This week's devotions are written by MBBC Student Ministry Intern Allison McSwain.
“Paul as a Model for the Christian Life and Witness”
Today’s reading recounts Paul’s farewell speech to the elders at Ephesus. For three years he had trained and discipled this church in the way of the Lord. In Paul’s final testimony at Ephesus, we see many traits and practices that the believers should imitate. Paul, after all, ultimately imitated Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).
In verses 19 and 20, Paul noted that his time ministering to the Ephesians had not been easy. It was full of trials and tears, but he did not give up. In the face of persecution, he “did not shrink from declaring…anything that was profitable.” I pray you and I can imitate this perseverance in sharing the truth. You and I may not face persecutions like imprisonment as Paul did, but we do live in a fallen world that despises the things of God. Let us not shrink back from feeling uncomfortable, judged, or rejected when sharing the gospel.
Paul followed the Spirit’s leading even when he was uncertain of the outcome. Verse 22 states that Paul did not know what awaited him in Jerusalem. He knew from past experiences that his role as a missionary was not easy—he was often “afflicted” by the locals if he preached Christ. In spite of this, he knew that’s where he needed to be. Oh, that we would follow the Holy Spirit’s leading even when we are afraid. Let us, like Paul, obey the Spirit’s guidance no matter what. We know that His way is best even if we must suffer for a little while. The response to His “go” should always be our “yes.”
Verse 24 is incredibly profound: “I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus.” You may not be a vocational minister or an overseas missionary, but if you are a Christian, you have a mission to finish the course given to you by Christ. In a way, you and I have the same mission as Paul: to lead people to know, love, and follow Jesus. May the Lord help us die to self, counting our own lives as nothing, for the sake of His life-saving gospel.
Acts 20:17-38 (ESV):
17 Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. 18 And when they came to him, he said to them:
“You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house,21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. 24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 25 And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. 26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. 34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. 35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
36 And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37 And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, 38 being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship.