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Paul speaking his farewell to the Ephesians elders, “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has give me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace, (Acts 20: 22-24, NIV).
Paul, at this point in his life was on his way back to Jerusalem after his third missionary journey. He was saying goodbye to the church in Ephesus which he had established there. He reports that he has been warned by the Holy Spirit that there is trouble ahead for him. As a matter a fact, there are prophecies about his coming hardships later on in Acts. A prophet named Agabus speaks to him about this. Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’ When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem,” (Acts 21:11-12, NIV). But even though Paul was certain of the trouble and hardships which lay ahead he was still determined to continue on to Jerusalem.
His actions remind us of his own model Jesus, who knowing what lay ahead of him in Jerusalem also continued on his journey. Why, because he had a task to complete. Paul considered his life worth nothing unless he could finish the race, completing the task the Lord Jesus had given him. As it turned out Agabus’ prophecy turned out to be true. Paul did encounter hardships. He was bound and imprisoned for two years. Eventually he went to Rome to plead his case before the emperor, where he may have been released for a short time but ultimately was executed. It is no wonder that the people pleaded with him not to go to Jerusalem due to their love for him. Yet this does not deter Paul because he was compelled by the mission God had given him. Even in chains Paul was able to complete his mission of bring the Gospel to the Gentiles. He was able to speak to Princes and governors when he was still in Palestine, and when he was in Rome he continued to share the Gospel with anyone who would listen, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ penetrated even the household of Caesar.
As we look at Paul’s story I believe there are some lessons in it for us too.
First I think that God gives us tasks too. It’s just not Paul that he gives tasks to but he gives tasks to each and every one of us. It may be a life task, as Paul’s was, or it may be the task of a life time. In either case these are tasks that God places in front of us and he says, “I want you to do this, take this on.” For instance, it could be the life task of parenting. On the other hand, it may be the task of a life time, such as building the church building here. We may never have to do that sort of task again; it’s a task of a life time. There are many other types of tasks we are called to take on too, such as ministering to men, women or children. They are things that need to be done for the Kingdom. That is why he gives us those tasks and that is also why he gave a task to Paul. For Paul, it was to extend the Kingdom to the Gentiles. For us, our tasks
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