If only we could get a text message from God telling us which way to go, especially when we are at a crossroads. If only God would come to our house and speak to us! In the last week, we have looked at the various ways God speaks - consider this: The testimony of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation is that God speaks to His people. In our day, God speaks to us through the Holy Spirit. He uses the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and other believers. But Acts 21 puts a little fly in the ointment or sand in the suntan lotion, so to speak, regarding these tools of knowing and understanding the will of God, because Paul ignores the counsel of other believers. Hmmm.
Here's Acts 21.1-36 ~ https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+21.1-36&version=NLT Paul is traveling in earnest to Jerusalem, anxious to get there by Pentecost. . . But he is warned several times by fellow believers : >At his stop in Tyre, believers "told Paul through the Spirit not to go up to Jerusalem" >In Caesarea, Paul's team stayed with Philip; while there, Agabus, a prophet of the Lord, came to them, "he took Paul's belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, "Thus says the Holy Spirit, 'So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'" > Again, Paul's team and the local believers pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. Is Paul daft, Man? These words of warning seem to go unheeded, because on he goes. Upon arriving in Jerusalem, Paul is urged to take a vow of purification to show the Jewish leaders that he is still an observant Jew keeping the Law…. That doesn't pacify them. Paul was spotted by some of the Jewish foreigners who had traveled from Asia. Note: they were only in town to observe the Feast of Pentecost. Remember life-altering Acts Two? It was also the time of Pentecost when Jews were commanded to go to Jerusalem. Tens of thousands of Jewish pilgrims from near and far came to town and it was then the Holy Spirit came down---each heard the gospel message in his own native tongue. What an awe-inspiring event--never before and never since has there been such an occurrence! So amazing . . . Only God. They heard the 'good news about Jesus' and took it back to their own countries, towns, villages. Now this time, it is the Jewish pilgrims who nab Paul. Interesting. An angry mob seizes Paul, drags him from the temple and beats the tar out of him. . . They are interrupted by a Roman commander who assumes that Paul is the troublemaker who incited a rebellion previously, so he has him locked up. It is at that time that Paul asks if he can address the crowd. We'll hear what he has to say tomorrow. . . This passage juxtaposed with learning to know God’s leading in our lives is critical for us today. Remember, a key way God speaks to us is through other believers. So, did Paul break God's will for him when he ignored the warnings of God's people and went to Jerusalem anyway? What do you think? He was repeatedly shown that he was walking straight into his demise. Over the years, I have heard many well-meaning people say, 'the safest place to be is in the center of God's will'. . . really? Are you kidding me? Ask Paul how safe it was. What is true, though, is that God's will does not take us anywhere that he will not enable us to endure--and he will always be with us. So, did Paul disobey God by pushing into Jerusalem? I do not think so. . . while the believers saw that Paul was going to be bound and turned over, the Spirit did not tell Paul not to go. In fact, Jesus had said, "For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake.1" It was Jesus' voice that Paul heard ringing in his ears, guiding his footsteps. . . and it was the voice of Jesus that Paul obeyed. So while ‘other believers' told him not to go, Paul was guided by his calling from the start; he stayed true to it and obeyed it, no matter the cost. This reminds me of a quote from Henry Blackaby: When you come to know God by experience, you will be convinced of His love. When you are convinced of His love, you can believe Him and trust Him. When you trust Him, you can obey Him. When you love Him, you have no problem obeying Him.2 'Want to know God's will for your life? It all begins with learning who he is and loving him, and truly letting him lead you. Obey what God has already shown you to do in his Word and by doing what he has led you to do experientially--you know what I mean, sometimes you have this inner nudge or prompting to DO something or STOP DOING something. . . do you obey? When you do, you will hear more. Thanks Paul for showing us that God does indeed lead us; he does indeed show us his will. We learn so much from you. I will follow, great song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xh3ZK7JecK0 Listening...following, Christine 1 - Acts 9.16 2 - Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby