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In All Seasons

After Paul the apostle's third missionary journey, Acts chapter 20 records his calling for the elders of Ephesus to meet him at Miletus. We read in verses 17-21:

From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church.  And when they had come to him, he said to them: “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews;  how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. (NKJV)

Its interesting in the KJV vs 18 reads, "And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons." Paul saw much fruit in his ministry at Ephesus. He was in the city longer than any other place on his missionary journeys. Revival spread through the whole city as people gave their lives to the gospel of Christ. He taught young disciples at the school of Tyrannus for two years and many churches in Asia Minor were established by those who were discipled by the apostle.

Reading Acts 19 we know that Paul was driven out of the city of Ephesus when the silversmiths rioted and his life was in danger. After that he wrote to the Corinthian church in 2 Corinthians 1:8:

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. (NKJV)

As Paul met with the elders of Ephesus, he reiterated to them his manner of life in all seasons. He was consistent in the fruitful times of revival and the difficult times of being burdened beyond measure. He ministered in humility and courage, not holding anything back that was helpful.

We know that the apostle would experience great trials and difficulty after he met with those elders. Paul would be imprisoned in Israel and in Rome. In his final imprisonment he would write his last words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:10, "Timothy, you know my manner of life." His life showed his commitment and service to Christ in how he lived.

All of us go through different seasons in our journey with the Lord. We have fruitful times and difficult times. Sometimes our spiritual season seems like summer with growth and warmth, and other times like winter when it feels cold and barren. The question is, how is our manner of life at all seasons? The apostle said that he continued to serve with all humility and with many tears and trials. Through it all he held nothing back that was helpful but in all seasons proclaimed the gospel.

As I look back at thirty two years of full time ministry, there certainly have been seasons that seemed very fruitful and exciting, and seasons that were dry and difficult. In those years of ministry the Lord has been faithful, and Sue, my wife, and I have tried to continue to do what God has called us to do: to be faithful in giving the gospel and teaching the Word of God and to serve our congregation in humility and love.

Last week we got the news that Sue has cancer and now we have entered into a new season. We don't know what the days ahead hold but we do know the One who holds us in His loving hands. Sue and I are praying that in this season, which we know will be very challenging in many ways, we would honor the Lord. Our prayer is we would hold nothing back that will be helpful and to keep serving in humility, proclaiming Christ crucified.

We've always considered it a privilege to serve the Lord. Our hearts are what Paul would say to those Elders: "But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God."

It was back in 2020 when we were dealing with Covid and other challenges that were before us and our family. I asked Sue if she wanted to continue in the ministry or should we start stepping back and pursue other things in our life. Her answer I believe was from heaven itself: "I don't want us to live for ourselves." We have a race to run and we will run it with God's help in this season that we face. We pray for endurance, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

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