Miracle or the Message?

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Today’s Bible Reading:  Acts 20

Today’s reading, Acts 20, is an account of Paul’s parting words to the saints at Troas and the Ephesian Elders at Miletus by Dr. Luke.  Paul traveled in the province of Asia, reinvigorating the believers in all the towns he passed through. It may appear that he was just jumping from place to place over a short period of time, however, the events of verses 1-3 actually took place over a year’s time. While he stayed in Macedonia for five days, he wrote the fourth letter to the Church in Corinth. This letter is known as Second Corinthians, which is the longest single letter in the New Testament. He also wrote the book of Romans during his three-month visit to Corinth.

When Paul was in Troas, he met with the local believers in an upper room to share the Lord’s Supper. At midnight, a boy named Eutychus (which means “fortunate”), fell asleep in the window where he had been seated and plummeted to his death. Paul, through his faith in God, raised this young man back to life.

Acts 20:7-10 
7 On the first day of the week, we gathered with the local believers to share in the Lord’s Supper. Paul was preaching to them, and since he was leaving the next day, he kept talking until midnight. 8 The upstairs room where we met was lighted with many flickering lamps. 9 As Paul spoke on and on, a young man named Eutychus, sitting on the windowsill, became very drowsy. Finally, he fell sound asleep and dropped three stories to his death below. 10 Paul went down, bent over him, and took him into his arms. “Don’t worry,” he said, “he’s alive!” 11 Then they all went back upstairs, shared in the Lord’s Supper,[d] and ate together. Paul continued talking to them until dawn, and then he left. 12 Meanwhile, the young man was taken home alive and well, and everyone was greatly relieved.

It is interesting to me that a miracle like this was noted in such a de facto manner. Can you just imagine if this incident happened today?! I highly doubt many would return to the room and continue conversing. My suspicion is  that social media would be buzzing with the events of the evening, with video footage and interviews all over CNN and the nightly news, and the gathering would end. Would our minds be left with what Paul was trying to convey, or would we be caught up in the fact that someone fell three stories and was brought back to life? It would make sense that Dr. Luke wanted us to be more impressed with Paul’s message than the miracle. Paul’s message was quite clear—he preached the gospel!

Acts 20:21   
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.

Another point worth noting in Paul’s message to the Ephesian Elders is that Paul emphasized to them that the church did not belong to them, but that they instead had been appointed as shepherds. It was their responsibility to shepherd God’s people and preach the gospel—all while living as an example as he had done.

Acts 20:28
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.

The same can be said for church leaders today. I have attended several different churches in my lifetime. I can honestly say that the leaders of CedarCreek Church follow Paul’s example. They humbly preach that “it’s okay to not be okay” and give personal testimony that they fall short, just as we all do. They do not put themselves on a pedestal to be worshiped or force their beliefs on anyone. As far as I can tell, no subject matter in the Bible is taboo, and they preach it all. They also preach to large groups and host groups. I have learned more about the gospel since I started attending CedarCreek Church than I had ever before and find it completely fascinating! I no longer think of reading the Bible as a chore, but as a way of life.

Are you caught up in the hype of social media? If so, what can you do to minimize its glamour?

Do you have courage like Paul when facing trials? If not, why?

Do you force people to see things your way? If so, how could you use grace instead?

Next Steps:
As you read through Acts 20, pay close attention to verse 24. Paul lived his life not for himself but for the glory of God. Reflect on your life to see if you are modeling Jesus’ life as Paul did. If not, make a list of steps you can take to get your life on the correct path. Pray to God for guidance and give thanks for all he has done.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the blessing of the CedarCreek Church leaders. Continue to use the Holy Spirit in them to shepherd your flock. Grant us the wisdom to know that your Word is much more powerful than social media. Help us to keep worry at bay, so we may experience your peace. Help us to be considerate to others, so they may see the Holy Spirit at work through us. In your Son’s name I pray. Amen.

This post was written by Jennifer Macke. Jenn has a son, daughter, granddaughter, and grandson, and she thanks God every day for them. She is enjoying retirement and feels blessed to be writing for LivingItOut. She was raised in an Evangelical Church, but her spiritual life awakened when she started attending CedarCreek.

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