Summary: Our greatest goal as a church must be to grow. How can we move ahead for our Master? God’s Word gives us 6 great answers in these verses.

Moving Ahead for Our Master

Acts 20:1-12

Sermon by Rick Crandall

McClendon Baptist Church - Nov. 28, 2007

*This morning I sent out a letter to all of our church families about the great Christmas season we should have this year. It should be one of our best Christmases ever. Of course we will have wonderful music all month and our Candlelight Lord’s Supper, but we are doing two other things to help draw people to our church. One is the Christmas Card Lane that a lot of people are working on, and the other is a Live Nativity Scene. It should help more people in our community know about our church.

*Our greatest goal as a church must be to grow. That means spiritual growth in the life of believers, and it means reaching more people for the Kingdom of Christ. How can we move ahead for our Master? God’s Word gives us 6 great answers in these verses.

1. First we must embrace each other.

*Paul teaches us to embrace each other in vs. 1. Remember that in Acts 19 there was a near riot in Ephesus and then 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.

*We must learn to embrace each other -- But of course I am not just talking about physical hugs. I am talking about getting close to each other, caring for each other, praying for each other, being there for each other. I am talking about the kind of genuine Godly concern I saw in an email Rita sent out the day after her friend’s husband passed away. Here’s part of what Rita said:

“Good morning everyone. Yesterday, a very sweet and dear friend of mine, Terry Johnson, lost her husband unexpectedly. A couple of weeks ago he had open heart surgery and within 2 weeks of surgery found himself back in the hospital with pneumonia and a staff infection. They had reopened 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.

*Jeff, Terry’s husband, 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”

2. How can we move ahead for our Master? Embrace each other, and encourage each other.

*Paul went out of his way to be an encourager. Vs. 2 tells us that “when he had gone over (the Macedonian ) region and encouraged them with many words, he came to Greece”

*Paul was an encourager, and we should be too. It’s one of the most Godly things we can do. And one reason we know this is 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. God wants us all to be encouragers, because we all need encouragement.

*One of the greatest pastors and Christian authors of our day is Chuck Swindoll. And one of Dr. Swindoll’s teachers and mentors at seminary was Howard Hendricks. Dr. Hendricks remembers Chuck as a real go-getter in school. 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"

*However, Chuck says that he struggled with self-doubt for years and at times even thought of quitting the ministry. Can you imagine that? One factor that helped Chuck to hang in there was his relationship with Dr. Hendricks. As Chuck said, "Hendricks believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself." (1)

*Where would Chuck Swindoll have wound up without the encouragement of Howard Hendricks?

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