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February 23, 2021 7:00 am
Every body good morning all you folks down and overflow were glad you're here about taking the Bible. If you brought it open. Acts chapter 20 were to be continuing in our study the life of the great man. The apostle Paul may know when it comes to farewell speech. We here in America. I've had some pretty momentous ones I'm reminded, for example of dog Gen. Douglas MacArthur in the speech that he gave on May 12, 1962 to the cadets at West Point. Part of what he said was this, and I quote today marks my final roll call with you. The shadows are lengthening for me in my dreams I hear again the crash of gongs, the rattle of musketry the mournful motor of the battlefield, but in the evening of my memory. I come back to West Point always there echoes and re-echoes these words duty, honor, or country." And who can forget the final speech of Martin Luther King Jr. on April 3, 1968 there in Memphis the night before he was assassinated. He said this and I quote I don't know what will happen now, like anybody, I would like to live a long life.
Longevity has its place, but I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And he's allowed me to go up to the mountain to look over into the promised land. I may not get there with you but I want you to know that we as a people will get to the promised land, so I'm happy tonight. I'm not fearing any man for mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord" the reason I bring these up is because today were going to look at another farewell speech at the farewell speech of the apostle Paul makes here in the Bible in acts chapter 22. A bunch of church leaders from the church of Ephesus. It's a speech in which Paul explains the worldview that shaped his life. It's a speech in which he explains the value system that drove his ministry. It's a speech in which he defines the way a true servant of God ought to act and think in evaluate life and relate to other people. If you're here today and you're a follower of Christ and your goal is to be a man or woman of God. Your goal is to be a powerful servant of Christ.
The way Paul was then. Folks, this speech is the most life defining speech in the New Testament for you and for me, so were not in a hurry through this speech were going to spend a few weeks on it and were going to try to pull out of that all of the impact that God is built into it for your life and for mine. Now little bit of background. Remember, the apostle Paul is on his third missionary journey that show you a map. He assailed from the city of Philippi in northern Greece to the town of Truax as in northwestern Turkey. He has with him two things. Number one. He is an offering that he took up from the churches in Greece to bring to Jerusalem and give to the poor believers. There the other thing he has with him is a group of men, a group of representatives from these churches where he collected money for traveling along to be able to certify that the money is being handled in a godly and a righteous way and Paula spent a week control as now we sales again all the way to Jerusalem and that's where we pick up the story so let's look first 13 acts chapter 20 we went on ahead to the ship and sailed for Aptos. Luke writes, intending from there to take Paul on board because he had decided to go from too far to ask those on foot and when we met him and asked those we took him aboard and we went on to Mantilini. Now let's go back and show you the map and you see that the distance from Truax as the Astros is about 20 miles. Paul walked this 20 miles while the rest of the group sailed you say will wind the world when a man walked 20 miles we had the chance to ride on a boat. Well I don't know honey.
Maybe he missed his cardio that week. I have no idea why he did it.
Maybe just needed some time alone to think who knows, but they picked him up on the boat there and asked those and then say ultimately need the bar Bible continues and sailing away. We arrived the next day at T. Austin the next day we crossed over to Sam Moss and on the following day we arrived at Miletus. Let's go back to the map and you can see the Paul was steadily moving on this little coastal vessel south down the coast of Turkey. And you know this was a little ship and put out every day and sailed as far as it could, and in every night holding the report. The New York City subway terms.
This is like taking the local train young stander Paul Godoy not express go there stop in every room for but they finally got to Miletus, which is you see was very close to Ephesus and the Bible says in verse 16. Paula decided to sail past Ephesus, for he was hurrying to be in Jerusalem if possible by the day of Pentecost. And so, from Miletus.
Verse 17 Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church to come there to Miletus and meet with him now. Remember, Paul is only been gone from Ephesus for about a year little bit less well before that year he spent three years consecutively in Ephesus working with discipling mentoring, teaching, investing in these church leaders and so he invite send out a common medium in Miletus knowing that this will be their last meeting here on earth. Verse 25 he actually says to them. Now I know that none of you will ever see me again.
Maybe you guys heard the story about this.
A man walks into a loss of fortuneteller and he says to her, here's my question is I want to know. Are there any golf courses in heaven. She said well I don't know never been asked that question. She said can you give me a week to work on it.
He said sure so we came back a week later and sat down and he said well she said well I got an answer and I got good news and bad news for you which you want first, he said, give me the good news.
She said the good news is yes, there are golf courses in heaven.
She said the clubhouses are immaculate. The fairways are long and luxurious.
She said the greens are exquisite and he said wow that is great.
He said the what's the bad news. She said you tee off tomorrow at 1030 now.
Now the point is if you knew you were teeing off tomorrow up there at 1030. If you knew that this was the very last day that you were here on earth and you had one last opportunity to gather around you all your closest friends and all the people you love the most of the people you would poured your life into the most and to speak to them one last time before you left. What would you say to them while bet you you would try to think of the most compelling, the most significant. The most life defining truths that you knew and you will try to talk to them about those truthful friends.
That's exactly what the apostle Paul did hear. That's why this message is so powerful, so compelling, so valuable for us because in this message. He's trying to share with these church leaders. The most significant values in his life as a servant of Christ that what is he actually say will look verse 18 and when they arrive. Paul spoke to them and said, you yourselves know how I lived the whole time I was with you three years and how I serve the Lord with great humility and with tears and with trials that came upon me for the plots of the Jewish community in Ephesus.
Paul said you guys remember when I came to town I came with a humble and a self-effacing attitude when I came to tell I came as a servant who reached out and cared for people with tears in his eyes and yeah I got blasted by the Jewish community in town. They hated me they rejected me they publicly vilified me. They tried to kill me. They say will on what why were these Jewish people so upset with Paul.
Well Paul is going to tell you, look what he says next verse 24, you know, Paul says that I did not shrink back from declaring to you anything that was profitable when I was there in Ephesus, and especially I declared that Jews and Gentiles alike must turn to God in repentance and put their faith in Jesus the Messiah.
You see what set these Jewish people off in the in Ephesus against Paul was not his humility. What made them so angry with him was not his compassion for the fact he had tears in his eyes when he cared for. People would made these people just spit and mad with the content of what he was preaching these Jewish people in Ephesus didn't want to be told that they needed to repent that they needed to change their mind about the way they were living life.
These Jewish people in town didn't want to be told that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel. They didn't want to be told that they had to put their faith in Jesus as the only way to get to heaven and to get eternal life. And yet Paul kept telling them that Paul refused to stop telling them that even when they abuse them for doing that may stop for just a moment say if you're here today and you never trusted Jesus in a real and personal way. May I say that if the apostle Paul were here today, 20 centuries later. You know what he be preaching to you he be preaching the very same thing he preach to these people because God's standards have not changed in 20 centuries friends there still the same.
If you want eternal life, and you want to go to heaven and you want a relationship with God, and you want your deal forgiven. There's a way to have it happen, but it's the same way Paul was telling these people number one you have to repent, you gotta change your mind about the way you live in and make a U-turn in your life.
The number two. You've got to embrace Jesus Christ and what he did for you on the cross as payment for your wrongdoing in the sight of God and then you get everything else eternal life, heaven relationship with God. So if you're here today and you never done that. Let me just challenge you exactly what Paul said these Jewish people need to do is what you need to do and I hope you'll think about the now, let's just ask the question. You know if Paul was preaching a message that was this unpopular if he was getting this kind a hostile reaction from people, then why did he can keep preaching that I mean you don't know politician getting poll numbers this bad on some issue would Go on with that. I mean, a politician would would change the issue so why didn't Paul get bad poll numbers in Ephesus like this change the message friend that's a great question and it leads us to talk about the first pivotal issue. The per first pivotal principle in this speech about being a follower of Christ, and that principle is that the obedience to God. You see, the reason Paul didn't alter his message is because this was the message that the Lord had personally commanded him to preach what he says to King Agrippa when he speaking to him and ask chapter 26 he says of these is King Agrippa. Jesus appeared to me in a vision on the Damascus Road right will remember that and said to me for this purpose. Paul, I have appeared to you to appoint you as a minister to both the Jewish people and the Gentiles to open their eyes so they receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life. So then Paul says King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to this heavenly vision.
First of those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and then to the Gentiles also, I have preach what Jesus told me to preach. And that is that people need to repent and turn to God through faith in Jesus Christ.
The folks as followers of Christ here today.
This is the crucial point that I want you to see. Don't leave here without getting this and the point is this, that in Paul's mind what he was preaching wasn't a matter of personal choice. It wasn't a message that he was free to change whenever he felt like changing it when the poll numbers got bad when people got upset with him for saying it in Paul's mind what he was preaching was a matter of direct obedience to God and he says that Galatians chapter 1 he says am I trying to win the approval of men or of God. For I would have you know that the message I preach is not something I got for men. Rather, I received it directly from Jesus Christ and you see this is why it didn't really matter to Paul whether people like it or not, and this is why it didn't really matter to Paul with the people persecuted them for the message. Not in this is why didn't really matter to Paul what the poll numbers were one way or the other in any city went to what matter to Paul he says in verse 24 of this chapter. The only thing that matters to me is that I finished the race, and complete the task that the Lord Jesus is given friends. The only thing the matter. The apostle Paul was obeying God and do you see here that this is the first principle that he hones in on talking to these church leaders. He says you know what drove me when I came to that town. Remember what drove me what drove me was obedience to God then that's as far as we want to go in our passage today because we got a really important question asked and I been gone for couple weeks.
I know your rusty but you can do this now so you're ready. Here we go nice allowed 123 right is a lot. So what say this is great.
I appreciate that you're up there preaching your heart out. God bless you brother but you know what, what difference does it make to me. I will see how this relates to my life at all. All let me tell you about friends listen, look here in acts chapter 20. As Paul begins explaining to these Ephesian church leaders. What made him the mighty servant of God, that he was please notice that the very first issue Paul covers is this issue of obedience to God and his followers of Christ, we must understand that in God's vocabulary. Obedience is a treasured word. Look what he says.
Malachi chapter 1 in the Old Testament, he says us on God writing God speaking honors his father and a slave obeys his master. So if I am your father. Where is the respect due me and if I am your master, where is the obedience due me, says the Lord Almighty for friends, all Bible is full of this message. Namely, that God is not primarily interested in rituals, creeds or doctrinal statements. God is not primarily interested in prayer book hymn books, or religious activity. God is not primarily interested in taking communion. Whether you're a member of the church or whether you attend every week. First and foremost above everything else. God is interested in obedience to what he said. Jesus said, John chapter 14 if you love me you will attend church knows what he said. He said if you love me you will obey what I command.
Jesus also said John 13 now if you know these things, you will be blessed if you sing hymns about what he said. He said you will be blessed if you do them okay. What did James say James 122 to prove yourselves doers of the word not just hearers of the word and Psalm 111 says a good understanding have all those who do God's commandments is a wonderful story in the Old Testament about King Saul for Samuel 15 God appears to Saul and is this all I got a job for you to do. I want to go to the city of Amalekites pronounced a curse on them and I want you to wipe out the city and I want you to not only wipe out the people, but I want you to wipe out all the livestock and the animals completely obliterate the city because I've curse them so Saul, he goes, but he gives God halfway obedience.
He spares the best sheep in the best oxen brings him back home with them and is walking back home.
He meets the prophet Samuel, and Samuel comes up to him and says hey Saul I you doing Saul is all I'm doing really well.
I have gone and I have obey the Lord.
Samuel says you he says will than what then is this bleating of sheep that I hear in my ear. I see that that's hysterical to understand what he say what he saying is if you did what the Lord told you to do there ought to be no sheep complete anywhere they all be all bad now.
I really is hysterical here. It's funny and so Saul says doing well. He says Samuel you know what he says. I spared the best of the sheep and the oxen and brought them back so we could sacrifice to the Lord our God, Samuel surged in her is to limit sediment to compel for Samuel 1522, he says the does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as he delights in obeying the voice of the Lord.
Behold Saul to obey is better than sacrifice God think sacrifice is wonderful but the thing he wants from you.
They wanted you to do what he told you to do. Not interested in you sacrifices and friends. The bottom line of all this is simply that you and I can never become true men and women of God. You and I can never become powerful servants of Jesus Christ like Paul was, until we get serious about obeying God. That's the bottom line hello BW toes or the writer of half a century ago, the Christian writer and here's what he said and I quote, he said, have you noticed how much praying for revival has been going on of late, and how little revival has resulted considering the volume of prayer that is ascending these days rivers of revival should be flowing that no such results are in evidence should not discourage us rather, it should stir us to find out why our prayers are not answered. I believe that our problem is that we have been trying to substitute praying for obeying the and it simply will not work." I think is right. I think of the church obeys God they see God move you can pray all you want. All day long.
But until we get serious about obeying God. We will not see God move either in our individual lives or in our church family as a whole is, it will like what you talking about I mean you know what you mean obeying God willing to give you some areas it took to think about some areas were God may be calling you to obey you and let me just ask you how you do it on some of these areas. For example, maybe God is asking you to go seek somebody's forgiveness that you know has something against you.
Matthew chapter 5 says if you're presenting your offering at the altar, and there you remember that your brother or your sister has something against you, leave your offering at the altar, and go first and be reconciled to your brother or your sister and then come back and present your offering, you say well yeah but you don't understand what my fault I didn't do it. It was therefore watch I apologize was not my fault I didn't cause this problem may causes prominent therapist that would be that's their fault, and while I have to go first, and humble myself make a fool out of myself know know know they are a company first one reason can you possibly give me one hour to go to them first one to be one reason is Jesus told them to me, that's all.
The reason you need to all reason.
I need Jesus didn't say that he cared all that much about whether it was humiliating for you to do what he said just do that.
The question is, are the people that you know have things against you today from business and personal relationships in your family have you gone to the and humbled yourself and tried to reconcile with them like Jesus told you. Maybe God is calling you to make restitution to somebody for something you did wrong to them is able I can. It's too costly friends.
It won't be as costly as disobeying God's going to be in your life that you may be God's calling you to talk to somebody about their relationship with Christ and you say you but you don't understand when I try to talk to people about Jesus on the Mount armpits get all wet. My get caught in my mouth. I stayed in I go and nothing comes out of my mouth. You don't understand if it's embarrassing well you know what God didn't ask you whether you'd be embarrassed God just called to do. Maybe God is asking you to stop sleeping with her boyfriend girlfriend or your fiancÚ or to knock off that adulterous relationship is a should. Nobody knows about that. We think God does know about the when you crazy you think he doesn't see. Maybe God's calling us his men to stop undressing women with our eyes or or to deal with the pornography problem in our life. Maybe God is asking some of us to take on some area of Christian service for him or to forgive somebody who really heard us and yet God saying you need to forgive them.
There are maybe God is calling us to set aside some time for Bible study and prayer in our daily schedule friends and really doesn't matter what the individual issue is what matters is have you obeyed God, you, I just returned from leaning toward Israel.
Everything went well.
Thanks for those of you who prayed with us to pray for us, but every year when I do this I always have people who sign up who were shacking up together. Here the United States living together unmarried and then they want to go on the tour and share room and always have to call them and say I'm sorry you can't do that, but how you live in the United States is your business, but this is a Christ centered tour that I'm running according to biblical standards and you cannot shack up on the store so you either need to break up and get roommates or you need to get single rooms in not visit each other while were on the tour and stay Wednesday but you can't room together. I'm sorry you just can't do that if you don't want to go on the tour. I'll send you money back but you can't do that well anyway on this last two I got up a registration from a couple different last names same address and so I said I here we go again. So I decided to call about deliver the bad news to him. But before I forget I was.
I'm always curious to see what the ages of people are doing this so I looked down where their ages were the lady was 69 and the guy was 70 and I thought whatever and so so so I said all I well you know Socko thought called about and I said I you know I'm sorry you can't do this in the get the man laughed at me on the ponies that were married we go to your chart for cotton picking thing he said that we just haven't changed our last names that were recently married and so it all worked out that we live in a room together and everything but while on the tour we were talking about this and laughing about it. One day after dinner and the lady said to me she said you really have couple who try to come on the tour and shack up like this to you, and I said yeah at least one or two every tour and she said will certainly those are not people who attend McLean Bible church and I said no, actually the truth is most of them do, and she said I can't believe that she said how can people come to McLean Bible church and hear what's taught there from the word of God and still shack up. I said well I'm an answer that question for you. The answer is that there's a difference between hearing God's word and obeying God's word and you know I told her I'd learn something. The truth is the weather people attend McLean Bible church are not. Most people do what they feel like doing and that's just the way it is not friends. I want to ask you as we close today.
Work on a follower of Jesus Christ, you are are you a follower of Jesus Christ who does what you feel like doing or you a follower of Jesus Christ to those with the Lord tells you to do is salon. That's kind of a complex question noted that wooden very simple question because there's only two ways to answer you is only two authorities that we could possibly live under his followers of Christ. One of them is the word of God and the other was what you feel like doing. That's it. Now, the answer to the question may be ugly, but is not complicated is one of the other enemy just say to you friends that with the authority for your life with your living under the authority of God's word or what you feel like doing that answer is going to define the health and the wholeness of your Christian experience that answer is going to define the power and the effectiveness of your service for Christ and that answer is going to determine the level of blessing that you enjoy from Almighty God on your earthly life. There's an awful lot riding on the answer to that question. Moses said Deuteronomy 11 is that I'm setting before you today a blessing and a curse of blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord and a curse. If you disobey salon back to my bottom line that we started with a few minutes ago, namely that you and I can never become true men and women of God. You and I can never become powerful servants of Jesus Christ like Paul was, until we get serious about obeying God.
So I want to ask you here today, where you stand on that. There's a lot riding on the answer but spell our heads together, showing with our heads bowed and our eyes closed. I like to give you moment to really talk to God about about that question. I like to give you a moment to talk to God about areas of your life where you know he's calling you to obey him, but because these things make you step out of your comfort zone. Frankly, you just have been willing to do it and I want to challenge you today to make a decision that you will be glad you made for the rest of your life, a decision not only to obey God in that specific area or to a broader decision. A decision to live your entire life under obedience to the word of God. From this day forward.
So if you need to do business with God you take these quiet moments, Lord Jesus obedience is hard. Let's face because every time you ask us to obey you pretty much universal that you're pushing us out of our comfort zone and it demands a level of commitments the command demands a level of dedication to be willing to go there. I pray that we would be those kind of people then and women like the apostle Paul who say the only thing the matter to us is that we obey God and were willing to step out of our comfort zone and were willing to take risk, were willing to be humiliated or whatever else it takes for we're going to obey God in every area of life.
The father this is the stuff that men and women of God is made are made out of this is the stuff the great servants of Christ are made out. We pray that you would challenge our hearts to be those people today for those folks here today who prayed about individual issues in life, a boyfriend or girlfriend or fiancÚ someone who's upset with them changing their schedule.
Whatever. More give them the courage and give them the resources they need to keep the commitments they made to you today and grant that we might walk out of here today as a people saying we have decided that were to follow Jesus would obey him, and if nobody else goes with us. Sarai were to follow and obey. Anyway Lord, we know if where those people not only will you bless our lives but you use us to rock the city that's our prayer in Jesus name, amen