Introduction: A key idea in the book of Acts is that believers should be witnesses for the Lord, everywhere we go. Today, we hope to discuss “the churches revisited” and start our talking about “the call to Europe.”
Body: Read Acts 16:1-5 2. The Churches Revisited (cont.). Paul arrived at Derbe and Lystra, where he met Timothy. Timothy had a good reputation and Paul recruited him into service. Timothy was circumcised for the sake of effective ministry.
In this section of the book of Acts they worked together to strengthen the churches, and people were being added daily.
Applications – - A godly reputation. Notice in vss. 1-2 of this section of the book of Acts that even though Timothy had a Jewish mother and Greek father, he had a good reputation.
There were those who would have looked down on Timothy being the product of mixed parents, but Timothy did not allow it to prevent him from developing a good reputation.
We have no say so in how we were born into this world. However, we have a great amount of say so in the reputation that we develop, now that we have been born.
Let’s develop a godly reputation, no matter how we were born into this world. We should have a reputation for striving to live by God’s word.
- Suffering for effectiveness. Notice in vs. 3 of this section of the book of Acts that Timothy is circumcised for the mission’s sake. He was not circumcised so he can be saved or stay saved.
But he was circumcised, so his lack thereof would not be a distraction to the mission and assignment that God was calling him to do. In other words, he was willing to go through some changes and do some inconvenient things, so that he could be effective in ministry.
Let’s work on be willing to suffer through some changes for the sake of being more effective in ministry. An example that comes to mind is tattoos.
There are some ladies who had tattoos placed on their breasts during a time when being a disciple was not a high priority for them. But now that they are focused on giving God 110%, it may call for doing something with distracting tattoos.
This idea needs to be kept in balance with avoiding the sin of trying to please everyone. It needs to be kept in balance with being freed from the law. In other words, each person needs to prayerful decide what God wants them to do in his/her given situation.
- Strengthening the church. Notice in vss. 4-5 that Paul, Timothy, and others were used to strengthen the churches. We learned from this section of the book of Acts that every part of the body should aim to strengthen the body, especially since we are all in this thing together.
Let’s work on strengthening the church that we are in. We can strengthen our churches by being studying, serving, giving disciples who give extra effort to being loving, worshippers of God, supporters of excellence, and involved in improving the community.
Strengthen your church by praying for it, talking it up, and doing what you can to help.
Read Acts 16:6-10 3. The Call to Europe. Paul and his company traveled to a number of places in what we call Europe. They were told not to go to some places by the Holy Spirit. Paul received a vision to go to Macedonia. His company took this as a word from God for them to go and preach.
Applications – - Assignments, instead of names. Notice in vs. 6 of this section of the book of Acts that Paul’s name is called, but those with him are called his companions. This seems like a small matter, until you see how upset people become in church, when their names are not called.
You should remember, first, that to whom much is given, much is required. Paul’s name was called when traveling and when it was time to be beaten and jailed. In other words, the good and bad go together with being popular and trusted with leadership position.
Second, God knows you. And since you are working for God, not just people, you should be happy about that. God knows you and your service. And he can be trusted to pay whatever is right.
Let’s work on focusing on our assignments, instead of our names being called.
- Opened and closed doors. Notice in vss. 6-10 that there were some doors of ministry that were closed, and some were opened. Let’s learn to trust and thank God for opened and closed doors.
If God closes the door, we can rest in knowing that God has saved us a great deal of trouble. If God opens the door, we can rest in knowing that God’s way is best for us, even when we have to cry and suffer on the journey. These ideas hold true for jobs, housing opportunities, and relationships.
- Following our vision. Notice in vss. 9-10 of the book of Acts that Paul received a vision of where to go, and the company accepted the vision to the leader as the vision for the group.
There are too many in the church who do not own the vision. They treat the vision of the church as belonging only to the leader. God sends the vision, the goals, the expectations, the instructions for His church to the one He sent to feed and lead His church.
Our job is to line up with the vision that God has sent. A key principle for understanding did God send the vision or not to consider is the vision contrary to God’s word.
If it is contrary to God’s word then it is not of God. But if it is not contrary to God’s word then you ought to be willing to trust God to provide the increase for that which is of Him and to stop those things that are not of Him (see Acts 5:38-39).
Let’s work on following the vision that God sends through His leader for His people.
Conclusion: Let’s work on being witnesses for the Lord, everywhere we go. God has much for those who obey His will.
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