Over two years ago I ascended the small platform in a coffee shop that no longer exists to preach my last sermon to a group of young adults crammed into a trendy building to hear the gospel. It was the sermon that said, I have left it all on the field, I have given you what I know, now carry on and preach the gospel to each other and the waiting world.
The text of the night was Acts 20 and Paul’s final words to the elders of the church in Ephesus. Paul shows his resolve and I had tried my best to model my ministry after his, to preach nothing but Christ and him crucified. Oh to live this way!
Then this week a good friend who is sensing an increasing call to global missions shared how he was stirred by a sermon on Acts 20:24 and the Lord used it as a sweet reminder of the call to faithfulness.
Here are Paul’s words to the leaders of the church: “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24 ESV).
Paul knows he is departing Asia headed for his final acts of ministry. Shortly after he will be taken as a prisoner to Rome where he will eventually be martyred. No fleeing, no scheming to avoid imprisonment. Just leaving it all on the field, preaching the gospel of grace. The thing of value for Paul is not his life, but the gospel.
He lived it. And countless others have as well. And oh that the Lord would empower me to live like this.
As we head into 2017 I don’t have a resolution but this is my prayer. That the trappings of life would be of little value and even my own life would not be what is precious but that I would spend this year, and the decades to come, so transformed by the gospel that I can preach nothing else. That I would so experience the grace and love of God in Christ that it flows to all around me for his glory.
Maybe you might want to pray this way too. That Jesus would be bigger in 2017 to you, that nothing else would take your attention and passion like your Savior. I think it is a prayer that he is pleased to answer.
We won’t be perfect, but by his grace we can keep at it, keep pushing in and living to finish the course he has given us. We have as our source and our hope his grace, now and forevermore.
“And now I commend you to God and the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and give you the inheritance among all who are sanctified.” (Acts 20:32)