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Life Laid Down

Acts 21:09-14 

“The next stop after leaving Tyre was Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and sisters and stayed for one day. The next day we went on to Caesarea and stayed at the home of Philip the Evangelist, one of the seven men who had been chosen to distribute food. He had four unmarried daughters who had the gift of prophecy.”

10 Several days later a man named Agabus, who also had the gift of prophecy, arrived from Judea. 11He came over, took Paul’s belt, and bound his own feet and hands with it. Then he said, “The Holy Spirit declares, ‘So shall the owner of this belt be bound by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and turned over to the Gentiles.’” 12 When we heard this, we and the local believers all begged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.

13 But he said, “Why all this weeping? You are breaking my heart! I am ready not only to be jailed at Jerusalem but even to die for the sake of the Lord Jesus.” 14 When it was clear that we couldn’t persuade him, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.”

This has always been a fascinating part of Paul's Journey for me. Paul, who knows what he’s called to do, is intercepted by a known prophet within this community of Caesarea and is warned against doing what God is calling him to do. 

Clearly, because we know how Paul’s story ends this prophetic word is accurate in its foretelling.

 Why then, would it be necessary for God to inspire Agabus to say this when it will only make the inevitable harder for Paul and the people who love him. 

I have often thought in the past that maybe Agabus was hearing a truth that wasn't necessary to share at this point in time with anyone else, and Agabus just was not mature enough to keep it to himself. As for all of us, myself included, God will sometimes share things to me that are meant to be “just for me”. I have found that when I share one of those “Just for me revelations” corporately it can cause more confusion than anything else. This could be an adequate explanation except for the fact of who Agabus was. After further study of Agabus, I can see that he was not just a man with the gift of prophecy as described in verse nine about Philip’s four daughters. No, Agabus was recognized as a man who held the office of prophet (like Elijah in the Old Testament) just as Paul was recognized as an apostle. Therefore Agabus was most likely a very mature and reasoned person, who demonstrated self control in how he ministered his gift. In which case I do believe Agabus was supposed to hear this word from God and then deliver it as he did publicly to Paul. This then brings me back to the original question: why is it necessary to do this to Paul publicly, and make what is an already hard mission, that much more heart wrenching? 

Well, remember in Matthew 16 when Jesus was telling the disciples that when He went to Jerusalem that He would be arrested by religious leaders, handed over to Rome and crucified? Do you remember what His disciples told Him in response, especially Peter? Of course, we all remember the harsh response Jesus gives Peter in return to Peter's objection. “Get behind me satan”. 

The disciples, like the believers at Caesarea, could not separate God’s will from the way they “felt” their beloved leader should respond to God’s call. This as a follower of Jesus is important to recognize, especially if you are called to lead God’s people as you follow Jesus. 

If you are going to be radically obedient to God, there are going to be times where you will also have to defy the protest of well meaning people. 

I believe this is the reason God allowed Agabus to prophesy to Paul such a foreboding word. It was a final test for Paul to prove the motive of his heart. Thankfully, Paul had decided long ago that he was ready to face death in order to be fully committed to God. 

This is a truly, beautiful moment where Paul can very easily change his mind about his itinerary. He could stay in Caesarea, continue to preach the gospel there, building a big and vibrant Church. No one would think any less of him, and most people would call him wise for doing so. The only problem is that’s not what Paul is called to do and he knows that. Paul understands that if he walks away from the call because of fear of imprisonment, then he has to live the rest of his life imprisoned in the regret of not following Jesus wholeheartedly. So, he refuses to take the coward's way out, and he continues on with his call to eventually become a martyr for the Gospel. GLORY! 

Paul knows fully what I am still learning as a young, but committed minister of the Gospel. Our lives are precious gifts given to us by God that we should never take for granted. The most profound way we can steward the gift of life God has given us, is to turn around and give our lives right back to Him. No matter what it might cost us personally, relationally or otherwise. There is no higher way to honor Jesus then to give Him full rights to your life, despite what others think about it. 

God is calling each and every one of us who identify as followers of Christ to fully count the cost of what He has called us to. When we do that, we will see that His call is worth spending our lives for. 


Pastor John

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