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Paul quoted a teaching that Jesus lived

April 21, 2023
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Daily Scripture

Acts 20:17-36

17 From Miletus he sent a message to Ephesus calling for the church’s elders to meet him. 18 When they arrived, he said to them, “You know how I lived among you the whole time I was with you, beginning with the first day I arrived in the province of Asia. 19 I served the Lord with great humility and with tears in the midst of trials that came upon me because of the Jews’ schemes. 20 You know I held back nothing that would be helpful so that I could proclaim to you and teach you both publicly and privately in your homes. 21 You know I have testified to both Jews and Greeks that they must change their hearts and lives as they turn to God and have faith in our Lord Jesus. 22 Now, compelled by the Spirit, I’m going to Jerusalem. I don’t know what will happen to me there. 23 What I do know is that the Holy Spirit testifies to me from city to city that prisons and troubles await me. 24 But nothing, not even my life, is more important than my completing my mission. This is nothing other than the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus: to testify about the good news of God’s grace.
25 “I know that none of you will see me again—you among whom I traveled and proclaimed the kingdom. 26 Therefore, today I testify to you that I’m not responsible for anyone’s fate. 27 I haven’t avoided proclaiming the entire plan of God to you. 28 Watch yourselves and the whole flock, in which the Holy Spirit has placed you as supervisors, to shepherd God’s church, which he obtained with the death of his own Son. 29 I know that, after my departure, savage wolves will come in among you and won’t spare the flock. 30 Some of your own people will distort the word in order to lure followers after them. 31 Stay alert! Remember that for three years I constantly and tearfully warned each one of you. I never stopped warning you! 32 Now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all whom God has made holy. 33 I haven’t craved anyone’s silver, gold, or clothing. 34 You yourselves know that I have provided for my own needs and for those of my companions with my own hands. 35 In everything I have shown you that, by working hard, we must help the weak. In this way we remember the Lord Jesus’ words: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
36 After he said these things, he knelt down with all of them to pray. 37 They cried uncontrollably as everyone embraced and kissed Paul. 38 They were especially grieved by his statement that they would never see him again. Then they accompanied him to the ship.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

At the end of his third missionary journey, Paul was on his way to Jerusalem, carrying an offering from Gentile Christians who were eager to help their needy fellow Christians in Jerusalem. He knew it was likely that arrest and prison awaited him in Jerusalem. In an emotional farewell to the elders in Ephesus, he reviewed his legacy of ministry among them, connected it to Jesus’ self-giving legacy and sketched the tasks he trusted them to carry on when he was gone.

  • Verse 35 in today’s passage was the only direct quote from Jesus that none of the four gospels later included. It’s another intriguing sign that the early Christians prized and shared Jesus’s words before they had the written gospels. What habits have you formed (maybe the daily GPS, since you are reading this?) that help you to remember Jesus’ words? What value do you see in remembering at least some key words without always needing a way to look them up?
  • Do you know your life mission and purpose? Paul’s words in verse 24 can help you begin to identify that purpose (even if you haven’t consciously chosen it). What in your life would move you to say, “Nothing, not even my life, is more important than __________”? As that answer comes into focus, pray about whether it fits better into God’s definition of a good life legacy, or that of the society around you. Ask God to help you make any needed course corrections.
Prayer

Loving Lord, you taught us that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” Keep growing a heart within me that rejoices in the freedom and satisfaction of your kind of giving. Amen.

GPS Insights

Lauren Cook

Lauren Cook

Lauren Cook is the Entry Points Program Director at Resurrection, a self-proclaimed foodie, a bookworm, and is always planning her next trip. She has the sweetest (and sassiest) daughter, Carolina Rae, a rockstar husband, Austin, and a cutie pup named Thunder. She loves connecting with others so let her know the best place you've ever eaten, best book you've ever read, or best place you've ever been!

I have had the privilege of writing for the GPS for a few years now, and it is amazing how each and every time God has gifted me such perfect Scripture passages and questions. I often find myself laughing when I read the words as I see how well I can relate or immediately see words that I have been so recently reading. Today is no different.

A good friend of mine and I have been talking for a few weeks about our purpose, or maybe I should say, struggling with. What a huge question this is and how many of us feel like we don’t know the answer. I would love to say that my life’s purpose is to make sure everyone has a little more yellow in their life or discover every good food, and some days it feels like my purpose is to make six million snacks and meals a day only to hear “I’m hungry” thirty seconds later. But we all know that it’s so much bigger than that.

We get asked this question so much (What is your life purpose?), and there is so much marketing around “living your best life” and “reaching your highest goals,” that we start to get stuck in the muddiness of having a really concrete, really specific answer of what exactly we’re going to do to leave a legacy or make our mark. Maybe I’m just too much energizer bunny and not enough settling and thinking, but I have a lot of dreams and a lot of goals and a lot of actions I like to do and/or want to do in my earth adventure. So how in the world can I answer that question with just one thing? How do I narrow it down into a meaningful sentence that answers this five-word question?

But what if it’s so much simpler than that? Paul is such a brilliant reminder that meaningful doesn’t mean long-winded, and that really, we’ve had the answer all along. Our purpose, our mission, is to share the good news of Jesus to everyone we encounter. The ways that we share that will differ based on the unique gifts that God has given each of us and will differ as we journey through different opportunities God puts in our paths throughout life, but that’s it. Full stop. Mic drop.

I hope you can read this and sit with it today: You were created for huge things. You were created to be a part of the most important stuff—the work of God here on earth. You have been uniquely crafted and gifted with talents that are yours alone that will help you share the light of Christ with all those you encounter. You are incredible. And God has little ways for you to live into this purpose waiting for you each day if you’re looking. It can be as simple as baking your special recipe that you’re the best at for a new neighbor and inviting them to church when you take it over, or as big as using your career platform to better your community. But it all matters–your part matters.

This is so exciting! We don’t have to be stuck finding the right answer—we have it, and we were made to be able to do it! I can’t wait to keep working alongside all of you in this grand adventure, this mighty purpose, to make this world look a little more like the Kingdom of God.

Sending you joy (to spread!),
Lauren

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Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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