During the last quarter, we studied from the book of the Acts of the Apostles from chapters 15-19 and some of the lessons learned were about:
- Fundamental Truths – Acts 15 v 1.
- Disagreement amongst believers – Acts 15 v 39
- Power of Conversion – Acts 16 v 14
- Believers in Berea – Acts 17 v 11
And as we continue in the study of this book, our goal still remains the same as listed below;
- Understand how the Apostles lived their lives.
- Understand what they experienced from their interaction with the world.
- Learn from them and also what the Lord did through them.
Summarized below are some of the lessons and observations from chapters 20-25;
As believers, the reason behind our actions is very important and we can see this in several stories in the bible where God deal with people based on their motives.
There would not be commandments/instructions for every possible situation we find ourselves but when we study the life of Paul, we would be able to see how he sees himself as it relates to his calling. Being a leader (whether at home or in the church) carry so much responsibilities and privileges and there are so many things we can learn from Paul. Some examples of his mindset towards his responsibility were evident during his farewell to the Ephesian Elders in Acts 20 v 17 – 38.
From verses 19 – 21, we can deduce how passionate Paul was in his duties, he did not only teach the brethren publicly (which may be likened to Sunday services or programs in our time) but also from house to house. This is profound in the sense that it clearly shows the closeness to the brethren. There is so much that would be gained when leaders and brethren fellowship together. A very good way of life to be emulated by leaders in our generation.
A very important question that Paul had settled and answered was the task the Lord Jesus gave him. In verses 23 – 24, he viewed his life relative to his calling, “the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace”.
For us believers, whether we like it or not, our time on this side of eternity is going to be measured according to the execution of the task the Lord has given us. Are you like Paul i.e. is your aim to finish the race and the task the Lord has given to you? With this mind set and HIS grace, when we face momentarily light afflictions (2 Corinthians 4 v 17), as Paul encouraged us, it won’t derail us from HIS path.
Wherever we find ourselves, we, as believers, know that the Lord must have placed us there for a purpose and as we are also part of the ministry of reconciliation, we should always seek every opportunity to testify about the Lord to people around us. Are we able to say with confidence to people around us like Paul said in v 26-27? “Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of any of you. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God”.
For anyone to have made such a bold statement, we can all imagine the amount of effort that must have gone into this. Have we denied ourselves in order to pray for people to be saved? Have we been on our knees all night to have a lost soul come to Jesus? Have we forfeited material gain so that we may have an opportunity to minister about Jesus?
As Paul encouraged the leaders, in verse 28, we are to keep watch over ourselves and be shepherds of the church of God which HE bought with his own blood.
We are in dangerous times where we are faced everyday with falsehood, deceit, and heresy from “men/women of God”. Here in v30, Paul warned the brethren on these issues and encouraged us to be on guard. We must warn ourselves regularly against people that distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.
And lastly, Paul, even though he has the right to be dependent on the brethren, but what motivated him to actually work and fend for himself and his companions was the Lord’s saying that “It’s more blessed to give than to receive”.
Are you ready and willing to forfeit your privilege and right to advance a greater cause like Paul? He did not stop at the place of his right but looked ahead by working hard to supply even the needs of his companions and also help the weak with his resources.