"So 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 all those who are sanctified.Paul's time with the church within Ephesus had reached it's end; but he did not simply abandon the church. The reality is that he simply gave the church fully back over to the one who held it from the beginning.
Paul was only a middle man, used by the Holy Spirit to teach those called by the Father and sanctified by Christ to walk in the Spirit and in truth, to grow in their knowledge of God until such a time as they were ready and willing to listen to the Spirit guiding them without needing Paul as a medium for God's revelation in their lives.
That is not to say that teachers or the church are not important in our walk with God as some are prone to arguing in today's world.
When Paul is speaking here he is not addressing all the believers in Ephesus so that they can receive his words for themselves individually, but rather he is in an entirely different town speaking only to "the elders of the church" [Acts 20:17]; prophets and teachers and Spirit led Christians who sought after God and who the Lord raised up as leaders and counselors among them.
As we close up this first week at the ranch it becomes apparent how short our time here with everyone will be. I can't help but entertain thoughts of how great it would be if I were able to stay just one more month or return later, either as a volunteer staff member or for another run through the program; perhaps as some sort of senior intern on a team going to El Salvador or on a team going to a different location to see the many faces of God's work in other churches and countries.
However, while I don't know where the Lord will lead me and while the above possibilities are far from impossible (especially in God's economy), to take full advantage of just this month, regardless of what future plans the Lord may bring, I need to accept that at the end of our time here the staff and Pastors of Potter's Field Ranch will be 'commending us to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build us up and give us an inheritance among all those who are sanctified', and send us home, and that it will only be Lord willing I see them again or have the opportunity to spend time learning from them here on Earth.
To use an analogy that Pastor Mike seems to love: In my time here I can't just take the "low hanging fruit" expecting or hoping for more time in which I may climb their branches and go for the best fruits hidden at the top. I need to set my intentions in this time to collect all that I can of the best that I can, but also remember that the ranch isn't the only place God will be speaking to me and growing me, also convicting me. That my relationship with him is not dependent on any person place or thing, only my own decision to either listen to or ignore the things he has to say; my choice to burn with his Spirit or quench it.
God, please fill me with your Spirit as you've filled me with your life.
Empower me to walk with you, to hear your call in humility and accept your grace.
You've dressed the flowers of the field in colors finer than worn by any king.
Please dress me as the flowers Lord, but in love and for your ways.
I hope you would be blessed by Pastor G's study of Act's 20:32.
Written April 8, 2012
χάρις [charis]1) grace
a) that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of
2) good will, loving-kindness, favour
a) of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns
them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge,
affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues
3) what is due to grace
a) the spiritual condition of one governed by the power of divine grace
b) the token or proof of grace, benefit
1) a gift of grace
2) benefit, bounty
4) thanks, (for benefits, services, favours), recompense, reward