Journal Acts 20 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)

Scripture: “Now from Miletus he (Paul) sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him.  And when they came to him, (Paul) said to them:


“You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable and teaching you in public and from house to house—testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.


And now—behold—I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me.


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 20:17-24


Observation:  Conviction, cloaked in confident resolve: that is what I see here.


Analysis: Isaiah prophesied about Jesus: “But the Lord God helps me; therefore, I have not been disgraced; therefore, I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.” Is 50:7


This is what comes to mind about this passage.  Paul knows full well what is about to happen from the testimonies from every city Paul has visited.  How?  I think it can be confidently inferred that the word of testimony comes from prophets from many local churches.


Nevertheless, however these pieces of intelligence came about, Paul is “setting his face like flint” to whatever comes his way.  Note that the language is ambiguous: The Holy Spirit is warning Paul, but not saying to avoid.  (I am glad it was mature Paul, and not chicken Rick.)


Therefore, I think that I can confidently say that the Holy Spirit not only gives direction, but also provides commentary, personal commentary to my daily life.


How about that thought?  How many of the folks indicated in this passage had to man up past their fears and doubts to serve God for Paul’s continuation?  How many gave in faith?  How many prophesied?  How many got a nudge from the Holy Spirit to give Paul a testimony of what he would encounter in Jerusalem and actually spoke?


Is this what Jesus meant by, “Those who have an ear to hear, hear what the Spirit is saying?” (Rev 2:7) I am certain the context of that passage is directed to another subject, but is it applicable to my personal walk in the Lord?  How do I walk worthy of the Gospel by studying to show myself a workman approved, but also inclining my ear to His Whisper moment by moment?


1 Kings 19:12 “And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.  And after the fire, the sound of a low whisper…”

Job 4:12 “Now a word was brought to me stealthily; my ear received the whisper of it.”


Both of these references reveal a method of how God speaks to a clumsy person like me.  This is why I embrace continually in my prayers that God gives me ears to hear what the Spirit is saying.  Why?  Because I am more prone to act like this:


“But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears…”  Acts 7:57a reacting to Stephen speaking.


Hearing is passive, it requires no effort.  Most believers would approve of “hearing” God.


Listening is active, it requires effort; concentration, brushing away distractions, being disciplined to not have a running commentary about who is speaking ready to jump into the conversation when there is a space available.  Hear what is being said as a part of concentrating with worshipful, fervent, desire of the Spirit.


This is hard.  It requires cultivating a desire; it is practiced on how I treat other people.  If I can’t quite do it in the natural, how will I do it in the supernatural? (1 Cor 15:46)


Prayer: Father God, I am so glad there was a guy like Paul.  I am also glad there were those unnamed dozens of radical believers at that time, serving the local church and serving Your purposes in their generation.


Please raise up in obscurity those same folks for this and future generations that Your Name may be hallowed in all the earth.



Ricky Two Shoes