4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. (Isaiah 6:4-5)
As is usually the case, I had my sermon prepared by the end of Friday, last Friday. My sermon text would be used in an informal and conversational teaching sermon yesterday (Saturday) at 4:30 P.M. But, as has also been the usual case, God changed my sermon at about 1:00 P.M. The sermon truly became one that was informal and conversational, as well as being very intimate. Two of my favorite Bible champions of the faith became the subject of the afternoon’s sharing of ideas.
I usually arrive at the building where our church meets, at about 3:30 P.M. I arrive at such a time that will allow me to check for sufficient restroom supplies, rearrange a room, which is used by a local benevolence ministry of food, clothing, and furniture, and other house wares. Three racks of hanging clothes, a large portable child’s play steam engine, and stacks of clothing that had not been sorted and placed on racks, had to be put in areas of the building that would allow me to situate metal folding chairs, a portable pulpit, and a small “old rugged cross” in the front of one of the large showroom windows, so that passersby would notice that “the place of free creature comfort items,” had suddenly become “the place of free spiritual comfort items.”
At the time that I finished with the logistical duties that would make a showroom into a sanctuary for the body of Christ, I sat down on a bench (it really looks like the front seat of a 55 Chevy) that is placed immediately to the right side of the pulpit, as I view it from the pulpit. (Sometimes I will sit down while preaching; it’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it (lol?) It was at that time that a soul washing, soul cleansing, spirit awakening, and time of solemn assembly came all over me. A dear precious man of God once used the term, “let God’s Spirit wash over you.” Well, yesterday, God’s Spirit not only washed over me; it washed under me, on top of me, all around me, and entirely through me. That emotion stayed with me throughout our time of intimate study, discussion and worship, until early this morning (3:00 AM) when I finally went to bed. That intimacy of relationship that I was experiencing with God was something that I didn’t want to end. I know, too, that God didn’t want our time of special closeness to end, either. I will pray for another appointment with My Heavenly Father.
The following sermon draft is just that, a sermon draft. I have added a few comments, but I trust that you will let your mind carry you from your own relational moments of holiness, humility and community to other ones that you may have experienced. Let me encourage you to cherish such moments, and to seek others.
2 Corinthians 12:2-4 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows— 4 was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.
The Apostle Paul was taken directly into the Presence Of God. It was at that time that I believe that God told Paul everything that would happen to him, as he served His Lord. The experience of Paul is much like us when we have had an extremely emotional moment, and when we are asked to explain it, we will say, “I just can’t explain it!” It’s also like Paul trying to explain Heaven to someone who has never been there; “how can you do it?”
Acts 20:13-37 New American Standard Bible (NASB) (Added)
Troas to Miletus
13 But we, going ahead to the ship, set sail for Assos, intending from there to take Paul on board; for so he had arranged it, intending himself to go by land.14 And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and came to Mitylene.15 Sailing from there, we arrived the following day opposite Chios; and the next day we crossed over to Samos; and the day following we came to Miletus.16 For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be in Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost.
Farewell to Ephesus
17 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church.18 And when they had come to him, he said to them,
“You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, 21 solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me. 24 But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.
25 “And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face. 26 Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. 28 Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothes. 34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. 35 In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
36 When he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all.37 And they began to weep aloud and embraced Paul, and repeatedly kissed him,
Paul’s emotions, and his true person, are clearly shown in the last 35- 37. Just as he loved the Ephesian elders, he was loved by them. In this respect, we can say that relationships can also be related to community, a community of fellow believers in Jesus, the Christ.
Numbers 12:3 New American Standard Bible (NASB) (Added)
3 (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.)
It’s quite a tribute to be paid to a man or woman by God, the maker of heaven, earth, and all that are contained therein. To hear God say to someone, “hey, you’re okay,” must be an experience without explanation.
Exodus 24:1-2 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
1 Then He said to Moses, “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu and seventy of the elders of Israel, and you shall worship at a distance.2 Moses alone, however, shall come near to the Lord, but they shall not come near, nor shall the people come up with him.”
Consider the levels of relationship that is shown. Moses, first. The others, at a distance. Let us seek a Moses relationship with God.
Leviticus 19:2 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
2 “Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.
Leviticus 20:7-8 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
7 You shall consecrate yourselves therefore and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. 8 You shall keep My statutes and practice them; I am the Lord who sanctifies you.
Leviticus 20:26 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
26 Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine.
God is holy, without flaw. He expects us to strive for such a virtue of holiness in our daily lives. When we are born again, our spirit becomes as pure as the Spirit of God. (1 John 1:5) Until we are resurrected or caught up into Heaven to be with God (1 Thes 4:16-17) we will have a soul and body that are not holy. Our thinking process (our soul) will always be affected by “indwelling sin” (Rom 7:15-20), until it joins our regenerated spirit (John 3:3-8).
Psalm 24:3-4 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
3 Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart; who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood; and has not sworn deceitfully.
We should pursue a lifetime and lifestyle of being pure before God, and honesty toward others in our earthly habitat.
Psalm 43:3-4 New American Standard Bible (NASB) 3 O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your dwelling places. 4 Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy; And upon the lyre I shall praise You, O God, my God.
Let us follow the light that God’s shines toward us (John 1:9) to save us and to guide us to live a Godly life (John 16:5-15).
Colossians 4:2-18 New American Standard Bible (NASB) (64 AD)
2 Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; 3 praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; 4 that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.
5 Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.
7 As to all my affairs, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will bring you information. 8 For I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts; 9 and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of your number. They will inform you about the whole situation here.
10 Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, sends you his greetings; and also Barnabas’s cousin Mark (about whom you received instructions; if he comes to you, welcome him); 11 and also Jesus who is called Justus; these are the only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are from the circumcision, and they have proved to be an encouragement to me. 12 Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God. 13 For I testify for him that he has a deep concern for you and for those who are in Laodicea and Hierapolis. 14 Luke, the beloved physician, sends you his greetings, and also Demas. 15 Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea and also Nympha and the church that is in her house. 16 When this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your part read my letter that is coming from Laodicea. 17 Say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.”
18 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my imprisonment.Grace be with you.
The relationship that Paul has experienced with other saints of God are shown; he identifies a number of people. He is still seeking ways to witness the love of Christ to anybody that may hear him. Tychicus (vs 7) delivered the prison Epistles that Paul wrote to the Colossians and the Ephesians; he was like, a “mail man.” An earlier disagreement between Paul and Mark had been healed (vs 10). Praise God! (Mark. The rift that had emerged more than a decade earlier between Paul and the cousins Barnabas and John Mark (author of the Gospel of Mark, Acts 13:13; 15:37–40) had healed (2 Tim. 4:11; Philem. 24). Paul’s special mention of Mark testifies to the power of the reconciling work of Christ (1:20–22) and to the peace that is to rule within Christ’s body (3:15). (Reformation Study Bible)) One of Paul’s companions, Epaphras, had become a true prayer warrior for the Colossians.The Physician Luke, the writer of Luke’s Gospel and the Book of Acts, had become a lifelong companion of Paul, and was still with him. Some people believe that Paul was hostile, or indifferent, toward women. In verse 15, he commends Nympha for making it possible for the church, the body of Christ, to have a place to meet, “in her house.” (The King James Translations use the pronoun, “he,” to identify Nympha. But the New King James even has a foot note that relates Nympha to being feminine). My thought about Nympha is that she may have been a widow, maybe with children living at home. Consider the blessing that such a person today can be to the body of Christ). Paul didn’t have to mention Nympha, if he had truly had a disdain for women. It is my opinion that Paul’s writings have not been properly taught. (That is another lesson for another time.)
2 Timothy 4:6-22 New American Standard Bible (NASB) (66 AD)
6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; 8 in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
9 Make every effort to come to me soon; 10 for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service. 12 But Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. 13 When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments. 14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. 15 Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching.
16 At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
19 Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. 20 Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus. 21 Make every effort to come before winter. Eubulus greets you, also Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brethren.
22 The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.
Paul knows that the time of his death is nearing. Yet, he does not omit the kind words of love that he has stored up inside of him for his fellow saints.
It is interesting to notice that Titus (vs 10) left Paul in Rome; but he left for missionary work which took him to what would become Yugoslavia (quite a trip!) Again, we see that Tychicus (vs 12) was sent to Ephesus to deliver Paul’s epistle to that group of saints. Paul mentions Prisca and Aquila (4:19 Prisca and Aquila. “Prisca” is a shortened form of “Priscilla,” as it is spelled elsewhere in Acts and Paul’s letters. She and her husband Aquila had been friends of Paul from the time he first visited Corinth on his second missionary journey. They were Jews, and like Paul were tentmakers (Acts 18:2, 3). They had come to Corinth from Rome. Later they accompanied Paul to Ephesus (Acts 18:18, 19) and hosted a house church there for several years before returning to Rome (Rom. 16:3, 4;1 Cor. 16:19). They had now apparently returned to Ephesus where Timothy was (1 Tim. 1:3). the household of Onesiphorus. See note 1:16. This greeting indicates that Timothy was still in Ephesus (1:18). (Reformation Study Bible). It is because Paul mentions the husband and wife team of Aquilla and Priscilla, together, it is also the reason that if Nympha (Col 4:15) still had a husband that his name would have been mentioned along with hers.
In verse 13, we see some incidental items that were important to Paul. It’s like, in spite of his special relationship with God, he was still “just a regular guy.” In verse 11, we see that the rift that had existed between Paul and Mark had truly been corrected. Also, in verse 11, we read that “only Luke is with me.” Such a friend Paul had in Luke, the physician believer in Christ, the writer of Luke’s Gospel and the Book of Acts, the traveling companion of Paul helping a former Jewish persecutor of Christians…beginning in Acts 16:11 (“we”) to the bitter end in Rome. All of us need a “Luke” in our lives today, just as did Paul in his life, with Luke being the epitome of someone who knew how to connect the much needed relationships of holiness, humility, and community.
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