Dear Faithful Follower,
Life is full of transitions and changes as well as ups and downs. For the apostle Paul, these types of things were certainly true during his ministry. In the verses below, he had just spent considerable time in Macedonia and Greece. He had written letters to the Romans and the Corinthians. He had strengthened churches. He had spent time with people he knew and loved.
During this time, he was organizing an offering for the impoverished believers in Jerusalem. Each church that was helping with this offering sent representatives with Paul to Jerusalem to convey their congregations' love. They also were along to ensure the funds were handled and dispersed appropriately. This trip back to Jerusalem with these special gifts was important to Paul. He wanted to bring My family of believers together in spirit and fellowship even though they were scattered across the Mediterranean world and made up of different cultures and races of people.
However, Paul had enemies who were determined to stop him. These enemies were from Asia, and especially Ephesus. They were Jewish people who were opposed to his preaching that I AM the Anointed One, the promised Messiah. Over the next several days, you will read about Paul's journey to Jerusalem where these enemies started a riot and tried to have him killed. The Roman authorities arrested Paul and actually preserved his life when a mob attacked him in Jerusalem (Acts 21:27-36)
and when his nephew heard of a plot to kill him (Acts 23:12-24)
. Paul subsequently used his Roman citizenship to defeat the conspiracies to have him killed and was thus able to have his case heard in Rome in Caesar's court (Acts 25:8-12)
Paul did eventually arrive in Rome, but it wasn't in the manner he had hoped. During his wild sea journey to Rome, the Spirit delivered him from great danger and brought him safely to Rome. The whole ordeal in Jerusalem and the journey to Rome gave Paul many opportunities to tell a wide variety of people — both influential and obscure — about Me.
Your readings will be full of intrigue, travel, danger, warning, opposition, deliverance, shipwreck, and imprisonment. During all of this upheaval and through all of these transitions, several things remained steadfast with Paul:
- His faith in Me as the ultimate Deliverer, Savior, Lord, and Messiah.
- His close fellowship with and love for believers and his sharing in close communion with them.
- His passion for mentoring and growing people from different churches to continue the work of the gospel after he was gone.
- His desire to tie the worldwide family of God together in fellowship, mission, and love.
Today's verses focus on the beginning of Paul's transitioning to Jerusalem and ultimately to Rome. In every big movement of Paul's life and travels, behind the scenes are tender moments of communion, fellowship, and miraculous grace. The same is true for you if you will watch for My influence in your life and live intentionally on the mission for me regardless of your job or life situation. Be blessed by this tender but powerful story of grace found in the middle of Paul's travels, dangers, and transitions. Finding grace can happen when My people take the time to value and commune with each other as they remember Me!
When the uproar [in Ephesus] was over, Paul sent for the believers and encouraged them. Then he said good-bye and left for Macedonia. While there, he encouraged the believers in all the towns he passed through. Then he traveled down to Greece, where he stayed for three months. He was preparing to sail back to Syria when he discovered a plot by some Jews against his life, so he decided to return through Macedonia.
Several men were traveling with him. They were Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea; Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica; Gaius from Derbe; Timothy; and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia. They went on ahead and waited for us at Troas. After the Passover ended, we boarded a ship at Philippi in Macedonia and five days later joined them in Troas, where we stayed a week.
On the first day of the week, we gathered with the local believers to share in the Lord's Supper. Paul was preaching to them, and since he was leaving the next day, he kept talking until midnight. The upstairs room where we met was lighted with many flickering lamps. As Paul spoke on and on, a young man named Eutychus, sitting on the windowsill, became very drowsy. Finally, he fell sound asleep and dropped three stories to his death below. Paul went down, bent over him, and took him into his arms. "Don't worry," he said, "he's alive!" Then they all went back upstairs, shared in the Lord's Supper, and ate together. Paul continued talking to them until dawn, and then he left. Meanwhile, the young man was taken home unhurt, and everyone was greatly relieved.
Paul went by land to Assos, where he had arranged for us to join him, while we traveled by ship.
(Acts 20:1-13 NLT)
Father, please give me a sense of Your grace, the Spirit's guidance, and Jesus' abiding presence as I go through the transitions in my own life. As the old hymn says, "Be with me, Lord — I cannot live without Thee, I dare not try to take one step alone." By the authority and in the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.