CHARACTER STUDY: PAUL 81

KEY SCRIPTURE Acts 21:4. And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.

In chapter 21 apostle Paul follows up on his mission to go to Jerusalem. When they got to Tyre some disciples came to him and spoke by the Spirit, that Paul should not go to Jerusalem. Paul had had a similar warning in some of the cities he visited.

Paul went ahead with his agenda to go to Jerusalem. Why didn’t he heed this warning, although the bible said they spoke by the power of the Spirit? (The bible only reported what the disciples said was the instruction of the Spirit) His decision to go has a lot of questions to answer. Did Paul really know that the Spirit was asking him not to go? I can’t answer certainly, yet in all the studies we’ve done on the life of Paul we see that he did not count his life dear unto himself. Apostle Paul was a man of the Spirit and would not just disobey the voice or instruction of the Spirit. The following verse lays every question and doubt to rest. Acts 23:11 “And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome”. In Acts 23:11, the Lord Jesus himself stood beside Paul and told him that he must get to Rome and preach the gospel over there too.

The issue at stake is why did these disciples in Tyre say the Holy Spirit was asking Paul not to go to Jerusalem and subsequently to Rome? Many times, we may receive a clear word from the Spirit about a situation, yet we must ask the Holy Spirit His next instruction, about what must be done. This I believe was the error of these disciples from Tyre. The Lord Himself stood beside Paul and told him; he would have to be in Rome to testify over there too, how could the Holy Spirit turn around to tell these disciples that he should not go to Jerusalem which would lead him to Rome ultimately?

Everyone one of us children of God must be very diligent to wait enough for full and clear instructions from the Holy Spirit before going about to say it or we ourselves acting on what we might have received.   NEVER MAKE CONCLUSIONS FOR THE HOLY SPIRIT.

PRAYER

I pray in the name of JESUS, that I may be extra sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s voice, that my way shall always be very clear to bring glory and honour unto the Lord

FURTHER STUDIES

John 16:13. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

Romans 8:9. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

CHARACTER STUDY: PAUL 80

KEY SCRIPTURE: Acts 20:38. “Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.”

Apostle Paul brings his counsel to a close and knelt together with the brethren and prayed with them. They fell on his neck kissed him and started sorrowing.

They cried because he had told them that they were only seeing him for the very last time. Paul had served so diligently, so parting was a very sad event for them. One thing almost all humans cannot face is parting away from loved ones. These are events that we must all brace ourselves for. Men as mortals as we are, would one day have to part from each other.

Paul had told them they were not going to see him again. From apostle Paul’s experience with the brethren, we must take a clue to serve the body of Christ very diligently so we may leave a lasting influence on them. Parting should not be our focus but, the investment we make in them, bringing them into maturity in  the Lord.

In Philippians 1:22, apostle Paul reveals his dilemma about whether to depart and go and be with the Lord or to stay in the flesh and serve the body of Christ. Philippians 1:23-24. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless, to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.

He says that he chooses to stay, with one sole purpose; that he would keep blessing the Church of God. Let us all resolve to give every energy in us to serve Him in various ways possible. This is the reason we are still alive.

CONFESSION

He saved me to serve Him I commit my life, time and energy to please Him, by serving the body of Christ in various Capacities. This is the real joy of living.

FURTHER STUDIES

Acts 13:36 ” For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:”

John 9:4 ” I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.”

CHARACTER STUDY: PAUL 79

KEY SCRIPTURE: Acts 20:35 ” I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive”.

Apostle Paul instructs the brethren on certain important issues that they must consider. He says he has showed them all things. He taught them by teaching and by example. In Acts 20:34 he reminded them of how he laboured with his hands to support himself and they that were with him.

 Acts 20:34 “Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. Apostle Paul was a tentmaker and practiced this craft to make a living for himself and the brethren who were with him. Acts 18:3 “And because he was of the same craft, he abodes with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers”. There is nothing wrong for a minister of the gospel to labour with his hands in order to support himself and the work as a whole. It was the desire of Apostle Paul to demonstrate by example that one has to labour with his hands.

What do we say about those ministers who do not do any work to support the work? It all depends on the demand of the work that one has to attend to as well as what the Lord asks him to do. The Lord Jesus did no work because there was so much for him to do.

There are occasions that the Lord instructs one on the terms of his engagement in working for Him. The following verse shows us an instant. Luke 9:3 “And he said unto them, take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece” In this instant the Lord gives specific terms for the work. They were to trust the Lord totally for support as He would use others to bless them. Luke 9:4 “And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart”.

The reason for Paul talking to them about laboring with their hands is also to be able to support the weak. He added that as the Lord had said, it is more blessed to give than to receive. We must always consider others in every sphere of life we find ourselves. We are one another’s keeper. Nothing in creation was made to serve itself alone. Everything was created to benefit other people and other things. You are an answer to someone’s questions. NEVER FORGET THAT.

CONFESSION

God created all things to solve particular solutions. I am a solution to the needs of others, therefore I do not live for myself but, to bring smiles to a weeping eye. My life is also made fruitful and exciting because the joy of others becomes my satisfaction.

FURTHER STUDIES

Thessalonians 2:9. “For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.

1 Corinthians 4:12. “And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:”

CHARACTER STUDY: PAUL 78

KEY SCRIPTURE: Acts 20:33. I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.

Apostle Paul tells us in our key scripture that he has coveted no man’s apparel. An apparel is a garment or dress. Well it could also go for any other possession of others. Paul says over here that I have not set my heart upon anyone’s possession.

This is a very important stands of a godly leader or shepherd. There is always a temptation that since you are the over seer, then you automatically owe them and everything they have. Such a thinking is devilish. There might be instances where certain pastors or prophets might have taken advantage of people. Some use all kinds of crafty means to take advantage of other’s money, cars or even their homes. King Ahab coveted for Naboth vineyard and when he could not get it from him, his wife Jezebel scandalized him (Naboth) and so, was slayed. Ahab took this vineyard to satisfy his desire. It would be very strange for any servant of God to go that way.

Please dear child of God and minister of the flock of God, the congregation is not yours. They are not your property. They are God’s flock and His own possession. He purchased them with His own blood. He had to forfeit His throne, became a man and undergo so much torturing. He became sin and for the first time had to be separated from His father. He did all these so He could redeem them from hell and Satan’s grip. He has identified Himself with the sheep. If you as a shepherd is intolerant and manipulate them, you are directly maltreating the Lord Jesus himself. Such an act would call for an outright anger and retribution against you. Covetousness is sin. It is a faithless act. It is a clear sign that you do not trust that God can give you that thing you are coveting after.

What is the answer for covetousness? Heb 13:5 &6 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

 Note, God’s presence is your greatest asset and that can deliver whatever you need if you would believe him

CONFESSION

The Lord is my portion. He is ever present with me, and I am content with what I have. All things are mine and by faith in Him every need is met in Jesus name.

FURTHER STUDIES

Ex 20:17. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’ s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’ s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’ s.

Ps 119:36. Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.

CHARACTER STUDY: PAUL 77

KEY SCRIPTURE: Acts 20:32. “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified”.

Apostle Paul continues with his farewell message to the brethren in Ephesus, telling them areas that they should be cautious about. In Acts 20:30, he tells them that after he had left, there would be some from their midst who would rise up to draw disciples unto themselves. Such people speak perverse things in order to draw disciples or followers. They accuse the leaders or come up with contrary doctrines to draw away disciples. Why do such things occur? People do these things with all kinds of motivations. The underlining point is the projection of self-interest and not Christ interest. To have a clearer understanding of such actions and how to prevent them, I suggest you get Bishop Dag Heward-Mill’s books on loyalty and disloyalty as well as other related materials authored by him.

  After all these cautions, he directs them to the most secured grounds. In verse 32, he says “And now brethren I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among them that are sanctified.” The word of God is our light that delivers us from the deceptions of the devil.  Psalm 36:9 says “For with thee is light and in thy light, we shall see light.” In this end time, when Satan has vomited every kind of unclean thing unto the world, we must secure ourselves by clothing ourselves with light which is God’s word.

  Now note that the word that he is commending to us is about God’s grace. The grace of God is God’s divine provision that transforms us from mortal limitations to supernatural limitlessness. Apostle Peter put it this way in 2nd Peter 1:4 “whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” It is the exceeding great promises or word of his grace that gives us supernatural participation for a life time of victories.

 Please get to know God through his word. The word would build you up. Read the word for yourselves, study it always and you would be able to discern error from truth. The word would also deliver unto your hand your inheritance or what Jesus won for us through his death and resurrection. In the availability of the word do not allow anyone to deceive you.

 CONFESSION

In this world of gross darkness, the word of God is my only source of light. I delight in It and meditate on it day and night. I also do what the word says. My way is made prosperous and I have good success

FURTHER STUDIES

 Joshua 1:8 “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success”.

 Romans 12:2″ And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

CHARACTER STUDY: PAUL 76

KEY SCRIPTURE: Acts 20:29. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

  Apostle Paul prophecies to the leaders of the Ephesian church, that after he has left and gone, grievous wolves would enter in or take over and would not spare the flock.

  Apostle Paul cautions the brethren that after his departure, grievous or dangerous wolves will take over. In Paul’s days, false teachings were mostly Jewish legalistic teachers who would come in as Christians but would teach against the grace of God, project the laws of Moses.

 There are craftier ‘wolves’ in our time as well. These days there are certain people with fetish or occultist influences who preach from the bible to deceive many. These people usually have ritual practices that turn people’s faith from the Lord Jesus Christ into other objects. Beloved brethren any pastor or man of God who asks you to sacrifice any form of blood; that man is a false prophet. Our Lord Jesus is the last and perfect blood sacrifice that atoned for the sins of all mankind. Hebrews 9:12 reads, “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood he entered in once into the Holy place having obtained eternal redemption for us.” Our Lord Jesus entered into the Holy of Holies in heaven ONCE and obtained an ETERNAL REDEMPTION for us. Presently, any blood sacrifice of any animal goes to the devil and not our heavenly father.

 These are false prophets who wisely extort various sums of money from helpless church people. They sell all kinds of objects ranging from different kinds of oils for enquirers to pray with. They also sell hand bands, stickers and many more. I wish to clarify a point here. There are some who sell these objects as a means of raising funds to develop the church for the common good of all. Such people do not take the monies for their personal use but to benefit the wider group of the people. One way to know whether a man is teaching truth or error, is to consider, who such a one is projecting. Is he projecting the Lord JESUS or something else?

May you not fall into the hands of any false prophet because of frustration.

  PRAYER

I pray that I would be very sensitive to discern the truth from error anytime I encounter one in Jesus name

FURTHER STUDIES

 Matthew 24:11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

 Matthew 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

CHARACTER STUDY: PAUL 75

KEY SCRIPTURE: ACTS 20:28. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

 Apostle Paul gave the brethren of Ephesus two instructions in our key scripture.  They are

(1) Take heed to yourself

(2) Take heed to the flock of God.

We considered the first part in our previous study. In today’s study, we would consider the second aspect of his instruction. This is to take heed to the flock of God which He purchased with his blood.

The very first point is to note that the flock is the Lord’s not yours. You are a steward of God’s flock and must work with that understanding. This implies, you would be rewarded if you diligently and sacrificially serve them. God will also hold you to book if you fail to serve them diligently and sacrificially.

The first act or step to take heed to concerning the flock of God is to intercede for the flock. Intercession is standing in the gap for God to intervene. Paul testified of Epaphras in Colossians 4:12 as follows, “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, salute you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God”. Epaphras laboured fervently for the brethren in Ephesus that they may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. Dear brother, sister or pastor, prayer is work. He laboured or toiled fervently in prayer always for them. The devil will have a fields day if the brethren are not covered with prayer. Lazy men cannot be effective pastors.

    The next thing to do for the flock of God is to teach and preach the word of God to the brethren or flock of God. In 2nd Timothy 4:2, Apostle Paul gave the following charge to pastor Timothy ” preach the word, be instant in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine”. Timothy must preach and teach at any available time. You must reprove, that is, correct them and also rebuke or to straighten them up.

Thirdly, you have to exhort or comfort them. All these would help them to keep going on in the Christian race.

  As a Shepherd of the flock of God, you would have to visit them periodically to know how they are doing. The Shepherd must also train the flock to get involved in evangelistic work and also learn all the disciplines of Christian faith which includes fasting, prayer, giving, tithing, fellowshipping, Bible studies and any other discipline that would help them to grow into spiritual adulthood.

  It is a great thing to serve the flock of God. It is a greater thing if you do it sacrificially.

CONFESSION

I am servant of the flock of God, in love and humility I offer my life sacrificially to serve God’s own sheep. My ultimate goal in all these is to get every sheep to heaven.

FURTHER STUDIES:

1 Thessalonians 5:14 “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men”.

1 Peter 5:2 ” Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;”

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