My daughter and I recently listened to Acts 20 while on the way to breakfast. The You Version Bible App audio feature is amazing – I love it.
As it is with scripture, the more I listened, the more it resonated with me. Here are eight concepts from that chapter than have been on my mind since listening to it.
Paul went to Greece and stayed for three months. When I hear about three month ministry trips, my heart always thinks toward the summer. Each year, at least in our region of the world, we have roughly three months of the summer season when students are out of school and available. I have spent three months on the road several summers leading and serving in the church. Three months seems like a solid amount of time to feel like you have invested in something significant.
He traveled with a team and it was diverse. In verse four we hear the names of the people and where they were from. I have learned over the years that when you travel in ministry with any group of people, you reach the crowds in different ways. A person from the congregation will automatically connect with one of the team members. It’s a powerful way in which to do ministry. I have always noticed that when someone on our Harvest Team is from another country, another part of the country, or wears an earring, or has a tattoo, or dresses a certain way, they always have potential to connect to students who are also that way. They connect on a different level than I would. I’m impressed with the team Paul assembled. They were faithful to him and to God.
THEY DIDN’T SKIP SUNDAY WORSHIP
In verse seven we find on Sunday they met for worship and celebration. I believe it’s important to be in worship on Sundays. I have made this a point in our family no matter where we are, to worship on Sundays. I have also made it a point in Harvest Ministry. We don’t skip church because we got in late on Saturday night. I don’t want it to be legalistic, but I like Paul’s commitment here – travel from place to place for weeks on end, but on Sundays, kick the week off meeting with other Christians to worship God.
FALLING ASLEEP DURING THE SERMON
A story is told of one young man who was sitting in a window sill and fell asleep while Paul was talking. He fell three stories and everyone thought he was dead. Paul went down, hugged him and he came back to life. They celebrated and worshiped. I know it’s seems silly, but as I was listening, I was intrigued by the fact that the Bible is honest enough to record people falling asleep during the sermon! But, people wanted to stay up through the night listening to Paul talk about God. Sometimes, I think we may try too hard to make the message creative and interesting. But, really, it’s the powerful work of God in our lives that makes the story interesting. Tell it. And people will listen.
COMPELLED BY THE SPIRIT
Paul says good bye to the church leaders there because he is compelled by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. He has no idea what will happen to him there. But he is going in faith. Then he says one of my long time favorite verses, Acts 20:24: However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
TRUST GOD’S WORD
In verse 32, Paul entrusts them to God and God’s word of grace. God’s word is powerful. We can trust our lives with it. It makes me want to memorize more words from Scripture as I am living life on the promises of God!
WORKING HARD AND GIVING
Paul closes with the reminder that he has worked hard. He has held down certain jobs so that he could basically pay for most of what he was doing without being a burden on anyone. Through his hard work, he has money to give to those in need. This is a model for all of us – work hard for what? To be able to give and support kingdom work! He teaches the church it’s much better to give than receive. He lived this out.
PRAYING BEFORE YOU GO
Never think it trite to pray before leaving. I once stayed with a family who prayed with our team before we left their home. This has happened on a few occasions. But one family in particular impressed me with their heart and commitment and probably even more with their ease. It wasn’t awkward, they just gathered around us and prayed – like they had done it before. The church is alive when we are seeking the Lord through our connections, going, coming and sending. Close your meetings in prayer. Close your trips in prayer. Close your times with friends in prayer.
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