Monday, October 22, 2007


Acts 20 Fulfil Your Minstry

17 Now from Miletus, he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church.
18 And when they came to him, he said to them: “You know, from the first day I set foot in • Asia, how I was with you the whole time—
19 serving the Lord with all humility, with tears, and with the trials that came to me through the plots of the Jews—
20 and that I did not shrink back from proclaiming to you anything that was profitable, or from teaching it to you in public and from house to house.
21 I testified to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.
22 “And now I am on my way to Jerusalem, bound in my spirit, not knowing what I will encounter there,
23 except that in town after town the Holy Spirit testifies to me that chains and afflictions are waiting for me.
24 But I count my life of no value to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace.
25 “And now I know that none of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will ever see my face again.
26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of everyone’s blood,
27 for I did not shrink back from declaring to you the whole plan of God.

At a Sunday School picnic a few years ago they held a parent’s race. I had every intention of winning that race. I thought maybe I could relive some of my glory days from Teachers’ College. During High school I wasn’t really worth very much at sports, but at Teacher’s College, I took off. The fact is I was a pretty good sprinter. I had this burst of energy that kicked in and carried me to the finish line. I usu¬ally beat people in a race. I thought I would do it again, even though it had been many years since I had run like that. Sure enough, the announcement came. All the dads made their way over. Surveying the competition, I thought, This is going to be good. I noticed a lot of potbellies. Not only was I going to win, I was going to win big.
They fired the starter pistol. I took off. I was shocked to see almost everybody dash ahead of me. Immediately I was be¬hind. This concerned me. I thought it was time to call on that burst of energy that had always led me to victory. I reached down for that formidable strength. The burst had gone bust. 1 was already on empty.
I noticed the pack was even farther ahead of me. I quickly realized: not only was I going to lose the race, I was going to lose big. Not only would I be last, but I would probably be five minutes behind everybody else, if I even finished at all. I would get that courtesy applause that people give when you finish but you are pathetic.
I hadn't even finished the first lap, and I was in pain. Let me rephrase that: I was in total agony. I thought, I have two choices. I can either try to finish this race and come in at the end, or I can quit.
When 1 passed a certain tree, 1 just walked off. Someone said, "Grosey, I thought you were running the race."
"No," I assured him. "1 was just messing around." "Sure, I started the race, but I got off-track. I wasn't really in it for the prize; I was just messing around."
re you messing around with the raqce God has set you? There are some things that are integral to this race.
Here in Acts 20 as nowhere else in the New testament, we get an insight into the heart of the Apostle Paul. he ahs called the Elders of Ephesus over to a summit meeting at a town called Miletus. And he lays out his heart to them. He tells them what they must do to finish the race.
He tells you what you must do to finish your race!

“the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus,”
Each has a ministry.
Each must evangelise.
Evangelise or fossilise.
Unless evangelism is the first priority it will become the last priority.
Do the work of an evangelist.
1. Fulfil Your Responsibilities 20, 21, 24, 25,26,27
The Blood Represents life
(1) Gen. 4:10 “The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.”
(2) Lev. 17:11 “The life of the flesh . . . blood. . . an atonement . . . ”
(3) Isa. 26:21 “. . .The earth shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.”
The earth a vast aceldama (Acts 1:19) a field of blood to bury strangers in.
(4) Matt. 27:24 “. . . I am innocent of the blood . . . .” “. . . His blood be on us and on our children.”
Isa. 1:15, 16, 18 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. He exhorts them to repentance, with promises and threatenings 16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; 17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. 18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
Matt. 26:28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
Rev. 7:14
We Are Inescapably Accountable to God For Others
Acts 18:6 - to Jews of Corinth; 20:26 – to the Greeks of Ephesian Asia
Gen. 4:9 – Cain, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
His house on fire. The man asleep. Am I accountable to awaken him?
Drowning – I am on shore with a rope. Am I accountable to throw it to him?
Bridge out – the man driving. Am I accountable to warn him?
Walking down path. Snake coiled, lifting head to strike. . . . .
Can of food from shelf. Botulism, caused by bacteria . . . . .
Matt. 25:41-45
If he is starving, and I have bread
If he is thirsty, and I have water. . . naked, . . . . . clothing
. . . lost, . . . . . the way
If he dies without God, and I possess the word of life (Ezek. 33:1-8)
Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2 Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: 3 If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; 4 Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. 6 But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand. 7 So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. 8 When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.
A. Our church has responsibility for the lost of the world
Rom. 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent?
B. Our Parents have responsibility for their children Eph. 6:4 “. . . bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
C. You have responsibility for your Fellow-workers, neighbors, friends
II Kings 7:3-9 – How hold back the best good news in all the world?
And there were four leprous men at the entering in of the gate: and they said one to another, Why sit we here until we die? 4 If we say, We will enter into the city, then the famine is in the city, and we shall die there: and if we sit still here, we die also. Now therefore come, and let us fall unto the host of the Syrians: if they save us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall but die. 5 And they rose up in the twilight, to go unto the camp of the Syrians: and when they were come to the uttermost part of the camp of Syria, behold, there was no man there. 6 For the Lord had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots, and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host: and they said one to another, Lo, the king of Israel hath hired against us the kings of the Hittites, and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us. 7 Wherefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents, and their horses, and their asses, even the camp as it was, and fled for their life. 8 And when these lepers came to the uttermost part of the camp, they went into one tent, and did eat and drink, and carried thence silver, and gold, and raiment, and went and hid it; and came again, and entered into another tent, and carried thence also, and went and hid it. 9 Then they said one to another, We do not well: this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace: if we tarry till the morning light, some mischief will come upon us: now therefore come, that we may go and tell the king's household.
Ps. 51:14 - . . .”deliver me from bloodguiltiness.” Only place word used in Bible
When our warning, appeal, is heeded, how happy!
But if our message is rejected, we have delivered our souls (Ezek. 33:8)
Freight conductor The years past and that freight conductor is now an old, old man. In a church service at a testimony meeting, he said, "Often times, even to this day, I awaken in the middle of the night hearing the cries and the screams of those who were dying. And seeing again the mangled torn bodies of those hurt, killed in that awful accident." And he says, "I get up and I walk downstairs. And in the hallway, I standing there point to a yellow piece of paper framed and hanging on the wall." And I say, "It was not my fault. Those are my instructions. And I carried out my mandate. It was not my fault."
In the great judgment day, “God, I did my best.”

2. Face The Wretchedness 19, 22, 23
Chrysostom: “With many tears,” he says, “and temptations which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews.” Do you see that he grieves at their doings? But here too he seems to show how sympathizing he was: for he suffered for those who were going to perdition, for the doers themselves: what was done to himself, he even rejoiced at it; for he belonged to that band which “rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for that Name” (Acts v. 41): and again he says, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you” (Col. i. 24): and again, “For our light affliction, which is but for the moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” (2 Cor. iv. 17).

SufferingsI saw a World War II movie some years ago in which two exhausted GI’s find themselves in the barnyard of a French farm not long after D-Day. They’re exhausted and disheveled, and one man says to the other, “I’m gonna die, I just know I’m gonna die.” And his buddy says back to him, “Well, why not? You somebody special?” When Josef Tson was being persecuted by the communists in Romania, he nearly gave in. But his wife had the courage to say to him, “Josef, you’ve always said you wanted to die for Jesus. So go do it!” A man worthy of Christ accepts severe testings. He has died to a cushy life. He’s chosen a significant life. He stands with his brothers in the army of God amid severe testings.
StressThere will be opposition. It eventually cost Paul his life. But he never said, “I’d better throttle back. After all, I’m getting close to retirement. And I wouldn’t want to jeopardize anything. I wouldn’t want to make anyone mad.” Paul obeyed God all the way to the end, in the face of severe testings. If you want to be a man of consequence for God, you must accept severe testings.

24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

Do you remember Amy Carmichael’s poem, “Hast thou no scars?”
Hast thou no scar? No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land; I hear them hail thy bright, ascendant star.
Hast thou no scar?
Hast thou no wound? Yet I was wounded by the archers; spent,
Leaned Me against a tree to die; and rent By ravening beasts that compassed Me, I swooned. Hast thou no wound? No wound? No scar?
Yet, as the Master shall the servant be, And piercèd are the feet that follow Me.
But thine are whole; can he have followed far Who hast no wound or scar?

3. Finish The RaceFor I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:6-8
I’ve been around long enough to know some men and women whose lives were totally sold out to God a few years ago who have since walked off the track in the middle of the race. They’ve given up. They’ve lost their longing for God and all that He is. They’re awol from the Christian life . .
The fear of following in their footsteps haunts me. It should you, too. The possibility is real for all of us unless we allow our hearts to be completely gripped by God . . . today- now. The faithfulness of my walk with God in the next year and the next decades depends on my willingness to stay current with God. In a word-to stay in relationship with Him.
I never want to lose the hold God’s greatness has on my life and the supreme privilege it is to be in relationship with Him and to serve Him faithfully till the day I am welcomed into His presence. That passion compels me. It keeps me very honest and very humble before God.

The last thing I want to do is crawl across the finish line a defeated, derailed Christian or worse-give up the race before my life is over. I want to break that tape with arms high and my face to the sun and say with the apostle Paul, “I have finished the course; I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 3:7).

So what can we do now to ensure that finish line victory? We can get back to basics: Honestly answer these seven questions:
Do I hunger after God?
Does God’s Word govern my life?
Do I grieve over sin?
How quickly do I repent when I see my wrong?
Am I sensitive to the Spirit’s prompt in me?
Do I obey?
Is my faith growing?
The spiritual race of life is nothing to mess around with. This is the race you must win. Let's face it: the prize is at the end of the race. There's only one way to get it. Stay the course-it's the single chance you have of winning!

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