths can be confusing, it is great to know that we serve a Sovereign God. We don’t need to understand everything, but we need to let Him pull us by the hand. And we need to keep our perspective: we are here to serve God and His Kingdom.
Main Idea: All believers are stewards of the Kingdom of God. As we meander through life, we need to face the realities about keeping the Kingdom a priority while doing what we can to improve its future impact.
I. Sometimes We Must Close One Chapter in Life to Face Another with Faith and/or RESIGNATION (22-25).
A. Paul was resigned to the fact that great TRIALS awaited him.
1. The Holy Spirit, through the early church prophets, repeatedly warned him.
2. But sometimes it is God’s will to go into unpleasant situations.
3. One of the Christian “facts of life” is that God does not come into our lives just to make us comfortable. Christians in Nigeria who are right now being slaughtered by Muslim zealots are a case in point.
B. He knew these trials were part of the COURSE God had laid out for him.
C. He knew this chapter of life, spending time with the Ephesians, was OVER.
1. He spent more time with the Ephesians than any other group – over 3 years.
2. He was able to teach them at an advance level – a great joy to Paul.
3. But now, God has something else for him.
4. It is tempting to glory in the “good old days” and focus on our losses – even as a church – rather than enjoying what God has for us now.
D. None of these things deterred his FAITH.
II. Preserving TRUTH for the Next Generation Requires Both Positive and Negative Measures (26-31).
Because of the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers, each of us are expected to have a ministry of some kind, and to be a testimony. We all need to understand as much doctrine and Bible as we can. As part of our training.
A. We must TRAIN in great depth (26-27).
1. How agents recognize counterfeit bills. One speaker: Sin cannot be paid for.
2. Paul alludes to a passage in Ezekiel… the idea here is that Paul had done his job by properly training church leaders, his responsibility had been fully carried out.
3. Sometimes revivalists will use this passage to suggest that we are guilty if we do not witness to every one we meet…. The “bloody hands” sermon. Not how used here.
4. Sadly, we no longer value well-trained leaders.
B. We must insist on personal character and spiritual MATURITY as foundational to leadership (28a).
C. Leaders must focus upon CARING for the church which He purchased with His BLOOD (28b).
1. These overseers were raised up by the Holy Spirit, even though Paul probably appointed them.
2. The church is not a business or an enterprise, nor is it a club. It is a spiritual family. Leaders may perform CEO functions, but the programs are not more important than individual people. People are to be cared for.
D. We must face the INEVITABILITY of false teachers seeking inroads (29-31).
1. Some coming from the outside.
2. Some developing from within.
3. We must be alert without being paranoid.
III. Whatever Our Situation, It Is Always Wise to Focus on the ESSENTIALS (32-36).
A. God’s Word is the primary source of true spiritual STRENGTH (32).
If there is one discipline that is most important, it is becoming familiar with the Word of God. All other aspects of the Christian life are ordered from the Word.
B. Experiencing the joy of being a GIVER (33-35).
1. There is a time for us to move from the ranks of receivers to givers.
2. If you are in your 50’s, for example, you ought to – in some way – be a trustee of the Kingdom of God and/or your community.