Today, we conclude our message series Jumping Hurdles. Hurdles are often difficulties that God allows into our lives to test and strengthen us. But hurdles can also be challenges to follow God in a new way. Doing something that you’ve never done before can be difficult. God’s Word challenges each of us to continue to grow in God by growing in our obedience.
John 14:15 (ESV) “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
The whole of the Bible, God’s Word, are Jesus’ commandments to us. God’s commands to us in His Word are challenges and hurdles that must be obeyed in order to receive God’s blessing. Today’s message is entitled Dynamic Duo. We’re going to see how God used a fairly unknown married couple to build His kingdom. We going to see how God used them in service or ministry in different ways.
1 Peter 4:10 (ESV) As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:
The Bible teaches us that every believer has been given gifts from God. These gifts are to be used to serve others both within and without the church. As we serve, we are good stewards of God’s grace gifts to us. A good steward uses the resources that the master gives them for the master’s benefit. We use the gifts that God has entrusted to us to minister to people in ways appropriate for our gifting.
Every believer, whether young or old, has gifts that God has given them to serve. Sometimes, a person doesn’t even realize that they have a gift until they start using it. Whenever you become aware of a need, that need is an opportunity to use the gifts that God has given you. As we use the gifts that God has given us, we grow and develop to become more effective with those gifts.
Today, we’re going to learn how to jump the hurdle of getting involved in ministry. Oftentimes, the hurdle is simply the thought that I’ve never done that before. You may not know whether you have a gift to serve in a certain capacity or not. Usually, if God brings the need to your attention, you have a gift to help out. Sometimes, your gift may need to grow and develop to be more effective. At other times, you may find that your gifting is not strong in a particular area. But that’s OK, God has many areas in which we can serve one another. God desires for each of us to discover the blessings that come from letting God use us to serve others, both within the church and outside the church. So let’s get started to learn about growing in ministry by serving others.
Acts 18:1-2a (ESV) After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome.
Our story today is about a dynamic married couple, Aquila and Priscilla. They were Jewish Christians who were living in Rome until ordered to leave. They moved to the city of Corinth and set up their home there. The great apostle Paul on his travels came from Athens to Corinth where he met Aquila and Priscilla.
Acts 18:2b-3 (ESV) And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade.
Now we begin to learn some interesting details about this dynamic couple. They were tentmakers, who made tents for the many travelers who visited the large city of Corinth. Paul was also a tentmaker, who made tents to meet his needs, even as he ministered. The first thing that Aquila and Priscilla did was to invited Paul to stay at their home. This is a wonderful example of hospitality, showing the love of Christ by meeting Paul’s needs for a place to stay while in Corinth. It also seems that they began to work together in the tentmaking business. They sought to do all they could to support and enhance the ministry opportunities for Paul while he was in Corinth.
Paul ministered in Corinth for one and a half years, all the while living with this couple and working together making tents. Even today, missionaries and pastors who are bivocational, doing ministry and another income producing job are called tentmakers. Paul, writing in Romans 12 tells us …
Romans 12:13 (ESV) Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
What is hospitality? Hospitality is “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors and strangers.” Hospitality is doing what you can do to meet the needs of others with the resources that God has given you. Romans 12:13 is a command that is given to every believer to practice hospitality whenever there is a need. Hospitality is a form of serving and ministry that honors God and shows His love to others.
How can we practice the ministry of hospitality today? In our church, each of us should make it a priority to greet our new church guests every Sunday. At Life Church, we are a church family and each of us should get to know all the other church attenders over time. Hospitality is also opening your home by inviting people over to get to know them. This could be people from church, especially new people, as well as your neighbors. Hospitality is showing Christ’s love to others in tangible ways. As we practice hospitality ministry, God will use us to bless others and to be blessed.
Acts 18:24-25 (ESV) Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John.
Aquila and Priscilla became part of the apostle Paul’s traveling missionary team. When Paul left Corinth, this couple accompanied him to the city of Ephesus. They worked together in Ephesus for some two and a half years. When Paul left Ephesus, he left Aquila and Priscilla there to carry on ministry. While they were there, a new believer named Apollos came to the city. He knew a lot of the Old Testament Scriptures and about Jesus’ death and resurrection.
However, he knew only about the baptism for repentance that John the Baptist taught. We know from the next chapter that Apollos lacked an understanding of believer’s baptism in Jesus’ name and the baptism in the Holy Spirit. These were important teachings that Aquila and Priscilla had learned from the apostle Paul.
Acts 18:26 (ESV) He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.
As this ministry couple heard Apollos preach publicly, they soon became aware that Apollos lacked understanding on the topics of water and Spirit baptism. Rather than confront him publicly, they took him aside privately to explain God’s truth more accurately to him. Apollos accepted their counsel, corrected his teaching and was continued to be used greatly by the Lord in evangelism to the Jews. We see God using Aquila and Priscilla to help disciple Apollos to make him more effective in the Lord’s work. Let’s look a little more closely into what discipleship ministry is all about.
Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV) Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
This is the Great Commission command that Jesus gave to all believers for all time. This command as much for you and me today as it was for the disciples in Jesus’ day. What is involved in making disciples of Jesus? First of all, a person has to believe in Jesus, then they must be water baptized. And then, they must be taught to obey everything that Jesus commanded.
So, making disciples is a lot more involved than simply getting someone saved. As believers, we have a responsibility to help others grow spiritually so they can be more effective for the Lord. We have just looked at an example of how Aquila and Priscilla helped to disciple Apollos to make him more effective. God desires for each one of us to invest in discipleship ministry.
How can we be involved in discipleship ministry today? Part of growing spiritually and being discipled takes place in listening to teaching on Sunday mornings. If you know people who are either not believers or need to grow spiritually, invite them to church. At church, we have a wonderful children’s ministry that disciples children. If you’re a believer, we have openings in the children’s ministry to help teach the children every Sunday. Our goal is to have those ministering with children to do so once a month.
Small groups are another wonderful way to be discipled and to disciple others. We have groups on Sunday mornings at 8:30, Sunday nights and Thursday nights. To be a good discipler of others, each of us must continue in being discipled ourselves. We encourage everyone to be involved in a small group for discipling. If you are not currently involved in a small group, I invite you to come to our next Start Up study group on Sunday October 17 at 6pm. When you’re involved in a small group, not only are you learning, but you are helping to disciple the other group members. Invest in discipleship ministry.
Romans 16:3-4 (ESV) Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well.
In these verses, Paul refers to Aquila and Priscilla as his fellow workers in Christ Jesus. Not only did they work together with Paul in ministry, they also risked their lives for him. In times of persecution, they stood with Paul and worked to rescue him for attacks. Paul commends them to the rest of the churches as well.
Romans 16:5 (ESV) Greet also the church in their house.
Here, in this short verse, we see that not only did this couple open their home to Paul for a season, they also had a small group or church meeting in their home. Aquila and Priscilla were leading a church on their own, even as their mentor Paul was working in other locations. We see that small church groups meeting in homes was a vital part of the early church and is still important today. The advantage of small groups is that you have opportunity for two-way communication and prayer that is not possible in larger group settings. This is all part of participating in church ministry. Paul writes in …
Ephesians 4:11-12 (ESV) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
Paul lists five leadership roles that God has placed in the church: apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds (pastors) and teachers. All of these roles are still important in the church today. Sometimes we are tempted to think that these types of leaders are the ones who do all the ministry in the church. However, the main task of church leaders is to equip the saints, to do the work of ministry. Each believer in the church family is a saint, according to the Bible, and has a ministry to serve in based on their gifts. The end result, as each person participates in church ministry is that the church family, the body of Christ is built up and strengthened. God calls every believer to participate in church ministry.
We’ve already talked about hospitality ministry and discipleship ministry, but there are many other ways that each of us can serve. Prayer is a ministry that every believer can participate in, both on your own and praying with others in our prayer meetings. There are many ministry opportunities around our church facility. We have opportunities for people to be involved in helping clean the church on a weekly basis. The more people we have involved, the easier it is for everyone.
Again, thanks for everyone who helped on work day. We always want to thank Greg and Donovan Riley who saw a need to power wash the playground equipment and did it on their own during the week. Thanks also to Mike Wallace who worked on staining the playground wood. As we all work together and do our part, we are a blessing and we receive great blessings. God desires for all of us to participate in church ministry.
Today, in our message, we’ve looked at the brief accounts of a dynamic couple Aquila and Priscilla who were involved with Paul in ministry. We learned from them, the importance of practicing hospitality both in our church family and in our homes. We discovered that God calls each of us to invest in discipleship ministry.
Finally, there are many other needs that can be met as we all participate in church ministry. Look for a need and then ask God to help you meet that need. That’s what ministry is all about. Ask God how He wants you to grow in ministry. That’s a prayer that He loves to answer.
And you’ll be blessed as you grow in blessing others as you serve the Lord.