I was reading in Acts tonight when I came upon a passage that I have read many times, but something in it never hit me until tonight. I always thought, "What caring friends Paul (the Apostle) had!
The Apostle Paul is concluding his third missionary journey and in Acts 20:22, Paul tells his companions (one of whom was Luke, the author) "And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there...." (NIV) When they had reached Caesarea, they went to the house of Philip the evangelist. While they are there, a prophet prophesies over Paul in Acts 21:10-11 After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 Coming over to us, he took Paul's belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, "The Holy Spirit says, 'In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.'" (NIV)
This basically bums everybody out and here is where we pick up our key text in this discussion.
This is Luke, the author talking. (Acts 21:12-14) 12 When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, "Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." Nobody wants their companion, their buddy, their mentor and their teacher to go and get in trouble. Here is the part that struck me as we finish up in verse 14 "When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, "The Lord's will be done." (NIV)
They heard a well known prophet, give a prophecy from the Holy Spirit and what do they do? They try to talk Paul out of going! Then we have that kicker line, "When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, "The Lord's will be done." (NIV) When they couldn't talk Paul out of going, they finally gave in and said "OK, fine go ahead and do what the Lord wants then!"
Are we all guilty of thinking this way sometime? Do we try to talk others out of doing what the Lord wants them to do? Do we try to talk ourselves out of doing what the Lord wants us to do? Do we finally give in only in frustration and say OK, fine?
Many have tried to dodge what it is that God has for them to do, but believe me, if God wants you to do it or go through it, you eventually will! (Jonah comes to mind as an example!) The Apostle Paul should be our example of a disciple of Christ. In Acts 20:23 Paul says, "I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me." (NIV) He knew that bad things would await him at every turn in his ministry, yet he never shirked his duty. Paul always knew that whatever the cost, serving his Lord and God was worth it all! Shouldn't we do the same? Remember, God never promised us following Him would be easy.
Pablo (the other one)