Staying and Leaving

06. March 2024 Acts 0

Text: Acts 18:1-23

Theme: Mission work includes lots of goodbyes.

Key Verses: “Then Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he became acquainted with a Jew named Aquila…Paul lived and worked with them, for they were tentmakers just as he was. Each Sabbath found Paul at the synagogue, trying to convince the Jews and Greeks alike. After spending some time in Antioch, Paul went back through Galatia and Phrygia, visiting and strengthening all the believers…Paul spent all his time preaching the word….But when they opposed and insulted him, Paul shook off the dust from his clothes…Then he left and went to the home of Titius Justus…Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, and everyone in his household believed the Lord. Many others in Corinth also heard Paul, became believers, and were baptized. One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision…So Paul stayed there for the next year and a half, teaching the word of God” (v. 1-11). “Paul stayed in Corinth for some time after that, then said good-bye to the brothers and sisters and went to nearby Cenchrea. There he shaved his head according to Jewish custom, marking the end of a vow. Then he set sail for Syria, taking Priscilla and Aquila with him. They stopped first at the port of Ephesus, where Paul left the others behind” (v. 18-19a).

What I believe God said to me: Good morning, Dwayne. Glad you could join me this morning for a time of reflection in my Word. You need to journal more often. You’ve become lax in this discipline. In fact, you’ve become a bit nonchalant in general when talking with me lately. I love to speak with you as a friend. But never forget I am your Friend with a capital F. I am not your pal or buddy. I am still the Lord God Almighty who made the heavens and earth. I am still your God and Master. You are speaking with the Creator of all things, in whom you live and move and have your being. Now, let’s look at this passage. What I want you to notice is that Paul didn’t grow too attached to people or places. He didn’t have the luxury of getting comfortable and “settling down.” My calling and gifting on his life meant that he had to give up the usual conveniences of home and choose instead a life of travel, adventure, risk and discomfort. That is the life of a missionary. Every place Paul went he knew he would eventually have to leave. Every person Paul met along the way he knew he would have to part ways with soon. If they were his spiritual fruit or close friends, he longed to see them again, but he always kept his options open, saying “if the Lord wills.” You see, Paul was my servant. He didn’t dictate his own schedule or follow his own whims or wants. He was on a mission, and he was determined to finish what I had called him to do. Dwayne, I prepared you for such a life of missions. You’ve been traveling from place to place sharing about me since you were a child. I’m not going to forsake you now. Guard your heart. Seek my Kingdom first, and trust me to provide for your every need. Just don’t get too comfortable in any one place or with any one group. You have more places to go, people to see, and things to do. Stay the course.

What I said to God: Holy Father, what a powerful word You had for me today. I am sorry when I treat You like any other friend. Thank You for Your patience and mercy on me in those moments. I have no excuse. I know You are my God to whom I must bow. You are the King of King and Lord of Lords. I should be in awe in Your presence and let my words be few. Forgive me when I get chatty and lose perspective with my heavenly Father. And thank You for this stark reminder today about mission work. It’s not meant to be easy or convenient and “fun.” Please forgive me when I complain about feeling lonely in ministry and having to leave my family to go to far-away places. What a privilege to minister in Your name and represent You to those who desperately need to know You and grow in Your Word. As the old hymn says, “I am resolved no longer to linger, charmed by the world’s delights. Things that are higher, things that are nobler, these have allured my sight.”