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The Scriptorium

Paul's Race and Ours

Like Paul, we're in a race for the Gospel. Acts 20

Paul’s Legacy (7)

Pray Psalm 51.14, 15.
Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
The God of my salvation,
And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.

Sing Psalm 51.14, 15.
(Aughton: He Leadeth Me)
Deliver us, from guilt, O Lord, You Who have saved us by Your Word;
and let our tongues Your mercy bless, and sing of Your great righteousness!
Refrain vv. 15, 18
Lord, open now our lips to raise to You sweet songs of joyous praise!
Thus let Your favor on us fall, and build and strengthen Zion’s wall!

Read Acts 20.1-38; meditate on verse 24.

Preparation

1. How many different cities are mentioned in Acts 20?

2. How many different disciples are mentioned?

Meditation
We glimpse the mind and perspective of Paul in this verse. He saw himself as running a race, a race of ministry to embody and proclaim the Gospel of the grace of God. When you’re in a race – and Paul was here thinking of a marathon or other long-distance race – your mind is focused on and your energy is applied to every next step, so that you continue making progress toward the finish. Reflecting on Paul’s various journeys, we can see why he would think this way. From Antioch in Syria to Cyprus to southern Asia, up to Troas and over to Macedonia and Achaia, back to Asia, and ‘round the circuit again – city after city, Paul preached, taught, and made disciples; and we see the fruit of this ministry here in Acts 20.

We’re not Paul, and we’re not likely to run so large a race nor to attract so many disciples and colleagues to join us in it. But we have a race to run nonetheless, and it’s as important to the Lord Who sends us into our Personal Mission Field as Paul’s race was. The circuit of our lives is defined by the places we go and the people we encounter there. We race among them week after week. Are we living and proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, and of the King Who has triumphed over the grave? Are we, like Paul, making and enlisting disciples into this race?

Paul wrote that his life was a pattern – an example or template – for all who believed in Jesus (1 Tim. 1.14-17). It’s a pattern of Kingdom vision, Holy Spirit fruit and power, continual striving forward to know Jesus, showing and telling the grace of the Lord at every opportunity, building others up in the faith, starting and ordering churches as the Body of Christ, encouraging the brethren, and pouring out His soul and strength to make disciples.

Our race may be smaller than Paul’s, but it’s no different, and it matters just as much. Race on!

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Last night our granddaughter Reagan was given the Timothy Award from Awana, at her church, for learning all the required Bible memory verses for her entire tenure there. Quite an accomplishment. When she received the award, she was asked what her favorite verse was, and why. This is what she said: “‘For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek’ (Rom. 1.16). So we should not be ashamed to share the Gospel with everyone.”

And I say to Reagan, “Thank you for being so courageous in sharing your faith and for being such a good example, like Paul, for all the rest of us!”

Imagine how simplified our lives would be, and joy-filled, if we could look at them the way Paul looked at his. When told in city after city that his life was in danger he just said, “Those things don’t move me because that is not the main concern of my life.” Well, what was the main concern of his life? To finish his calling with joy and to continue to testify to the Gospel of the grace of God. Just that.

He was not ashamed of the gospel, nor was he afraid to share it, even in peril of losing his own freedom and possibly his life (Acts 20.23). Like Jesus, he was looking to the joy set before him (Heb. 12.2). The writer of Hebrews also alludes to the idea of life being a race and encourages us, like Paul did, to run with endurance the race that is set before us (Heb. 12.1).

We have this calling: to share the Gospel, to live according to God’s Law, to love Him supremely, and to love and serve others. If we, like Reagan and Paul, can keep our focus honed-in on those important things, everything else that seems important and takes up so much of our time and energy, will simply fade into the background music of our lives.

“I will run the course of Your commandments, for You shall enlarge my heart.”
“I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes forever, to the very end.” (Ps. 119.32, 112)

“Race on!”

For reflection

1. What is the “Gospel of the grace of God”? Write a brief outline of what you might share with someone in your Personal Mission Field?

2. Why should we not be ashamed of the Gospel?

3. How will you run your race for Jesus and the Gospel today? What opportunities are before you? How should you prepare?

The powerful influences of the Holy Spirit bind the true Christian to his duty. Even when he expects persecution and affliction, the love of Christ constrains him to proceed. None of these things moved Paul from his work; they did not deprive him of his comfort. It is the business of our life to provide for a joyful death. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Acts 20.17-27

Pray Psalm 51.16-19.
Let the Lord search your heart. Listen for His prompting or convicting voice as you consider your hopes, dreams, desires, and aspirations. Confess and repent of any affections or desires that are keeping you from pursuing the ongoing work of Christ. Commit yourself to serving Him as a living sacrifice today. Pray that He will continue His goodness to you and through you throughout your Personal Mission Field.

Sing Psalm 51.16-19.
(Aughton: He Leadeth Me)
No sacrifice, no offering would You have us, Your people, bring;
But broken spirits, cleansed of lies, and pure hearts You will not despise.
Refrain vv. 15, 18
Lord, open now our lips to raise to You sweet songs of joyous praise!
Thus let Your favor on us fall, and build and strengthen Zion’s wall!

Now build Your Church, raise high the wall of those who on Your mercy call.
And take our lives and let them be sweet sacrifices, Lord, to Thee!
Refrain vv. 15, 18

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website, www.ailbe.org, and clicking theScriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Acts by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

 

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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