Pastor Barry/ The Gathering Church Acts #17: A Walk With God To hear this message and others download our free app. Search the Gathering Connect at the App Store.
Picture: A section of the Roman road from Troas to Assos
A Walk With God Acts 20:13-15, Psalm 46:10, Proverbs 3:5-6
After the “longest sermon in early church History” Paul moved on towards his call once again. Paul chose to walk from Troas to Assos (21 miles/ 2 days) while his companions sailed ahead of him to the next port. Although scripture doesn’t say why Paul chose to walk we can surmise that he wanted to be alone with God to contemplate and pray about his arrival and ministry in Jerusalem. We might compare the reflective agony of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:41-42) to Paul’s solitary walk. Somewhere on the road between the harbor at Troas and the city gate at Assos Paul apparently accepted his personal cup of suffering that was to come in Jerusalem.
We too should take such walks with God periodically. Shorter regular times alone with God (daily if you will/ weekly at least) are vital, but we should also carve out a bigger blocks of time where we can get away and reflect on His goodness, seek His direction, and get guidance on His call for our life and future endeavors. We should all make a purposeful time to do this especially when facing major decisions. We don’t need to walk 21 miles but you could try a trail at the park, the nature center or the beach to name a few. Get alone…Be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10, Proverbs 3:5-6). He will direct your paths as you seek Him and lean “not on your own understanding”. Look for God daily and you will find Him. Purposely seek God and you will know Him.
Counting The Cost Acts 20:16-35, Philippians 3:7-14
Paul’s intention was to pass through the areas that he began churches on his way to Jerusalem. On his visits he encouraged the leadership of the churches and collected money for the relief of impoverished believers at Jerusalem … Paul saw the collection as a symbol of unity that would help his Gentile converts realize their debt to the mother church in Jerusalem. Paul decided to sail past Ephesus, not to avoid the church there, but to keep on schedule to get to Jerusalem by Pentecost (Acts 20:16). Paul and his companions stopped in near by Miletus and sent a message to Ephesus for the Elders of the church there to come to him an say goodbye. When they arrived he reminded them of his work of ministry among them and how the Spirit compelled (drove) him to go onto Jerusalem even though he knew that he would face prison and hardships there (Acts 20:22-24). None the less, Paul had counted the cost of his calling and considered his life worth nothing in comparison to doing God’s will. He made that more clear in his words to the church in Philippi (Philippians 3:7-14). To know Christ and to do His will was the most important thing to Paul. His only aim was to “finish the race” and complete the task that Christ had given him. What are you willing to “consider lost” to know more of Jesus?
“Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open” Corrie ten Boom (Nazi Holocaust survivor, hero and author)
“Be On Your Guard” Acts 20:25-36, 1 Timothy 4:15-16, Galatians 6:9-10, 1 Peter 5:8-10
Paul also encouraged and admonished the elders in their work to “be on your guard.” We must too as we continue our walk with Christ: “Be on guard”…
- Over ourselves: We need to watch life and doctrine closely (1 Timothy 4:15-16). Diligence( persistent work & effort ) in our faith preserves ourselves and others.
- Over the Flock: The “flock” is the Church (fellow believers) Yes, “you are your brothers keeper” (Galatians 6:9-10). “Shepherds of the Church” was a reference by Paul to those elders gathered to spiritually guide the believers in the truth; however, all of us believers should know the Word and correct those who begin to stray from it.
- Over the Weak: We are to walk in “grace” which builds ourselves and others up. Condemnation tears down. We are to be mindful always of the fact that when we do unto others we have done it unto Christ (Matthew 25:31-46). It is by grace we are saved so let us show it as we hold out the gospel of truth to others who are weak in body, mind, or spirit, and also those who are weak in sin. We should be careful not to look to ways to profit ourselves but to help others in need “for as Jesus said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’. (Note: Although Paul quotes Jesus here this phrase can not be found anywhere in scripture (Luke 6:38 & Mark 10:44-45 come closest). This quote was ether a supernatural revelation from Jesus (Acts 9:1-24,16:7,18:9-10, 22:6-21, Galatians 1:11-12) or something commonly known at the time but never written down” (John 20:30; 21:25). The quote however is consistent with the recorded teachings of Jesus.
- “Be on your guard” also reminds the believer of a teaching by Peter to guard ourselves against the devil’s hungry hate for God’s children (1 Peter 5:8-10). “Be alert!”
Public Opinion Acts 21:1-36, Matthew 5:3-12
Do you do what God says or follow public opinion? Paul sought God on going to Jerusalem and said he was “compelled by the Spirit to go there” (Acts 20:22). Through the same “Spirit” others warned him not to go (Acts 21:4, 11-12). Later, in Acts 23:11, Jesus commends Paul for his testimony in Jerusalem and encourages him to do likewise in Rome. We can therefore conclude that the prophesies and warnings were divine but the urging “not to go” was human. Oftentimes, Christians assume that God’s greatest interest is in their own personal happiness. It is not! God’s interest is always in a cause greater than ourselves. (just look at the Beatitudes: Matthew 5:3-12). Strangely enough, however; those who obey God’s will over their own safety and comfort will find faith, peace and joy that surpasses any self indulgent living- even if it does result in a “beating”.
Paul’s happy arrival in Jerusalem went bad quickly because of misinformation about his teachings (on Moses, circumcision and Jewish customs). Even shaving his head in a Jewish purification rite did not satisfy those who refused to hear him. Paul’s beating (prophesied) only ended because soldiers carried him away in chains from the mob (God did step in). “To count all things lost to know more of Jesus” To “finish the race” set before us. May this be our attitude as we follow in the footsteps of Him who loves us.