Our text is Acts 20:17-38.
The book of Acts is filled with speeches. Some are addressed to non-Christians (Acts 13; 14; 17), and others are defenses (Acts 22-26). But this addresses in Acts 20 is different. It is addressed to the leaders of the church in Ephesus; more specifically, it is a farewell speech. In this address Paul highlights the nature of pastor/elder oversight and the importance of the church. A good one-sentence summary of Paul’s charge is given in verse 28: “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” (ESV)
Children’s Message: Pastor Chad Sadorf has been including a series of Children’s Messages. These messages will parallel the sermons from Acts to help guide the children through the concepts that are taught in the sermon. Today’s message is provided as a video; this link appears just after the Gloria Patri in the service (where it would normally occur in our church service). Click on these links for a children’s bulletin and printable coloring page to accompany this message: Children’s Bulletin and Sheep and Wolves coloring sheet
Service for Family Worship:
Call to Worship:
1 John 4:9
9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. (ESV)
Almighty God, sometimes we are overwhelmed by your love. And we even think to ourselves, it’s just not right. We’re not worthy.
We don’t know enough. We’re not good enough. We don’t care enough. In fact, we know in our hearts that we’ve done, and said, and thought so many bad things. And then, Father you show us our Savior, and enable us to run to Jesus.
And we see your glory, and your majesty, and the perfection of your deep love. And then the beauty of the gospel overwhelms us.
So Father, we thank you so much for the privilege of gathering in your name, and for the many blessings that are so evident in our lives. But we praise you this morning, not only because of what you have done but because you are infinitely worthy. So would you enable us through Holy Spirit to offer you worship that is acceptable and pleasing in your sight, as we offer ourselves through Christ our Lord. Amen.
In the month of October, our congregation will be singing Psalm 100. Charles Spurgeon wrote, “A Psalm of Praise; or rather of thanksgiving. This is the only psalm bearing this precise inscription. It is all ablaze with grateful adoration, and has for this reason been a great favourite with the people of God ever since it was written.” He continues, “To the occurrence of the word ‘thanksgiving’ in this place [verse 4] the Psalm probably owes its title. In all our public service the rendering of thanks must abound; it is like the incense of the temple, which filled the whole house with smoke. Expiatory sacrifices are ended, but those of gratitude will never be out of date. So long as we are receivers of mercy we must be givers of thanks. ” from The Treasury of David, by Charles Spurgeon, www.spurgeon.org/treasury/treasury/ps100.htm
Corporate Scripture Reading: Genesis 2:15-24
15 But The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” 18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (ESV)
Gracious Father, we confess that sometimes we do not live up to the family name in the keeping of our marriage vows.
We are often more ready to resent than to forgive,
more ready to manipulate than to serve,
more ready to condemn than to befriend,
more ready to fear than to love,
more ready to keep our distance than to welcome,
more ready to compete than to help.
At the root of this behavior is mistrust. So we find that we do not love our spouse as we should, because we do not believe that you love us as you do. Forgive us our cold unbelief. And make more vivid to us the meaning and depth of your love at the cross. Help us understand what it cost you to give up your Son that we might live as your sons and daughters. We ask this in the name of Jesus our righteousness. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: 1 John 1:9
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (ESV)
This is a promise we have in the gospel.
Affirmation of Faith:
Westminster Confession of Faith
Chapter 24, Marriage and Divorce
2. Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife, for the increase of mankind with legitimate issue, and of the Church with an holy seed; and for preventing of uncleanness.
3. It is lawful for all sorts of people to marry, who are able with judgment to give their consent. Yet it is the duty of Christians to marry only in the Lord. And therefore such as profess the true reformed religion should not marry with infidels, papists, or other idolaters: neither should such as are godly be unequally yoked, by marrying with such as are notoriously wicked in their life, or maintain damnable heresies.
Wolves and Sheep: Can They Get Along? (Click here to link to the video of the Children’s Message)
(You may want to take a moment to pray with your child or children for your family, your church family, our country and world.)
Offertory: Luke 6:38
37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 “give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (ESV)
Father, in this simple act of worship, we give to you not that we might receive blessings, but because you have so richly blessed us more than we can comprehend.
(Online giving is now available for your convenience. This link, https://www.faithpresarp.org/give/, will take you to the page that explains this process and includes a button which will redirect you to the secured giving platform.
This hymn ascribes glory, honor, and power to Him who sits on the throne of heaven. The original text, based on Psalm 100 was written in 1705 by Isaac Watts. We are reminded of the need to make sure that we give the Lord the glory, honor, and praise due His name when we come “Before Jehovah’s Awesome Throne.”
Pastoral Prayer: (Click here for the Pastoral Prayer)
Sermon: Caring for God’s Church
This hymn is based on a psalm, and it follows Watts’ practice of adapting Scripture for use as devotional poetry. From these stanzas, we can see how Watts not only wanted the singer to communicate the joy of what was to come through eternal life in heaven, but also the blessings of God on earth. An allusion to John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress is found in the final stanza calling attention to the Christian journey toward Zion and a triumphant entry into “Immanuel’s ground.”
Benediction (Click here to hear this week’s benediction)
Questions for Further Discussion
1. What does it mean for pastors/elders to live among the sheep? Why is doing so important?
2. What about the manner in which Paul served the church most resonates with you?
3. Why must pastors/elders keep a close watch on their own lives and on the lives of other pastors/elders?
4. What does this passage teach about spiritual “wolves”?
5. Please take a moment and pray for your pastors and elders. In what specific ways might you encourage them?
Wolves and Sheep: Can They Get Along?
In our Bible message today the Apostle Paul tells us that sometimes there can be people in the church that act like wolves among the sheep. He tells the leaders of the church, “be on your guard…watch out for wolves”…
28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! (NIV)
4 words should stand out to you in these verses:
• Flock – God’s people, the church
• Shepherds – elders, pastors
• Sheep – disciples, people who love Jesus
• Wolves – bad teachers, false teachers
Sometimes, wolves look like sheep. Someone who doesn’t teach the Bible correctly, who wants to trick or mislead, hurt or just neglect the sheep IS A BAD TEACHER. Paul says they: “won’t spare the flock; they distort the truth; draw away disciples”
A wolf does not love the sheep. A wolf wants to take sheep away from their loving shepherds.
Pastor Adams and I, and our elders, we are what Paul calls us in verse 28 “shepherds of the church of God” – Jesus has given us a job = we are to love our sheep, protect them, feed them the truth of God’s Word, care for them in every way and keep spiritual wolves away!
In verse 28 – Paul says that Jesus gave his life to save his sheep “he bought them with his own blood” – to save us from our sins and make us a sheep in His flock!
A wolf is someone who teaches you to go against what the Bible says. A wolf says it is okay to sin and do whatever you want. A wolf says that there are many ways to be saved. A wolf wants you to trust what they say and draw you away from loving Jesus who is The ONLY WAY to be saved from our sins. We don’t want wolves in our life or in our church. So, let’s do what Paul says: BE ON OUR GUARD!