Acts 20:24 says, “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.”
The context here is Paul speaking with a farewell to the saints at Ephesus. He was on his third missionary journey and his heart reached out for the saints he’d leave behind.
So it is here with us, that is, ‘How are we finishing the course?’ Is our own faith walk reflecting assurance and joy for the love of our Lord? How are we traveling to course of our future? Are we seeking to finish the course with Christ as our passion, as was Paul’s goal?
He goes on to say, “For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.”
That’s what we all should feel in our own heart in our growing and learning. Like Paul, we each have our own stumps to remove along the way, but we dare not shrink back, but stay the course!
Continuing he warns, “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 upon you, not sparing the flock.”
Savage wolves can make their appearance in many forms and disguises.
I might ask, “Who or what are some of those savage wolves we’re to be on guard against today in our time, all these years later?”
Consider too, our own ‘flock’, that is those we love the most and hopefully others we come in contact with, whether it be co-workers, our next door neighbor.
Few saints down through history of faithful followers could be matched to that of the Apostle Paul, but most certainly, we can grow to following his example.
Paul declared, “For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.” His love for our Lord’s desire was such as he proclaimed in Romans 1:16,’For I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for all who believe…’
For sure we must recognize three important facts in these few words.  Paul was not ashamed. What? To proclaim the true message of hope, joy, purpose, all a part of the gospel.
 It was not by human strength or reasoning, but rather, the power of God.
I’d like to share a choice passage from Proverbs 26:12, ‘do you see a man wise in his own eye? There is more hope for a fool than for him’. RSV
The point taken here is that for Paul, and, as it should be for all who proclaim Christ, it’s God’s resource and reasoning, not our own.
 the best part of all is that it’s available for…all who believe!
As I learn to keep my own heart on the things above, rather than the things on earth, the growing and learning pattern is focused more on the eternal, and less on the temporal. Such that the course I’m on is easier to trod, allowing Him to remove the stumps for me along the way.
“For the Son of Man also came not to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.’ Mark 10:45
The context here is when Jesus was teaching His apostles about who is to be great in the Kingdom of God, and brought out here that prominence meant servitude.
Often the course we begin on is not to be the course our Lord will keep us on, but when we submit to the prompting of His Spirit, He’ll direct us on a super highway, or course of service bringing Him the honor and much blessing to our own lives.
I speak from experience to say, subsequent to my retirement, I’ve been led down a course of service I never would have dreamed of years ago. The secret is submission, or as I prefer to put it ‘Surrender’. Surrender the prompting of His Holy Spirit, and obedience to follow. There might be different routes our Lord will put us on to test our faith walk, but stay the course as Paul admonishes us.
As I’m writing this message I glanced at a picture I have attached to my printer. It’s a photo of a young couple who are now serving in the mission field.
For years this young man was a faithful part of our 6:00 am Wednesday prayer group. After college he’d been unemployed for some time before he took a position not what he studied for at college. Yet we kept praying for this young man and eventually the Lord brought a helpmate into his life who shared the same love for the Lord. This young man and woman were eventually married and are now serving where they feel God sent them. They’re staying the course.
When viewing those biblical people of strong faith, they started out as plain ordinary people as you and I. But what set them apart from others of their generation and of their peers, was their pronounced desire to follow the prompting of God’s Holy Spirit to lead them through their own ‘Burden of the Hour’ as it were.
What we seek should not be for our own desire, but rather, ‘How can we be helpful in building ourselves up upon the solid foundation of our Lord Jesus. Look at 2 Corinthians 4:5, ‘For what we preach is not ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.’ RSV
As we work at it, what we’re fed on is what will proceed from our heart, as the Lord defines it, “Where your Treasure is there will your heart be also.”
Stay the course, finish the race, look to Him who abides within your heart and witness those showers of blessing.
Robert Schaetzle has been writing for over 40 years. He began by writing personal notes in his five children’s birthday cards. He enjoys scripting personal thoughts for birthday, anniversary and condolence messages. Robert is also an inspirational poet, devotional writer and retired US Postal worker. You can write to Robert through the Letters page of this magazine
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