Immovable – 3-9-22

But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24 NKJV

You long for signs and wonders, you pray for signs and wonders, but are you willing to live the life required to see signs and wonders? Do you at least go to a church that preaches the 5 fold ministry and moves in it? Do you even have a real relationship with God, through Jesus, in the Holy Spirit?
Come on, folks – you know I have to ask. And in asking myself – I am encourage in my resolve to press in more, because it is easy to become lazy in areas of any relationship.
When you are in a relationship, you must speak to the person daily – and a few times each day. You must spend time together. You must get to know each other. Read love letters and text messages from each other. And (when you enter a covenant relationship) you must be raw, truthful and intimate with each other. Well, a covenant relationship is what God wants us to enter into with him – through repentance. But it doesn’t stop there. We do not just get saved then sit stagnant (because if you are not actively seeking God, then you are sliding back into the old fleshly ways that lead to hell and Revelations 3:5 says that it is possible for our names to be removed from the book of life – from getting into heaven – from salvation.)
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:22-25 NKJV

RELATIONSHIP:

Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

BIBLE READING:

Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word and our sound mind. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is the Book of Acts chapter 20 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

Journeys in Greece

20 After the uproar had ceased, Paul called the disciples to himself, embraced them, and departed to go to Macedonia. Now when he had gone over that region and encouraged them with many words, he came to Greece and stayed three months. And when the Jews plotted against him as he was about to sail to Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia. And Sopater of Berea accompanied him to Asia—also Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians, and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia. These men, going ahead, waited for us at Troas. But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days.

Ministering at Troas

Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight. There were many lamps in the upper room where [a]they were gathered together. And in a window sat a certain young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep. He was overcome by sleep; and as Paul continued speaking, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. 10 But Paul went down, fell on him, and embracing him said, “Do not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him.” 11 Now when he had come up, had broken bread and eaten, and talked a long while, even till daybreak, he departed. 12 And they brought the young man in alive, and they were not a little comforted.

From Troas to Miletus

13 Then we went ahead to the ship and sailed to Assos, there intending to take Paul on board; for so he had [b]given orders, intending himself to go on foot. 14 And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and came to Mitylene. 15 We sailed from there, and the next day came opposite Chios. The following day we arrived at Samos and stayed at Trogyllium. The next day we came to Miletus. 16 For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost.

The Ephesian Elders Exhorted

17 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. 18 And when they had come to him, he said to them: “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, 19 serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; 20 how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, 21 testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. 24 [c]But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my [d]race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

25 “And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more. 26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent[e] of the blood of all men. 27 For I have not [f]shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church [g]of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking [h]perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.

32 “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. 34 [i]Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. 35 I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

36 And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37 Then they all wept [j]freely, and fell on Paul’s neck and kissed him, 38 sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they would see his face no more. And they accompanied him to the ship.

Footnotes

  1. Acts 20:8 NU, M we
  2. Acts 20:13 arranged it
  3. Acts 20:24 NU But I do not count my life of any value or dear to myself
  4. Acts 20:24 course
  5. Acts 20:26 Lit. clean
  6. Acts 20:27 avoided declaring
  7. Acts 20:28 M of the Lord and God
  8. Acts 20:30 misleading
  9. Acts 20:34 NU, M omit Yes
  10. Acts 20:37 Lit. much

MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:

Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”

STUDY/DEVOTIONAL:

The book of Acts was one of the last books I was introduced to growing up in church. As far as I knew it just recorded, for instance that person X went here, and there, and then the other place; and then person Y did this, and that, and the other thing.
It was not good for instruction, and therefore not good for study. Which is SO WRONG! I am not sure who gave me this impression or where it came from. So for most of my life I only knew Paul through his letters.
He seemed direct, maybe a little aloof, and always upset at someone about something. Paul never gave me the warm feeling, like John did. However, you all are reading these thoughts and you do not see when I am in tears, or when I rewrite a sentence 10 times until I feel the Holy Spirit release, nor do you see the struggle when I NEED to get here and write to you and I am delayed and detracted. I am a crier. I cry at ever alter call, and worship song, and sermon, and prayer meeting… Just overwhelmed by all sorts of feelings of how amazing God is.

But to understand Paul’s ministry and work – we need to get to know him a little better. Even in Acts, Luke doesn’t wax poetic, sticking to facts and who did what, mostly. Other accounts, outside of the Bible, say he was a short, balding man, with a limp and his eyesight was slowly going bad over the years. They also say he was full of love and compassion, acting on emotional impulse. 
We have clearly seen his emotional reactions to things so far – which usually lead to him opening his mouth and getting into trouble. And we know he obviously had a heart for missions. But things have seemed quite factual. And if we are going to strive to be the kind of believer that moves mountain, heals the sick and raises the dead – then we better understand all of the actions and characteristics of these Apostles who did these things.

Verse 1 in today’s reading starts with Paul hugging everyone after the very scary moment of chaos – the riot, we read about yesterday. Paul tries to comfort them.  Reading about these kinds of interpersonal interactions shows a depth of empathy and understanding and compassion. If this is how he loved and interacted with people, how much more did he pour into his relationship with God? I personally do not even like being that raw and honest with myself, and even more uncomfortable when ya know God already knows and you have to own it in His holy presence and become undone and exposed. But this is how we learn the depth of empathy, compassion and understanding – through the Comforter Himself, the Holy Spirit.

OK – so Paul rejoins his crew and has with him some of the leaders and as he goes through Macedonia down to Corinth and back, he seems to gather all the leaders. They all meet back in Troas. Verses 1-6. Seems rather quick – let’s get a better image of what was happening.

Instead of going into cities and preaching first at the synagogues – he was going in to encourage and teach the churches he planted. The Jews were always on his tail trying to plot against him. While getting through Macedonia, he wrote to the church at Corinth. Then when he finally gets to Corinth he stays for a few months and writes the letter to the Romans (yes, these letters are the books of the New Testament). In Philippi, Luke and Paul stay for the festival of unleavened bread and then catch up with the others in Troas. AND that right there was all Luke said about 50% of Paul’s 3rd missionary Journey. And it is not like things did not happen – he wrote letters to churches and everywhere he went signs and wonders followed.

But for some reason Luke wrote nothing more except about Troas, where a scene unfolds in Troas that has been a little controversial over the years.

Where on their last day, Paul taught for so long a young man fell asleep and fell right out the window and died! Killer sermon their Paul. Luke doesn’t include the sermon – so we do not risk falling asleep and dying ourselves (joking). But, Paul ran out and hugged the young man (I assume prayerfully – I mean the second it happened I would be praying as I ran and checked on him). The young man was dead – then he was alive.
And please do not be one of those people who say, maybe it was just assumed that he was dead, but he wasn’t (and he survived without anything broken?). And do not say that the story levels are shorter so the fall was not as far and survivable. Don’t tell me it wasn’t what he Bible clearly states that it was. He was dead. Then he was alive.
Sometimes we must put away all our modern knowledge and stop doubting and questioning secretly inside ourselves. The Bible says it, I believe it.  If the Word is Jesus and Jesus is God and God is not a man that He should lie – then I will not question it.
Now, in some cases, modern explanations only prove the miracles! But I have yet to hear a preacher try to explain this one without removing the miraculous and the explanation is literally less mathematically probable than the lad being brought back to life.  
I also have a theory – Anyone teaching this theory: that Ancient man from Paul’s world would think the lad was dead (when he wasn’t) and therefore think Paul prayed and thinks he came back to life – anyone teaching that has a struggle with doubt, has no signs and wonders, does not move in any of the 5 fold ministry, and needs to have a real experience with God before they arrive in heaven and are confuse when Jesus says NOPE, I never knew you.  I mean the whole point of miracles is that they are unexplainable and seemingly impossible. Why can we believe God can heal someone of cancer and pray fervently for it – but question this? Why can we believe Paul healed the sick and they all spoke with other tongues – but this story is questioned? And then we wonder why signs and wonders are not following us – when the Bible says they WILL follow ALL who believe. Can we believe already?!

OK – I’ll move on. The Holy Spirit has placed an urgency in Paul to get back to Jerusalem as quick as possible. So they bypass Ephesus and Asia by boat. But when the boat docked in Miletus, he sent for the elders of the church and when they all gathered joining Paul and the other leaders who were with them, Paul poured out his heart to them.
I know that Paul’s little speech here is 50% of today’s reading. But go back and read it again! Verses 18 to the end. I cannot explain much more about it. It is hauntingly beautiful, with the foreshadowing of Paul never seeing them again. It is full of Holy love and compassion and Godliness. And it truly exposes Paul’s heart.
In verse 19 he says, with many tears… and I tear up. I relate in my own experience, because I tear up when I speak of the things of the Lord, and I cry over the lost, the unchurched, the unsaved, and he ungodly. And I am sure you all do as well. And I know Paul is too, because at first glance you may think he is crying over his own trials being self-focused – but he doesn’t say tearful trials – he separates them.
Verse 21 “repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” the way Paul worded it bring another layer of depth.
Verse 24 “with joy” lest we forget in our own oppressive world were many fear their own end – Paul faces it with Joy – the joy of the Lord is our strength! And we overcome with our testimony as Paul’s says: “to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.If not for grace!

Paul goes on to say he is innocent of blood. You see – right there is the difference between Paul and us. Yes, even me.  I must relearn and change my mindset – because I look at sharing the gospel as a choice and feel no responsibility for anyone going to hell – which is our modern humanistic global culture. BUT the truth is God WILL hold us responsible for the souls we were supposed to reach but failed to because of disobedience to God. Yes, real consequences – their blood is on our hands.
The man in the restaurant you were too embarrassed to go speak to? The young man at the gas station begging for money or work but you judged as a worthless druggy? And so on. Paul is confident that he obeyed in every divine appointment and spoke life without compromise in love.
Almost like Jesus at the last supper – Paul says beware of wolves and then says some among them would someday pervert things and be a wolf. The interesting thing here is that it is true every church. Yes, EVERY church – even the dead ones. Because even in the dead ones there is a risk that life might come join or be birthed in it. The leadership should not tolerate it – as we will study in the book of Timothy. But sly ones will still hide in the congregations, usually in plain sight, manipulating all around them.

“And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. Then they all wept freely, and fell on Paul’s neck and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they would see his face no more. And they accompanied him to the ship.” Acts 20:36-38

Regardless of it all – Paul remained immovable in his resolve to obey God and immovable in faith. Mountains could move – but not Paul’s mind.
As a teenager, a friend of mine and I were often asked to teach lessons to the youth group – to our peers.  My youth leader was either crazy, or God was doing something, because that leader never asked to see our messages beforehand. However, we knew, if we misspoke, we would be corrected in front of everyone.  My friend is now a head pastor of a church in Massachusetts. Anyway, I have the note and I always remember one particular message. In it I asked – what is the most powerful force on and of earth. The time was the end of the cold war/arms race. The answer everyone gave was nuclear bombs. Except one who said God, but God is not of earth. I said they were all wrong. The most powerful is a fixed mind. You see, nothing, not even God can change it. God will do everything he can to soften your heart and show you His love if you are fixed against Him – but God does not force anyone and you have free will.  However, if you mind is set, truly set, what can move it? The apostle John was dragged into the colosseum and told to deny Christ or they would boil him in oil. Boiling oil did not have any power over John’s set mind. (John survived the oil and the whole audience became believers!) Peter was hung alive on a cross upside-down – because the painful death of a cross upside-down had no power over Peter’s fixed mind. And we can go through Christian leaders and believer throughout time and over and over – NO WEAPON FORMED COULD PREVAIL AGAINST A FIXED MIND, a mind that was immovable.  
I was once told that if you decide what to do in the hard situations ahead of time, then when and if you ever end up there, you will make the right choice, because you had already made it without emotional or demonic influence that comes with the situation. Today I have no fear of death if I don’t deny Christ, I have no emotional pressure to choose, and I have no demonic oppression trying to literally destroy my soul over the issue. So today is a good day to choose – to set my mind – to decide to be immovable like Paul did when he entered that covenant with God a couple chapters back.

***

Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

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