Last week Paul was giving his last address personally before he went to Jerusalem and this week we read and discuss his instructions to the church at Ephesus.
Acts 20:28 "So guard yourselves and God's people. Feed and shepherd God's flock—his church, purchased with his own blood—over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as elders.
Notice his first instruction to the leaders at Ephesus: Guard Yourselves. Before we can help and guard others in their faith, we must first guard our own faith.
Paul told Timothy whom he mentored: 1 Tim 6:20 And oh, my dear Timothy, guard the treasure you were given! Guard it with your life. Avoid the talk-show religion and the practiced confusion of the so-called experts…The Message
Guard the Word of God, Guard the truth, don’t get involved with those who want to water down the truth or want to build their own kingdoms. In the world we live in we must make it a priority to guard our faith since in the last days there are many deceptive voices in the world.
Secondly, Paul told the leaders in verse 28 to: Guard God’s people whom the Holy Spirit had set them over. Leaders have to live by a high standard and pay a price greater than others are willing to pay because they will give an answer on judgment day of how they led Father God’s people (to whom much is given, much is required). Leaders will never please everyone so they must continually make a constant effort to please Father God in all their decisions (the secret is hearing His voice, knowing His Word and complete obedience). We must protect and guard against doctrine and those who have their own interests above the interest of building Father God’s kingdom.
Paul also reminds the leaders that the church was purchased by the blood of Jesus so the church doesn’t belong to man but to Father God. Then he reminds them that the Holy Spirit chose them to be the leaders/elders, not man. America has a problem understanding the word kingdom and kingdom authority because we live in a democracy where everyone should have a say. In the kingdom, Father God sets up and sets down, Father God choses who will be part of the five-fold ministry and who has the authority to help oversee His church. In the Kingdom there is a King (Jesus who is the King of Kings) and He still appoints leaders under His leadership.
29 I know that false teachers, like vicious wolves, will come in among you after I leave, not sparing the flock. 30 Even some men from your own group will rise up and distort the truth in order to draw a following. 31 Watch out! Remember the three years I was with you—my constant watch and care over you night and day, and my many tears for you.
His concerns were false teachers and never has the church seen as much false teaching as right now. I love mercy and I love grace but it’s not so we can live a cheap lifestyle of ungodliness but rather exhorts us to holy living. Grace leads us to the cross and then invites us to get on the cross.
Then he warned that even people from their own groups would rise up to draw a following for themselves. I need to say this plainly, rebellion which causes a church to split off another church is not Kingdom. So many churches have split because someone didn’t like something going on and then started their own church just to see it split again because it was birthed out of a wrong spirit. If you find leaders you agree with all the time, then you are probably not human. You don’t have to agree with every decision to be in unity and in God’s proper order of authority. The same is true for family relationships and even business relationships.
The Bible warns of those who will cause division in the body of Christ, great will be their punishment. God is not the author of confusion.
32 "And now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself.
Paul said there isn’t much more I can do to help protect you since I will probably never see you face again so I put you in Father God’s hands and He is able to strengthen you and keep you set apart for his Kingdom. I’ve taught you, I’ve spiritually fed you now it’s time for you to lead the way not giving in to false truths and the doctrines and opinions of man.
Prayer Points: Father God help me to walk in the truths of your Holy Word and never fall into false doctrine which will destroy my soul. I bind any spirit of deception that would try to deceive me into rebelling against your Word or the God given leaders you gave me in my life. Father God used my life completely to help build your Kingdom in Jesus Name!
Last week we discussed how Paul was trying to get to Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost (Acts 20:16). Let’s read:
Acts 20:17 But when we landed at Miletus, he sent a message to the elders of the church at Ephesus, asking them to come and meet him. 18 When they arrived he declared, "You know that from the day I set foot in the province of Asia until now 19 I have done the Lord's work humbly and with many tears. I have endured the trials that came to me from the plots of the Jews. 20 I never shrank back from telling you what you needed to hear, either publicly or in your homes. 21 I have had one message for Jews and Greeks alike—the necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God, and of having faith in our Lord Jesus.
Paul called for the leaders at the church in Ephesus to come meet him and began to testify of his labor of love for Father God’s Kingdom. I love the focus of his message regardless of who he was ministering to (verse 21); Repentance and Faith. Friends, it’s time we quit majoring on the minors and major on getting people to repent and then live by faith in what Jesus did for us.
Repentance, receiving forgiveness for our sins and turning from our old lifestyle. Father God changes us but we also must be wise and change some things ourselves like who we hang out with, where we hang out, etc…. We are not saved by works but when we truly get saved our works will change.
Living by Faith in Jesus was the second message Paul focused on sharing. For the Jews it was a hard message to accept because under the law there is a lot of works (sacrificing animals, etc) but under grace the one sacrifice Jesus made was sufficient and we receive it by faith not works. Our works follow our faith.
Living by faith, knowing Jesus not only took our sins and the shame of our sins but He also took the curse of sin. Now we are free and are entitled to the blessings of Father God.
22 "And now I am bound by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. I don't know what awaits me, 23 except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead. 24 But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.
What a powerful testimony! I know I’m destined to go to Jerusalem where imprisonment and suffering awaits me but I’m willing to go because that is the will of the Lord for my life and I know I will have opportunity to tell others about the Good News and about the Grace of Father God. The temporality pain and hardship is nothing to be compared with the eternal joys which await me. In fact my life is not worth living unless I finish the work assigned to me, finish the purpose for which I was born so I press forward.
Paul had the mentality of Jesus when He prayed in the garden I don’t want to die the death I was destined to die but NEVERTHELESS not my will but thy will be done. Paul pinned these words, to be absent from this body is to be present with Christ so he knew death was not an enemy but rather his transport into paradise.
25 "And now I know that none of you to whom I have preached the Kingdom will ever see me again. 26 I declare today that I have been faithful. If anyone suffers eternal death, it's not my fault, 27 for I didn't shrink from declaring all that God wants you to know.
These were sad words because of the bond between Paul and the church at Ephesus when Paul said we will never see each other again. Then he said words that we all need to strive after, if anyone suffers eternity in hell it’s not my fault because I told you the truth in love caring for your eternal souls. Whatever Father God wanted me to tell you I told you so your blood is not on my hands.
It’s sobering to think about someone else’s blood being on our hands because we refused to share the truth with them. It’s more than sobering to think about someone spending eternity in hell because we were not obedient in sharing the full gospel with those the Holy Spirit put in front of us. I want to be able to say like Paul, if you spend eternity in hell, it was not my fault because I was obedient to the calling Father God had on my life. In this pleasure sin driven world it’s not a time to water down the gospel but we must preach it, live it, tell it without compromise.
Prayer Thoughts: Father in Jesus Name, continue to give me the boldness to tell the truth in love to everyone you have ordained me to witness to. I don’t want to stand before you with their blood on my hands. Help me to see everyone through your eyes with your love.
Before we get into this week’s devotion, let me say how thankful we are that so many allow this devotion to be part of their weekly lives. Every Sunday I see people before service reading it, while others read it online, etc.
Last week Paul was about to leave the church at Troas so they were having an all-night service before he departed, not knowing if they would ever see him again. Instead of having just physical food and fellowship they were investing their last few hours fellowshipping in natural food and spiritual food. Let’s pick up the story in this setting:
Acts 20:8 The upstairs room where we met was lighted with many flickering lamps.
A good reminder that you don’t have to have a perfect setting to have church. The early church did not have AL Power or T-Mobile but they knew how to have church and how to host the Presence of the Lord.
9 As Paul spoke on and on, a young man named Eutychus, sitting on the windowsill, became very drowsy. Finally, he fell sound asleep and dropped three stories to his death below.
Forget the part about Paul preaching on and on and on because many may feel that way about preachers today. Paul preached so long till Eutychus, who was sitting next to the window in the upper room, which was on the third floor, went to sleep and fell out the window.
Can you imagine the chaos? Paul preaching for hours and then a sudden sound of someone shouting Eutychus has fallen out of the window! His family and friends undoubtedly screaming and running down the stairs. Paul stops preaching and runs down the stairs with them to find him dead. Panic sets in, this church service is canceled! Seemingly defeat has invaded the atmosphere but God!
10 Paul went down, bent over him, and took him into his arms. "Don't worry," he said, "he's alive!"
The anointing and life in Paul was greater than the death in Eutychus. When Paul grabbed him, life came back into him and what the devil had meant for destruction turned into an everlasting testimony and a lot of fun conversation. Can you imagine how they joked with Eutychus every time he sat near that window where they met for church weekly? I can only imagine the conversation and laughter. Friends, what a miracle! What should have destroyed the service turned into a celebration of Father God’s power.
11 Then they all went back upstairs, shared in the Lord's Supper, and ate together. Paul continued talking to them until dawn, and then he left.
12 Meanwhile, the young man was taken home unhurt, and everyone was greatly relieved.
Notice the first thing they did was to re-assemble and partake of communion; remembering what Jesus had done for them through His death, burial and resurrection. Then they ate and fellowshipped together before Paul taught for a few more hours before leaving Troas. I love verse twelve as it bears witness of Eutychus falling three stories, that he went home unhurt, GLORY TO GOD!
13 Paul went by land to Assos, where he had arranged for us to join him, while we traveled by ship. 14 He joined us there, and we sailed together to Mitylene. 15 The next day we sailed past the island of Kios. The following day we crossed to the island of Samos, and a day later we arrived at Miletus
Don’t take these verses lightly, this was not easy travel in those days; there were neither cars, buses, trains nor were there cruise ship comfort on their boats. Just the travel was enough to physically and mentally weaken a person but Paul was up to the challenge because we see in the next verse he was on a timetable.
16 Paul had decided to sail on past Ephesus, for he didn't want to spend any more time in the province of Asia. He was hurrying to get to Jerusalem, if possible, in time for the Festival of Pentecost.
It was important to him to be at the Feast of Pentecost because it was Father God’s feast. He wanted to celebrate this year in Jerusalem if possible. He wanted to celebrate because it was Father God’s set time to: 1. Time to thank Father God for His Blessing (His Provision)
2. Time to thank Father God for the Torah (Revelation through His Word) 3. Time to thank Father God for and receive a Fresh Touch from the Holy Spirit (His Power)
Prayer Points: Father never let the distractions of this life interrupt my personal and corporate time with You in Jesus Name!
Just as it is today, the early church consisted of real people with real emotions, real problems and real life. Don’t ever read the Bible as fictional but place yourself in the setting. The setting today comes right after the idol worshippers had tried to stop the gospel from being spread so it’s not a great environment for an early church.
Acts 20:1 When the uproar was over, Paul sent for the believers and encouraged them. Then he said good-bye and left for Macedonia.
During this persecuted time, the Holy Spirit directs Paul to leave for Macedonia. What a shock, what a let-down for the church in Ephesus but God always has a plan and we read later that the church there is still successfully building the kingdom. I can’t imagine the tears and the disappointment as Paul was leaving them but God always has a plan. They were human and undoubtedly attached to Paul and his ministry.
2 While there, he encouraged the believers in all the towns he passed through. Then he traveled down to Greece, 3 where he stayed for three months. He was preparing to sail back to Syria when he discovered a plot by some Jews against his life, so he decided to return through Macedonia.
Paul was radical for Jesus from the time he was converted on the Damascus Road; always traveling, teaching, preaching and walking under an open heaven. Seemingly everywhere he went two things happened: 1. Riot 2. Revival. There were so many threats on his life but just like Jesus no one was able to kill him before his time.
4 Several men were traveling with him. They were Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea; Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica; Gaius from Derbe; Timothy; and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia. 5 They went on ahead and waited for us at Troas.
As I’m writing this, I’m thinking about how it must have been to have ministered with such a wonderful man of God. May we never take for granted those Father God has placed around us. We should value their calling and anointing.
6 After the Passover ended, we boarded a ship at Philippi in Macedonia and five days later joined them in Troas, where we stayed a week.
Once again, Paul observed Passover not because he was a Jew but rather a Christian who wanted to observe the Lord’s Feasts. Then it sounds like they had a week long revival.
7 On the first day of the week, we gathered with the local believers to share in the Lord's Supper. Paul was preaching to them, and since he was leaving the next day, he kept talking until midnight.
Notice, they met on the first day of the week which was Sunday and they also partook of the Lord’s Supper. Communion is a supernatural weapon the Lord has given us. I urge you to take communion in your daily time of intimacy with the Lord and as you do your personal time with Him will go to the next level spiritually. Notice the hunger of those who were in this meeting, he was teaching until midnight and we read later that they were there until dawn.
Two requirements for revival: 1. Humility 2.Hunger
Humility: the Bible says for us not to think more highly of ourselves than we should. Yes, we should know who we are in Christ but we also should recognize the Christ in others; never becoming prideful or self-exalting, since it’s Father God who exalts. With Father God we can do anything but without Father God we can do nothing and we must remember that.
Hunger: the Bible says in Matt 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. No one should ever think they are so close to the Lord that they have arrived. Our love and our hunger for Father God should keep us seeking Him more and more not less. Without humility and hunger you will never experience true revival personally or as a church corporately. There is always more of Him to be obtained but we must decrease so He can increase.
Prayer Points: Father, let us decrease so you can increase in us. We desire more of you and less of us and we desire a revival that will totally change the spiritual atmosphere which will change the physical state of where we live. We realize Father God that you are our only hope of change. Start with me Lord, send another Awakening to America in Jesus Name!
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