Last night in Acts, we covered 70 verses (2 whole chapters). I didn’t have time to read every single verse, but we got through the whole thing!
We saw a big transition take place in Acts 21:27 when the Jews found Paul in the Temple, grabbed him, and dragged him out. From that point on, through the end of the Book of Acts, Paul is a prisoner (an “ambassador in chains” as he calls himself in Ephesians 6:20). At first glance, that might seem like a bad thing, but not to Paul – God had blessed him with an all-new prison ministry (read Philippians 1 for his thoughts about that!)! He wasn’t chained to guards – the guards were chained to him!
The thing that stood out to me about his arrest is that he knew it would happen. Right before he rolled into Jerusalem, something interesting had happened at Philip’s house in Caeserea. A prophet named Agabus had shown up, yanked Paul’s belt off of him, hog tied himself, then prophesied that the owner of the belt would be bound in that way by the Jews in Jerusalem.
It’s not much of a puzzle who he’s referring to – he had just grabbed the belt from Paul.
Paul’s friends had the natural response – they begged Paul not to go to Jerusalem.
Paul had the normal Paul response – he told them to quit crying because he was ready not only to be bound, but to die if need be (Acts 21:13). I love his attitude. He knew God had called him there, and no matter what happened, he would obey. Those prophecies were not prohibition, but preparation.
What happened next is key. Read it for yourself…
14 So when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, “The will of the Lord be done.” 15 And after those days we packed and went up to Jerusalem. 16 Also some of the disciples from Caesarea went with us and brought with them a certain Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we were to lodge. – Acts 21:14-16
Did you catch what happened?!
2 things happened as Paul stepped out in faith and obedience:
1) His friends rested in God’s sovereignty (vs. 14 – “The will of the Lord be done.”)
2) His friends stepped out in faith (vs. 15-16 – the very men who tried to talk him out of going ended up joining him!)
Paul’s courageous faith in the Lord was contagious to those around him.
That’s the faith we’re all called to have. Many of us often say that God provides, but what people really need to see is us putting feet on that faith. If you believe that God can provide and is in control, live like it! Your courageous faith in the Lord may be exactly what someone else needs to see to encourage them to trust the Lord as well.
God knew we needed these examples of faith – you can tell by how the Bible was written. Just imagine the libraries that God could have filled with books about creation and the Flood! He could have explained how and why He made the animals, and described what it was like seeing things come to life by His words. He could have gone into far more detail about the Flood that ravaged the Earth. Instead, He summed all of that up in just the first 11 chapters in the book of Genesis, and spent that latter 38 discussing the daily events of just a few men of faith (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph). We learn by example. Others are looking to you for that example.
Does your faith have any substance to back it up? Is your faith courageous faith or comfortable faith?
Anyone can have sit-back-and-chill, comfortable faith, but no one is really interested in that, honestly.
People are inspired by, and need to see confident, courageous faith. That kind of faith is contagious!