Sermon preached on Sunday, April 6, 2014 at Garden Valley Chapel during our morning worship service based on Acts 20:17-21.
I invite you to open your Bible to book of Acts – Acts chapter twenty.
It is now the end of April A.D. 57 and Paul’s mission is to arrive in Jerusalem for Pentecost, which would begin in the last week of May.
Luke records in Acts 20:16 that Paul “was hurrying to be in Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost.” Several decades had passed since his leaving, and he wanted to be home with the Jerusalem church for Pentecost.
This was his long-anticipated desire though it had “danger” written all over it. It seemed that every Christian community pleaded with him not to go to Jerusalem.
With only a month to go, Paul continues his travel aboard a merchant ship slowly making its way down the Aegean coast toward the Mediterranean Sea, stopping at various centers of trade.
At the coastal city of Miletus (modern day Turkey), the ship stops to harbor for a few days. There Paul sends an urgent message to Ephesus, some thirty miles distant (Miletus – 30 mi. south of Ephesus), asking the leaders of the church there to come and see him at Miletus.
Though Paul could not risk going to Ephesus himself, as the ship might have left Miletus before his return, he could not pass up the possibility of seeing his friends. Sometimes God provides us with “windows” of opportunity for ministry & mutual encouragement.
You might recall what Paul said to the “beloved of God in Rome” in the book of Romans 1:11-12 –
11For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established;
12that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine.
Why is it that we long to be with one another? Such was the case with the Apostle Paul – a window for fellowship & a farewell.
This is where we pick up our text this morning. Turn your Bible, if you will, to the book of Acts, chapter twenty.
Read Acts 20:17-24.
This is the only speech from the Apostle Paul recording the in the book of Acts which is addressed to Christians. We would do well to remember.
It is also one of those unforgettable farewells in Scripture. You might recall Jacob’s farewell to his sons (cf. Gen. 49), or Moses to Joshua (Deut. 31), or even Jonathan to his friend David (cf. 1 Sam. 23).
But it is much more than a farewell or a speech that is given to fellow believers…it describes Paul’s approach to ministry.
We are at the brink of a new page to this church’s history – one that will determine the course of our voyage. What will be our approach to ministry?
Paul describes four (4) aspects of his approach to ministry in this passage. When it comes to God’s ministry entrusted to us, it is about…
1. A Commitment to serve the Lord & His People (vv. 18-19)
2. A Commitment to declare His Word (vv. 20-21)
3. A Commitment to obey His Will (vv. 22-25)
4. A Commitment to proclaim His Warnings (vv. 26-27)
17 Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. 18 And when they came to him, he said to them:
“You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. (ESV)
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