On His Way

Tuesday, September 9, 2014, 11:28 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “Seek the Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Acts 21:1-22:16 (quoting selected verses in the NIV). I will summarize some of this passage due to the length.

On To Jerusalem

Paul was on his way to Jerusalem, because he was compelled by the Holy Spirit to go there. He did not know what would happen to him there. He only knew that in every city the Holy Spirit testified to him that prison and hardships were facing him. He said:

“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” ~ Ac. 20:24 ESV​

In Caesarea, on his way to Jerusalem, Paul encountered a prophet named Agabus. He had come from Judea.

He took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’”

When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. 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 he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.” ~ Ac. 21:11-14 NIV​

Paul was not concerned about whether or not he might lose his life. He had a calling of God upon his life. He had already died to self and sin, and had chosen to follow Christ with his life. What was of upmost importance to him was that he finish the course the Lord Jesus had laid out for him, and that he complete the ministry he had received from Jesus, which was to testify to the gospel of God’s grace. Amen! He was ready to die for the name of the Lord Jesus, if necessary, in order to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of this world. Amen! May that always be the attitude of my heart.

In Jerusalem

Some Jews from Asia saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up a whole crowd of people and they seized him. Then they brought false charges against him. The whole city was aroused. They seized Paul, dragged him from the temple, and they tried to kill him. The commander of the Roman troops showed up, so the people stopped beating Paul. Paul was arrested and bound in chains. The commander ordered that Paul be taken to the barracks. As Paul was about to be taken into the barracks, he asked permission to speak to the people. The commander then granted him permission, and Paul began speaking.

Paul gave his testimony. He had been just as zealous for God as many of the people with whom he was speaking. He had persecuted believers in Jesus Christ to their death. In fact, he was on his way to Damascus to bring Christ’s followers as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished when the Lord Jesus stopped him and changed his plans drastically.

“‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked.

“‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.

“‘What shall I do, Lord?’ I asked.

“‘Get up,’ the Lord said, ‘and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.’ My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me.

“A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there. He stood beside me and said, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very moment I was able to see him.

“Then he said: ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard. And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’ ~ Ac. 22:10-16 NIV​

I love this testimony, don’t you? I find such encouragement in this and such hope for those who now seem so far away from the Lord. If God can take a murderer of Christians and turn him around and make him one of the strongest and most influential proponents of the gospel of Jesus Christ, then he can change anyone, even some we could not possibly imagine would ever be saved. With man this is impossible, but with God this is possible. This gives me much hope for people I am praying for.

The Response

Paul was “on his way” to arrest, persecute, and possibly kill more followers of Christ when he encountered Jesus Christ “on the way” and the Lord radically altered his life and mission forever. His testimony serves as a wonderful encouragement to us as to the power of God to transform any human life and to bring them into submission to our Savior and Lord.

Paul was “on his way” to Jerusalem when he bore testimony to the fact that his life was given over to Jesus Christ and to completing the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. He was ready to be bound and to die for the sake of Christ and his gospel, if necessary. He would not be deterred. He did not consider his life more precious than the life of Christ and the lives of those to whom he must share the only hope for their lives. His life and testimony serve as a wonderful example for us in dying to self, in service to our Lord, in love for our fellow humans, and in the commitment to taking the gospel to the ends of the earth, even if it costs us our lives.

Paul was “on his way” to the barracks when he received permission to speak to the people. He shared his testimony of how Jesus Christ saved him from his sins and radically transformed his life. He did not try to fight off his persecutors nor did he resist arrest. He didn’t just stand around and grumble and complain that he was being treated unfairly, either. Instead, he seized the opportunity to share his testimony with the people who were persecuting him. His life and witness serve as a wonderful example for us in how we should respond to our persecutors and to unfair and unjust treatment.

What are we “on our way” to? Are we even going anywhere? Are we following the Lord Jesus Christ in obedience, and are we taking his gospel of salvation to people? Have we died to sin and self, and are we willing to literally die for the sake of Christ and his gospel? Have we given Jesus our all? How do we respond to persecution? Do we seize opportunities to share Christ with those who oppose us? Or, are we guilty of opposing Christ ourselves?

Seek the Lord / An Original Work / July 20, 2012
Based off Isaiah 55

“Come to Me all you who thirst; come to waters.
Listen to Me, and eat what’s good today,
And your soul will delight in richest of fare.
Give ear to Me, and you will live.
I have made an eternal covenant with you.
Wash in the blood of the Lamb.”

Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him.
Let the wicked forsake his way, in truth.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will receive mercy.
Freely, God pardons him.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the Lord, our God.

“My word that goes out of My mouth is truthful.
It will not return to Me unfulfilled.
My word will accomplish all that I desire,
And achieve the goal I intend.
You will go in joy, and be led forth in peace.
The mountains will burst into song… before you,
And all of the trees clap their hands.”