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An Obedient Spirit

By Joce Applegate
Thursday, March 25, 2010
To love God is to obey His commands.

Scripture Verses
Acts 20:13-38

13We went on ahead to the ship and sailed for Assos, where we were going to take Paul aboard. He had made this arrangement because he was going there on foot. 14When he met us at Assos, we took him aboard and went on to Mitylene. 15The next day we set sail from there and arrived off Kios. The day after that we crossed over to Samos, and on the following day arrived at Miletus. 16Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus to avoid spending time in the province of Asia, for he was in a hurry to reach Jerusalem, if possible, by the day of Pentecost.

 17From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. 18When they arrived, he said to them: "You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. 19I served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews. 20You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. 21I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.

 22"And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.

 25"Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. 26Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. 28Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.[a] Be shepherds of the church of God,[b] which he bought with his own blood. 29I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.

 32"Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33I have not coveted anyone's silver or gold or clothing. 34You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. 35In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' "

 36When he had said this, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. 37They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. 38What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship.

I was cleaning out my desk the other morning and came across some pictures of my grandchildren.  My grandson is now 24 and I have some pictures of him from the age of 3 and 4 and even younger.  How fun it is to be able to look at those pictures and remember events or gatherings when we were all together!  Andrew joined the military six years ago, right after graduation from high school.  When he came home on his first furlough, the change in him was so dramatic and prominent, we all just marveled at him. He had matured so very much in his mission to serve his country.  Now Andrew is serving over in Afghanistan for the third time. He had his orders and he just went without question or complaint. 

Paul sets a beautiful example for us.  He loved the Lord, and when he was told to go to Jerusalem, he made plans to go.  How wonderful to serve the Lord in such a marvelous way.  Although Andrew was not going on a specific mission for God, he didn’t know what would lie ahead of him.  Undoubtedly, he would be facing many dangers and possibly death or permanent separation from those he loved so much. 

Paul’s devotion and love for God only caused him to grow in his faith.  I guess this could be called Christian maturity.  Although Andrew’s unfaltering belief was not mentioned in the Bible, his effort was noticed and approved by God and, thus, he also, matured and became more confident in doing what he was called upon to do for the Lord, as well as for his country.  He became a more committed and mature young man  in his role as a young American soldier  willing to give up so much for what he knew was right, not only for his country, but in the eyes of God.  

Sometimes we may be called to teach a Sunday school class or make a presentation in church, or some other ministry. But we don’t really want to nor do we feel qualified to do a good job. After we have tried this “unwanted” challenge, we find ourselves feeling more mature in our faith and also closer to God because we did what He wanted us to do.  God equips us to do His will, even though we doubt our ability.  All things are possible, through God, to those who love Him and are called according to His will.  Obedience is the profound word in all of this.

As one very well known man of faith quotes so often, Obey God and leave all the consequences to Him.

Heavenly Father, bless us with an obedient spirit. 
We are so weak and can only do your will when you
equip us with divine courage and grace.