"Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.Acts 20:28(NASB)
No matter where Paul ministered, his greatest concern was to preach the gospel of Christ, and so we discover that in Ephesus as elsewhere, Paul preached boldly in public places and went from house to house testifying to Jew and Gentile alike, of the need of repentance towards God and faith towards the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul was deeply concerned for the spiritual well-being of all people. The danger into which he placed himself in his endeavour was of little concern to himself. And so Paul did not deliver a sugar-coated gospel that tickled the ears of the people. Paul preached the whole counsel of God so that he could stand unashamed before the Lord, knowing that he had fought a good fight, he had kept the faith, and finished the good work that God had prepared for him to do.
But he also knew that after his departure savage wolves would enter the Church and not spare God's little flock, and so he encouraged the elders in Ephesus (just as he urges church-leaders today), to stand firm in the faith, to guard their spiritual well-being, to care for God's people, and to feed the flock of God. And they were also exhorted to shepherd the Body of Christ which is the Church, reminding them (and us) that we were purchased with His own precious blood on Calvary's Cross.
This was the last time that Paul was to see his brothers and sisters in Ephesus, but his warning is as pertinent today as it was when he bid these dear believers farewell. Many wolves have indeed scattered the flock of God. False teachers have indeed tickled the ears of many. Many doctrines of demons have similarly infiltrated the heart of Christendom. But Christ continues to build His Church, often in secret and often without our knowledge, but Paul's admonition still stands today that we guard our hearts, stand firm in the faith, and take heed of the whole counsel of God, not only on our own account but in order to protect those whom God has chosen to place in our care.
Let us pray for those that are overseers in local churches and shepherds in the Body of Christ today, that each one may take to heart this important command to be on their guard for their own spiritual well-being, and to take responsibility for protecting all the flock of God with sound doctrine and a disciplined life. Let us pray that they guard their own hearts as well as guiding and shepherding the Church of God, which our Saviour, Jesus Christ purchased with His own precious blood, 2000 years ago.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the Word of God which is profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. May we individually and collectively be on our spiritual guard, not only for our own well-being but also for those that You have seen fit to place in our lives. Give grace and wisdom to all who are called to be elders or overseers in local churches today, and protect all believers who have fallen prey to false teachers or who have been exposed to doctrines of demons. Protect the hearts and minds of all Your children, and guide each one of us into the way of truth. In Jesus' name, AMEN.
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