Read Acts 20 -- 22
Before going to Jerusalem, Paul called for a meeting with the Ephesian elders at Miletus, saying: I go bound in the Spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall happen to me there: except the Holy Spirit witnesses in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions are awaiting me. But none of these things concern me, neither count I my life dear to myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:22-24).
Paul reminded them and us, saying: After my departure grievous wolves shall enter in among you. . . . speaking perverse things (distorting the truth). . . . Therefore watch. . . . And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the Word of His Grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified (20:29-32). Although deceivers who distort the truth are to be expected, we can be prepared to recognize them as we read the Word of His Grace.
The indwelling Holy Spirit will strengthen us to withstand our trials and temptations as He did for Paul. Jesus promised: I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter (Helper, Friend, Counselor), that He may abide with you for ever (John 14:16). The Lord does not expect us to live the Christian life without Him. We are not alone, but strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man (Ephesians 3:16). Once we recognize that His indwelling Holy Spirit enables us to accomplish His will regardless of adverse circumstances (Philippians 4:13), we can respond in love to anyone who causes us to suffer. No opposition on earth can rob us of the peace God gives if we permit Christ the King to reign over our emotions. True peace comes, not from the absence of conflict or suffering, but from allowing Christ to rule our lives. Each believer has the responsibility of strengthening other believers by word and example. Jesus died for all believers who make up His Church; Christians must live to strengthen it.
The Bible is our unique source of spiritual growth. It assures us that we not only belong to the Lord, but it also admonishes us to become like Him. We should be able to say: "Though I'm not what I ought to be, I'm not what I used to be; and, thanks to Him, I'm becoming what I was intended to be."
Spiritual growth takes place as we give of ourselves, not just material things, but what people need most, our love, forgiveness, and understanding. In doing this, we are becoming more like Jesus. Paul never prayed against the Roman Emperor Nero, but for him. Even in his chains he admonished: I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth (I Timothy 2:1-4).
Word Studies: 20:12 not a little means greatly; 21:15 took up our carriages means packed our baggage; 21:24 be at charges with them means pay their expenses; 21:39 no mean city means a very important city; 22:5 all the estate of means all the council of; 22:28 Paul . . . was free born means Paul was born a Roman citizen.
BPM Staff: Barbara Jean Jackson · Pray for Carl and Joyce Main, Cadence International · Country: Ghana (19 million) in western Africa · Major languages: English and African languages · The government permits freedom to churches and missionaries that do not get involved in politics · 31% belief in spirits and witches; 22% Protestant; 17% Muslim; 11% Roman Catholic · Prayer Suggestion: If we ask anything agreeing with His will, He both hears and answers (I John 5:14-15).
Memory Verse for the Week: Acts 8:37-39