Acts 18: Companions in ministry
Continuing the Acts Series, pastor David preaches on Acts 18 where he discusses Paul's missionary journeys, ministry priorities, and the importance of companionship in ministry. This sermon highlights Paul's various companions and emphasizes the significance of networking in ministry, with the Lord being our supreme companion.
Good morning everyone got your Bibles there I'm sure you do open if you would to Acts chapter 18. we're continuing our Series today on um on acts and the theme that we are looking at through X is disciples making disciples and sometimes we've extended that we've talked about disciples making disciples who make disciples and so that ongoing domino effect or whichever way you'd like to describe it now as we are doing we're taking great slabs and we don't have time to uh to read all the the chapters each week but we're just taking a selection and so um but we will be covering the whole of the chapter today so Acts chapter 18 and for verse 1. reads this way after this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth there he met a Jew named Aquila a native of pontus who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome Paul went to see them and because he was a Tent Maker as they were he stayed and worked with them every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue trying to persuade Jews and Greeks when Solace and Timothy came from Macedonia Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ but when the Jews are posed Paul and became abusive he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them your blood be on your own heads I'm clear of my responsibility from now on I will go to the Gentiles probably said a bit more emphasis than um the controlled way in which I'm reading it I'm not a good voice actor but just understand the the uh the emphasis that he's saying there then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of taishes justice a worshiper of God Crispus the synagogue ruler and his entire household believed in the Lord and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed were baptized one night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision do not be afraid keep on speaking do not be silent for I am with you and no one is going to attack and harm you because I have many people in this city so Paul stayed for a year and a half teaching them the word of God well Galileo was pro-consul of archaia the Jews made a United attack on Paul and brought him into court this man they charged is persuading the people to worship God in ways contrary to the law we'll leave it there God always blesses the reading of his word we're pleased about that and those of us who are committed to studying and working through acts I'm sure will go home if you haven't read the whole chapter that you'll go home and read all of chapter 18 today well let's uh just recap we as we're talking about acts remember how in the beginning of Acts the focus was on Peter and somewhere along the line the um the emphasis has shifted from Peter and the other Apostles has shifted to Paul and you might remember that uh from time to time we've talked about Paul going on these missionary Journeys how many did he go on three that's right three missionary Journeys sometimes people say four but that last one was his duty to Rome and uh so we look at that one separately so Paul's three missionary Journeys uh listed out there for us in um and something of where the the uh the chapters that are covered and also the approximate time the unfortunate thing is is we're looking at chapter 18 is this is that you will see that we end or Paul ends his second missionary journey and begins his third one in this chapter and sometimes we miss that that division there and maybe we could have been a bit more um careful in looking at this division so Paul is on these three missionary Journeys and today we are looking at this part the end of his second one the beginning of his third and as you would have seen from the title of our sermon that we're looking at uh at companions in Ministry now we're looking at this but just to get this in a wider context the first thing I want to talk about is this is that what a Ministry priority so Paul is round about doing a whole pile of things what are his priorities and what should our priorities be today I want to suggest these four priorities for us and to make sure that we get them in order so our first priority always has to be the purposes of God folk if you don't know these then I'd encourage you to to write these down or to memorize them to have them clearly in your mind that these are the priorities for us as God's people the first priority the top priority what life is all about is the purposes of God so what do we mean by the purposes of God well the Bible is full of talking about the purposes of God um seems to me there are many verses where we could summarize the purposes of God but one verse for me which summarizes the purposes of God would come out in Matthew chapter 6 at verse 33 which we all know of by heart because Matthew 6 33 says what seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added unto you added to you so seeking first the kingdom of God the kingdom of God is the reign of God the rule of God in our lives so the number one priority for Paul the number one priority for you the number one priority for me individually and collectively is that we're seeking first God's rule in our life that is is that life is not about us and about me being in control but about God being in control of my life won't you try for the next week before your feet hit the floor when you get up in the morning just to say this one simple prayer father what's your purpose for me today and uh just to see would it what what happens uh you know and open yourself up to that to just to let him know that right from the beginning that you're seeking his purposes the second priority is always people well we could always say the priority is uh seeking first the kingdom of God but another way we could say that is this remember those people who came to Jesus and said this what is the greatest commandment and Jesus said the greatest commandment is two love God with all your heart mind soul and strength and then he gave them some extra information and what was that love your neighbor as yourself and say here is the first commandment seeking first the kingdom of God loving God there's other verses which which express that that's our number one priority and the second priority comes out of that second command of Jesus is to love others and that's why we're looking at this whole area today about companions in Ministry because this is what being a part of God's family is about um there's no place in God's economy for Lane Ranger Christians and definitely Lane Ranger leaders in God's in God's plan but always together always in team always a part of God's family and then for no extra cost programs comes next programs sometimes get in the way of things that we think sometimes programs become an end in themselves we don't read too much about programs in in the book of Acts but nevertheless they're important because they facilitate our ministry to people in the name of Jesus and then property beyond that make sure that we always keep them in that order does that mean programs are probably are not important of course they are but we just need to make sure that we've got them in the right priority so we're looking at this number one a number two priority today companions in Ministry that part of the purposes of God is this whole area of people and relating to people so let's have a look just very briefly it's not the whole story here but once again getting this into into some context here about Paul's Ministry uh Paul's discipleship method we see in all of this um from his uh from his journey that he went from Athens and if we were to read it through we'd see that Paul went from Athens to Corinth to Saint Korea to Ephesus to caesarea to Antioch that's covered in a read about this chapter why was Paul going he was going do I need to say because this was the part of the purpose of God for him this is the purpose of God that he would be going is it any different for you and for me no of course not because we know that the Great Commission make disciples by going and so there's Justice Paul echoing in his mind the words that he had been taught in his as he was disciple about going that he's going so it's going Athens corinths and career efficacies are here Antioch his practice is that we see here that he always seemed to go to the Jews first and then the Gentiles if we remembered back when we probably don't remember details like this but back in Chapter 13 and verse 46 almost Echoes what he says in chapter 18 what we read a bit earlier after chapter chapter 18 and verse 6 where it says in the Jews opposed Paul when Jews supposed Paul and became abusive he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them your blood be on your own heads I am clear of my responsibility from now on I'm going to the gentiles there's a lot we could unpack in that of course and uh the whole Jew and Gentile and Paul's Ministry in that way but just one note that I think we ought to just be aware of is this is a Paul's responsibility was what Paul's responsibility ended when he had presented the gospel to those Jews to those people and when they had had rejected that became abusive as the Bible says there what did Paul do through in the towel no he didn't he said well I've done my bit for you I'm going to another group to do the same thing there to present the gospel there so that was his practice but then the frontier was this was that he finds himself being led by the spirit of God in in this chapter most of this chapter it says in chapter 18 after this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth um we can just gloss over that very quickly but I think it's important that we just stop and think a little bit about Corinth is it you see Corinth is um was a very difficult City um if we were to think of all the Seedy places in in southeast Queensland what would be the places that we might come up with might be the valley down in Brisbane we hear about other places around us about being difficult places and sometimes we hear about caboolture being a difficult place I don't think it's deserving of the reputation that I read in some places and maybe some of those places that are not representative but even in caboolture we know that there are some places uh caboolture field the Morton Bay Area is that there are some places which are less desirable than others and you see Corinth was all of that and worse than that we get a picture of that remember that Paul wrote later on wrote a couple of letters well we've only got two but there were more that he wrote but we know that we've got the two first and second Corinthians and in First Corinthians chapter 6 and verses 9 to 11 it says about this about the church do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God and this is what the Corinth was about do not perceive neither the sexually immoral idolaters adulterers male prostitutes homosexual offenders these greedy drunkards North Slanders nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God Paul is describing the residents of Corinth because he says there in verse 11 the next verse and that is what some of you were past tense that's what some of you were but you washed you were Sanctified you justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the spirit of God say Corinth was this difficult City where probably one of the one of the least desirable places in the then known world and you know what that's exactly the sort of place where the gospel needs to go and you know if God has placed us here however easy or difficult and maybe it's on the more difficult side caboolture is you know this is a place where the gospel is needed the most and you know something God looked around over all his family and said who are the best people to be my representatives in this place at this time and you know who he chose he chose you and me that we are to be God's presence the Christ bearers to this community and and Paul is in this community this difficult community of Corinth because it was well trade-wise and economically it's probably a really great place but for the kingdom of God it was a very very needy place and you know what we live in a community which uh irrespective of how you're graded on a score of one to ten as a needy place and God has placed you and me here to be his presence here but apart from that being a difficult City remember this is not home for Paul that this is a different culture that he has to work with so he's working ministering in a cross-cultural way um some psyche we've got a number of Ikea we're coming to Australia is across cultural experience but even subcultures coming to from another place in Queensland another place in Australia coming to a place here there are subcultures which we've got to learn so Paul had to do all of that and not only that he arrived without any companions he's here on his own remember what we were talking about companions in Ministry but it makes it very clear from chapter 18 and verse 1 Paul comes into town on his own not knowing anybody so he's alone here in a different culture ministering cross-culturally in a place which is very very difficult very very needy for the gospel so when you think about why God has got you here fake don't think that you came here because it seemed like a good place to buy a house or to get a job the primary purpose of your being here is that this is where God has placed you and if God is moving you away it needs to be with that same that same emphasis that this is what God where God is calling you to and it's important that we get to understand this place and to love this place and to love the people over the years you know I've heard you know numerous missionaries coming and going whatever doing their deputation whatever but there's there's one missionary who stands out in my mind who came and spoke at the church I was ministering at the time and said he was there because he loved the people and I think that's important for us fake to to do that to um to fall in love with the community in which we live not just as a community but with the people that that are here and so that's how it is when Paul rocks into town but then we get onto this beautiful picture of all of these companions that that all of a sudden start emerging for poor these companions in Ministry all this networking which is taking place so Paul walks into town not knowing anyone and it says in verse 2 there he met a Jew named Aquila a native of pontus who'd recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla because Claudia Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave rain Paul went to see them how that connected who knows that in some miraculous way God connected them so here's Priscilla and Aquila they all say come to a difficult place cross-cultural not knowing anybody and he comes poor same thing and somehow they are connected together and not only that they discover in their conversation maybe their beginning conversation hey you know what we've got a common trade we're all tent makers here um immediately you might be saying about Paul I didn't realize he had a trade that he was a tradie by the way it says tent makers it's probably better represented as leather workers but um but the most common leather working was was making tents and uh so it would have been the BCF of the day I guess or maybe not different sort of advertisements I'm sure but but um but but here they are as tent makers but but you see Paul had this other Ministry where he was supporting himself but who's also ministering as well and you see we need to also understand that as well so what do you do as a job are you a trading well you you had this dual this dual uh occupation God has called you to be a tradie to be a professional to be a student God has called you being retired could you be whatever but that's where the support comes from the other part is you're a minister in the name of Jesus we all are and so Paul is using this for physical support to put food on the table pay rent whatever else needed needed to do but he all the time he's at their Ministry and and sometimes we still refer to missionaries we sometimes talk about tent making Ministry um people from outside probably hear the church talking about tent making Ministry and think I didn't realize such a need for tents all over the place but but this is what's being talked about here is that there are some people deliberately go to a place to minister as missionaries but they have another job there to support themselves financially but guys medical people as teachers as tradies as English teachers a whole range of things being paid for what they're doing but the main purpose of being there is for Ministry in fact we need to somehow get that into our fixed goals too that whatever our source of income that's there to put food on the table but that's not the major fakers the major focus of life is well the purposes of God and secondly is people how we might minister to them and it seems to me that not only did Paul uh had this this connection with Priscilla and Aquila in this tent making but there was this discipleship method as well that Paul was involved in discipleship hey Priscilla and Quilla good to have you as tent makers good to have colleagues in Ministry it's good to get to know you let me tell you this is how to live the Christian Life and this is how to fulfill the purposes of God in your life and we know that because right down the end we're going to get to that just just put a put a marker there we're going to come back to that we talk about Apollos but then remember that if we well if we do remember back to chapter 17 that Paul was with Silas and Timothy left Silas and Timothy back in Berea but then what we discover here in chapter 18 and verse 5. Solace and Timothy catch up with Paul so Paul's the advanced party goes to Corinth science Timothy finishing off work which was started back in Berea they catch up to to where Paul is and then what do we discover when they arrive Paul devoted himself exclusively to the preaching and testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ so SARS and Timothy are traveling companions and then we have tarsh's Justice I'm not sure that's asa's no please forgive me we'll sort it out we get to heaven but uh but verse 7 says this when the Jews that posed Paul and became abusive he shook out his clothes in protests and said to them your blood be on your eight heads cleared my responsibility um go on with the Gentiles of verse 7 then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of tarsh's justice the worshiper of God and it's interesting eh he's there in the synagogue they reject him so where's he going to go Minister next go next door it's not far is it he's right next door continuing the ministry and no doubt his ministry which is carrying on base next door is still coming back to the synagogue as well so here is already some companions that we're building this picture of linking together as friends and his colleagues former Ministry colleagues coming together freeing Paul up to do other stuff and now here's this other man who's providing a resource a base for Paul to continue his ministry then we get down to Christmas and and verse 8. it says this about him Christmas the synagogue ruler and his entire household believed in the Lord so there's a synagogue ruler remember Paul's just next door but all of a sudden well not all of a sudden but through the ministry that that uh that Christmas becomes a Christian is led to the Lord Jesus and not only is he led to Jesus but what he's the Gateway for the gospel into his whole family to become Christians and you see we often need to remind ourselves of that too is that when we minister to somebody outside of the church really we're not just ministering to them they might be the key person but that's going to have an impact on the whole network their family their neighbors and everyone else if we wanted to go over in chapter 1 and verse 14 of 1 Corinthians and Paul says about how he baptized uh Christmas and Gaius there and then we get down to sustenase in verse 17 and what do we read about him in verse 17. they all turned on sustanies the synagogue grueler and beat him up now here's an issue if you're following this very carefully what did you read about Christmas that he was the synagogue ruler now we get down a few verses later and we've got sustanies synagogue ruler by the way is this a great chapter for new parents looking for names for their kids you know Quilla Priscilla sustanies Christmas some of these are excellent names whatever so we've got Crispers and sauce thinners both um both there as As Leaders synagogue rulers how do we understand this no one knows the answer to that here's some possibilities when when uh Christmas became a Christian he got booted out and then softhenese was then made the new ruler that's one possibility another possibility is that actually in the synagogue there were two rules just like we have a church Council there are two rules one whose name is Christmas and the other one its name was sosthenese another possibility is that is that actually there are two different synagogues and Crispus is the leader of One thoughts than he's the other well some others say um well maybe it's really just the same person that uh some places he's called Crispus in some places it's called sauce the knees now do you want to know the answer to that I wouldn't mind knowing the answer doesn't really matter but I don't know the answer but they're the full common uh possibilities there but we're just as Crispus as baptized by Paul Wayne Corinthians 1 14. in 1 Corinthians chapter 1 verse 1 Paul talks about his brother saucinis so here are two one or two rules of synagogues the Paul's Ministry becoming Christians there and then we get down to a Polish is um remember we read about or said about Priscilla and Aquila being discipled by Paul and then Apollos Comes to Town the brothers encouraged him wrote the disciples welcoming there arriving he was great help to those who by Grace believed um uh sorry should have picked that up a bit earlier meanwhile in June named Apollos verse 24 and 84 Alexandra came to Ephesus learned man thorough knowledge of scripture being instructed the way of the Lord spoke with great fervor taught about Jesus accurately although he only knew about the baptism of John he had a limited understanding he began to speak boldly in the synagogue and then when Priscilla and Aquila heard him they invited him to their home explained to him the way of God more adequately ah do you get this disciples making disciples Paul rocks into town meets up with Priscilla and Aquila disciples them and by the end of the chapter what do we read Priscilla and Aquila are discipling other people and this is how it's supposed to be in fact the one of the most exciting things in life is not just seeing people who you disciple growing in the Lord but people who you are discipling seeing them discipling other people and that is really really exciting so rocks into town not knowing anyone and within a while we don't know how well he was there for a year and a half and then he moved on so in all of this period of time this network is building up round about him now I want us to be thinking very very quickly about who your companions in Ministry who are the people who who are good mates who are friends who are colleagues in Ministry all of these things if you feel that you can't identify someone as I said there's no place for Lone Ranger Christians you've got to be developing these Folk and to identify them and to identify the role which they have in your life and I'm going to encourage you to do one more thing is to send them an email or a text or even better still just go up and shake their hand put your arm around them or something even this morning and say thank you that you are one of my companions in Ministry um that'd be so encouraging um if you're able to do that today and um and it'd be an encouragement for you to do it but it'd be heaps of encouragement for those receiving it our time's gone and I've still got more to go this is all by way of introduction no it's not um I just want to can we just quickly turn to verses 9 and 10. which is Paul one night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision do not be afraid you know what that tells me this great missionary pull still suffered from Fear so he's still scared out of his wits and the thing is is that God speaks to him comes to him and the first words are do not be afraid keep on speaking do not be sorry for I am with you and no one is going to attack and harm you because there are many people in this city and then it says so Paul encouraged by the word of the Lord stayed for another year and a half 18 months teaching them the word of God Paul knew the voice of the Lord remember on the road to Damascus he'd heard the Lord speaking to him and now again the Lord speaking to him and he says this don't be afraid keep on speaking don't be silent this is what the Lord's the Lord says the Lord speaks four things that I pick up out of this very very quickly one the Assurance of the presence I am with you secondly the power that comes with that power sometimes negative this is talking about Fair income real power fear not keep ministering and and the protection that comes with that no one will did Paul still go through difficult times he sure did Shipwreck all sorts of things but just as John 16 33 says Don't Fear I have overcome the world nothing to fear you know you've we've got the protection of God around us we'll still go through tough times difficulties but nothing will ever happen to us without God's knowledge or permission and then there's the potentials he says I had many in this city I have many people in this city how do you understand that you know how I understand that I understand that and that God through his foreknowledge is aware that there are a lot of people out there who are not a part of his family through Paul's Ministry they're going to come in and they're going to become a Gods part of God's family I wonder when you look around caboolture murrayfield they've been Gary bribie Wherever You Are how many people you put your eyes on who one day again be seated here or in another church is a part of the family of God you know this message I don't think is just for Paul this uh this verse these words but I think that for you and for me too Don't Be Afraid keep on speaking don't be silent I'm with you none lay a hand on you to hurt you because of many people in this city God's saying don't give up never give up hang in there and I just want to say this just by way of enclosing is this is it while this is applied primarily to our ministry it seems to me that it applies the same principle applies to many other areas of our life I know and I'm the others who I'm not aware of that there are people really struggling in our congregation their family relationship issues Financial issues housing issues the list goes on and on and the Temptation is the well it's all too much throwing the towel one way or the other and the word of God is coming to you today whatever your circumstances are don't give up hang in there I'm with you don't be afraid I'm with you keep on keeping on nothing will harm you nothing will happen I've got more blessing that's coming your way this life and the next what do you reckon about that companions in Ministry aren't we so glad that God placed Us in his family that we're a part of the family of God let's pray even so I stayed here and look out on the congregation I'm just aware of so many connections that take place that do take place here and many others which I'm not aware of father but you know them all I'm so glad that you've brought us to this place of caboolture Murray Field Morton Bay Area wherever we live we're here not by accident but a part of your purpose to be your presence here help us to realize that to understand that to be bold because you are with us and father whatever people are going through today Ministry crisis or personal crisis whatever other crisis might be the father that you will assure them that you'll assure us that your presence that your caring presence your understanding presence the presence it grants to us boldness to keep on to hang in there will be with us pray that for them that you'll bless them bless us in this way in the name of Jesus. Amen.