God, grant me the heart Paul had toward this message.
Read Acts 20:13–24
13 We went on ahead to the ship and sailed for Assos, where we were going to take Paul aboard. He had made this arrangement because he was going there on foot. 14 When he met us at Assos, we took him aboard and went on to Mitylene. 15 The next day we set sail from there and arrived off Chios. The day after that we crossed over to Samos, and on the following day arrived at Miletus. 16 Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus to avoid spending time in the province of Asia, for he was in a hurry to reach Jerusalem, if possible, by the day of Pentecost.
17 From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. 18 When they arrived, he said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. 19 I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents. 20 You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. 21 I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.
22 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
New International Version (NIV)
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ReflectHow seriously are you taking the Word of God at this moment? Is it your first assumption and your final authority?
In this majestic passage, Luke quotes Paul’s final words to the Ephesian elders. To reflect the heart of his three years in Ephesus with them, Paul chose a particular Greek word that he repeated three times (21,23,24). This word can best be translated consistently as “solemnly testify” in English. It is a strong word of witness, declaring, warning, proclaiming—a passionate preaching.
First, Paul reminded the elders that the whole time he was with them he “solemnly testified” about repentance toward God and faith in Jesus (21). Next, it is the Holy Spirit who “solemnly testified” to Paul that he would suffer for the sake of the Gospel (23). But, for Paul, to “solemnly testify” about the message of God’s grace was more important to him than his own life (24).
What a challenge to us! What drives our lives, our decisions? If this Gospel is true, then what impact should it have on the way that we spend our time, and how we speak to others?
How can you center your life around the Gospel today? What would look different if Jesus was truly the center of your life?
Reflect on Paul’s statement in verse 24. In prayer, bring to God your thoughts on the challenge you feel.