Summary: Ministry will be full of problems. And as we walk with God and seek to do His will, our frailty will catch up with us. Let’s look to God for His solutions!
Passage: Acts 18:18-28
Intro: There are three ways of dealing with the real world.
1. one is to try and leave it, to pull out of it
2. another is to pretend it doesn’t exist; that it is an illusion.
Il) Mary Baker Eddy, “matter man”
3. the third way is to deal with it with the tools that God provides.
4. as we’ve gone thru Acts, we have discovered that these saints were not floating 3 feet off the ground is white robes, but were dealing with real problems, coming from their own flesh and a persistent enemy.
5. so what did they do?
6. in this rather pedestrian passage, with descriptions of haircuts and travel, we will find God’s provision for dealing with real world problems in practical ways.
7. God is so gracious to give us practical ways of dealing with the very real problems of life.
8. Here are 3 problems, with God’s solutions.
I. Ministers Experiencing Cultural Stress
1. let’s get inside Paul’s head for a second.
2. saw last week that he came to Corinth with some emotional baggage, with fear and loneliness and a bit of culture shock.
3. but God provided, and Paul stayed and was very effective.
4. but now here in v18, he leaves. Why?
5. haircut in Cenchrea, Paul was “going Jewish”
6. spent year with Gentiles as an orthodox Jew, and especially in Corinth, in a radically different culture!
PP John 8:3-4
7. read 1 Corinthians, the believers there struggled with the old ways of promiscuity and idolatry.
PP 1 Cor. 5:1-3
8. make no mistake! Each person involved in ministry to a lost culture will experience some kind of “culture stress”
Il) pastor at a church planting meeting, “You don’t know Las Vegas!” Culture Shock!
9. cultural stress is the cumulative stress of ministering in an environment different than what you are used to.
Il) next week we will hear from our missionaries in Papua New Guinea, the Kopfs, who have lived in consistent fear of violence, theft, superstition, evacuated a few times.
PP 10. what did Paul do? He took a vacation!
11. sailed to Ephesus, hung with the Jews briefly, but he was going home!
12. landed in Caesarea, went “up” to Jerusalem, “down” 300 miles to Antioch, where he stayed long enough to recharge his batteries.
13. then he left for his 3rd missionary journey, which was more for edification than evangelism.
14. we live in a culture that causes stress.
15. even those from another part of the country experience some stress with the pace, the materialism, the traffic.
16. Christians will always experience some degree of stress in an ungodly world.
17. take advantage of opportunities for rest, recharge.
18. frankly, the regular meetings of the church should provide just that.
Il) recognize that for new believers, the church is quite a culture shock!
19. and those who lead those meetings need to find their rest elsewhere.
II. Teachers with Partial Information
1. into the void that Paul left came an unknown guy named Apollos
2. we know more about him than the Ephesians did.
3. much like Paul, an itinerant preacher about 350 miles from his home in Egypt
4. well-trained Jew, schooled in OT
5. v25, had great faith in everything he knew, which included faith that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah.
6. he had avoided the common view of the Messiah as a political/ military ruler. How?
7. he had this “thorough knowledge of the Scriptures”, v24 Greek word “mighty, powerful”
8. only one problem: he knew only “the baptism of John”. Not bad, just incomplete
PP Luke 3:16
9. baptism of repentance, preparation.
10. correct information but short on the application
PP 11. full of enthusiasm, but needed more instruction, and he got it!
12. Priscilla and Aquila provided this in a private setting. And he clearly accepted it.
13. the consistent problem in our day is teachers who focus on a part and not the whole picture.
Il) like working a jigsaw puzzle and focusing all your attention on one piece.
14. but that limited focus causes distortion, that one piece gets so big the whole picture is obscured.
Il) false teachers today focus on material prosperity, political dominion
15. repentance is part of the gospel, but a piece, not the entire thing.
16. and so instruction was given to fit Apollos’ piece into the whole puzzle, increasing his effectiveness greatly.
Il) most likely the author of Hebrews
17. popular to denigrate seminary training, become anti-intellectual.
18. Jesus said it best, in talking with the Pharisees, great Bible scholars,(or so they thought)
19. the solution to inadequate information is more information. Get it! Take a class! Come to Sunday School!
III. Churches with Appropriate Concern for Truth