Week 8, Day 1
February 21, 2022
Scriptures: Acts 20
Thank you Lindsey McIntyre for todays devotion.
Sharing a devotional on behalf of Jordan today! I hope it encourages all of you as you begin a new week. Happy Monday!
Our response song to the sermon yesterday was The Stand, and these lyrics struck me and gave me pause in the midst of my worship…
I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the One who gave it all
So I’ll stand, my soul Lord to you surrendered
All I am is Yours
As a musician, my heart naturally pours out in worship through song. And when I sing and praise God through worship, I’m fully aware of the power in living out these words of truth. But then life gets the best of me, and I’m once again caught in the battle between standing on the promises of God and standing on the promises of the world.
This was my mindset when I opened my Bible to read Acts 20, and I was immediately struck by the opening sentence…
After the uproar ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them, he said farewell and departed for Macedonia. When he had gone through those regions and had given them much encouragement, he came to Greece.
It’s worth mentioning that Acts 19 ends with a riot at Ephesus. There is much chaos and confusion, and Paul’s life is in extreme danger. I can’t imagine what he was feeling during this time, but I’m guessing it was a mix of human emotions that were anything but pleasant. This was a major turning point in Paul’s ministry that would lead to extreme sacrifice on behalf of the Gospel, not unlike Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. I don’t think anyone would have blamed him if he abandoned ship at this point (no pun intended!) And yet, his immediate response was to encourage the disciples before departing and continuing to spread encouragement throughout Macedonia and Greece.
After some time (and a LOT of external processing) Paul called for the elders of the church in Ephesus to come to him. When they arrived, he reminded them of his bold service to the Lord in the midst of many trials and persecution. He gave a brief account of his teaching and testifying before letting them know that he was going to Jerusalem, fully aware of his fate. Once again, I’m pretty sure everyone would’ve understood if he had decided to abandon his mission (some of us might have even encouraged it!)
But he chose to walk in faithful obedience to God, following in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ. I love how verse 24 sums up his conviction and testimony…
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.
It’s clear that Paul understood the value in standing with arms high and heart abandoned, in awe of the One who gave it all. His soul Lord to You surrendered, all he was (and is) is Yours.
The chapter ends with Jesus’ words, reminding us that it is more blessed to give than receive.” Jesus gave his life for us. Paul gave his life for the Gospel. I pray that our church, and the body of believers, can continue to walk forward in faithful steps as we work to advance the work of God, to the praise of His glory.
Jordan Ickes, Minister of Etna Green Church of Christ.