“If you continue on this journey, you will be hurt.” “This is too dangerous, don’t go there.” “You are doing so well here, things are going good, why move?” “This isn’t going to be easy!” “You will face hard times like you have never seen before!” “Don’t go! Please.”
Have you ever heard these words in the course of following God’s will?
In our next passage, Paul gets ready to leave those who he has encouraged, trained, loved on and spent a good deal of time with in growing God’s church among the Jews and Gentiles. Devoted people of God warn him, “Don’t go to Jerusalem.” (It seems Jesus had a similar warning, but his face was set toward Jerusalem where our redemption took place once and for all.) God’s will is strong when we are devoted to listening and obeying it completely. We can think about nothing else. We can only trust and obey, even if we know times will be hard.
We are blessed and encouraged by what Paul says to all who are trying to tell him not to go…”Why all this hysteria? Why do you insist on making a scene and making it even harder for me? You’re looking at this backwards. The issue in Jerusalem is not what they do to me, whether arrest or murder, but what the Master does through by obedience. Can’t you see that?” (Act’s 21, The Message)
The people’s response? “We saw that we weren’t making even a dent in his resolve, and gave up. ‘It’s in God’s hands now,’ we said. ‘Master, you handle it.'”
Acts 21, The Message
Tyre and Caesarea
21 1-4 And so, with the tearful good-byes behind us, we were on our way. We made a straight run to Cos, the next day reached Rhodes, and then Patara. There we found a ship going direct to Phoenicia, got on board, and set sail. Cyprus came into view on our left, but was soon out of sight as we kept on course for Syria, and eventually docked in the port of Tyre. While the cargo was being unloaded, we looked up the local disciples and stayed with them seven days. Their message to Paul, from insight given by the Spirit, was “Don’t go to Jerusalem.”
5-6 When our time was up, they escorted us out of the city to the docks. Everyone came along—men, women, children. They made a farewell party of the occasion! We all kneeled together on the beach and prayed. Then, after another round of saying good-bye, we climbed on board the ship while they drifted back to their homes.
7-9 A short run from Tyre to Ptolemais completed the voyage. We greeted our Christian friends there and stayed with them a day. In the morning we went on to Caesarea and stayed with Philip the Evangelist, one of “the Seven.” Philip had four virgin daughters who prophesied.
10-11 After several days of visiting, a prophet from Judea by the name of Agabus came down to see us. He went right up to Paul, took Paul’s belt, and, in a dramatic gesture, tied himself up, hands and feet. He said, “This is what the Holy Spirit says: The Jews in Jerusalem are going to tie up the man who owns this belt just like this and hand him over to godless unbelievers.”
12-13 When we heard that, we and everyone there that day begged Paul not to be stubborn and persist in going to Jerusalem. But Paul wouldn’t budge: “Why all this hysteria? Why do you insist on making a scene and making it even harder for me? You’re looking at this backward. The issue in Jerusalem is not what they do to me, whether arrest or murder, but what the Master Jesus does through my obedience. Can’t you see that?”
14 We saw that we weren’t making even a dent in his resolve, and gave up. “It’s in God’s hands now,” we said. “Master, you handle it.”
What do we learn?
–We must trust and obey even when warned by others of what could happen. The “what will happen” by others actually prepare for what is ahead.
–It’s always been in God’s hands. HE will handle every situation and circumstance He puts those who listen, believe, trust and obey.
Reflection: We must remember the two major promises of Jesus:
1. “In this world, you will have trouble.”
2. “I will be with always.” Forever.
Thought to ponder for later…
As we understand Paul’s resolve, what he went through in life’s journey, and how he was determined to finish what the Master had given him to do, we will understand his words in letters sent back to the churches even more. Go deep in what God is doing in His “Acts” through Paul and other leaders (witnesses).
Dear Heavenly Father, There are times we wonder if we are following You, making the right moves, following Your will and way, because of the warnings of others, but then You step in and show us that we are exactly where You want us to be as we trust and obey. Advice from others warn us and prepare for the dangers and hurts, but ultimately it is in Your Hands. We believe. We trust You alone. We are resolved to follow You, even it is not where we would like to go or do what we would think is best. You know what is best. You see what lies ahead and You will teach us in the journey. The best is yet to come! Thank you, Lord.
In Jesus Name, Amen