July 9 – 13, 2018


1 Peter 5:5-7

This week we will read a passage in Acts where Paul says goodbye to the Ephesian elders. In this eloquent “goodbye” passage, Paul will remind them of who he was, what he taught, how he taught, and the importance of standing strong. With that in mind, I would like to start this week where Paul started—reminding the elders who he was and setting the example of humility for them.

In 1 Peter 5, the Apostle Peter instructs both young and old: “Clothe yourselves with humility towards one another … Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (vv. 5-7). This idea of clothing oneself with humility reminds me of the picture we have of Jesus in John 13: wrapping a towel around His waist before bending low to wash the disciples’ feet. We, too, are called to follow the example of Christ by humbling ourselves in service for one another. How, then, do we humble ourselves? This passage goes on to say, “by casting our anxieties on Him.” Doesn’t this make perfect sense when you think about it? As we cast our cares on the Lord, we are saying that we trust Him to take care of us. As we cast our cares on the Lord, we say with confidence that we can’t handle these cares on our own.

This Scripture doesn’t say that we should simply “lay” our cares at His feet. Instead, we are “casting” them at Him. We are throwing our cares far away from us and onto the Lord who can handle it all. One commentator I read said that this work of “casting” requires two hands: the hand of prayer and the hand of faith. So today let’s use our two hands to cast our cares towards the Lord who can handle them all.


What cares or anxieties do you need to cast towards your Savior as we begin our time with the Lord this week?


Lord, we admit that we can’t do anything on our own. We admit that we need You. In light of that, we lift our two hands—our hand of prayer and our hand of faith—towards You, our Savior. We lift our hands and release to You our cares, fears, worries, and concerns, trusting that You can handle them all. Give us peace. Amen.



Psalm 16

In Paul’s “goodbye” passage that we will come to later this week, he reminds the Ephesian elders of what he stood for—his only aim in life. In light of that, today we start with a psalm written by David. This psalm has a hint of trouble in its backdrop. Perhaps David has entered into a hard time and here he reminds himself of the confidence he has in the Lord. This passage connects closely with the one we read yesterday about the importance of humility. David knew that he was nothing without the Lord. “Lord, You alone are my portion and my cup.… I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken” (vv. 5a, 8)

David made a distinct decision to keep his eyes on the Lord. Other Bible versions say that he set the Lord always before him. This reminds me of a prayer we often pray in church: “Lord, go above me to watch over me, behind me to strengthen me, beside me to comfort me, and before me to show me the way.” David kept his eyes on the Lord even when trials, temptations, and difficulty surrounded him. He knew that with the Lord leading the way and walking beside him, he would not be shaken.

This is the confidence that is ours in Christ. This sure truth can be what holds us up, no matter what we face. Let’s commit together today not only to live in humility, casting our cares upon the Lord, but also to stand with confidence. Let’s admit not only that we can’t handle things on own, but also that we trust in the Lord and His promise to walk with us. That is the confidence that David stood upon, as well as the Apostle Paul; and that is the confidence we can have as well.


Where do you need the Lord to go before you today to show you the way? Where do you need to put your confidence more in Him?


Lord, thank You that You go before us. Help us to keep our eyes fixed on You as David did, trusting that You will take care of us. Help us to walk with confidence, knowing that with You we will not be shaken. Amen.



1 Corinthians 3:1-15

This passage in Corinthians has always been one of my very favorites. Particularly verse 7 has always spoken to me. “So, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow.”This verse connects well with our focus this week, and it is a great reminder of the boldness we can have when we share our faith.

Sharing my faith with others has always been a challenge for me. I have always been nervous that I don’t know enough and therefore would get something wrong and possibly mislead someone. This fear can be crippling and can keep me from sharing at all. Today, as I write this, I am aware that many who read this have probably felt the same way. Well, friends, let this be an encouragement to you. We are simply farmers. We water or we plant, but we have no control over the beautiful mystery of how a seed blossoms and grows. When I think of my own “coming to faith” story, I can think of many people who helped me along the way, but I also can see how it was all in God’s hands.

Later this week we will read Paul’s goodbye message where he speaks boldly of how he shared his faith. Let’s allow this to light a fire under us as farmers. We can be bold and confident in our witnessing because it is all done by God’s grace. He is the masterful Creator who amazingly takes a tiny seed and makes it grow into something magnificent. Let’s not allow our fear and trepidation to prevent us from being bold.


Is there someone placed on your heart whom God has perhaps called you to speak boldly to about your faith? Think back on your own journey to faith and how God helped that seed grow in your heart.


Lord, light a fire in our hearts for You. Help us today to once again remember that You are the one who can move mountains. Help us today to put aside our fear and anxieties and instead be bold for You. Remind us of all You can do and have done in our lives. Amen.



1 Peter 5:1-4; 8-11

Today we come back to the passage we read on Monday, 1 Peter 5. Feel free to read all of 1 Peter 5:1-11 to get a feel for the whole, even though we will be looking at specific sections.

In our final Scripture tomorrow, we will read a message that Paul gives to leaders in the church of Ephesus. Here, as well, we see a message to Christian leaders—to be shepherds, eager to serve. This is the example that Christ set for us as well. This brings me to Psalm 23 and the beautiful picture we get of the Lord as our Shepherd who cares so deeply for us. Jesus, as the Chief Shepherd, gave Himself for His sheep, ultimately giving His life on their behalf. This is the example that we are to follow as Christian leaders.

“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock” (vv. 2-3). Whom has the Lord entrusted to you? Is it children, grandchildren, a Sunday school class, nieces, nephews, younger believers, a coworker, or someone else? As a shepherd you have the unique job of serving as Christ served. As a shepherd you are called to live as an example. As this passage goes on to describe, there are many threats in this world that are trying to derail us. However, we have hope, which is how this passage ends with a beautiful prayer. The Lord will restore us by His grace, making us strong and steadfast.

As we will see tomorrow, Paul was proud of the example that he set for his flock. Let’s evaluate our example and pray that the God of grace will strengthen us today.


Whom has God entrusted to you and how can you serve them today?


Lord, I pray that we would remember to be examples for You. Help us to be shepherds who live a life of service for those You have placed under our care. Help us to be willing to serve as You call us to serve. Thank you, Lord, for Your example that shows us how to live. Amen.



Acts 20

Finally, today we come to Paul’s goodbye message to the Ephesian elders.  He speaks as a pastor, and it is clear that he cares deeply for his audience.  This whole passage can almost be seen as starting with the words “Because I love you…” He encourages the elders to shepherd God’s flock and frames this with the example of his ministry that was characterized by humility and boldness for the gospel.

“Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of any of you. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God” (vv. 26-27). Doesn’t this sound like Paul is on the witness stand making his testimony? He declares with confidence that he has done all he can; he is innocent of their blood. Paul didn’t just teach the things he thought they wanted to hear; he told them the Gospel—completely. That gives him assurance that he did all he was called to do.

Paul, however, is not just bold; he is also humble. He frames the entirety of his message in gracious humility. That humility has been the focus of much of our week of study. This is humility that casts cares upon the Lord, knowing that we can’t carry our anxieties on our own. It is the humility that also asks for the Lord to go before us and show us the way as David did. It is also the humility that admits that we are just the farmers who plant or water where only God can make things grow. It is the humility that bends down in service for others as we shepherd the flock entrusted to us. This is what gives Paul the confidence to say, “I served the Lord with great humility and with tears in the midst of sincere testing” (v. 19).

This passage is drenched in tenderness and love, closing with a time of weeping and embracing Paul, the Apostle. This was Paul’s goodbye to them and what he felt was most important to leave them with: a reminder to be humble and a reminder of the importance of the Gospel. So, may Paul’s declaration be ours as well. “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace” (v. 24).


What part of Paul’s goodbye sermon sticks out to you the most and why?


Lord, help us to follow Paul’s example of humility and boldness. Help us to be encouraged this week by Your promise that, while we can do nothing on our own, You go before us and strengthen us. Amen.




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