Monday, September 3, 2012

Chapter 30 - Paul's Final Days

Acts 20-23; 27-28
Ephesians 1-6
2 Timothy 1-4

Introduction to the Reading:
Next weekend I'll be competing in my first Ironman triathlon in Madison. In an Ironman you swim 2.4 miles, bike 112, and then run 26.2. When people ask, "How are you going to do that?" the response is simple: it starts with a goal & a plan.

Over a year ago, after talking with my wife, I decided that I was going to set a goal of completing an Ironman. I then found a training plan in a magazine. For nine months I've been working out for hours a week. It has been a long nine months preparing.

I can't say that I always stuck with the plan. In fact, when I was reviewing that same magazine this week from which I got the original workout plan, it said one of the most points you need to remember is that you need to be flexible. You may have a long bike ride planned, but if you just got a cold, it might be better to take it easy. The workout plan may say you are supposed to have a hard run, but if you just sprained your ankle it isn't going to happen.

Paul wanted to preach the Gospel in Rome. Paul has been gathering an offering for the needy in Jerusalem that he wants to drop off first. But the Lord had different plans. Although the route to Rome I'm sure isn't the route that Paul would have planned on his own, he never lost sight of the goal.

Time to Slow it Down - 
Middle of Page 440: Did you catch it? Paul says it a few different ways. Can you find a sentence  where Paul clearly states to the Ephesian elders exactly what his goal is? 

Bottom of Page 444: Paul ran into what many would call a "road bump" in the road to Rome. In spite of the difficulty, who all has he been able to share the Gospel with in the last couple of pages?

Bottom of Page 446: This was more than just a stop at a wayside on the trip to Rome. Paul spend more than two years in Caesarea. I don't know about you, but I've often had to learn the hard way not only to trust the Lord's plans, but also his timetable at getting it done! 

Bottom of Page 450: Quite the detour! But Paul had an opportunity to share the Gospel along the way and to show his faith in everyday life as well. Are you going through a detour in life? How can you use the opportunity to show your faith to those around you?

Middle of Page 452: Paul's letter to the Ephesians can be quite overwhelming. Each phrase is packed with amazing truth's about God and his plan for us. Until the middle of page 454, slow down a bit and try to pick out the phrases where Paul clearly teaches what God's plan is for us.

What was Paul's goal? It wasn't just to make it to Rome. Paul's goal was to preach the Gospel to all nations! In the first page of our reading today, Paul said to the Ephesian elders, "I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus."

When You're Done Reading - Thoughts to Ponder:
I'm sure you have heard it said, "It's not the destination, it's the journey." Paul wasn't so concerned with where he was going. His concern was sharing the Gospel - especially to the Gentiles. Where is your life going? Maybe the more important question is, "What are you plans for the journey?"

By Herman Fick

1. Rise, Thou Light of Gentile nations,
Jesus, bright and Morning Star;
Let Thy Word, the gladsome tidings,
Ring out loudly near and far,
Bringing freedom to the captives,
Peace and comfort to the slave,
That the heathen, free from bondage,
May proclaim Thy pow'r to save.

2. See the blindness of the heathen,
Strangers to Thy glorious light,
Straying hopeless till they find Thee,
Wand'ring aimless in the night.
See their pitiful condition;
Lo, gross darkness covers all,
And no ray of hope refreshes
Nor dispels the dreadful pall.

3. If Thou, merciful Redeemer,
Hadst not saved us from this plight,
In like darkness we should languish
Hopeless, helpless, in sin's night.
Lovingly Thou, Lord, didst seek us
In the beauty of Thy grace;
Now with joy we freely serve Thee,
We, Thy blessed, chosen race.

4. Knowing Thee and Thy salvation,
Grateful love dare never cease
To proclaim Thy tender mercies,
Gracious Lord, Thy heav'nly peace.
Sound we forth the Gospel tidings
To the earth's remotest bound
That the sinner has been pardoned
And forgiveness can be found.

5. May our zeal to help the heathen
Be increased from day to day
As we plead in true compassion
And for their conversion pray.
For the many faithful heralds,
For the Gospel they proclaim,
Let us all be cheerful givers
To the glory of Thy name.

6. Savior, shine in all Thy glory
On the nations near and far;
From the highways and the byways
Call them, O Thou Morning Star.
Guide them whom Thy grace hath chosen
Out of Satan's dreadful thrall
To the mansions of Thy Father--
There is room for sinners all.

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