December 12 (Daily reading: Acts 20-23) Paul knew that God was leading him to go one more time to Jerusalem. When he arrived in Miletus, Paul sent for the elders of the church at Ephesus to meet him there. His words to them are a testimonial of his faithful service over the years. He had served the Lord “with all humility and with tears and with trials.” His message had been to both Jews and Greeks “of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (20:19-21).
The Holy Spirit was leading Paul to go to Jerusalem, and he wasn’t sure what would happen there. He only knew the Spirit was warning him “that prisons and hardships are facing me.” He explained his motivation: “I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace” (20:23-24, NIV). Paul summed up his ministry in a quote from Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (20:35). We do not know when Jesus said this, but the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to cite this quote that we often repeat as an expression of our Christian faith.
Paul did not waver even when the prophet Agabus met him in Caesarea and confirmed from the Holy Spirit that the Jews would bind him and deliver him to the Gentiles. “I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” (21:13). He would later write: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). Paul’s example and testimony still inspire us centuries later!
– Al Gary