Saturday, December 02, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Acts 19-20

The missionary journeys of the apostle Paul continues in today’s Scripture reading, Acts 19-20.  We find Paul making his third and final missionary journey through Asia Minor visiting believers in churches at Ephesus (Acts 19), Macedonia (Acts 20:1), Greece (Acts 20:2-3), Philippi (Acts 20:4-6), and Troas (Acts 20:6).

The narrative in today’s Scripture reading takes on a somber tone.   Arriving in the seaport town of Miletus (Acts 20:17), Paul summoned for the elders of the church in Ephesus.  With a heavy heart, Paul began to encourage and exhort the pastors of the church for the last time (Acts 20:18-38).

Paul reminded the pastors of the manner in which he had conducted himself when he ministered among them (Acts 20:18-21).  He revealed he was going up to Jerusalem for the Passover, knowing suffering and imprisonment awaited him (Acts 20:22-27).  Finally, he warned them concerning the troubles and trials that would afflict the church (Acts 20:28-35).

Paul leaves us an inspiring example for all who pastor and minister in the church.

He served with a selfless spirit (“I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you” – 20:20).

He was earnest in his witness, unashamedly calling both Jews and Greeks to repent (20:21).

He was devoted to the Lord and the Gospel ministry; like an Olympic runner sets his eye on the finish line, Paul determined to finish the course of his ministry with joy (20:24).

Finally, he was God’s watchman and admonished the pastors to shepherd the church.  Like a shepherd protects his sheep from adversaries and guides them to green pastures, the pastors were to be vigilant knowing evil men would come into the church, some aspiring to be pastors, speaking heresies that would divide the church (20:27-30).

The dangers Paul foresaw for the church in Ephesus are the dangers confronting the 21st century church in America.  Many historically Bible fundamental churches, schools, Bible colleges and universities are suffering a diminishing of their spirit, if not an altogether extinguishing of their life in the past two decades.

Pulpits that were aflame with the unapologetic preaching of the Gospel and the warnings of God’s imminent judgment, have given way to pseudo-piety and a hyper-intellectualism that spark academic debates, but do little to stir the soul.

Bible fundamental churches are dying and our Bible colleges and seminaries are lifeless because we lack for shepherds who, like the apostle Paul, are selfless (20:20), earnest (20:21), devoted (20:24), and fearless watchmen (20:27-30).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith