Monday, January 23, 2012

In Search Of Truth, Acts 20:13-24

Paul probably went to Assos on foot because it would take around the same amount of time (he was cutting across a peninsula that the boat had to sail around) and cost much less. Verse 16 indicates that Paul wanted to be in Jerusalem in time for Pentecost. It's been suggested that his desire to reach Jerusalem by Pentecost was so that he could present the gift to the Jerusalem Christians (collected from the churches he'd been visiting on his missionary journey) during a time when many would be present and could witness this gift and be assured of the unity and love of non-Jewish believers for the Jewish Christians. (Bible Background Commentary, Craig S. Keener, InterVarsity Press, pg. 383) (v. 13-16)

Although he couldn't afford to stop at Ephesus, he asked the Elders of the church in Ephesus to meet him at Miletus so that he could speak to them for what he believed would be his last time. (v.17)

In Paul's final words to the church leaders of Ephesus, we see a portrait of living worthy of imitation. Here are just a few observations from the text of verses 18-21.

Paul was not simply a teacher or intellectual of high standing. He served in humility and was emotionally invested in those he was teaching and serving, persisting even though hit by continued persecution and extreme difficulties. (v.18-19)

He taught everything that could be useful, rather than only discussing easily received topics and avoiding controversial subjects.

He didn't limit himself to public speaking, but also taught believers in more intimate settings with smaller numbers. (v.20)

His message was inclusive of all cultures, but uncompromising in its content. (v.21)

Paul was convinced that the Holy Spirit wanted him to go to Jerusalem, but was also bracing for the possibility of harm, since God had repeatedly told him that imprisonment and pain were in his future. (v.22-23)

This moment is especially striking to me because I have a tendency to worry about the unknowns in life, the things I can't control. I worry enough when I don't know whether or not something bad might happen, but here Paul KNEW that severe pain was inevitably part of his future and yet he didn't try to escape or delay it. He seemed to recognize, as I long to, that this life is just a dot on the line of eternity, and not worth holding on to or trying to make perfect. Instead, it's greatest worth and purpose comes in carrying out what God has intended for us to do. (v.24)

Next- Paul's Final Words And Warning Continued

Coffee House Question- God's general "call" to all of us is to love him with everything we've got and love others like we love ourselves.(Mark 12:28-31) But this takes on a specific flavor as we each try to figure out how God is "calling" us to do that. What does God seem to be "calling" you to do within the framework of loving him and loving others? What do you believe your "ministry" looks like right now?

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