but going ahead to the ship, we set sail for assos, intending to take paul aboard there, for so he had arranged, intending himself to go by land. and when he met us at assos, we took him on board and went to mitylene. and sailing from there we came the following day opposite chios; the next day we touched at samos; and the day after that we went to miletus. for paul had decided to sail past ephesus, so that he might not have to spend time in asia, for he was hastening to be at jerusalem, if possible, on the day of pentecost. [acts 20:13-16]
intentional discipleship – means being intentional with your time
in acts 20:17-38, paul, through the Spirit, delivers one of the most powerful moments of encouragement to pastors recorded in all of the word. he shares this encouragement with the ephesian elders, men he had spent 3 years with, men he had poured out the gospel to, – men he had poured out his life with in every respect.
he could have sailed into miletus and then traveled by foot into ephesus. however, this would have added days even weeks to his trip. making the trip into ephesus would have made it impossible to be in jerusalem on the day of pentecost. instead, he called the elders to him at miletus.
what he felt compelled to share by the Spirit was vital and of high importance for this young, thriving, but fragile church. (fragile because it was young and persecution was rising.) this was a vital – God ordained moment. yet, he also sensed being in jerusalem at pentecost was vital.
he could not be in two places at once.
his time was precious.
being a disciple of Jesus – means being intentional with your time.
with high intentionality, paul sent for the ephesian elders. it could have come across as “non-servant leaderish” – when he asked these men to come to him. he asked them to come not as a flex of his stature or position; but rather, he asked in order to steward his time well.
if you are a disciple of Jesus Christ that is truly trying to following him, what you do with your time will continually be up for grabs. your flesh, the world, and the enemy will grab at your time in sinful ways or ways that are intended to distract you from the mission of following Jesus. may we guard our hearts as proverbs says. as well, other disciples will ask for your time. they may not ask for sinful reasons but the asks still require you to make daily decisions as you follow Jesus.
how do you know where to spend your time when it comes down to multiple good decisions? what is the test? how do you pray?
here are a couple of simple and good first steps from the scripture.
delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. [acts 37:4]
the Lord is my shepherd, i shall not want. [psalm 23:1]
first, make the Lord your delight – who you desire most. ask him to be who you most want to please and who most satisfies you. this is a great first and ongoing step as a disciple for the rest of your life. if he is our “delight” – God says he will put into our heart – his “desires.” as he becomes our delight, the what and where and who we give our time to will be easier to discern.
“ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” [matt 7:7]
second, as you make being with him and knowing him as your greatest desire and delight – ask him specifically about how, where, and why you spend your time. ask! he will answer – in his timing!!!
you alone satisfy our soul. you alone make yourself the greatest desire, delight of our heart! as you grow this desire for you, show us how and where to spend our time. it is a precious gift as we follow you. may we daily submit our hearts and our time to you. speak Lord, show us, direct us, and give us the power to joyfully obey your direction.
in Jesus name – amen!
~ john ryan