Day 38~ Acts 19 & 21
Sometimes I think it can be hard to interpret what the Holy Spirit is telling me! I wanna be more like Paul! He was confident that he heard from God!!
God speaks to us in several ways; through His word (2 Tim 3:17), fellow Christians (Prov. 11:14, 27:9) and also through prayer. He may just place a burden on your heart that you know is from him. (John 10:2-5, Romans 12:2)
Yet, if I had been in Paul’s shoes (sandals) I would have been confused and gone back and forth about this trip to Jerusalem!
Paul was “compelled by the Sprite” to go to Jerusalem (20:21), even though the Holy Spirit also warned him that he would be facing prison and hardship (20:23). Christian friends in Tyre and Caesarea urged him not to go. In fact, Luke writes that it was “Through the Spirit” that they urged him not to go! (21:4) Wouldn’t that get you to second guess yourself?
I just read in Proverbs the other day, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” (12:15) I think I would have pulled that scripture out of my back pocket to convince myself I was not to go to Jerusalem. Wouldn’t you feel that this proverb and the wise counsel from your friends would be enough to keep you from doing something you thought God was telling you to do? I would! As a result, I would have been caught in the “paralysis of analysis” and miss out on what God wanted for me.
HOWEVER, even though I tend to stick with the more concrete ways to hear God (scripture and friends), I am reminded that God also speaks to my heart directly since the Holy Spirit lives in me, and this story is a perfect example! Paul, “knelt down with all of them and prayed” (20:36) Paul knew this “compelling” was from the Holy Spirit and he obeyed. I find it impressive that Paul did not allow the other factors (that seemed good and right) to dissuade him. In fact, it is possible that the warnings he received from his Christian brothers had strengthened his resolve. At first he says, “I am going to Jerusalem not knowing what will happen to me there.”(20:22). But after seeing the visual Agabus gave him in 21:11, he knew exactly what would happen. How sweet of the Holy Spirit to give Paul a look into the future so he could be mentally prepared and ready for what was to come.
Even though I don’t know a prophet that can give me a heads up on the outcome of a decision I need to make, I can still rest in the same knowledge that Paul had, “The Lord’s will be done.” (21:14 & Proverbs 16:1,3,9 & 33). I need to remember that Jesus can and does “compel” me to do things that ultimately honor him. My job is to trust Him and act in that faith. Thanks for the lesson, Paul!