October 23 – Prison Letters – Parental Concern

Read Acts 20:13-38

Though Paul wasn’t their biological parent, he was, in many ways, a spiritual father to believers in Ephesus.  For more than two years, he had provided positive, on-site spiritual impulses.  But he had to leave them.  Some time later, he paused to meet with the leaders of the Ephesian church.  In those shared moments, he recounted some of his past ministry with them and talked about his current trip to Jerusalem.  Somehow, he realized that they would never see each other again.  He needed to do what every parent, grandparent, teacher, pastor, discipler, or even long distance friend must do.  He “committed them to God and to the word of His grace” (v. 32).

Even though we sometimes feel as if we play a key role in the lives of other people, we are very limited in our influence.  All too often, in my own relationships or in sitting with a disappointed parent or a troubled spouse, I have had to draw the conclusion, “I cannot control anyone.”  At the end of the day, each of us must do what Paul did.  We must commit the people we love to God.  We must pray for them and invite God to influence them, give them wisdom, draw them close, protect them from the devil’s schemes.  Ultimately, only God can change human hearts, calm out of control fears, and protect vulnerable souls as those we love avail themselves to His resources.

But here is an interesting counter-thought: Committing people to God does not necessarily mean that we assume a total “hands off” or conclude that God will not use us.  Do you remember what we mentioned yesterday?  Even after this encounter with the elders, Paul would still write a letter to the Ephesian believers.  He would still send his most trustworthy servant, Timothy, to labor among them.

For whom are you burdened today?  This might be a good time for you to pray:

  1. Committing them to God.
  2. Asking God if/how He wants to use you in his/her life.

Steve Kern

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