Friday, February 24, 2017


For the week beginning Sunday February 26, 2017

Acts 20:1-12

   In Acts 20 Luke rejoins the journey after being left at Philippi for a while. Here, following the riots at Ephesus, Paul sent for all the believers and encouraged them to stay strong in the LORD JESUS. He then bade them farewell and left for Macedonia. Along the way Paul and his entourage stopped to encourage many other believers, whom, they were perhaps seeing for the final time.
    Now headed for Jerusalem, still being compelled by the HOLY SPIRIT, Paul and his crew travel down to Greece where they would abide for three months. After hearing of a plot by anti-CHRIST Jews to kill him, Paul made the decision to return back to Macedonia, instead of following his original plan to sail back through Syria.
    Several men who were traveling with Paul, namely Sopater of Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus of Thessalonica, Gaius, Paul’s close friend from Derby, Timothy, Tychicus, and Trophimus, from the Roman province of Asia, all went ahead to Troas to wait on the rest of the crew, until the Passover season had ended. As soon as the Passover season ended, Paul and the rest of the crew boarded a ship at Philippi in Macedonia, and made the 150-mile voyage, arriving in Troas, five days later. They remained there in Troas for seven days (Vs.1-6).
    In verse 7 of this chapter of Acts, we see the first clear reference in Scripture of Sunday (the “first day of the week”) being used as a Christian day of worship. Here we see the believers engaging in the observance of “the LORD’s Supper” (Holy Communion). On that occasion Paul preached a long sermon that lasted until midnight. In fact, it was so long that a young man named Eutychus, who was sitting on the window sill, fell asleep, and then, fell three stories to his death from the window.
    Seeing what had just happened, Paul stopped preaching and ran down stairs, bent over the young man’s body, and then took him up in his arms, before replying, “Don’t worry, he’s alive”. Paul then, without the crowd knowing it, miraculously revived the young man and sent him home alive and without injury. The rest of the people were relieved that the young man was OK, and they followed Paul back upstairs, where they continued their Communion Services, and Paul continued his sermon.  

Act 20:13-38

   In Acts, chapter 20, verses 13-38, Luke gives us a very vivid description, in the person of the Apostle Paul, of a man who is truly satisfied at how his ministry was coming to a close. Here, he lets us in on Paul’s farewell address to the Elders of the Church at Ephesus. They had come down to meet him at his request, in the port city of Miletus (30 miles from Ephesus), near the end of his third missionary journey. It is here, in this book of Acts, that we find Paul’s only recorded address to the Church.
    In verses 18-21, Paul speaks of his past with great satisfaction and contentment, as he reminds the Elders of the consistency in his message to all people, urging them to turn from sin, turn to GOD, and to maintain their faith in our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST.
    In verses 21-32, Paul speaks of his fearless confidence in the future, despite warnings from the HOLY SPIRIT, in city after city, that only jail and suffering lies ahead for him. And finally, in verses 33-35, Paul speaks of his lack of envy toward others, and how he has always worked to earn his own way, and, how he has always supplied the needs of others who were with him. He goes on to quote the words of JESUS, when HE said, “It is more blessed to give, than to receive”.
    This particular passage (Acts 20:17-38) serves to remind us, once again, what Christianity, or, the inviting of CHRIST into our lives, has to offer to us. It offers us “freedom”, in the purest sense of the word, because it frees us from the four things that most separate us from a right relationship with GOD;

·         First, it frees us from “Self”. We become our own worst enemy when we try to do things within our own strength, apart from GOD.
·         Secondly, it frees us from “Other People”. The worldly person imprisons himself by being envious of what others have, and is overly concerned about what others will think and say about them from a worldly, materialistic, or physical standpoint.
·         Thirdly, when we receive CHRIST, HE frees us from “the dominion of Sin”.
           When we choose GOD’s salvation through CHRIST, we no longer have to let sin   
             dominate our lives. We then have additional power to overcome the gravitational
             pull of this world, through the help of the HOLY SPIRIT, WHO will abide in us.
·         And finally, we become free from “fear”. We no longer have to be afraid, because we are then, no longer walking alone, but rather, we are walking with GOD.

    “The Christian Hope”, has, throughout the history of the Church, served as motivation to make life on earth conform more fully with the Word of GOD, just as it was presented to us by JESUS CHRIST, during HIS three-year earthly ministry. And it is a life-changing thing, when we get to know, and, become accustomed to practicing GOD’s “Holy Directives”.
    Every time another human being chooses to go the way of CHRIST, there’s a great “cheering section” in Heaven comprised of all the angels, and all the great men and women of Faith who are mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11. They are all looking down on us, eagerly watching and waiting to see how we fare in this great “Christian Race” that is personified in our own personal “Christian Walk”.
    They’ve already handed off their batons to our ancestors, and they in turn, have handed them off to us. We should take care as not to drop these life-changing batons, and if you do, we must pick them up quickly, and then, continue on your way. We must continue to stay faced in the right direction, as you press on by faith, into the unknown, where JESUS is.
    It is the person who is willing to travel into the unknown, armed only with their faith in CHRIST, who will, in the end, see GOD. And always remember to encourage other believers along the way, and also, remember that every time we drop off a piece of the baggage, that is our sin, our race becomes just that much easier to run.
    When Paul finished speaking to the Elders of Ephesus in nearby Miletus that day, he knelt down and prayed with them. They all wept aloud and embraced Paul farewell, and they were an emotional bunch, sad most of all, because Paul had expressed to them the probability that they would never see him again, on this side of Heaven. And they continued to weep as they accompanied Paul back down to a waiting ship.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

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