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I’ve read thru your expanded sermon outlines. I always find your work to be interesting because you bring a different perspective compared to what I usually see. This is neither good nor bad, just an observation.
In my opinion, the strengths of your preaching are in illustrations and applications. Your sermons have a very practical orientation that is excellent. On the other hand, there could be a little more development of the text from an exegetical viewpoint. While your Big Idea accurately reflects a thrust of the passage, the sermon body itself sometimes doesn’t clearly show this. So from the listener’s perspective, they may not have a clear understanding of how you got there with your ideas.
Keep in mind that when you preach, you are not only presenting a message to your listeners but you are also indirectly teaching them how to study and interpret the Scripture. You’re modeling this for them. They will be helped if you reflect back more often on the text itself. My Old Testament professor, Walter Kaiser, used to say, “Keep your finger on the text.” This was his way of saying that we need to help our listeners have a very clear understanding of how our passage is informing what we’re saying in the sermon.
Anyway, the grade for this assignment is 135 points out of 150. Your grade for the course is “A” and I’ll be submitting course grades soon, probably today.
I enjoyed having you in the class, Eddy, and I wish you God’s best.
Series: Lessons from Second Mission Journey of Paul
Sermon: Lessons about Serving God with Differences (Acts 15:36-41)
#### Subject: Serving God
#### Theme: Serving God with Differences
#### Big Idea: We can serve God with our differences.
- God uses our motivation to generate different strategy; (Acts 15:36)
- God uses our differences to multiply his servants; (Acts 15:37-40a)
- God uses our weaknesses to extend His kingdom. (Acts 15:40b-41)
Specific objective: Teach people to understand the verity of us and accept our differences in the ministry.
Take-home truth: We are different and should use our differences for God’s kingdom.
Acts 15:36 And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.”
37 Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark.
38 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work.
39 And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus,
40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.
41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
Introduction: Use Ezra and Nehemiah’s examples to present different ministry philosophy:
Ezra is an idealist. He did not ask the King’s protection, but fully trusted the protection of God with all the treasures and people and children.
Ezra 8:21 Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods.
22 For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, “The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.” 31 Then we departed from the river Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go to Jerusalem. The hand of our God was on us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy and from ambushes by the way.
Nehemiah is very practical. He asked the King to write a letter, to prepare materials, and provide protection.
Neh 2:7 And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given me to the governors of the province Beyond the River, that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah, 8 and a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress of the temple, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall occupy.” And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me. 9 Then I came to the governors of the province Beyond the River and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent with me officers of the army and horsemen.
Think about a debate between them on how to do ministry. But the Bible says the good hand of God was on both of them.
Transition: From Acts 15:36-41, I want to lead us to think about three spiritual observations:
a) God uses our motivation to generate different strategy; (Acts 15:36)
b) God uses our differences to multiply his servants; (Acts 15:37-40a)
c) God uses our weaknesses to extend His kingdom. (Acts 15:40b-41)
MP1: God uses our motivation to generate different strategy; (Acts 15:36)
We will focus on Paul’s motivation. After planted churches, what should we do next? Checking their faith? Discipleship? Encouraging them to participate into Great Commission? Strengthening the connection and fellowship? Illustration: What is my motivation to go back China and serve the churches I planted? But usually different motivations will generate different strategies: when? How long? What? What results? Plan? Team?
Transition: As they were planning, God uses their differences to multiply his servants. (Acts 15:37-40a)
MP2: God uses our differences to multiply his servants; (Acts 15:37-40a)
There was no strategic difference between Paul and Barnabas. Their difference was about team members. The relationship and history of Mark ( the first mission trip; Col. 4:10).
Illustration: Our church has some difference on children’s ministry. People disagree on the curriculum and the proportion of our limited resource.
Explain the various differences in our church: worship or preaching, which is the most important ministry? How many children’s ministry teachers we should have? Our budget? How should be resolve the difference?
Can we balance the continuance of our ministries and the resources we currently have? Can we allow most of our parents to enjoy the Sunday service?
We can learn from Luke’s frank narrative in Acts 15:37-40a. God allows us to quarrel, even split. But God can redeem our weakness and use them for His goodness. Even Paul and Barnabas spited, God multiplied His mission teams and the effect of ministry.
Transition: God does not only allow us to have differences, but also uses our weaknesses to extend His kingdom. (Acts 15:40b-41)
MP3: God uses our weaknesses to extend His kingdom. (Acts 15:40b-41)
Illustration: The weakness of Paul and Moses—murderers, anger. But God called them to do important ministries with passion.
Illustration: I was a very independent thinker. My former pastor told me to give up my personality. But we can see God allows Paul and Barnabas to keep their personalities, even to quarrel and split. Personality and creativeness has correlation.
God has the capacity to use each one of us with our character, history.
As the result, we can see the church blessed Paul’s team and he went to strengthen the churches.
40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
So no one should say that I have a history that is not qualified to serve the God. As God can redeem all.
God’s power can save everything. It allows us to use our history, our experience when we did not know God for His highest good. He does not only redeem our lives, but also redeems our human relationships, our histories and our unique characters. As long as we open ourselves before God and accept God’s salvation, our lives will inevitably be renewed and bear better and more beautiful fruits.