Yesterday I was reading in the book of Acts and was struck by this question the Holy Spirit put on my heart.
Acts 20;22-24 (KJV) And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there. Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither do count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
The KJV can sometimes have a lesser impact because of the style of writing....I want it to hit home with you so I am including the same text as written in the Living Bible.
And now I am going to Jerusalem, drawn there irresistible by the Holy Spirit, not knowing what awaits me, except that the Holy Spirit has told me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead. But life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned to me by the Lord Jesus- the work of telling others the Good News about God's mighty kindness and love.
WOW! This is powerful and there are many lessons to learn in these few verses. Let me share with you what the Holy Spirit shared with me.
1.) Paul's mind was made up- Prior to sharing what the Holy Spirit shared with him, concerning what awaited him, Paul states "I am going to Jerusalem, bound in the Spirit. and not our intentions. It is wise to have your convictions settled prior to facing the moment of decision, that fork in the road. When we are in a crisis, we tend to make emotional decisions instead of decisions based on the wisdom of God.
2.) Paul states he was constrained by the Holy Spirit or, as in the KJV, bound in the Spirit. Paul was fully submitted to the leading of the Holy Spirit. When we submit to the Holy Spirit, we follow His path, not our own. I don't know what was going through Paul's mind, but looking at the character of the Apostle Paul in many other situations, and the words used here, I doubt that Paul considered any other option. I was thinking that when we are "bound" to something, we are dependent on someone else, are we not? If my hands and feet are bound then I must depend on someone else to transport me where I need to go, to carry out basic everyday tasks. (If you have ever had broken legs or arms then you have experienced dependence in some degree. When we are bound in the Spirit, then we are dependent upon the Spirit for every need.
3.) Paul was not moved (detoured) by the words of the Holy Spirit "in every city, imprisonment and afflictions await me." I hope I could pass such a test. We often look for detours to get us out of a tough situation. If there is too much traffic we seek a detour around it, we delay medical tests or avoid them all together because we know what awaits us (i.e. a colonoscopy! :). We avoid certain people because we don't want to talk to them. This is our human nature, if there is a way out, we will find it. Now, that is not all bad- but do you see my point? If the Holy Spirit delivered the news to us that He delivered to Paul, would we be steadfast, unmovable?
4.) Paul did not count his life of any value or precious to himself. - We see them theme throughout the other books of the Bible that were written by Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Paul is not speaking of a self esteem issue, when he says he does not count his life of any value. Instead he understands that when He became a Christian, he died to self. In Galatians 2:29 Paul states the following:
I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
5.) Paul looked at things through an eternal perspective- Paul ends these verses by sharing what was driving him to go, in spite of what lied ahead. In verse 24 he states that he wants to finish the course and the ministry that was given to him by God. Paul wanted to finish well. Paul also understood that his mission was not of his own doing, but rather this ministry was given to him by God. It wasn't his mission to decide if he would go, or any other decision. Rather, he obeyed his Master, the One who gave him the mission.
America is living in dark days right now. Christians are having their freedoms taken from them in record speed. We must be prepared. Paul said in vs 24 "But none of these things (the afflictions and imprisonments) move me. What would it take to move us. Let's stand steadfast in our convictions, submitted to the Holy Spirit and have an eternal perspective that we might stand firm even in the toughest of times and finish the race hearing our Master say "Well done" !
I Corinthians 15:58- Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
To God be the glory!