Serving the Lord
Acts 20:17-21 NASB
From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church. And when they had come to him, he said to them,
“You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we are to be the Lord’s servants and witnesses, sharing the love and grace of God and the gospel of our salvation with the world about us, and loving and nurturing (edifying and encouraging) the body of Christ to maturity in the faith and to unity of mind with Christ Jesus.
Not only are we called to serve our Lord and one another, but we are to do so with humility, being willing to die, if need be, for the sake of Jesus Christ and his gospel, and for the sake of other people, for their salvation, and for their healing, hope, peace and joy.
We must be willing to endure trials, tribulations, persecutions, hatred, rejection, false accusations, and slander, etc. for the furtherance of the gospel of our salvation, and for the benefit of others, for their deliverance from their addictions to sin, and for their freedom in Christ to walk in his righteousness and holiness. For, this is all for their good.
I’m On my Way
Acts 20:22-24 NASB
“And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me. 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.
We should all be on our way towards afflictions, rejections and persecutions, if we are truly following Jesus Christ with our lives, and if we are not shrinking back from sharing the whole counsel of God, the fullness of his gospel message of salvation from sin.
For, Jesus said that if we follow him, we will be treated as he was. We will be hated and persecuted, and some of us will even be falsely accused, falsely arrested and put in prison, and some of us will even be put to death for our testimonies for Jesus and for his gospel.
We may not know when or how this will all happen, but we should know that this is what awaits us wherever we go if we are truly the Lord’s servants and messengers.
Yet, we should not consider our lives to be our own, but the Lord’s. For, Jesus said that if we want to come after him, we must deny self and take up our cross daily and follow him. If we hold on to our own lives, in order to please ourselves, we will lose them for eternity. But, if we lose our lives for the sake of Jesus Christ and his gospel, then we have eternal life with God.
Be On Guard
Acts 20:25-31 NASB
“And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face. Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.
“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.
We should never shrink from declaring the whole counsel, the entire purpose of God, out of fear of what other humans may do to us or say about us to others. We have to put other lives before our own, and care more about other humans than we do our own reputations, because we love all of humankind, and we want to see all people free from their addictions to sin and living in peace, joy, and in the Lord, and in his perfect will for their lives.
Those whom God has called to shepherd his flock – his sheep, his followers – must be diligent in protecting the sheep against any marauding forces which would sneak into the sheep pen stealthily in order to kill, steal and destroy the sheep. You must guard those entrusted to you from false christs and from false doctrines which are free license for lasciviousness, because they appeal to human flesh rather than put human flesh to death on the cross.
You must not only teach what is truth – the whole counsel of God – but you must expose what is false and warn against it so that the sheep do not fall into a pit with no one to rescue them.
And, the truth of the gospel is that Jesus died that we might die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). He didn’t die merely to give us an escape from hell and to promise us heaven when we leave this earth. He died to give us NEW LIVES in HIM free from our sin addictions and free to walk in his holiness, all in his power and strength within us.
Acts 20:32-35 NASB
“And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothes. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
The Word of God’s Grace to us is not just forgiveness of sins, but it is eradication of sin from our lives. For, God’s grace, which brings salvation, instructs (commands) us to say “No!” to ungodliness and worldly (fleshly) passions (lusts, desires), and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s soon return (Tit. 2:11-14).
This is why this Word of Grace is able to build us up (mature us) in Christ Jesus, because it does not leave us still floundering in our sin thinking we have our ticket to heaven when we leave this earth. It shows us the way out from under temptation to sin, and it paves for us a path of freedom from sin’s grip on our lives. Not saying we will be perfect, or that we will never sin, but Jesus made the way for us to no longer be enslaved to sin.
So, this is what we are to teach others, and live ourselves, so that we can help others to freedom in Christ rather than to a slightly cleaned up old life which is still dead in sin and bound for hell. If we want to help the weak, then we need to tell them the truth, not tell them lies so that they feel better about themselves while they still wander in sin, going nowhere.
My Jesus, My Savior
Michael W. Smith
My Jesus, my Saviour,
Lord, there is none like You
All of my days, I want to praise,
The wonders of your mighty love
My comfort, my shelter,
Tower of refuge and strength
Let every breath, all that I am
Never cease to worship You…
Sunday, May 27, 2018, 3:42 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for this teaching from Your Word. Help us to be faithful followers, servants and witnesses of yours.