Paul says we Christians are running a race. Here's what I'm looking at on my run toward Christ.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Acts 21- Courage

Over the next few days I want to look at Acts Chapter 21.  Please read this chapter.  We'll start today looking at verses 1-16.

In this section Paul had just left the Ephesians at the beach and was heading toward Jerusalem.  When he got to Tyre the disciples there warned Paul.  "Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem".  The Holy Spirit was involved and these disciples wanted Paul not to go to Jerusalem.

Paul got to Caesarea and the story was much the same.  The prophet Agabus, who had predicted Jerusalem's 15 year famine, predicted by the Holy Spirit that Paul would be bound and handed over to the Gentiles.  When the Christians at Caesarea heard this they pleaded with Paul not to go to Jerusalem.

But remember in Acts 20:22-24 Paul said, "And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.  I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.  However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me... the task of testifying to the Gospel of God's grace."

Do you see the dilemma here?  The Holy Spirit is involved in the Christians warning Paul NOT to go to Jerusalem yet the same Holy Spirit compelled Paul TO GO to Jerusalem.  Is the Holy Spirit making a mistake?  Is He contradicting Himself?  Not at all!  (To use a Paulism).

The Christians through the Holy Spirit had been warned that Paul would face arrest and trouble in Jerusalem.  They, in love, wanted Paul to stay away.  Why go to a place where you would be arrested?  Jerusalem had Peter and James and the apostles, why did Paul need to go there?  Give the money you need to deliver to someone else and go to some distant land that needs to hear the Gospel.

Paul, however, was compelled by the Holy Spirit to go to Jerusalem, hardship or not.  Jail or not. Death or not.  Paul was going to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit, even when He was warning Paul of the trouble ahead.

Paul had courage to care more about completing his mission from God than about his own comfort.

Do we still experience this?  I think we do.

I get to work with youth at my church.  I love it.  However, I know that if I work long enough in this I will face great personal heartbreak.  I have already experienced this some in my short 6 1/2 years in this ministry.  But I know if I stay in this long enough I will at times be completely frustrated by God not showing me what He is doing through my work.  I know a student will be hurt severely emotionally or physically.  I know that I may have to deal with the death of a student... and that scares me.  I thought I was going to face that not long ago and I should have if not for a miracle of God.

This isn't just for youth ministry.  If you are a teacher your heart will be broken by tragedy.  I don't know a teacher in the profession long enough that has never dealt with the death of at least one student.  If you are married you will be disappointed and discouraged at times.  If you have children they, at times, will do exactly what you told them not to do and it will hurt them.  If we get a mission from God we will face hardship at some time in that ministry.  We will have our hearts broken or our bodies literally broken.

Should that stop us?  Not at all!  It didn't stop Paul.  He went to Jerusalem because the Holy Spirit told him to go there.  He had a mission from God and God gave him courage to complete the task.  In fact, through the Holy Spirit's warnings, God gave Paul an opportunity to reveal His courage.  (Note it is His not his)

Paul valued the completion of God's mission more than he valued himself.  "I consider my life worthing nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me... the task of testifying to the Gospel of God's grace."  Paul treasured God's glory more than his life.  Paul could not have had the courage to complete the task if he didn't absolutely treasure God and His glory.

So, treasure God's mission for your life.  Thank Him that He allows you to play a part in the expansion of His Kingdom.  Treasure God and His glory.  Have courage today.

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