A “quiet time” is simply being intentional about having a conversation with God. This usually means listening for God’s voice by reading the Bible or devotions, and speaking to God through prayer. Jesus did this numerous times in the Gospels, sometimes slipping away all night or in the early morning, to spend time with his Father.
Here are some well respected reading plans that can help you plan this time, they all come with mobile optimised options so you can even take them with you as you travel to work.
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Spend a few moments thanking God for his love for you. Ask that he would fill you with his love for others.
25 “Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom(A) will ever see me again.(B) 26 Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of any of you.(C) 27 For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.(D) 28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock(E) of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.(F) Be shepherds of the church of God,[a](G) which he bought(H) with his own blood.[b](I) 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves(J) will come in among you and will not spare the flock.(K) 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples(L) after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years(M) I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.(N)
32 “Now I commit you to God(O) and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance(P) among all those who are sanctified.(Q) 33 I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing.(R) 34 You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions.(S) 35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
36 When Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed.(T) 37 They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him.(U) 38 What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again.(V) Then they accompanied him to the ship.(W)
Love each other
What an example of how Christians should love each other! This was a sorrowful day for the Ephesian Christians – the last day they would see Paul’s face. But Paul doesn’t hold back from ‘solemnly testifying’ (v 26) about a worrying future. These elders needed to be on guard for themselves and their church because in Paul’s absence, false teachers, even from within the church, would arise and lead some astray. The elders must be on the alert, caring deeply about each and every believer, emulating Paul’s care for them.
Love from God
Notice how intensely and passionately Paul taught them (v 31) – with tears! Where does such love among Christians come from? From knowing that they are the Father’s very own possession, purchased by the blood of Jesus, called for a purpose by the Holy Spirit (v 28), living in God’s presence, and by his grace (v 32). In short, it comes from God.
Moved to tears?
Do you care about believers’ spiritual wellbeing? Have you spoken with such concern for another’s spiritual welfare that you were moved to tears? Paul was like this night and day – may we ask God for such love for others.
Ask God to give you something of his heart for those he has given you to care for – and then use the words of Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians to pray for them (Ephesians 3:14–21).
In this second half of Paul’s speech to the Ephesian elders, he further reviews his ministry (vs 25–27), declaring that he has proclaimed the ‘whole will of God’ (v 27), which is not simply the fact that Jesus is the crucified, risen and exalted Lord but that this salvation message is for Jews and Gentiles alike (see Eph 3:6). However, Paul also knows that he will never see the elders again and the reaction of the elders to this statement (vs 37,38) demonstrates the depth of the relationship between them.
Paul’s concern, however, is not simply to defend his actions but also to give his charge to the Ephesian elders and to warn them about the dangers they will face after his departure (vs 28–31). They are to guard their spiritual lives and those of their congregation (v 28), caring for the church as shepherds. Dangers threaten from outside and inside the church. From outside the church, ‘savage wolves’ will endanger the spiritual lives of the congregation and, even from within the church, people will arise with false teaching that will split the church. The elders are to recognise the dangers that these pose and be vigilant.
A call to ministry and to leadership in the church is not easy. The challenge and charge to the Ephesian elders comes down to all those who lead within the church. Leaders still need to guard their spiritual lives and to be constantly vigilant for those things that threaten their congregation. It is a costly business being a ‘shepherd’ of the ‘flock’, but our example is our ‘Good Shepherd’ (see John 10:11) who laid down his life for his sheep. As Tom Wright says, the speech ‘is about the Christ-shaped generous love that the minister must not only speak about but also model at every level.’1 A challenge and a charge indeed!
1 Tom Wright, Acts for Everyone Part 2: Chapters 13–28, 2008,p132 Leviticus 17,18; Acts 10
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