Summary: Paul is addressing the elders at Ephesus as he heads for Jerusalem, and in doing so he gives us a great picture of what makes a servant of God confident in what he is doing.
Passage: Acts 20:13-28
Intro: Once in a while, when things are a little overwhelming in my life, I have what Jan and I call “the church dream.”
1. I’m here, though the room is usually a little larger, with a lot more people.
2. the service is underway as I walk in, but I don’t recognize the leaders.
3. I am inappropriately dressed, but I know that I will be expected to preach very soon, though not sure when.
4. have no Bible, no sermon, am completely unprepared.
5. frankly, it is a nightmare! It’s always a relief to wake up!
6. you may have a similar dream, but in a different context. School, recital, job responsibilities.
7. we love to be prepared and confident, well-rehearsed.
8. we are going to look at a man this morning who is the model of confidence.
9. Paul was a man so full of confidence that he was ready to die and stand before God.
10. we say, “yeah, but look what he did. Do I have to do the same to be confident?”
11. if so, then only people who could be confident would be pioneer missionaries.
12. other option, to say Paul was unique and we can’t be expected to follow his example.
13. but a quick look at the statements of Jesus show Paul was on the correct path.
14. The Christian life is one of principles, and that ones that Paul displayed are the ones the Jesus displayed and that we are called to display.
15. and on this lonely beach in Miletus, Paul gives us a peek at the principles that shaped his life, and made him confident
I. A Consistent Life
1. Paul was unique, had a unique call in many ways. Apostle to the Gentiles!
2. but here he was, having called the elders of the church at Ephesus to meet him 30 miles south.
PP Google Earth shot of Miletus, now silted
PP Maeander River is the cause
3. v18, Paul starts a review of his life and ministry.
4. “You know how I lived the whole time”
5. “know” here is unusual, “knowledge gained by proximity to the thing known”
Il) people call me on the phone. Some think I should know them, and others who I know very well identify themselves every time. “This is Tim!!”
6. you know how I lived, you watched me day after day. How was that?
7. consistent display of servanthood and the humility that goes with it.
8. Paul was not promoting himself, but promoting Jesus Christ!
9. and he did that, day after day, while under the unrelenting conspiracies of the Jews to kill him.
Il) they had plotted to kill him on board an express ship from Cenchrea to Syria, to that’s why this multi-port trip down the coast. (20:3)
10. under tough circumstances, Paul’s life remained consistent with the gospel of transformation that he preached.
11. this is a huge part of our calling as followers of Christ, which Paul reminds us of in Romans 12:1-2
12. our faith cannot just be a Sunday morning thing! It permeates of lives, leaving no area untransformed.
II. Unwavering Faithfulness to Our Calling
1. Paul had a very specific call from God
PP Acts 22:21
2. answering that call took him far out of his comfort zone, to love people he had been trained to despise.
3. but that’s what he did for many years and thousands of miles, through pain and danger and rejection and riot.
4. and since that call was to preach, that is what he did. V20
5. even though called to the Gentiles, he consistently preached to Jews as well, in spite of their resistance.
6. v21, he declared the same gospel to them both, refusing to change it, even under terrible duress.
Il) The Spanish Inquisition
7. may not be called to be a preacher, but called to be Jesus’ witnesses.
PP Acts 1:8
8. the vast majority of martyrs for the faith have been normal, everyday believers who answered God’s call, whatever they did for a living.
9. we are called to many different things, but share one calling in common.
10. we bear witness to the life-changing power of Jesus Christ.
III. Focused Priorities
1. v24 is where things get very unsettling for us.
2. we read the words here of a man who was so focused he had only one priority
3. and that was to serve his Lord Jesus Christ as a proclaimer of the gospel
4. of Paul it could be said, “nothing else matters”
PP Philippians 1:6, written from prison
5. to those of us who have families, jobs, houses, retirement nest-eggs, debt, this kind of single focus seems impossible