Friday 19 August, 2016

Acts 20:17-38

7 From Miletus, Paul sent for the elders of the church at Ephesus. 18 When they arrived, he spoke to them. “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you,” he said. “From the first day I came into Asia Minor, 19 I served the Lord with tears and without pride. I served him when I was greatly tested. I was tested by the evil plans of the Jews who disagreed with me. 20 You know that nothing has kept me from preaching whatever would help you. I have taught you in public and from house to house. 21 I have told both Jews and Greeks that they must turn away from their sins to God. They must have faith in our Lord Jesus. 22 “Now I am going to Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit compels me. I don’t know what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Spirit warns me. He tells me that I will face prison and suffering. 24 But my life means nothing to me. My only goal is to finish the race. I want to complete the work the Lord Jesus has given me. He wants me to tell others about the good news of God’s grace. 25 “I have spent time with you preaching about the kingdom. I know that none of you will ever see me again. 26 So I tell you today that I am not guilty if any of you don’t believe. 27 I haven’t let anyone keep me from telling you everything God wants you to do. 28 Keep watch over yourselves. Keep watch over all the believers. The Holy Spirit has made you leaders over them. Be shepherds of God’s church. He bought it with his own blood. 29 I know that after I leave, wild wolves will come in among you. They won’t spare any of the sheep. 30 Even men from your own people will rise up and twist the truth. They want to get the believers to follow them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning you. Night and day I warned each of you with tears. 32 “Now I trust God to take care of you. I commit you to the message about his grace. It can build you up. Then you will share in what God plans to give all his people. 33 I haven’t longed for anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. 34 You yourselves know that I have used my own hands to meet my needs. I have also met the needs of my companions. 35 In everything I did, I showed you that we must work hard and help the weak. We must remember the words of the Lord Jesus. He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” 36 Paul finished speaking. Then he got down on his knees with all of them and prayed. 37 They all wept as they hugged and kissed him. 38 Paul had said that they would never see him again. That’s what hurt them the most. Then they went with him to the ship.

Paul knew here that he was about to encounter hard times. The Holy Spirit had shown him that he was going to be jailed and that the road ahead for him was full of trials.

Yet his focus here was on encouraging the people he had been ministering to, not on his impending trials. He really wanted to finish his race well and be obedient to want God had called him to do.

When I am able to keep focussing outward in the midst of suffering and trials I am demonstrating the power of God in my life, because I know that this is not my natural human reaction. When I focus on giving rather than receiving I am demonstrating the character of Jesus. This is not something I can do in my own strength, but requires me to reach out for God’s help each and every day.

Lord, help me to keep my eyes focussed on obeying Your calling and not on my own comfort. May I daily receive Your grace and power to be all that You have called me to be.

Written by Shelley Witt


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