December 10 I Saturday
“For this is what the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” —Acts 13:47
Before leaving for Jerusalem, where he will eventually be imprisoned, Paul meets with the elders of the Ephesian church one last time. He recounts his time in Ephesus saying, “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents. You know that I have not hesitated to preach… I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:18-21). Paul notes the persecution that erupted when he preached the gospel but despite the opposition, the church manages to weather the storm and thrive.
Paul then admonishes the elders, “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which He bought with His own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard!” (Acts 20:28-31). Imagine Paul delivering that sober message to the elders of the Ephesian church, similar to Jesus, who said to His disciples, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves” (Matthew 10:16).
This is the very spiritual climate Paul was sending Timothy to face in Ephesus. Paul was not protecting Timothy from the wolves’ den but was sending his beloved son right into it. This begs the question for us in our day and our generation of whether we follow Jesus into the difficult places? Do we have faith to trust that He will walk with us in the midst of the darkness?
Paul explains why we are called to this type of ministry: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst” (1 Timothy 1:15). When we look at the surpassing glory of who Christ is and we look at ourselves, that trustworthy saying that Paul declares is satisfying and comforting. Christ Jesus came into the world to save messed up, sinful, rebellious and broken people—of whom we are included. Like how Jesus sent His disciples and Paul was sending Timothy to be among the wolves, we are called by God to reach the lost with the saving message of the gospel. Will we be brave among the wolves, knowing that we are not alone?
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, thank You for always being with me. I know I am not alone when I am among the wolves. Send me out to proclaim Your gospel truth to the lost. Amen!