Generally I’m requested to talk to a gaggle of ministers, and it’s laborious to explain how I really feel. I like the considered encouraging them, as a result of ministry is difficult. I typically want encouragement myself. But I typically really feel insufficient to assist them, as a result of everybody’s scenario is so completely different. Why ought to I be chatting with them? Why shouldn’t they be chatting with me? To be a pastor chatting with pastors—properly, that’s a problem and it may be intimidating; however it’s additionally an important privilege and alternative.
Now, take into consideration this. Hypothetically.
When you have been requested to arrange and preach a message of instruction to all the pastors on earth, to all the church leaders on the planet – what would you say? Suppose it was going to be streamed onto the telephone or laptop computer of each Christian employee on earth, of each group and denomination?
Now, think about your message may additionally journey throughout time and communicate to all of the pastors and all of the Christian employees who had ever lived? All of the pastors and clergymen and missionaries and employees members and Sunday College lecturers who’ve ever—or will ever—dwell.
And another factor. You must do all of this utilizing not more than 400 phrases, which is a really temporary sermon.
What would you say? What recommendation would you give to all of the leaders of all of the church buildings in all of the world by way of all of the ages, in solely 400 phrases?
Properly, I do know precisely what I might say. I might open my Bible to Ephesians 20 and skim the sermon of the apostle Paul to the Ephesians elders.
In Acts 19, Paul spent three years establishing a church – or a community of home church buildings – within the metropolis of Ephesus. Then he left, traveled round some, after which got here again into the world. He didn’t wish to return to Ephesus, however he stopped within the port of Miletus and despatched phrase for the elders of the church to hitch him. They traveled 30 miles to satisfy him. It was a minister’s retreat with the apostle Paul.
He spoke to them, and in so doing he was giving a Spirit-inspired message to each church chief in Christian historical past. Luke information it in about 400 phrases. I think that Paul used much more phrases than that. He might have spoken for a number of hours, however Luke provides us a digest of it in Acts 20.
Luke was a outstanding author. For instance, simply take into account this. In his ebook of Acts, Luke information three missionary journeys made by Paul the apostle. We name them Paul’s three missionary journeys. Throughout every of those journeys, Paul spoke and preached and taught many instances. However Luke solely provides us an account of three sermons.
On Paul’s first missionary tour, Luke tells us what Paul mentioned to an viewers of unsaved Jews. On his second missionary tour, Luke tells us what he mentioned to an viewers of unsaved Gentiles. And on Paul’s third missionary tour, Luke tells us what he mentioned to the saved church—to the leaders of the church within the metropolis of Ephesus.
We now have three samples of Paul’s preaching—to the Jews, to the Gentiles, and to the Christians—one message from every of his three journeys. Properly, the one we’re coming to is the message to the Ephesian elders, and let’s start by studying these 400 phrases, starting in Acts 20:18:
You know the way I lived the entire time I used to be with you, from the primary day I got here into the province of Asia. I served the Lord with nice humility and with tears and within the midst of extreme testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents. You realize that I’ve not hesitated to evangelise something that may be useful to you however have taught you publicly and from home to deal with. I’ve declared to each Jews and Greeks that they need to flip to God in repentance and place confidence in our Lord Jesus.
And now, compelled by the Spirit, I’m going to Jerusalem, not realizing what is going to occur to me there. I solely know that in each metropolis the Holy Spirit warns me that jail and hardships are going through me. Nonetheless, I take into account my life value nothing to me; my solely purpose is to complete the race and full the duty the Lord Jesus has given me—the duty of testifying to the excellent news of God’s grace.
Now I do know that none of you amongst whom I’ve gone about preaching the dominion will ever see me once more. Due to this fact, I declare to you immediately that I’m harmless of the blood of any of you. For I’ve not hesitated to proclaim to you the entire will of God. Hold watch over yourselves and all of the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he purchased along with his personal blood. I do know that after I depart, savage wolves will are available amongst you and won’t spare the flock. Even from your individual quantity males will come up and warp the reality to be able to draw away disciples after them. So be in your guard! Keep in mind that for 3 years I by no means stopped warning every of you night time and day with tears.
Now I commit you to God and to the phrase of his grace, which might construct you up and provide you with an inheritance amongst all those that are sanctified. I’ve not coveted anybody’s silver or gold or clothes. You yourselves know that these palms of mine have equipped my very own wants and the wants of my companions. In every thing I did, I confirmed you that by this type of laborious work we should assist the weak, remembering the phrases the Lord Jesus himself mentioned: ‘It’s extra blessed to provide than to obtain.’”
Students would put this into the class of a farewell speech. When you’re a scholar of American historical past, that lots of our presidents have given farewell speeches as they left workplace. It began with George Washington, who wrote his farewell handle to the nation when he left workplace and returned to his farm at Mount Vernon. I keep in mind listening to Ronald Reagan’s farewell message, given from the Oval Workplace on the final night time of his presidency. It was so shifting I needed he may keep one other time period.
Properly, the Bible comprises quite a few very shifting farewell speeches.
- Jacob gave one in Genesis 49.
- Moses did so on the finish of Deuteronomy.
- Samuel had a dramatic farewell handle, which is recorded in 1 Samuel 12.
- Joshua did so on the finish of the ebook that bears his identify.
- Jesus gave a farewell handle within the Higher Room in John 13-17.
Properly, right here in Acts 20, we’ve Paul’s farewell handle to the Ephesians. It’s emotional and private and never tightly organized or outlined. But it surely comprises seven layers that I wish to present you. As I’ve studied this message, I’ve come away with seven classes.
First, we should serve the Lord with emotion.
Let’s return to verse 17: From Miletus, Paul despatched to Ephesus for the elders of the church. After they arrived, he mentioned to them: “You know the way I lived the entire time I used to be with you, from the primary day I got here into the province of Asia. I served the Lord with nice humility and with tears and within the midst of extreme testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents.”
It’s fascinating that Paul talked about preaching with tears. I wish to discuss for a second in regards to the tears of Paul.
- Right here in Acts 20:17, Paul mentioned that he got here to Ephesus and served the Lord with tears. And in verse 31, he added this: “Keep in mind that for 3 years I by no means stopped warning every of you night time and day with tears.”
- And in verse 37 we be taught that your entire group was in tears by the tip of his message. All of them wept as they embraced him and kissed him.
- In Romans 12:15, he instructed us to rejoice with those that rejoice and to weep with those that weep.
- In 2 Corinthians 2:4, he mentioned that he wrote to the Corinthians with “nice misery and anguish of coronary heart and with many tears.”
- In Philippians 3:18, he mentioned, “For, as I’ve typically instructed you earlier than and now let you know once more even with tears, many dwell as enemies of the cross of Christ.”
- In his final letter, he wrote to Timothy saying, “I keep in mind your tears….”
If Jeremiah was the weeping prophet, Paul was the weeping apostle.
Now, all of us are made with a special emotional complexion. After I was a youngster, my pastor, Winford R. Floyd, typically wept throughout his sermons. I generally marvel if one thing is mistaken with me as a result of I seldom try this. If I’m drained, I’ll get emotional and a little bit choked up. However we’re all made in another way.
For me, the takeaway is that ministry is emotional. It must be emotional. The outdated phrase for it was zeal. We must be zealous. Most youthful ministers use the phrases ardour and passionate. However even newer translations retain the outdated phrase zeal.
- Within the New Worldwide Model, we be taught that Phinehas the priest was zealous for the honour of God. The truth is, God mentioned, “Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron…was as zealous for My honor among the many Israelites as I’m” (Numbers 25:11). God made a long-lasting covenant with Phinehas’ descendants due to his zeal (Numbers 25:13).
- The prophet Elijah described himself as being “very zealous for the Lord God Almighty” (1 Kings 19:10).
- The Psalmist mentioned, “…for zeal for your home consumes me.” And that assertion was later utilized to Jesus Christ (Psalm 69:9; John 2:17).
- Proverbs 23:17 says, “…all the time be zealous for the concern of the Lord.”
- Romans 12:11 says, “By no means be missing in zeal, however hold your non secular fervor, serving the Lord.”
No matter we do for the Lord must be finished with all our hearts. If we lose the passion and keenness and zeal, we’ll find yourself going by way of the motions till we burn out.
We should serve with emotion.
Second, we should educate with thoroughness.
Paul went on to say: 20 You realize that I’ve not hesitated to evangelise something that may be useful to you however have taught you publicly and from home to deal with. 21 I’ve declared to each Jews and Greeks that they need to flip to God in repentance and place confidence in our Lord Jesus.
And down in verse 27, he mentioned that he had proclaimed to them the entire counsel of God.
First and primarily, we should educate expositionally, by way of books of the Bible. The reason being quite simple. That’s the best way God gave us His Phrase, so that each phrase has the context of a sentence; each sentence has the context of a paragraph; each paragraph has the context of a bit; and each part progresses from one to the opposite to provide us a full understanding of what God needs us to know in, say, Malachi or 2 Timothy.
Now, many pastors are reluctant to do this. They are saying, “Folks need matters. They don’t need ebook research; they need matters.”
However what do you consider ebook research? The Bible offers with 66 completely different matters. In different phrases, every of the books of the Bible had its personal message.
I had a professor as soon as who challenged us to call every ebook of the Bible. You realize, a lot of the books of the Bible do not need a title. Take the ebook of 1 Thessalonians. That title is just the designation of the unique recipients. It was the primary of two books addressed to the Christians of Thessalonica. However what when you have been an editor in a publishing firm, and somebody gave you this temporary booklet that we name 1 Thessalonians. It had no title. You had the contents, however you needed to research it out and provide you with a title that described what the ebook was about.
I would name 1 Thessalonians, “Dwelling a Higher Life—Via and Via.”
Paul wrote this letter to inform the Thessalonians easy methods to develop of their newfound Christian expertise. The important thing verse is in chapter 4, verse 1: “…we instructed you easy methods to dwell to be able to please God. Now we ask you and urge you within the Lord Jesus to do that increasingly.” He mentioned in verse 3: “It’s God’s will that try to be sanctified.” And he ended the ebook by saying, “Could God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you thru and thru.”
Now, the phrase “sanctify” would require some clarification as you handled it within the textual content, however the broader concept is Dwelling a Higher Life—Via and Via.
Who doesn’t wish to try this?
I imagine there’s large energy in preaching expositionally, whereas advertising and marketing topically. In different phrases, you don’t have to inform folks you’re going to start out a sequence of sermons from 1 Thessalonians. Announce the subject and make it sound as related because it actually is. After which as you undergo the ebook, paragraph by paragraph, wonderful issues occur.
I not too long ago met a person and requested him how he got here to Christ. He mentioned he began attending a church the place the pastor mentioned he was going to commit a yr to preaching by way of the ebook of Romans. The person mentioned, “I obtained Christ after we bought to chapter 3.”
By no means hesitate to evangelise or educate or share something that may be useful. Preach and educate and share the entire counsel of God.
Third, we should end the work.
22 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I’m going to Jerusalem, not realizing what is going to occur to me there. 23 I solely know that in each metropolis the Holy Spirit warns me that jail and hardships are going through me. 24 Nonetheless, I take into account my life value nothing to me; my solely purpose is to complete the race and full the duty the Lord Jesus has given me—the duty of testifying to the excellent news of God’s grace.
Dr. David Jeremiah’s half century of ministry, together with hundreds of sermons and thousands and thousands of books offered, has been constructed on one sentence, present in Colossians 3:23- “No matter you do, work at it with all of your coronary heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” There’s a nice problem to profitable ministers to withstand the temptation of satisfaction and search solely to glorify the Lord in all of their work. However there’s additionally nice reward in it, giving every thing that they’ve for the Lord and trusting Him to perform all that He needs to come back from our works. Although Dr. Jeremiah may search to boast in his accomplishments, or cater to earthly pressures, he seeks to actually dwell just for His grasp in Heaven. And on this, he works with an ethic of excelling in his work for the glory of God.
The good Billy Graham’s life verse was Galatians 6:14- “Could I by no means boast besides within the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by way of which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” This verse formed his strategy to ministry, in addition to his life as a complete. In all that he did, and the plethora of earthly accomplishments wherein he may boast, he sought to provide glory solely to Jesus, realizing that he had died to the world and was alive solely by the grace of Christ, and for the glory of Christ. A heaven-focused work ethic seeks not simply to offer outcomes, however to have a humble coronary heart eagerly excelling in earthly work for the sake of God’s glory, realizing that He needs not solely works finished in His identify however a working spirit joyfully finishing up His will.
For a few years I actually didn’t have a life verse, however as of late I’ve come to tackle Acts 20:24 as my life verse, a rallying cry to serve the Lord properly and all the time be centered on His will and the work laid earlier than me. Via this I keep anchored to His will for my life, and inspired in instances of misery. We do our greatest in each space: elevating our children, succeeding at school, ending our work, and dealing diligently in all of the Lord leads us to do. On the finish of the day we should commit all our work to the Lord and belief that he’ll carry outcomes from it. Paul dedicated Ephesus to the Lord when he left, and there’s something fantastic about our incapacity to do all of it on our personal; we do our greatest, and commit it to the Lord who is ready to do rather more than we are able to.
Fourth, we should proclaim with audacity.
25 “Now I do know that none of you amongst whom I’ve gone about preaching the dominion will ever see me once more. 26 Due to this fact, I declare to you immediately that I’m harmless of the blood of any of you. 27 For I’ve not hesitated to proclaim to you the entire will of God.
Ezekiel 3:17-21: 17 “Son of man, I’ve made you a watchman for the folks of Israel; so hear the phrase I communicate and provides them warning from me. 18 After I say to a depraved particular person, ‘You’ll absolutely die,’ and you don’t warn them or communicate out to dissuade them from their evil methods to be able to save their life, that depraved particular person will die for their sin, and I’ll maintain you accountable for his or her blood. 19 However when you do warn the depraved particular person and they don’t flip from their wickedness or from their evil methods, they may die for his or her sin; however you should have saved your self.”
We should have braveness to share the Gospel and to talk fact to folks, fact to tradition, and fact to energy. We can not hesitate. We should proclaim the message with audacity.
I’ve been studying the memoirs of a preacher named Stuart Briscoe, who has been a favourite of mine for over a half-century. His ministry, particularly once I was a younger grownup, had a strong impact on me. At some point, Stuart mentioned, he was requested to talk at a youth membership in England, in Yorkshire. When he arrived, a gaggle of youngsters was taking part in a livid sport of basketball, and the youth membership organizer hurried over to Stuart and mentioned, “I’ve been in youth group work for years, and that is the worst group I’ve ever needed to take care of. And he,” pointing to at least one fellow, “is the worst of the bunch.”
Stuart considered his lengthy journey and his homesickness for his household and he puzzled why he had even come. However after his discuss, the younger man who was the worst of the bunch approached him and instructed him he was moved to enroll in Bible College. Stuart didn’t imagine him, however he did.
The younger man’s identify was Graham Stamford, and he was not a traditional scholar. He didn’t have a lot of a flair for research. He liked sports activities. However he knew easy methods to attain younger folks. He bought a job working in street restore, and every single day at lunch he would collect males round him and skim a sermon from evangelist D. L. Moody.
At some point Graham forgot his ebook of Moody’s sermons. The lads requested him to evangelise to them one in every of his personal. He didn’t have a sermon, however he started telling them about Hell. They’d by no means heard about Hell, and he began successful them to Christ.
Graham Stamford went on to talk all world wide, and to arrange sports activities occasions that featured the Gospel. He’s truly nonetheless at it. He was the worst of the bunch, however thought he was the decide of the crop.
We simply have to search out and take each alternative we are able to to proclaim the phrase with audacity.
Fifth, we should guard with watchfulness.
28 Hold watch over yourselves and all of the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he purchased along with his personal blood. 29 I do know that after I depart, savage wolves will are available amongst you and won’t spare the flock. 30 Even from your individual quantity males will come up and warp the reality to be able to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be in your guard! Keep in mind that for 3 years I by no means stopped warning every of you night time and day with tears.
I don’t have time to take care of this at size, however Paul is telling these leaders to protect their flocks and their households towards the false philosophies and heretical lecturers who appear to indicate up in all places.
However discover verse 28 – hold watch over yourselves…. Take heed to your self, and to all of the flock. This has been a giant assist to me through the years. If I don’t deal with myself, I can’t deal with others.
Sixth, we should rely upon God.
32 “Now I commit you to God and to the phrase of his grace, which might construct you up and provide you with an inheritance amongst all those that are sanctified.
Paul left the Ephesian elders with the troublesome activity of main the church. And he knew that on their very own energy they’d be completely incapable of doing so. However his confidence was not in his instruction, nor within the Ephesian elders themselves. Reasonably, he selected them and instructed them so that they could depend on God’s Phrase and on the working of His spirit by way of continuous grace given to them. On this I discover one of the fantastic ideas a follower of God can have: We aren’t sufficient, and that’s fairly alright. Have been we to have the flexibility to minister on our personal power, we might not have to depend on the ability of God. Fortunately, I’ve by no means discovered this to be the case. Reasonably, we discover our biggest power in acknowledging our inadequacy and praying for God to work in us and thru us for His glory.
Paul equally instructs Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:11-12- “For this gospel I used to be appointed a herald, apostle, and trainer, 12 and that’s the reason I endure this stuff. However I’m not ashamed, as a result of I do know the One I’ve believed in and am persuaded that He is ready to guard what has been entrusted to me till that day.”
He is ready to guard what has been entrusted to me. What a beautiful promise that’s! We will believe in God, realizing that he’s in a position to domesticate the instruction we’ve obtained and maintain us in our day by day lives and ministry. We live within the time between Christ’s self-revelation to the world and His return. The current day will develop into more and more daunting, and the world round us has already develop into hostile to the Gospel. Moreover, there are forces each in our world and within the non secular realm actively working towards us to discourage us from our calling. However in all this, we’ve Paul’s promise that the Lord will guard His fact in us, and till his return will support us as we search to glorify Him in every thing that we do.
As Proverbs 3:5-6 says: “Belief within the Lord with all of your coronary heart, and lean not by yourself understanding; 6 in all of your methods undergo him, and he’ll make your paths straight.”
Rely upon the Lord, and He’ll maintain you.
Lastly, we should try for generosity.
33 I’ve not coveted anybody’s silver or gold or clothes. 34 You yourselves know that these palms of mine have equipped my very own wants and the wants of my companions. 35 In every thing I did, I confirmed you that by this type of laborious work we should assist the weak, remembering the phrases the Lord Jesus himself mentioned: ‘It’s extra blessed to provide than to obtain.’ ”
36 When Paul had completed talking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. 37 All of them wept as they embraced him and kissed him. 38 What grieved them most was his assertion that they’d by no means see his face once more. Then they accompanied him to the ship.
By following these seven guiding ideas from Acts 20, we are able to search to actually dwell and minister within the strategies of the Apostle Paul himself:
- Serve God with emotion
- Preach with thoroughness
- End the work assigned to you
- Proclaim the reality with audacity
- Guard the flock with watchfulness
- Rely upon God for the outcomes
- And try for generosity.
And I’m going to depart it at that. In any case, I’ve taken over 3000 phrases to say what the apostle Paul mentioned in 400.