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Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Acts 20 : 17-35

"But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto 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 20:24[KJV]

God in His grand plan had chosen Paul to serve Him even from his mother’s womb (Gal.1:15). In His grace, at the divinely appointed time He called him and revealed Jesus Christ in his heart. The dramatic encounter of Paul with Jesus Christ and the subsequent entry of Paul to the ministry stand out as a profound proof of the determined purpose of God over the life of a disciple.

To the hesitating Ananias, Jesus reveals His plan about Paul that “…he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” (Acts 9:15-16) The clarity of his calling was once more given to Paul by Jesus’ repeated visitation! Acts 22:21 “…. Go,! For I will send you far away to the Gentiles.” In a way, Jesus was commissioning Paul with the same task He gave to His disciples: to be a fisher of men! Jesus even revealed to Paul the intense suffering he would go through in order to fulfill the mission he was entrusted with and promised to rescue him from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles.

In John15:16 Jesus declared His grand plan about every disciple, to set him on a course of fruit bearing life “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit…” It is a life of purpose that Christ offers to all of us, and we need to make a choice to live that purposeful life!

The life of Paul is portrayed before our eyes so that we learn valuable lessons from it.  In our key verse, Paul states his resolve to finish the course , but in 2Tim.4:7 he declares boldly “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” He fulfilled the purpose for his life laid out by Jesus Christ. Paul attributes his success to Christ. Therefore Paul says in 2Thess.3:3 : “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” That is influence! – the greatest influence in our life should be Jesus Christ! He will enable us to run the race with His strength and under His protection!

Not a wavering mind, but a focused heart only will bear fruit.  Paul had a heart focused on the love of God and the faithfulness of God!! He tasted it! 2Thes. 3:5 “May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.” That is intimacy! Our intimacy with Christ will result in us reflecting His character in our lives!!

Paul expresses his confidence in the people in verse 4, however that has been his personal life too! “We have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command.” That is integrity! To pursue the course set by Christ, we need personal integrity. 

Dear brethren, as we embark on our exciting journey of the year 2020, may our hearts be influenced by Christ so that we may maintain an intimate relationship with Christ which will result in  integrity of our personal lives and thus finish our course with joy!

Food for thought:

“Beginning well is a momentary thing; finishing well is a lifelong thing.”

~Ravi Zacharias

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