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Chris Appleby Ministries

Chris Appleby Ministries

 

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How do we care for one another?  audio (6MB)
Acts 20:1-12

If you were here last week you’ll remember that Ephesus has just been engulfed by a tremendous riot: with people shouting out their city slogan – “great is Artemis of the Ephesians”, protesting at this new religion that Paul had brought to their fair city. Of course their protest wasn’t really about religion it was about market economics. Paul was ruining the trade in silver statues of the god Artemis.

So what does Paul do? He calls the disciples together and says farewell. So was he just running away? Getting out before someone got to him directly? Perhaps he figured he deserved some well-earned R&R – a few months off in Greece to recover from the stress of the past few weeks?

The first verses of the chapter actually remind me a bit of my long service leave last year. A long string of cities visited with 3 or 4 days in each place until each city looks the same as the last.

But there’s actually a lot more to it than that. Look at the previous chapter, in v21: “21Now after these things had been accomplished, Paul resolved in the Spirit to go through Macedonia and Achaia, and then to go on to Jerusalem. He said, "After I have gone there, I must also see Rome." 22So he sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he himself stayed for some time longer in Asia.” (Acts 19:21-22) So Paul has already planned to leave soon and the riot has just been the catalyst to get him going.

Paul and the Ephesian Elders   audio (6MB)
Acts 20:13-38

Let’s begin today by thinking about the way Paul exercised his ministry in Acts. We’ve seen how he moved out from Antioch to basically cover the entire region from Jerusalem to Corinth, never staying very long in one place, apart from Corinth and Ephesus. But we saw last week that he not only visited these churches to proclaim the gospel but he later went back to encourage them. He also went back to appoint elders to take over the leadership of the church. He didn’t do that straight away because he and they needed time to discover who had the necessary gifts and wisdom for leadership.

In fact the only place he didn’t revisit appears to have been Ephesus, which is where we come to today. We saw last week that he’d been delayed by a plot to kill him and now he’s in a hurry to get back to Jerusalem in time for what, even then, was a major Christian festival: the feast of Pentecost

Paul can’t spare the time to visit Ephesus so instead he sends a message to their elders to come and meet him in Miletus. The river at Ephesus was becoming silted up and Miletus had become the preferred port for loading and unloading trade goods. So the ship was probably there for 3 or 4 days, giving Paul time to send to Ephesus for the elders to travel to meet him there. And when they arrive he sets out to both encourage and to warn them. He begins by reminding them of his own example of ministry.

Are you a Tool?  audio

Acts 9:1-30

I have a great collection of tools in my work shed. Most of them came from my father and grandfather though some I’ve bought for myself. Of course the fact that I have them there doesn’t necessarily mean they get used; or get used well when I do use them. But the ones I do use and can use well are the ones I particularly look after. I enjoy woodwork and so I have some good quality chisels and planes. But as many of you will know, a chisel or a plane aren’t much use unless they’re sharp and without chips in the blade. So I sharpen them regularly.

But we’re not here today to talk about my hobbies, we’re here to talk about witnessing to the gospel. So what have tools got to do with that? Well, as we’ll see in a moment God’s tools are people and he chooses to use the most unlikely of people as his tools in that task of sharing the gospel  

I mean, who could be more unlikely than Saul? He hasn’t got a clue has he? I wonder if you’ve noticed over the past few weeks how there’s something of a theme of blindness and sight running through these chapters

When Church and Non-Churched Meet   audio (6MB)
Acts 21:17-25

Well, we’ve skipped over the rest of Paul’s journey from Troas to Caesarea Philippi and now, finally we come with Paul to Jerusalem. He’s been planning this visit for a long time and finally he gets there, despite the warnings of those on the way who are worried about what the Jews might do to him. [By the way have you noticed the parallels between Luke’s account of Paul’s journey to Jerusalem and his subsequent trials and Luke’s account of Jesus’ final journey to Jerusalem and his subsequent trials? You might like to think about that in your small groups, particularly looking at the various trials both Jesus and Paul went through.]

I wonder have you thought about how Paul expected things to go here. Everywhere he’s been through Asia and Greece he’s experienced opposition from the Jews and now here he is in their home town. He must expect opposition here even more than elsewhere; but what about from within the church itself?

Well we read in v17 that they were welcomed warmly upon their arrival. But as you read on you realise that all isn’t as smooth below the surface as it is on top.

Hence Paul’s visit the very next day to James and the elders of the Church in Jerusalem. James is James the brother of Jesus, not James the Apostle and by now he’s clearly the leader of the Church in Jerusalem. Peter and John have left, Peter to Jerusalem and John ultimately to Ephesus. And as we read on we discover there’s a bit of tension in the air.

Are you a Tool?  audio

Acts 9:10-30 

I have a great collection of tools in my work shed. Most of them came from my father and grandfather though some I’ve bought for myself. Of course the fact that I have them there doesn’t necessarily mean they get used; or get used well when I do use them. But the ones I do use and can use well are the ones I value the most.

But we’re not here today to talk about my hobbies. We’re here to talk about witnessing to the gospel. So what have tools got to do with that? Well, as we’ll see in a moment God’s tools are people and interestingly he chooses to use the most unlikely of people as his tools in that task of sharing the gospel. 

I mean, who could be more unlikely than Saul? He didn’t have a clue did he? We read the story last week of his mission to Damascus to round up the Christians there and how Jesus appeared to him to give him a new mission. I think we skipped over the bit about him becoming blind. But of course he was blind long before that wasn’t he? Although he was so well taught as a Pharisee he couldn’t see that Stephen was right; that Jesus was in fact the Messiah that they’d been waiting for and that opposing the Christian faith meant he was opposing Christ himself.

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Phone: 0422187127
 
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