Intro: Saying goodbye to East Side. To prepare our church for this time of transition, I'm preaching from
Paul's farewell speech to the Ephesian church's leaders in Acts 20. For the past two Sundays, we discussed the
past challenges and present difficulties of our ministries. Today, Paul's speech helps to answer the question,
"What will East Side need to remember as you consider future opportunities?"
The Bible Will Build You Up! (Read Acts 20:32.)
Paul concludes his speech w/a prayer of sorts, entrusting the Ephesian church into the hands of God. These words
have been echoing in mind this past week, as I prayed for you. Paul and I commit our churches "to God and to the
word of his grace." Paul links being in God's hands w/paying attention to His Word. Why this emphasis on the
Bible? B/c God has given His Word for the specific purpose of building up the saints and providing all God's
blessings for His people. God's Word saves us. (Read Romans 10:17.)
God's Word sanctifies us. (Read John 17:17.) Look for a pastor who will preach God's Word faithfully in public worship.
Just as importantly, commit to personal Bible reading! As East Side faces her future, look to the Bible to
build you up!
Ministry Comes Before Money! (Read Acts 20:33-35.)
Paul concludes his speech by talking about money. Likely that Paul was collecting an offering as he traveled to
Jerusalem; he wanted to remind the Ephesians that the offering was not for his personal benefit. He declares that
he has kept his heart from greed and covetousness. He once again points to his personal example; he worked hard,
not only to provide for his own needs, but also for the needs of his missionary companions, and the poor ("weak.")
East Side will face some struggles in the future; the question will be: Should East Side use God's money to do
ministry, or should East Side hold onto the money and aim to merely survive? Paul reminds us of Jesus' words; (Acts 20:35.)
Let me add Jesus' words in Matthew 6:33; (read.) As East Side faces her future, prioritize ministry above money!
Prayer is a Priority! (Read Acts 20:36.) As I was preparing this sermon, I initially lumped vs. 36 together w/37-38. I
was focusing on Paul saying goodbye, and I was convicted when I realized that I had overlooked the prayer in this
passage. Then I thought, "Don't we do that, too?" When a Christian/church is busy, or in the midst of change,
stress, or transition, it's easy to forget to pray. We think, "There are so many other urgent things to do!" But
the truth is, prayer is the work! Keep prayer a priority! East Side must be intentional, seeking God's Spirit and
God's will in prayer. East Side will have a future, if God displays His mercy and power! So ask Him; pray for His
will, His wisdom, His blessing! (Read Psalm 127:1.)
As East Side faces her future, keep prayer a priority!
Relationships are Required! (Read Acts 20:37-38.)
These final verses picture Paul's departure. Hugs, kisses, sorrow. Church involves relationships; w/Christ, and
w/each other. There are joyous hellos and sad goodbyes; laughter and tears. B/c we're sinners who have been saved,
there is stress, tension, confrontation, reconciliation. In our culture where social and media have bled together
into a superficial digital community where you can have thousands of digital friends, yet have no one know who you
truly are, face to face relationships are messy, uncomfortable, something we're tempted to avoid. Resist that
temptation! Engage in real relationship. You can't be the church w/o meeting together. No such thing as Lone
Ranger Christians; we need each other! (Read Hebrews
10:24-25.) As East Side faces her future, remember that relationships are required!
Conclusion: As East Side faces her future, I call you to cling to God's Word, commit to doing ministry,
make prayer a priority, and risk real relationships. And remember that, as much as Rikki and I love you, our
Savior loves you more. (Read Jude 24-25.)