Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday, September 12 - Jody

Today's reading from the Chronological OT/NT Reading Plan is: 2 Chronicles 31-32, Acts 20:1-16
Happy Monday Everyone!

Today I want to explore the Acts reading. Specifically verses 7-20. Paul is in Troas, scheduled to leave first thing the next morning to meet up with others in their journey to reach Jerusalem by Pentecost. I can tell you one thing, if I was supposed to be heading out on a long trip in the morning, I'd be closing my teaching session early to pack my bags, say my good byes and get a solid nights sleep before the journey. Not Paul - what does he do?? Preach EXTRA long until midnight to make sure the people get every possible opportunity to hear all he has to say and more before he has to leave them.
Paul's love of the Church and the people is so evident in this action. John MacArthur says:

But in this narrative, we see the action of Paul that betrays the attitude of Paul. You know, love just isn't something that's spoken. It's something that's demonstrated, isn't it? You can say very little and demonstrate love. You can say a whole lot and demonstrate none of it.

How true. How true. And it's easy to tell people you love them. It's easy to tell people that God loves them, but it's in the action that the attitude is communicated.

And so here, we don't find a whole lot of verses, "Paul loved the Church, Paul loved the Church, Paul loved the Church." It doesn't say that all. It doesn't even mention the word love in the whole passage. But I'll tell you, this is one of the greatest love chapters I've ever seen. You think 1 Corinthians 13's got a lot of love in it, you ought to see this. And it never says the word love. It just demonstrates it. The first half of the chapter, Paul loves the Church. The second half, the Church loves him back. It's one of the great love chapters.

Paul was not interested in raising his own popularity or taking care of his own comforts. He simply loved God and loved His people and loved His Church. To spend all night teaching about this was not an obligation or responsibility, just simply an acting out of his love. Just as holding my kids when they're hurt is not an obligation or responsibility but and acting out of my love for them.

When you love someone, your acts on their behalf become selfless and matter of fact. It's not a chore, it's an unregulated flow of your love. As John MacArthur says in the same message as I quoted earlier:

And I've said it before, and I think it's true. The mark of the loving ministry is selfless, tireless teaching of the flock. The good shepherd cares for his sheep, and you care for the sheep by feeding and protecting.

In 1 Peter 5:1, we get insights into Peter's view of this, so that you think - lest you think that Paul was the only one. Peter wrote this: "Feed the flock of God which is among you." And he's talking to pastors, elders. "Taking the oversight of it." You feed it and you protect it. You care for it. "Not by constraint, not because you're forced to, not because the job requires it or somebody pushes you, but willingly, and not for money, but of a ready mind." Not for money, but for eagerness, desire.
"And don't be lords over God's heritage. No, no. The way to rule the sheep, the way to lead the sheep, is not to be the lord, not to dominate them, not to browbeat them, not to crush them, but - " I love this. "But be examples to the flock. The way to lead is by example, not threat."

But the key to the whole ministry is to feed and protect. Now this expresses I think the loving heart of the Apostle Paul, weary, worn, spent, persecuted. And yet he stops everywhere he goes and teaches and teaches and teaches. You know, "Why does he do this?" Because the consuming desire in his heart was to bring the saints to maturity, wasn't it? And he had to do it. It compelled him.

How often are we too busy to volunteer in our church or community? How often are we too busy with our own life to help someone else? How can we reconcile telling people that we (and God) love them, but they are not quite important enough to fit into our busy schedules? Praying we remember this as we settle into our fall routines and commitments. Are we leaving time to put actions around our words...

Tomorrow's passage:   Isaiah 7-8, Acts 20:17-38


TammyIsBlessed said...

Totally would've missed the point if left to my own reading. So thankful for faithful preachers of God's Word and for this blog where we dig into it together!

Love the short speech King Hezekiah gives his people when the very strong empire of Assyria came to attack Judah....

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles" 2 Chronicles 32:7-8a

The same is true for us today. No matter what our "Assyria" is, with US is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles. So we can, with faith, be strong and courageous!

Miriam said...

Great post, Jody! I wouldn't have picked up on that either. It did cross my mind briefly that Paul must have had great concern for the people there in order to preach until midnight when he had a long day the next day, but I've always focused more on the guy who fell out the window than on how remarkable Paul's love for the church was. Thanks!

Pamela said...

Thanks for this post. So timely, as we begin a new season of busy-ness.