In this series of posts, we’re watching the Apostle Paul, paying particular attention to the people the Lord brought into his life and the situations the Lord led him into, to see how the Lord used these people and these situations to keep Paul in the center of His will.
There are3 things to consider if we want to know the Lord’s will. (1) What does God want for me? (2) What do I want for me? (3) What does everybody else want for me? We need to reconcile all three of these areas before we can recognize the will of God.
Matthew 16: 21-22 – “Jesus began to explain to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at hands of the elders, chief priests, and teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. ‘Never Lord!…This shall never happen to you!’”
Here we see –
1. The Father wanted Jesus to die on a cross and be raised up on the third day.
2. Jesus wanted to do what His Father wanted Him to do. (John 6:38
3. Peter wanted something else.
Peter disagreed with The Father’s plan which had already been revealed by the Old Testament prophets. But Peter tried to tell Jesus He was wrong. Peter thought he could come up with a better plan. He didn’t want Jesus to die and He tried to get Jesus to change His mind. But Jesus was doing what God’s word said He should be doing. That’s why…
Mat. 16:23 – “Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
Here in Acts 21, what does God want for Paul?
Since the Bible says Paul was being “compelled by the Spirit,” I’d have to conclude that because the Lord wanted Paul to go to Jerusalem, He was speaking to Paul’s heart about going to Jerusalem.
Then, what does Paul want? Like the rest of us, Paul wants what God wants. (Acts 20:24)
This brings us to #3. What does everybody else want for Paul? What did his friends want? What did his colleagues want? What did the church want for Paul?
It’s important to notice here that nobody, not Luke, his best friend; not Philip, a fellow apostle, not Agabus or the congregation in Caesarea, nobody questioned; nobody argued about what Paul believed the Lord was calling him to do. It was completely consistent with what the Bible teaches and with the way God works.
If Paul had been surrounded by people who kept saying, “Paul, Think this over. Pray about it a little longer. We believe you’re making a terrible mistake. This doesn’t agree with what the Bible teaches.” If anyone had said something like that to Paul and he still refused to listen to them; if he had refused to accept their advice; if he refused to be influenced by their loving concern, he would have been guilty of being foolish and stubborn.
If he had continued to head toward Jerusalem against the counsel of the people around him, the consequences would have been disastrous. Nothing would have been accomplished. Absolutely no good would have come out of it and Paul would have ended up being discouraged, frustrated, bitter and angry at God because things didn’t turn out the way he believed they were going to turn out. But nobody said, “God is not telling you to go to Jerusalem.
No one in Paul’s life was questioning or arguing about the Spirit compelling Paul to go to Jerusalem. They were only concerned with the consequences, the cost of going to Jerusalem. When the Holy Spirit was compelling Paul to go, He warned him that he’d be facing prison and hardships when he got there. Paul, this is going to be extremely dangerous. It could even end up costing you your life.
The same principles apply to recognizing the will of God for our lives. If we are determined to trust in the Lord with all our hearts and not depend on our own understanding, the Lord will keep our path straight and direct our steps. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
If we share David’s heart when he says, “I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is my delight,” (Psalm 40:48) the Lord will plant His desire in our hearts. We’ll want it because the Lord wants us to want it. It becomes a genuine desire that increasingly keeps growing inside us.
First, God tells me what He wants me to do. Through His Word He puts the desire in my heart. I think it over and I pray about it. I work through all my fears and anxieties about whether or not I’m able to do it. Then I tell Him whether or not I’m willing to accept it.
While all that’s going on, you might come to me and say something like, “Have you ever thought about doing…;” or “I believe the Lord might be asking you to do such and such.” But, whatever you say to me, you won’t be telling me something I don’t already know or haven’t been thinking about. You’ll just be confirming something the Lord has already been discussing with me.
The Lord will use people around us to confirm that He is or is not calling us to do something. We need each other. We need to be accountable to one another. The Lord has placed us together so we can help and encourage one another so we can instruct and correct one another; to keep us from doing something senseless and disastrous to ourselves and to the Kingdom of God.
Acts 21:15 – “After this, we got ready and went up to Jerusalem,”
Paul is going on to Jerusalem to finish his race with joy and to complete the task the Lord has given him to do and we’re going along with him. Lord willing, we’ll pick this up again next Tuesday. Encourage someone else to get in God’s Word with Pasto Buj.