READING: Psalms 18-19, Acts 20:17-38
“The Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me.”
Today’s another one of those days when a Bible text causes me to stop, meditate, confess, and re-commit my life to Christ.
In today’s New Testament reading, we are privileged to eavesdrop on history as the apostle Paul said his good-byes to the elders of the church at Ephesus. Paul had served there “with all humility and with tears and with trials” (Acts 20:19), and the time had come to depart. He could leave knowing he had been fully faithful to the task, “teaching you publicly and from house to house” (Acts 20:20). It was now time to head to Jerusalem.
What Paul knew about Jerusalem, though, was that trouble likely awaited him there. He did not know for certain, but he was going to Jerusalem under the compulsion of the Holy Spirit – the same One of whom Paul said, “The Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me” (Acts 19:23). Apparently, the Spirit of God both drove Paul to Jerusalem and warned him of the risk of doing so. That is, Paul did not have all the details, but he did know that the road to Jerusalem was not going to be smooth. Indeed, he was certain that the believers in Ephesus would never see him again. All wept over that possibility, but Paul set out for Jerusalem nevertheless.
He went under the press of this calling and commitment: “But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). Paul was prepared to die if that were the cost of finishing the race he entered when God had called him to the work of the gospel. Death was a possibility, but disobedience was not an option.
I can only wonder how quickly I would move in obedience if I knew that doing so would likely result in persecution, jail time, and perhaps death. I pray that I would be as sensitive as Paul to hear the guidance of the Spirit and as faithful as he was to obey – whatever the cost. Lord, help me.
- Pray that you would be willing to do whatever God demands, including stepping into danger if necessary.
- Thank God for believers around the world who face these realities every day.
PRAYER: “God, thank You for Your Word that so challenges me. Help me to be faithful to You, even unto death.’”
TOMORROW’S READING: Psalms 20-22, Acts 21:1-17