One thing for sure is that we each live in a very stressful and dangerous world. Even more so for the followers of Christ. As soon as we wake in the morning till we retire for the evening there is continual opposition. In fact as we sleep there can rise up within us opposition to the purposes and plans our Lord has for our lives. Opposition is a reality of life and it can be used of the enemy to cause us to quit or we can use the opposition to aid us to persevere.
The Apostle Paul and his team of believers who served with him on his third missionary journey throughout Asia, Macedonia and Achaia were well acquainted with opposition. For 5 years everywhere they went winning souls, planting churches and training new believers they met those who opposed there work of love. During these years there were great opportunities and after a while great opposition arose. This was Paul's testimony of ministry found in II Corinthians 11:26-28. Yet he and his companions never quit on the "Heavenly Mission". They persevered onward into God's purpose for their life and calling. Acts 20 tells us the the last 3 months of this five year effort was opposed as never before.
As Paul readied himself to head back to Israel with the love offerings he and his team had collected for the suffering saints in Jerusalem he was hit with another opposition. It came to his attention that some of the Jews on the ship heading to Passover were planning to take his life once he was onboard the ship. So the plans of Paul were interrupted as he chose not to take the easiest and most direct route to Israel. But he would not quit on the God given goal, he would simply take more time to get there, take another way and he would miss Jerusalem by Passover and now hope to be there by Pentecost. But they would persevere.
I. They Persevered With The Aid Of Opposition! Acts 20:3
Opposition can tempt us to fail persevering or it can aid us to persevere. Sensing opposition from his own countrymen Paul chose to make opposition his aid not his enabler. So he and the others with him changed their plans and headed to Jerusalem taking another direction. The opposition was simply being used to give them more zeal to reach the final destination. They don't quit the mission they change the method to reach the same mission. The plot to kill Paul and keep him from going to Jerusalem and being used by the Lord to minister to thousands was delayed. It deprived them of a direct route, and additional miles and effort but it also granted them many more opportunities along the way to minister to thousands more.
II. They Persevered By The Knowledge Of God's Sovereignty. Acts 20:: 3
I like Paul have found that God often tells me the destination in advance but the details to get there come partially as I proceed toward the destination. Have you ever " Missed a Flight"? The best thing we can do at that time is stop and remember our Lord is sovereign and He just overruled our plans. That is what Paul does when he missed his boat ride. He looked around and said now what Lord. Which way do you want me to take and who do you want me to talk with. And I am sure as they proceeded on in their journey they were thanking the Lord. Thinking thought like maybe the ship was going to sink, or the Lord just kept us from some tragic event. And as they spoke one with another they were looking for the DIVINE APPOINTMENTS their ALL KNOWING LORD had planned for them.
They Persevered by making the choice to see opposition as their aid and by remembering their Lord was sovereign and in charge.
III. They Persevered With The Help Of A Team. Acts 20:4-6
Everything in the Bible is there on purpose. Every word and every name. The Holy Spirit wants us to see that when we isolate ourselves a Christians and try to do the work of the Lord by ourselves it is the sure way to end up quitting and finding we have become shipwrecked and castaways.
Sopater from Berea
Representing his home church in carrying the offering with Paul. A man from a church that are great students of God's Word, Acts 17:10. A Gentile Christian only a few years old in Christ but along side the Apostle Paul, He has sacrificially left the comforts of his home and church to serve his Lord and help hurting Christians across the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas.
Aristacharus and Scondous of Thessolonica
Aristacharus - a prominent and wealthy man of status. A Macedonian who has only known the Lord a short time. A nobleman of high status who is mentioned several times of being with the Apostle Paul in serious efforts to reach the lost.
Secundous - a name only given to slaves who a second in slave rank in a household.
Both of these are from the same church . Both poor and rich in need of a Savior. Both have found forgiveness of sin and have taken their places in the church. Both have found that " All ground is level at the foot of the cross". And now both serve the Lord together and count all things common as they now are both slaves to Christ serving his church.
Gaius of Derbe
A Man who has residences in Derbe and Corinth. He has often hosted Paul in his homes . In his home in Corinth Paul wrote the book of Romans. Baptized by the Apostle Paul himself as few were , we find him serving alongside Paul in may places. His name means HAPPY, and isn't it wonderful to serve along side one who is filled with satisfaction and joy?
Timothy from Lystra
One who is a very young man. Paul is his father in the faith. He will soon Pastor the church at Ephesus and the be responsible for many of the church plants from that great church. He is still young and much to learn but we notice that the best teams are made up of YOUNG and OLD and everything between. Men and Women. Young and Old. Rich and Poor. Jew and Gentile.
Tychicus of Asia
In Acts, Ephesians, Colossians, Titus and II Timothy Paul calls him beloved, brother, faithful minister, fellow servant of the Lord. He commends the Colossians to let him comfort them. He is a christian who loves and serves others and is willing to help wherever he can.
Trophimus of Asia
Representing the church at Ephesus, ( Ephesians 21:29). There is reason to believe that he was the unnamed man who helped Titus carry the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, (II Corinthians 8:16-17). A humble man desiring no recognition.
Representing the church at Philippi. A loyal and loving servant of Christ. A doctor by trade who now is a full time minister of Jesus Christ.
Represents the church at Corinth, II Corinthians 8:16-17. A man who has spent the full five years of this missionary Journey serving alongside all the others in this world and life changing mission.
The Holy Spirit has placed these names here to encourage us to understand the need to be partners together in our Christian lives a well as our ministries. Together we persevere and alone we often find defeat in our oppositions.
May these words of truth encourage you to never quit on your heavenly assignments. I know they have for me.
Terry has been the Senior Pastor of Liberty for 30 years. He and his wife, Karen, have 4 children, 11 grandchildren, and 1 spoiled dog named Cooper.