“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.”
~ Acts 21:13
Hi James and Ellen,
Do you make good decisions when you are feeling exhausted? Do you make good decisions when you have something that you think is so important that you cannot wait to tell another kid or a guy or gal what it is? Do you make good decisions when you feel like you have to be someplace by a certain time or on a certain date? Do you sometimes think that you have distinctly heard the still, quiet voice of God – as God the Spirit, telling you to go someplace or to do something? Acts 21 is about a guy who had to have been physically and emotionally drained. This guy was finishing his third missionary journey. The four years that the guy had been ‘on the road’ had been very fruitful. This guy was hoping to make it to the city of Jerusalem in time to participate in the annual celebration of the Day of Pentecost. This guy sincerely believed that God – as God the Spirit, was clearly directing him to go to the city of Jerusalem at this time. When the boat that this guy was on arrived in the city of Tyre to unload its cargo, the guy would stay in the city of Tyre for seven days. This guy would have some guys who were Christ-followers who God – as God the Spirit, told to tell this guy that he was not to go to city of Jerusalem. When this guy went on to the town of Caesarea, the guy had a Christ-follower guy – whose name was Agabus, demonstrate – by using his belt to tie him up, what was going to happen to him if he went on to the city of Jerusalem. This guy shrugged off the Christ-follower guys who confronted him during his seven days stay in the city of Tyre – when these guys told him what God – as God the Spirit, had told them to tell him – which was that he was not to go to the city of Jerusalem and then he shrugged off what Agabus – who God – as God the Spirit, sent to do through using his belt to tie up this guy to warn this guy what would happen to him if he continued on his trip to the city of Jerusalem. Your grandpaa knows that when he is really tired that it is not a good time for him to make a decision, that when everything seems to be going really well that this is not a good time for him to think about how well that he has been doing and that if he has to get to someplace by a certain time that it is not good for him to cut the time really close.
The guy who did not want to listen to the advice of some guys who were Christ-followers, who was willing to put in danger the lives of Christ-follower guys and gals who were living in the city of Jerusalem and who seemed to be bent on committing spiritual suicide was Paul. During the devotional time the last three summers when your grandpaa was scheduled to give a devotional during OC International’s annual internship activities, your grandpaa used Paul as an example to illustrate how perilous it is for a missionary to say ‘God – as God the Spirit, has told me to go someplace or do something’. Verse 13 even has Paul quite ready to die, “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.”’ When the moment arrived when it seemed quite apparent that Paul was going to be killed, Paul found a way to remain alive by saying that he was Jew from the town of Tarsus and that he had the right to speak out. What has really bothered your grandpaa is that when James – the half-bro of Jesus and the ascribed leader of the emerging Christ-follower community of guys and gals in the city of Jerusalem, asked Paul to go to the temple that was in the city of Jerusalem with four guys who had made a vow to be purified as they went through purification rites. James asked Paul to cover the costs of the four guys as well as to go through purification rites with the guys. What Paul would do was not necessarily wrong for him to do; Paul just had been all over Peter years earlier – which Paul recounted in his Galatians Letter, when Peter sided with some guys who were Jews versus accepting some guys who were Gentiles who had made decisions of faith under Paul’s teaching. Paul had not asked the guys who were Gentiles to jump through any kind of hoop to ‘prove’ that they were now true Christ-followers but Paul was quick to jump through James’ hoop to . . . your grandpaa thinks that Paul may have done what he did to receive James’ acceptance, approval and affirmation. James and the Christ-follower leaders in the city of Jerusalem did listen to Paul tell his story but when Paul finished telling his story, Paul had to listen to James and the Christ-follower leaders in the city of Jerusalem tell their stories – which was about the thousands of guys who became Christ-followers who were Jews but who still had a zealous desire to obey the law that had been annulled by Jesus’ death on a cross.
Paul going to the city of Jerusalem at this time resulted in him being beaten, confined for two years in a dank dungeon, no letters written and a missionary vocation put on hold. Your grandpaa had God – as God the Spirit, speak clearly to him one evening in His still, quiet voice after he read a short devotional to your Aunt Lynn – when your Aunt Lynn was less than two years old, of Jesus feeding five thousand guys plus gals and kids. The still, quiet voice of God – as God the Spirit, gave your grandpaa a promise how He was going to bless your grandmaa and grandpaa. God – as God the Spirit, has never spoken in His still, quiet voice to your grandmaa or grandpaa to tell them to do something specific or to go to someplace explicit. Your grandmaa and grandpaa have at times heard a guy or gal say that God – as God the Spirit, has spoken directly to him or her to do this or that. Your grandmaa and grandpaa are concerned when this same guy or gal will not listen to what God – as God the Spirit, could be saying to him or her through the advice of another guy or gal. If you do not want God to ever put your life on hold, you need to listen to what He – as God the Spirit, is saying to you through the advice of other Christ-follower guys and gals.
Acts 21 (743)