Grace Baptist Church Decatur, IL


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See also pt. 2 of this message here.

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Go To Acts: The Church Handbook Series

O Come, and be Faithful

Acts 20:18-38



[opening PowerPoint clip from Old Faithful]


The Apostle Paul took 3 missionary journeys.  In chapter 20 he’s about to begin the last lap…his 3rd trip.  And in these verses he’s about to head out for Jerusalem, and he has to say goodbye to these saints at Ephesus he’s spent so much time with.  It’s a very tender and touching scene…one of the most moving and heartwarming farewell speeches that’s ever been recorded in literature.  He literally opens up his heart and let’s us look inside.


Let’s peer inside Paul’s heart, and see what’s in there.


3 attributes we find in Paul’s heart:


1.     Faithfulness

v. 18        This verse speaks of Paul’s faithfulness over those 3 years.  “From the first day” he hit the ground running, and thru many hardships in this very difficult city, he was dependable and never quit, and never slacked off.


Faithfulness is the most important quality that you and I can cultivate in our hearts as well.  We have such faithful people here…thank you!  “God give us more faithful, dependable people for your work here!”


There may be some things you cannot do.  You may not be able to get up here and sing, or teach a s.s. lesson like your teacher did this morning, or preach a sermon…but there’s one thing you CAN do…we ALL can do it…we can be faithful!


Faithfulness is a quality which I admirebut it’s a quality which God requires! 

I Cor. 4:2

    Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.


Areas where we need to be faithful:

·       To our family—faithfulness begins at home.  Remember the ’96 presidential election?  It was Clinton vs. Dole, and the cry of the day was that a candidate’s private life was his own business, and has nothing to do w/ how he runs the country.  How many remember that?  That’s nonsense, because it has everything to do w/ it.  Public office is a matter of public trust, and if a man is not faithful at home, he’s not faithful anywhere.  This is at the very core of our lives. 


Let me add that we don’t have to be physically unfaithful to be classified as “unfaithful.”  Some are married to their jobs, some have a love affair w/ shopping or sports.  Being faithful involves establishing and maintaining proper priorities, even outside the bedroom. 


Eph. 5:25

    Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;


Ill.—I like motorcycles…I love them.  I grew up on them…like a 2nd home—I was bounced from one foster-cycle to another!  I’d like to have one now, but I haven’t had one since 1992, when I sold my favorite one.  Know why I sold it?  Kimberly asked me to when I asked her to marry me!  She calls them “murder-cycles”, and wants us to raise our family before I have another bike.  And if it makes her happy, it makes me happy.  I had a choice to make that day and I made it.  If I said no, she still may have said yes, but it wouldn’t have been right.  [“honey, are you sure I can’t have one?  Ok!”]


There’s nothing so precious that we should not be willing to give it up for our spouse.  No bass boat, no job, no golf outing. [Paul was a golfer for at the end of his life he said, “I have finished my course!”]  This goes for ladies too:  no friend should come before your spouse…no coworker should know secrets you won’t tell your spouse!  Our children should not come before our spouse.


Ill.—Guns are on my forbidden list as well…don’t you feel sorry for me today!  At least the fun ones are forbidden, that is.  I mean, I have one “for protection” that is very wimpy and is locked away in a case so tight and so hard to get to that I’d have to appeal to a burglar to “give me a minute” while I get it out!  But she’d prefer I not have my Ruger or Colt right now while the kids are small.  [Actually, isn’t that her putting the kids before her spouse?!  J ]  One of our men offered to sell me his Glock the other day and I was entertaining the idea when he said “there’s no safety” on this gun.  Right then and there I knew it couldn’t happen right now!  If she DID let me bring it home it would only be long enough for her to threaten me w/ it in her hand and then send me to take it back!


Faithfulness is a great quality, and it begins at home or it doesn’t begin at all!


Faithful to our family…


·       In our finances—Question:  what would you do w/ a million dollars?  One guy said, “I’d put it toward my debts, as far as it’d go!”  I know what you’d do with it… exactly what you’re doing with that $100 you have right now.  In other words, if you don’t put God 1st and tithe now you wouldn’t tithe if you had a million dollars.  If you’re not generous now you wouldn’t be generous if you were rich.  If you’re not faithful in your finances now you wouldn’t be then!  Don’t believe that?  Here’s a verse:


Luke 16:10

    He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.


God says, “If I can’t trust you with a little then I can’t trust you with a lot…it’s the little things that count. 


Ill.—guy said to his wife, I think our kids got my brains…she replied, I’m sure they did, it’s the little things that count!


Next verse…

Luke 16:11

    If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?  [things like wisdom, power, and understanding]


God says, “The test of your faithfulness in the spiritual realm is what you do with your finances in the physical realm.” 


Many today are deprived of great spiritual blessings, frankly, because they are not faithful w/ money…not just the tithe that God requires, but that which He entrusts us to keep and use wisely!  Some don’t get their prayers answered because they aren’t faithful w/ their finances.  Some don’t understand their Bible and lack wisdom because they are unfaithful financially.  Some are powerless in their witness and never win even 1 soul to Christ because they aren’t faithful financially…they haven’t even passed a simple physical test, and God says, “you go nowhere spiritually until you pass this simple test of ownership!”


The money isn’t the real issue…the money is only the test.  Make sure and pass that test, so God can start sticking gold stars and smiley faces all over your life!


As a Pastor, and as a Christian, I need wisdom, power, and understanding, and so I cannot afford to be foolish in my finances…I must be obedient—letting go and letting God show what He can do…if only I’ll pass that simple test!


Be faithful to family, in your finances…


·       To the fellowship—the Bible has so much to say about faithfulness to church.  It’s a blessing to see you here today…will we be seeing you faithfully?


Romans 12:5

    So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.


That means you’re as much a part of me and I of you, as this arm is a part of my body.  And when the body meets and you’re not here, then part of the body is missing, and we cannot fully function…we need each other! 


Hebrews 10:25

    Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.


Ever heard someone say you don’t have to go to church to be a Christian?  Technically, that’s true…but I doubt the sincerity of the salvation of anyone who knowingly and willingly forsakes the assembly when it’s in their power to be there.


Some say, “I get just as much out of nature, on the lake, with my family, at the park.”  And as they say it, they reveal the heart of their problem…you don’t come to church just for what you can get, but for what you can give.


Matthew 20:28

    Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.


How many boys and girls can you teach about Jesus at the lake?  What missionaries can you support and write to in the woods?  Whose babies can you watch at the bowling alley so others can hear the preaching?  How much will your marriage be helped and your family enhanced while you’re out w/ friends at a ball game?


Back to Heb. 10:25

“exhorting” = “encouraging  How many of you enjoy church more when there’s a good crowd than when it’s half empty and you’re wondering where the rest of your body is?!


I know what a struggle it is for me, personally, to fight against this world, my flesh, and the devil, and I’m in church all the time.  I don’t know how some can claim to truly fight the fight w/out the support of the local church, the way God intended us to do it.

        I’m afraid to miss church…I’ll miss a blessing.  Often I’m told by people that they “heard” they missed a good service and “wished” they would have been there.  Thank God, I’m also often told by some that though they had to work or were out of town, they were blessed by listening later on the website or on tape.


I can point to about 10 sermons that have absolutely changed my life in the last 2 decades…one of them just a few weeks ago at a Preacher’s fellowship in Effingham.  And I was present for each of those life changing sermons.  What if I wasn’t present?  Several of you have said the same thing about a message you have heard here, and some of you could say the same thing except for the fact that it was on a Wednesday or a Sunday night and you weren’t there, and didn’t take advantage of technology to catch up either, and only eternity will tell what God intended to do in your life!

        We ought to be faithful to our church, trusting that God has our number and His messenger will “ring our bell” if only we follow the basic command to be faithful!

        Every time you come to church you’re saying to God, “you’re important to me.”  But you’re saying more than that…you’re also saying, “pastor, you’re important to me”, and you’re saying to the people you sit near, “you’re important to me!”  It’s selfish to skip to church and say, “it won’t hurt ME.”  Truth is, yes it will, and it hurts others too!


Ill.—Bro. Carl is a good example to all of us.  2 weeks ago he took on the challenge of a s.s. class that needed a teacher, and he’s now working on recruiting more men for his class…his idea!  Last week he suggested we set up a greeter schedule that will help welcome people inside…great idea!  And he’s 89 years young!  And he knows you don’t just come to church to see what you can get, but what you can give…no wonder God has left him around so long…we need people like him!


To family, in finances, to the fellowship…


·       To the faith—now I’m talking about the Word of God.  Many today are doubting some parts of God’s Word, and approaching the Bible “cafeteria style”, taking only what you like and leaving the rest behind…putting question marks after some commands of the Scriptures.  Well, today is no time to be putting question marks down, but exclamation points!!!


Some who doubt the Word today even call themselves “theologians”, which I have a problem with.  For that term comes from 2 Greek words:

Theos = God

Logos = Word

They don’t believe the logos so they must not know the Theos!  It’s like Grape Nuts…they’re neither grapes nor nuts!


Folks, we’re not to judge the Word of God, we’re supposed to let the Word of God judge us!


Ill.—William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, said:  “the chief danger of the 20th c. will be #1   Forgiveness without repentance. 

#2   Salvation without regeneration.  #3   Heaven without hell.

        Isn’t that the day and time in which we live?  Our generation is lost, most of the modern church is lost, and we need faithful people who’ll be faithful to the faith!


The first thing we see when we peer into the heart of Paul is faithfulness.  Are you faithful?  To your family?  With your finances?  To the fellowship?  To the faith?


Click here to vote for this sermon.



See pt. 2 of this message here.


2.     Humility


3.     Compassion


O Come, and be Faithful

Acts 20:18-38


3 attributes we find in Paul’s heart:


1.     Faithfulness v. 18       


          Faithfulness is a quality which I a__________… a quality which God           r______________1 Cor. 4:2


          We need to be faithful:


·       To our f__________   Eph. 5:25


          Faithfulness begins at h______ or it doesn’t begin at all


·       In our f______________  Luke 16:10


          God says, “If I can’t trust you with a l__________ then I can’t trust you with a           l____Luke 16:11


          God says, “The test of your faithfulness in the s________________ realm is           what you do with your finances in the p______________ realm.” 


·       To the f__________________  Romans 12:5, Hebrews 10:25 , Matthew 20:28, Heb. 10:25


          “exhorting” = “e____________________” 


·       To the f________


          We’re not to j________ the Word of God, we’re supposed to let the Word of           God j________ us


2.     H______________  v. 19, 1 Cor. 15:9 , Eph. 3:8 , 1 Tim. 1:15


3.     C__________________  v.19


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All Sermons and Slideshow Presentations Copyright Jerry Shirley and Grace Notes Ministries unless otherwise credited.