Scripture For Today: Acts 20:16 – 21:15
“Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done. And after those days we took up our carriages, and went up to Jerusalem.”
Finishing is admired in almost every field of endeavor. We honor the Olympian who finishes the marathon in pain and obvious defeat, counting the completion as a victory even if no medal is received on that day. I want to encourage you to finish your course in obedience to God even when the pain is searing and death is certain. To finish is far better than to disobey!
“A martyrs death in obedience to God is far better than the honor of good men in disobedience to God.”
Paul has finished his final missionary journey as a free man. He has preached the gospel to thousands, seen uncountable multitudes redeemed for the glory of God, planted numerous churches, and discipled many believers, training them to take the leadership in the Church of Jesus Christ. A life of great accomplishment and one that would lead meany to expect certain comforts and fruits in the days ahead. But God had different plans for Paul. Paul was hurrying to get to Jerusalem because God had burdened him to be there for the celebration of the passover. Paul did not know what task God had for him or what was to be expected from him there except that he would face persecution. “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.” Acts 20:22-23. As Paul makes his way to Jerusalem he used each layover in transportation to visit with churches and servants of God that had been impacted by his ministry in the years gone by. At these stops two things happened; those he visited expressed their appreciation and love for the impact he had in their lives, and he was constantly warned of the trouble that faced him in Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit was preparing Paul for the trial of great affliction and martyrs death that was ahead for him and was leading him to abandon himself even unto death. Along with the preparation of the Holy Spirit was the temptation to over ride God’s plan and choose that which was esteemed by man more valuable. At each stop Paul could have used the love and appreciation expressed for him as an excuse to avoid Jerusalem and what waited for him there. He could have begun to think, as many were encouraging him to, that to go and face persecution and death would be a waste of his life and would rob the world of his ministry! But Paul choose obedience over safety, freedom, and comfort. He was determined to obey God and was prepared to face any cost to finish the course that God had started him on. At his last stop Paul gave his final answer and chose obedience over safety as he rejected the temptation offered and placed himself in the hands of God for whatever was ahead. “Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done. And after those days we took up our carriages, and went up to Jerusalem.” Acts 21:13-15. The decision was made; obedience to God over the logic of man and the temptation of comfort and security. He went to Jerusalem following God’s path for his life.
Paul might never have finished the prison epistles had he continued to live at the pace of ministry God had given him over the years. You might never learn what value is to be had in the years after your departure from your obedience at any cost. But if your life is to count and be finished well, you must determine to obey the leadership of God in the face of the logic of man, even when God’s way will certainly lead to suffering and death. Dear Christian, obey God and triumph in Christ. Serve men but do not be hindered by their love for you. A martyrs death in obedience to God is far better than the honor of good men in disobedience to God. Press on at any cost!