Read This Week: Acts 21

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.” – Acts 21:12-14 NIV

Sometimes in life, there will be causes, purposes, and endeavors that will feel so vital and necessary that nothing and no one will be able to stop us from pursuing them. We will lay aside all inhibition, fear, and hesitation to make sure we can accomplish what we feel God is calling us to do. When compelled to go, we will go to great lengths to be on mission.

The posture and attitude described above are the exact conditions of the heart of Paul in Acts 21. He desired to go to Jerusalem and deliver the love offering from his third missionary journey and unify the church in Judea. However, his friends told him that a visit there would be hard and even dangerous. But Paul knew this because the believers had been saying to him repeatedly for a while not to step foot in the city. Verse 12 says:

When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. 

This pointed plea and repeated warnings would not deter Paul from His mission and the plan God had for his life. He knew that his presence in Jerusalem could create issues for the church, but God revealed His will to him, and nothing was going to prevent him from going and sharing the good news of Jesus. He is, in fact, the same person who wrote in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” His words to the disciples in verse 13 are powerfully similar:

“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.”

Paul’s faith and resolve in this chapter beg some questions for the modern-day believer and follower of Christ. What compels us to be on mission? What would it take to stop us from doing what God has definitively called us to do? How do we gain such confidence in the Lord’s work? 

The answers to these questions don’t have to come at one time and don’t always have to be evident. That is where our faith in God’s perfect will comes in. That is where our trust in His heart, character, and goodness takes precedence over our human frailty and unbelief. That is where our love for Christ and the gospel overtakes any obstacle presented to us in life. That is when, like Paul, we can’t be dissuaded and say as he did no matter what, “The Lord’s will be done.” That is when we’re compelled to go.

8 Comments

  1. Ken on March 9, 2021 at 10:35 am

    Being right in the middle of God’s will, on mission, on track with God is an adventure that every Christian is called to experience, dive into and see God’s miracles. The challenge is to say yes and to not rationalize and fall captive to doubt, fear, or to be led astray by others. Staying focused on God and the mission is paramount. Remember that God will give you what you need when you need it, tell you what you need to know when you need to know it, and make a way when there seems to be no way. This is the life in the Spirit, the way you put feet to your faith and prove who you are in Christ, completely trusting God and expecting His miracles. What an exciting adventure God has for each of us. I want to encourage you to dive in, the water is fine.

    • Jason on March 15, 2021 at 4:07 pm

      I think you absolutely hit the nail on the head with this comment, Ken: The challenge is to say yes and to not rationalize and fall captive to doubt, fear, or to be led astray by others. Staying focused on God and the mission is paramount.

      The frailty of human thinking and rationalization seems to always be the key to trusting God. But, as you said, when we do, we taste the good life and the adventure of knowing and following Jesus.

  2. Kathy on March 10, 2021 at 11:07 am

    In reading Acts 21, the verses that stood out to me were verses 12 to 16. This is what God was saying to me, “If I place a command in your heart to do something, be obedient to it and not rebel against it. I want you to choose to do My will even if it involves suffering. I will give you the strength to endure anything you go through as long as you rely on Me. Do not judge My will for someone else, and try to dissuade them from their mission. You are called to follow Jesus and be conformed to the image of My Son. Trust in Me!”

    What this said to me, we all have our own mission to do for God. We are not to judge other’s missions and try to turn them away from what God has told them to do. We step out in faith to be obedient to God’s will for us, even if it involves suffering. Trust God. He will be with us always.

    • Jason on March 15, 2021 at 4:38 pm

      Wonderful post, Kathy. This line really convicted me and sums up perhaps our biggest struggle with being on mission:

      I want you to choose to do My will even if it involves suffering. I will give you the strength to endure anything you go through as long as you rely on Me.

      Choosing to follow God and being compelled to go even if it involves suffering is the biggest challenge. We instinctively don’t want to suffer, yet we can persevere through anything with God’s help. We’re not promised comfort or convenience but we are promised endurance, which is what we need to not only go but keep going and finish.

  3. Alma Dolores Schmidt on March 13, 2021 at 11:42 pm

    This week I got a song from Acts 21 called, “Growing”:

    Let’s grow together
    Growing, learning in the Spirit of the Lord
    Spreading his love in and through us

    We can grow, grow together
    Spreading his joy and peace
    Always having God with us in our hearts
    On our mind, sharing his love with everyone

    Let’s grow together
    Growing, learning in the Spirit of the Lord. Amen.

    When someone sees us with God spirit and his love in us I truly believe we shine shine shine. Let’s spread his goodness and shine bright.

    • Jason on March 15, 2021 at 4:30 pm

      I love this, Alma. This was my favorite part: Let’s grow together. Growing, learning in the Spirit of the Lord. Spreading his love in and through us. I pray that God will help us do just that. Your song reminded me of the word picture of growth in Psalm 1:2-3:

      But his delight is in the Law of the LORD, and on His law, he meditates day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither– whatever they do prospers.

  4. Heidi on March 14, 2021 at 10:04 am

    Acts 21:5 says, But when our time there was ended, we left and proceeded on our journey; and all of them with their wives and children accompanied us on our way till we were outside the city. There we knelt down on the beach and prayed.

    In our journey with God, it’s important to know first what that journey is, what Father God has called you to do, and what is God’s plans and purposes are. Then it’s so important to find people who love God, that will be praying for you and with you. Praying what is on God’s heart, encouraging you, and lifting you up.

    When you pray for someone, pray that they continue to seek God first, and continue to be listening to the Holy Spirit. Pray that they will be led by the Holy Spirit on what God the Father’s plans are for them.

    • Jason on March 15, 2021 at 4:50 pm

      This is so good, Heidi. Deep and easy to understand at the same time. This part read like a how-to guide for practically following God’s plan in our lives:

      It’s important to know first what that journey is, what Father God has called you to do, and what is God’s plans and purposes are.

      It is so important to seek God and know all of these things. I think this could be a spiritual template for our day-to-day decisions as well as the overall narrative of our lives and the opportunities the Lord puts in front of us to go and be apart of.

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