A Primary Purpose {Acts 20}

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By Becky Bramlett Austin

Paul has seen many trials and harsh treatments but he continues his travels to Macedonia and Greece.  We are told that he spent considerable time preaching and encouraging.  At one of his late night events, a young boy named Eutychus crawls up in a window, falls asleep and plummets 3 stories to his death. That surely brought the meeting to a standstill as the tragedy would have been a very upsetting event. “But Paul went down and bent over him, and taking him in his arms, said, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.”” (V10) The boy's life is restored and Paul is undeterred in continuing to fellowship with and encourage those around him.  In fact, the meeting continues until daybreak. And then Paul departed to continue his travels.

How wonderful it must have been to be at one of those events where the apostle Paul, who had seen the risen Savior firsthand, was present to teach and edify. I imagine the stories of his trials and the persevering dedication he exemplified served to keep his name a topic of many conversations. He was greatly loved and admired and he was also greatly despised and hated. But no matter how many plots or misfortunes, Paul remained focused as he told the elders at Ephesus on his primary purpose: “testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (V 21)

Paul knows that he is getting ready to go into the heat of the battle and yet he is resolved to willingly trust the outcomes to God, no matter the cost. “And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (V 22-24)

Many tears are shed as Paul informs this church at Ephesus that they will never see his face again.  His final words are to encourage them to persevere and remain faithful.  
“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.” (V28-31)

These final words to the elders hold relevance for the church today. Each of us can continue today in being alert and ministering to each other. Paul set an example during his life of prioritizing spiritual riches and rewards over worldly gain. He lived to serve and bless others.  He reminds us “In all things I have shown you that 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.’ ”” (v35)

Are you encouraged by the example of Paul as he endured trials and sought to spread the Good News of Christ to as many as he could encounter. Are you encouraged to trust the outcomes of your life to God and go where his Spirit leads you, no matter the cost? Are you focused like Paul on finishing the course and encouraging others to do the same? 

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