Acts 18:1-3; 24-28
Last time as we caught up with Paul in Philippi on his second missionary journey we learned several lessons from a woman named Lydia. Paul left Philippi and journeyed through what today is Greece stopping in many cities to teach and preach the Word of God. One of the places he stopped was Berea where we get our name Berean. Acts 17:11 says that the Berean’s studied the scriptures daily to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. Scripture was their source, their sounding board. What is your source for truth, is scripture steering your life? They didn’t just regularly read God’s Word they rely on it. Today we catch up with Paul in Corinth and meet 2 new partners in ministry, turn with me to Acts 18:1 As a couple they had been:
Scripture says that they had left Italy when Claudius Caesar deported all Jews from Rome. How often when we read scripture do we skip over the story and miss the seen. It’s a seen of suffering, think about the seriousness of this statement: Claudius Caesar deported all Jews from Rome. They were not just hurt they were homeless. What would be going on in your heart if you were deported: Told to leave and never come back, if the only thing you could take was what you could carry. How would you feel, what would you do? Have you ever been hurt by someone? The truth is that we all have and the greater question is not have you been hurt, but how are you going to handle the hurt? They may have been homeless but they were not helpless. Their focus wasn’t on the hurt done to them but the hope given to them. Today many believers have become bound up in bitterness because of what has happened to them. They have become defined by what has been done to them instead of what has been done for them. Because of the Cross of Jesus Christ hope always trumps hurt, no matter what comes my way I win. The basis for their life was the bible not their bruises, they went back to the basics, back to what they believed. Today we are basing life on a false premise that if we follow God that life will be better, but according to Aquila & Priscilla that belief is bogus. For many of us the only reason we run to God if for results it’s not for the relationship. We pray not to communicate and commune with God but to so He can cater to our cares. I fear for the church because we have become seeks of his hand but not His heart. We are basing things on better not being. But look at Aquila & Priscilla, when things didn’t go their way they stuck to the Word of God. Which way will you go when things go south, the way of the world or the way of the Word? It is here in the midst of the hurt that we see their real heart, and hurt will reveal your heart. Aquila & Priscilla had a heart of:
In this life you are going to get hurt but you don’t have to get hung up on the hurts. Bitterness doesn’t have to become your basecamp you can come back to the bible. So how do you stop from getting high centered and hung up on the hurts? The world will tell you that you just need to move on, but Aquila & Priscilla didn’t just move on they ministered. They partnered with Paul, they opened up their lives and they loved. When we are hurt we have to do what our hearts don’t want to do love. What are you going to do with your hurt, are you going to haul it around and let it hinder. You can’t control the actions done to you but you can control your attitude. So often when we are hurt it causes us to hold back in our relationships but notice that Aquila & Priscilla responded by reaching out and receiving Paul. They invited him into their lives, they didn’t just work together they lived together. They understood what it was like to be a stranger in a foreign land and so they reached out and received Paul. Look at all that they had in common, the same confession Christ, the same profession tent makers, the same problems or persecution, but they also had the same provider Jesus. Are you going to let your suffering suffocate you or be a vehicle to serve others? You can spend your time living in misery and moaning or you can minster. Are you going to let you heart get hard or are you going to use the hurt in your life as a tool to help others? 2 corinthians 1:3-4 says: “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” We have a choice we can become calloused and uncaring or we become compassionate. What kind of a helpmate are you?
C. HEART of HOSPITALITY
Despite having been made homeless they were hospitable. So many of us have convinced ourselves that we don’t have a big enough home to be hospitable. But hospitality is not about your accommodation it’s an attitude and an action. They carried on caring and we learn in 1 Corinthians 16:19 that “The churches here in the province of Asia send greetings in the Lord, as do Aquila and Priscilla and all the others who gather in their home for church meetings.” They didn’t have a house but they had a home and the Christian home is still one of the best tools for spreading the gospel. Do guests find Christ in your home? Do you see your home as a tool to share Jesus or is your home primarily about your happiness? Their hospitality opened the doorway of healing and salvation for many. Do you realize that it’s the simple things that often speak the loudest, In Matthew 10 Jesus said “if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded” Seriously rewarded for a cup of cold water. Do you have a heart of helping, a heart of hospitality? The truth is you don’t always know what is going on in people’s lives take Paul for example. While in Philippi Paul was put in prison when he was released he went to Thessalonica but there he had to flee when a mob rioted against him. He went to Berea but the mob in Thessalonica came looking for him so he was forced to flee from there to Athens where he was confronted with the discouragement of a city filled with idol worship. So when Paul arrived in Corinth he would have been weary and worn down but look who he meets this married couple who use their marriage to minister. Why don’t we serve because we are selfish, the greatest obstacle to ministry is me. What I love about Aquila & Priscilla is that in an age when the focus of marriage seems to be only on what happens between a husband and wife, Aquila and Priscilla are an example of what can happen through a husband and wife. Their effectiveness together speaks volumes about their relationship with each other. What is interesting to note is that you never find Aquila mentioned without Priscilla NOR Priscilla mentioned without Aquila. That means that Priscilla and Aquila were a team, partners in ministry. Their marriage teaches us about the power of togetherness and team work. They worked together to build up the Kingdom of God. What a contrast between our first married couple Ananias and Sapphire who lived for self and Aquila & Priscilla who lived to serve the Savior. They pulled in a partnership to build God’s church, because it was bigger than either one of them. You are either going to pull together or pull apart. Most of us have missed the greatest part of marriage, ministry, because we are making marriage about me instead of ministry. Today we have made the goal of marriage self instead of service, happiness instead of helping. Marriage is about husband and wife coming together to complement not to compete. We live in a world where men put their wives down and where women belittle their husbands. Where most married couples spend more time trashing each other than teaming together. Feminist theology imposes the type of competition and struggle into this 1st century couple that is entirely foreign to anything taught anywhere else in scripture. What these feminist scholars miss is the beauty of what Priscilla had, she had a partner who valued her gifts and teamed with her for God’s glory. She didn’t try to overshadowed Aquila and Aquila didn’t try to crowd her out. We have lesser marriages today because we have limited them to the smallness of self. We see marriage simply as a vehicle to self-happiness and self-fulfillment instead of as a ministry. But Aquila & Priscilla’s partnership served a greater purpose that personal profit, it was about proclaiming God’s plan. Look a marriage with no ministry will become miserable. Your marriage matters, your ministry matters. Are you in a partnership that is pulling or one that is putting down. The secret to a satisfied and successful marriage is when we find ourselves in the sweet spot of serving the Savior together. Are you making marriage about me or ministry?
D. HEART of HUMILITY
Paul and his ministry partners Aquila & Priscilla left Corinth and arrived in the city of Ephesus where at some point Paul traveled on leaving Aquila & Priscilla behind in Ephesus. In Verse 24 we are introduced to “a certain Jew named Apollos, who was a native of Alexandria which was located on the north coast of Egypt and was the second largest city in the Roman empire. Alexandria was noted as a cultural and educational center, its library was the largest in the world and scholars tell us that before it was destroyed by fire it contained over half a million scrolls. Apollos was an educated man, he had the equivalent of what we would today refer to as a university or graduate school education. His credentials were very impressive, not only was he an eloquent speaker but he was bold and spoke with zeal. Apollos was a person in the Word, 24 ‘mighty in scriptures, a Person of the Word, 25a ‘instructed in the way of the Lord’ and a Person by the Word, 25b, ‘fervent in spirit …taught diligently. What about you are your ways a reflection of God’s Word or just your wants? He spoke with accuracy but his knowledge was limited, scripture says that he “had been instructed in the way of the Lord; . . .though he knew only the baptism of John.” We don’t know exactly what Apollos knew and did not know, but it is clear that he had a limited knowledge of the Lord Jesus. He was excited about what he did know about the scriptures, he had an “enthusiastic spirit” which literally means “burning or boiling hot.” But no matter how passionate he was he couldn’t take people any further than he himself had been. As Apollos is passionately preaching Aquila and Priscilla not only hear him but realize his limited understanding of scripture. Here before us is one of the most powerful passages on humility put into practice. I’m not sure who I am more impressed with Aquila and Priscilla or Apollos, for they all reveal hearts of humility. True to form when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home so that they could help Apollos. But I want you to notice that they wrapped their help in humility. They took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. They opened their hearts and their home to this young preacher. Didn’t put him in his place, or publically humiliate him but privately and lovingly completed his theological picture. They could have had an attitude of attacking, “I will show this young buck from the college educated city how little he really knows. But humility doesn’t humiliate, it doesn’t put others down to put self-up. No that’s pride that puffs up and puts down. Aquila and Priscilla didn’t see themselves as superior they saw themselves as servants. They came alongside Apollos they didn’t crash into him. This verse also reveals the humble attitude that characterized Apollos. Although cultured and well educated, he humbly sat at the feet of these tentmakers to learn about Jesus. He was humble enough to go to their home and receive help. He recognize that he didn’t know it all and that learning about the Lord is a life-long process. The Bible is complete but our understanding of the Bible is far from complete and we need open minds as well as open hearts if we are going to continue to learn about the Lord. Aquila and Priscilla used their marriage to mold and mentor Apollos, the result was that Apollos proved to be a powerful preacher. He became a great blessing to other believers. What if instead of building into Apollos they had belittled him? Paul referred to them as fellow workers in Christ Jesus, companions not competitors, people who were willing to risk their lives for others. They weren’t just Sunday morning Christians putting a check mark by church and saying well I’ve done my good for God. No they were committed to using their marriage for ministry, to mentor and make a difference. So let me ask you what are you modeling in your marriage? In your team ministries do you have a heart of, help, of hospitality, and humility? Are you being a companion or a competitor?
Acts 18:1-3; 24-28