East Side Church
(Baptist - Disciples of Christ)
201 Spruce Ave.
Sharon, PA 16146
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April 28, 2019
Past Challenges

Acts 20:16-21

Intro: Saying goodbye to East Side in less than three weeks. To prepare our church family for this time of transition, I'm preaching from Acts 20; the Apostle Paul's farewell speech to the leaders of the Ephesian church. I've divided Paul's speech into three movements: focusing on seasons of past, present, and future ministry. Many relevant principles!

Paul's Plan! (Read Acts 20:16-17.) B/c Paul is traveling to Jerusalem, hoping to be there by Passover, he decides to bypass Ephesus, even though he had planted a church there. He requests the Ephesian church leaders to travel to Miletus for a final meeting w/him. How would the Ephesians have preferred to see Paul? A longer visit in Ephesus itself, where everyone would be able to see him! Application : True for us here today, too; goodbyes never happen when/how we would like! That's what serving the Lord looks like!

Paul's Pattern! (Read Acts 20:18.) Paul's speech begins w/a review of how he came to Ephesus and planted a church there. He points to his lifestyle over the whole time he was with them, about three years. Paul always wedded the gospel he preached w/a lifestyle of integrity; why he repeats, "Imitate me!" (Read I Corinthians 4:16, 11:1; 2 Thessalonians. 3:9.) Application : Times in our church's history when leaders didn't live out the Christian faith well. My goal as pastor here was to live the Gospel I was preaching. To the degree that I did, I praise God, and say w/Paul, "Imitate me, as I imitate Jesus!" That's what serving the Lord looks like!

Paul's Perseverance! (Read Acts 20:19.) Look how Paul continues to describe his ministry: Great humility, tears, severe testing, plots, opponents! But Paul endured! Why? B/c he was serving the Lord! Application : My time as pastor here had some of these same elements. We've shed tears as we've said many goodbyes to dear friends. When I started here, several misunderstood/disrespected my leadership style: I've tried to build a team, instead of being a dictator. In addition to the critics, it's been a season of testing for both Rikki and me. Why did I endure for almost six years? B/c that's what serving the Lord looks like!

Paul, in Public and Private! (Read Acts 20:20.) Paul describes the consistency of his ministry: He didn't hesitate to preach what would be spiritually helpful, both in public and in private. His private conversations didn't undermine his public preaching! Application : We've shared a lot of time together. Some of you have seen me primarily in the pulpit, but most of you have also heard about Jesus at the gravesides of loved ones, in hospital rooms, in your homes, over breakfast, or sitting in the bleachers, watching sports. That's what serving the Lord looks like!

Paul's...Prejudice? No! (Read Acts 20:21.) Paul reminds the elders that, while in Ephesus, he ministered to both Jews and Greeks. No easy task! Huge rift between Jews and Greeks, religiously and culturally. Acts 19; Paul in Ephesus, first preaching in the Jewish synagogues, then teaching in a Greek lecture hall. Application : Divisions in the valley, too. Praise the Lord; the Gospel brings reconciliation! A great joy I've had during my time here has been working for the Lord w/people of different races; that's what serving the Lord looks like!

Paul's Preaching! (Read Acts 20:21.) Paul ends the first part of his farewell speech w/a brief description of the Gospel that he preached: "(All) must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus." The Gospel message has always been: Turn from sin and trust in Jesus to save you! Application : This is the message I pledged to declare on my first Sunday here. First text I preached was I Corinthians 2:1-5; (read.) My sincere attempt to preach and live this; my hope is that you believe it, too! B/c this is what serving the Lord looks like!

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