Final Episode - Acts 20

If you were to pass on today, how would people you know describe you?  You might be surprised.  Do you think you would be spoken of as a wonderful, loving, deep-thinking Christian or are people going to politely say “he was different?”  While we shouldn't view ourselves from a worldly perspective, we do need to think about our life from a spiritual perspective.  How would you summarize your life?  You know it is never too late to start living your life in light of what the scripture says. Moses, the man of God, said it this way in Psalm 90:12, “So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to learn wisdom.” Martin Luther translated that verse into German, “Lord, teach us to think about death so that we might learn how to live.”
In Acts 20 I believe Paul was able to articulate his life by writing his own final episode.  He pointed out five ways he was faithful in serving the Lord.  As Christians we too should be able to speak of our life much like Paul did.   
1. He was faithful to his calling (vs. 24)
Paul says (vs. 24), “My single focus has been and is to do what God has told me to do."  He points out that none of these threats of imprisonment, dangers of people wanting to do him hard, or even the possibility of his death, would stop him from being faithful to his calling.  As he put it, “I just want to do what Jesus has told me.”  At the end of the day, that is all that any of us are really responsible for.  So my questions to you is “What has Jesus called you to do?” and “are you doing it?” What God requires of each of us is faithfulness in what he has assigned to us.  Therefore, success in life is identifying what God has called you to and being completely faithful in it.

 2. He told the truth
Twice Paul says: "[20] I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable… [27] I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God."  Paul saw himself as a herald of truth: He wasn’t responsible for the content of the message; or whether people liked it—he’s only responsible to deliver it.  Theologian J.I. Packer wrote, “Paul in his own estimation was not a philosopher, not a moralist, not the world’s wisest man, but simply Christ’s herald. Paul’s royal master had given him a message to proclaim. His whole business therefore was to deliver that message with exact and studious faithfulness. He added nothing, altered nothing, omitted nothing.”  Paul took that so seriously that he says, “I am innocent of the blood of all.” (26) 

He loved God’s people so much that his attitude was on not of anger but of tears.  In vs. 19 Paul states that “I was with you in tears.” And in vs. 31 he states that “I did not cease to admonish you night and day with tears.”  Does your presentation of the truth flow with tears?  Charles Spurgeon put it this way, “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.” What makes you cry? Do you weep over your lost friends and family? Do they know that? Do you weep over nations and villages that are lost without the good news of Jesus?  Maybe you should. 

3. He directed people’s attention toward Jesus, not toward himself (v. 19)
[19] I served the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials. Paul says, “I am a man of humility, trials, and tears.” In fact, that word, “humility” in vs. 19 (often translated weakness), was a common one in Greek, and it was almost always an insult. It meant low, defeated, weak. As JD Greear points out “the word is used 200 times in the Bible, and it’s almost always considered a virtue.”  So, how can an insult become a virtue?  Because Christian ministry is not about extraordinary men and women of great character worthy to be praised, but about a great Savior who can save the weakest, and most broken, and most guilty of sinners.  Who does your life point to:  you or the Lord?

 4.  He finished strong
Paul says in vs. 24, “…but none of these things move me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus.”  Many people start well, but they don’t persevere on to finish.  1 Cor 15 Paul points out that we need to be steadfast and unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, because our labor is not in vain, and even when it doesn’t look like things are working, the God who brought resurrection out of Jesus’ work will bring resurrection out of ours.  Paul pointed out that, “None of these things (fear of persecution and prison) move me. I just want to finish well and hear, ‘Well done though good and faithful servant.” How will you finish? 

5. He gave more than he took
Did your momma ever tell you – Leave things better than you found them?  Paul understood that concept.  He said, “I coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel… by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (20:33, 35).  How are you doing in that category?  Do you give more in your friendships, your family, your spouse, your church?  How about in your marriage?  Do you serve your spouse more than you expect them to serve you?

5 things we hope people see in our final episode:
was faithful to do all that Jesus told him / her to do
told the truth
directed people’s attention toward Jesus
finished strong
gave more than he/she took 

Psalm 90:12 – Teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to learn wisdom!
In Him,
Pastor Boyd

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