When we make grand plans and dream big dreams, physical possessions tend to be included. We look around our house and think, “Another couple years in this job, and I’ll finally be able to get a bigger house with more bedrooms and larger square footage.” Or we walk toward our rusty car and imagine someday actually having a key fob that’ll unlock a brand new BMW instead.
But what if God created dreams for us bigger than that? What if instead of bettering our own world, we were called to better the lives of others? What if our hopes weren’t meant to be set on bigger and better here on earth, but on things that matter for all eternity?
Paul is a hero of faith, an example for all of God’s people to follow. He was stoned, beaten with rods, thrown in prison, and shipwrecked time and time again, but none of these trials ever stopped him from proclaiming about Jesus and His message of hope. In his words, he simply couldn’t help himself; Paul was compelled and bound by the Spirit to follow through. If anyone deserved a bigger house, a better car, or a well-paying job, surely it would be him. Right?
But Paul lived part of his life in a prison cell, his role as a preacher gave him the bare necessities, and he said it was never about the silver, gold, or fine clothes. “My life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.” His dreams grew bigger—not around accumulating more but around drawing more people to the saving message of Christ.
What if God calls each and every one of us around the same mission? What if He has entrusted us with the same message as Paul, and we were made to tell others the Good News? How differently would our dreams and our lives look?
1. Do your dreams tend to revolve around bettering your own world, or do you think on ways to better the lives of others—for today, but even more importantly, for eternity?
2. As you pray for God to refine and strengthen your dreams, reflect on Acts 20:24: “But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.”
Paul Meets the Ephesian Elders
13 Paul went by land to Assos, where he had arranged for us to join him, while we traveled by ship. 14 He joined us there, and we sailed together to Mitylene. 15 The next day we sailed past the island of Kios. The following day we crossed to the island of Samos, and a day later we arrived at Miletus.
16 Paul had decided to sail on past Ephesus, for he didn’t want to spend any more time in the province of Asia. He was hurrying to get to Jerusalem, if possible, in time for the Festival of Pentecost. 17 But when we landed at Miletus, he sent a message to the elders of the church at Ephesus, asking them to come and meet him.
18 When they arrived he declared, “You know that from the day I set foot in the province of Asia until now 19 I have done the Lord’s work humbly and with many tears. I have endured the trials that came to me from the plots of the Jews. 20 I never shrank back from telling you what you needed to hear, either publicly or in your homes. 21 I have had one message for Jews and Greeks alike—the necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God, and of having faith in our Lord Jesus.
22 “And now I am bound by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. I don’t know what awaits me, 23 except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead. 24 But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.
25 “And now I know that none of you to whom I have preached the Kingdom will ever see me again. 26 I declare today that I have been faithful. If anyone suffers eternal death, it’s not my fault, 27 for I didn’t shrink from declaring all that God wants you to know.
28 “So guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd God’s flock—his church, purchased with his own blood—over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as leaders. 29 I know that false teachers, like vicious wolves, will come in among you after I leave, not sparing the flock. 30 Even some men from your own group will rise up and distort the truth in order to draw a following. 31 Watch out! Remember the three years I was with you—my constant watch and care over you night and day, and my many tears for you.
32 “And now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself.
33 “I have never coveted anyone’s silver or gold or fine clothes. 34 You know that these hands of mine have worked to supply my own needs and even the needs of those who were with me. 35 And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
36 When he had finished speaking, he knelt and prayed with them.37 They all cried as they embraced and kissed him good-bye. 38 They were sad most of all because he had said that they would never see him again. Then they escorted him down to the ship.