“After saying good-by to each other, we went aboard the ship, and they returned home.”
It is a joy to preach through the book of Acts! It is filled with examples and lessons that I need to learn and apply. As I continue to look at the “Acts of Acts” in this sermon series, it seems like each chapter has the apostles, or early Christians, involved in an act that we have a tendency to try to avoid. Yet it was these very acts of God in their lives that transformed a fledgling group disciples in disarray into a mighty force that turned the known world upside down with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We live in a time where we need such a transformation in the church and in the lives of the individuals who follow Jesus.
As we arrive in Acts 21 in our sermon series we find Paul continuing to say good-bye to people as he makes his way to Jerusalem. As he travels, he always seeks out believers at every stop to spend time with them and say, “BYE”. Even when warned of trouble ahead, Paul presses on to accomplish the work God has equipped and called him to do. Let’s learn from Paul how to make our “good-bye’s” become Godly BYE’s.
- Beliefs: Being able to say a Godly BYE when the time comes is based on having Godly Beliefs. Paul sought out believers everywhere he went because his life was completely about his belief in Jesus. Even when faced with warnings of danger, Paul could say “bye” to his fellow believers and continue the journey to Jerusalem because of the firm belief he was doing what God had called him to do. It was at Paul’s conversion recorded in Acts 9 that Jesus made it clear that Paul would proclaim Jesus to the Jews, to the Gentiles, and to their kings and rulers. It is also stated that Paul would be shown how much he would suffer for the name of Jesus. It seems Paul knew what was coming. Perhaps the warnings that the Spirit was giving through other people was for their sake and not Paul’s. When we are engaged in the Act of BYE, our belief in Jesus and His calling in our life must be firm enough to move forward even when people try to persuade us not to.
- Yielding: In order for our Godly belief to do us any good in the Act of BYE, we must also live a Godly Yielding. It is one thing to know what God is calling you to do and quite another to actually do it! Again, Paul had been shown by Jesus what to expect in his life. Even when his heart was torn by heartfelt and personal pleas, Paul was committed to yielding fully to the will of God. He did not allow his love for God to be overtaken by his love for people and their love for him. He was able to keep the first and greatest commandment first, and the second one second. Sometimes we have great difficulty in saying a Godly bye because we struggle in the area of yielding to God. We let our relationships with people get in the way of full obedience to God. Other times we are on the reverse side of the situation and do our best to hold someone else back from yielding to God because it might mean they have to say a BYE that we don’t want to hear. Learning to yield fully to God and to allow others to do so as well is an important part of living the Act of BYE.
- Equipping: Probably the secret to an effective Godly BYE is a thorough Godly Equipping. It is nearly impossible to read the writings of Paul and not see the importance he placed on his role in equipping people to be complete believers in Jesus. Even as he journeyed to what he knew would be trouble and hardship — even the end of his life — he constantly stopped to equip people to be ready for his ultimate departure. The equipping wasn’t simply preparing them for what he would face, more importantly it was preparing them to carry on with the gospel message when he no longer could. While the elements of belief and yielding are imperative to being able to say a Godly BYE, it is this element of equipping that allows the BYE to be said with full confidence that his race had not been run in vain. We can have the most Godly belief and pursue a completely yielded life but we will never be ready to fully express a Godly BYE until we have equipped those around us to “follow me as I follow Christ”. When we are growing in the Act of BYE, we need to be deliberate about our role in equipping the people around us to be disciple making followers of Jesus.
So, how are you doing in living out and growing in the Act of [Good]-BYE? Are your Beliefs firmly grounded in instruction from God through His Spirit and His Word? Do you constantly examine your life in light of God’s Word so that you are fully Yielding every aspect of your life to God? Are you actively involved in Equipping the people around you to be ready to take up the baton once you’ve finished the race? I pray that your response to the Act of [Good]-BYE will boldly show the world that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior!