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A Man Transformed; an Example to Imitate

In Acts we see the power of Christ to change lives.  One such man—a worthy example to us--considered his life expendable in the service of his Lord.  

This blog is based on last week’s reading: Acts 13-28; Numbers 1-10

Alternating between Old and New Testaments

This is the tenth week of the winter quarter.  Last week our schedule took us through the end of Acts and into Numbers.  Most of the time, we are alternating between Old and New Testament books so if you are new to the Bible this may take a bit of background study to keep track of where you are in story line of the Bible. [See resources for Bible readers.]

Notable figures in the Book of Acts

The Book of Acts, written by Luke, moves rapidly through the early years of the Church as believers received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost and faithfully proclaimed the gospel to all the world.  Peter and Paul are the key figures but we also meet lesser-known characters like Barnabas and Lydia and Apollos and Dorcas.  Meanwhile, according to plan, the disciples witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8).  The events of the story move according to those geographical locations out from Jerusalem and eventually to Rome where we leave Paul under house arrest waiting for his trial before Caesar.

Christ's transforming power in one man's life

The power of Christ to transform a sinner’s heart always astounds me.  He turned Saul from a persecutor of the Church into a preacher, missionary, and church planter whom we know as Paul. His conversion was complete and his growth in faith and service was rapid.  Near the end of his third missionary journey he knew that suffering and persecution lay ahead of him in Jerusalem.  How did he feel about it?  He said, “…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).  All he wanted to do was complete the work His Lord had given him.

He was alert to what God wanted him to do and not do. On his second missionary journey, the Holy Spirit stopped Paul from going into Asia and Bithynia but showed him through a vision in the night that he should go to Macedonia.  Paul seems to take these directions in stride.  

I find myself asking “what do I want more than anything else in life?”  Can I say with Paul that “I do not count my life of any value nor precious to me…if only I may finish my course”?  Would I go to “Jerusalem” if I knew it meant “imprisonment and afflictions await me”?

An example worth imitating

Paul is an example worth imitating.  He single-mindedly followed Christ. My ESV Study Bible presents a chart showing how Paul frequently challenged the readers of his epistles to imitate him. He commended those who did.  To the Corinthians he wrote that he was more than a guide to them; he was a father to them through the gospel.  Of course, he wanted them to follow him as he followed Christ.  [See 1 Co 4:15-17;11:1; Phil. 3:17;4:9;2 Th. 3:7-9;2 Tim. 3:10-11.]

Are you following Paul as he followed Christ? Are you single-minded in doing God’s will to your dying day?

May God give us godly examples to follow and imitate and may we be such for others.

This week’s reading: Numbers 11-36

© John A Carroll 2018 Used by permission.

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