“And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus. And when he was come unto us, he took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem. 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 21:10-15
Father in Jesus Name I pray thanking You for today, for tonight, for right now. Lord, show me what You might be speaking to me about. Holy Spirit illuminate my eyes and heart. Show me Lord, what it is that You desire of me. Help me to be filled with the Spirit, passion and leadership. Let my life shine brighter because of this. Fill me Lord, fill me till I overflow and have no choice but to change others lives, because of You and the fullness that You have bestowed to me and in me in Jesus name! AMEN!
How often do we see people sold out for Christ and wonder, how in the world can they even be there. If we are not careful, our desire for that can cause us to be angry and manipulative. We can become critical, jealous and even envious not wanting a person to be so dedicated to the cause of Christ. Throughout the Bible we see people filled with passion, sincerity and an outrageous desire to know, serve and love God. How do you get “there?” Is there even a “there” to get too? How in the world can I, a sinful, and living in sin and in bondage to sin person get to the level of passion that these people had?
When it comes to this text we can glean many truths from it (what do you already see?), first of all we see a Prophet named Agabus coming to warn Paul of coming persecution if he goes to Jerusalem to preach the Gospel. However, more importantly, we see Agabus fulfilling his calling by the Spirit of God. Earlier in the book of Acts we see him coming to the Church and telling them about a great famine that was about to hit the world. (Acts 11:27-30) Filled with the Spirit Agabus begins to prophesy that in the famine the whole world was going to be severely famished and malnourished. Agabus however was not just warning the Church, but he was fulfilling the scripture which tells us to: “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” (Hebrews 10:24) As Agabus prophesied the Church of Jesus Christ stood up and made a choice to go and send relief to those in need, that’s what the Church is supposed to do, fulfill needs of people while serving God. Whatever we do to man, we do to God. Jesus tells us: “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40) As we see the Church moving forward, Agabus disappears, he doesn’t strive for competition, recognition, financial gain or anything else, he simply did the will and work of God not desiring or doing it for hidden and unseen reasons.
In the passage of scripture we see that Agabus is back, but it’s not for prosperity. Agabus again comes with a divine warning from God, sometimes God will warn you through people, sometimes through circumstances, sometimes through the Word of God, but rest assured the warnings of God are faithful and true. When God warns us of something, we are being given a sure sign it can come to pass and more importantly to pray that we have victory and don’t succumb and fall victim to the problem/temptation. Agabus was different from the prophets of today, we don’t see him prophesying about the miracles, blessings and abundance of money that will flow from the pockets of God to the purses of men, we just don’t see that. Agabus was what the Bible calls a “prophet.” He was serious, he was real, and he was a prophet of God, not concerned about the message or men’s reactions.
Agabus steps up to Paul and shows him a leather girdle, placing it on him saying that whoever goes to Jerusalem would be bound just like that. Interestingly, Paul isn’t too shocked, but the Church is. The Church didn’t want him to go and Paul was inwardly being dulled to his devotion because of others. Sometimes the opinions of people will detour your walk with God and stop the passion that you desire to flow. After-all, how can you grow closer to God in a club, and who goes alone? When Paul is warned and the Church is crying out to him not to go, Paul says “why are you weeping and trying to break my heart?” Paul began to explain to them that he was serious; he was ready to die for Jesus Christ and was not worried about the outcome of what would take place. Paul was on a whole nother’ level. How do we get there though, how can we do it? How can we replace our desires for sin and replace them with a desire to know, serve and love God with passion, confidence and in hot pursuit of the God who pursued us? What does it take? Though there is so much we can gain from this text, we see Paul in a usual manner in an unusual circumstance. Paul was no stranger to persecution or problems and he obviously went through enough to stand strong and not even care about the outcome, the only care was “is the will of God really being done in my life?” Have you thought about that lately? Have you considered your life and wondered, “Is the will of God being done in my life?” If so, that’s a good thing, but within this text there are three things we can focus on that help us achieve a level of passion that is incomparable and indestructible.
1) Commitment – While gazing in this passage of scripture, we can see that Paul was fully committed to the work of God. Paul wasn’t being shifted or shaken, even by well-meaning members of the Church. We have to understand that they weren’t trying to hinder him from the will of God; they simply were caring for him and not wanting him to be involved in trouble; they deeply loved Paul. Let love abide. Most of the time when you take a stand for God, you get in trouble with people. Many times when you begin to pursue God people have a problem because your newfound change and lifestyle proves that they aren’t doing what they know they should be doing. People often can hinder us from fulfilling the will of God, people can say “oh, you’re too deep,” “you’re too serious, you’re in Church too much, oh here you go with that Bible stuff again.” These types of actions and slander from people are evidences that the work of God is being done in your heart to such a degree that it is deeply penetrating the hearts of people who with all respects, can’t do anything but persecute, until they submit to Gods will in their life. Paul said “I am going, no matter what.”
Are you committed to something? Has God asked you to join a local ministry at your Church? Have you joined it? Have you taken the step to go to prayer and Bible study? You may be comfortable with singing and God wants to use you as a youth worker. What is your commitment level? Your commitment level dictates your passion for God. Whatever you are committed to proves your love and devotion to that thing. What are you committed too in life, is it God or things? Sometimes we can develop a discontent spirit in serving God and want to stop, we don’t see changes so we want to quit, but that doesn’t make a difference at all. We see Paul stopping at nothing, not even the threat of persecution and pending death. In this text we see Paul striving for his own words to be fulfilled: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10) He knew that suffering was a form of being made conformed to the image of Christ. (Romans 8:29) Paul knew that in order to see and know Christ and the power of His resurrection, partaking of Christ’s suffering had to take place and he was willing to pay the price.
2) Paying the Price – When it comes to a statement like that, what do you think as to Christianity? We might think something different for a nice pair of shoes or some new slacks, but what about with the Lord? What’s that mean to you when it comes to your walk with God? Is there a price to pay? Absolutely, there is a cost to be a follower of Christ. Many of us have enlisted in the army, but have neglected boot camp, training and the duties of it. What’s our problem? A little trouble and we run back to liquor, to the ex and to the things of this world, trying to find comfort in something uncomfortable. That stuff won’t heal or help you, stop running to it. A man came to Jesus one time and boasted about his devotion, he said “man, I’ll follow you wherever you go; I’m just deep like that.” (Matthew 8:19-20) We see Jesus reply back with a strange remark: “the foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests, but the son of man hath not where to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20) In other words, Jesus was explaining, though outward commitment and passion is seen in our lips, Jesus knew there was a cost. Jesus was telling this man that it takes much more than lip service to be devoted, it takes consecration, it takes being willing to be separated from things to be joined to God.
Jesus Christ made no mistake in telling the absolute truth. We often grow up in Church and think Church is Christ-likeness, not realizing that it takes more than a good Church attendance to be saved or be real for Christ. We can’t get Church confused with Christ, so many times we can become so traditional with Church that we can drive they’re with our eyes shut, read the program and fall asleep with our eyes open. We can get to the point where we don’t even listen to the sermon; we are too busy texting, on Facebook and on Twitter. What is the price you are willing to pay? That’s what Jesus is asking today? Paul was willing to give up his entire life? What are you willing to give up? Would you give up the desire for the new car? Would you give up the future mate or the mate you have now? Would you give up the unequally yoked relationship? Would you give up your spare time? Would you give up your ridicule and slander of people that are real with Christ? What will you give up? There’s a cost to pay to be passionate about God and unless you are willing to release things, you can never achieve it. You have to be committed and willing to pay the price, but you also have to have a purpose.
1) Purpose – When we hear purpose in Church we can get our flesh to be so happy, we think of the new cars, the white picket fence house and the new business and overflowing level of finances, but that’s not always what God wants. God doesn’t always want you to have everything, a majority of the time He proves that by not allowing you to get what you want. God shuts doors and God opens doors. You didn’t get the job? Try somewhere else, maybe Gods plan didn’t need you in that avenue. That’s how we must be in order to have a passion; we have to be devoted to Gods plan. It’s too easy to be devoted to our plan. I wanna goto the store, in Jesus name! It’s so easy to say I want to buy this, but it’s so hard to say I want to do the will of God by praying for others and studying the Bible; I want to fulfill the purposes of God in my life. That’s the proof it’s needed and necessary, the “hardness” of doing it. The purposes of God are found in the Bible. God tells us and gives us the instructions of being a Christian witness, a living Epistle. When people see you can they read certain scriptures of the Bible? Can people get a good glimpse of what and who God is?
What do people think when they see you? Do they see you texting in Church, while not even paying attention or caring? Trust me on this, people are watching you and people are following what you are doing. Are you leading people to Christ or are you not? Are you leading someone to a pit? Your influence proves whether you are doing it. These answers will bring freedom, when confessed with the truth. If you have a problem in the area of representing God, acting like you don’t isn’t the solution, that’s the problem. Our confession of our problems in representing Him will bring us greater victory and achievement in life. God wants people to know Him, because of you. You are Gods representative in this world. You are the light that people will be drawn too. (Matthew 5:16) When people walk into your life are they changed? Do they leave your life and think “thank God.” Do you have Atheists thanking God because you didn’t call them today or you didn’t text them in a while? Jesus is depending on you to represent Him. In this text we see Paul committed, willing to pay the price, but devoted to the furtherance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Has God impacted your life? Has God given you another chance and filled you with His Spirit?
If so, that’s your cue to start changing the world around you for Jesus. You might be saying “well, I’m not a preacher.” You don’t have to be a preacher, you don’t have to have money, you don’t have to have influence, and you don’t have to be heard by everyone. All of that is what we think we need to change the world, but you don’t need that at all. God delights in using nothing to make something. When the world was created, He created it from nothing. In order to change the world, He takes nothing (you and me) and He fills us with His Spirit when we accept His Son and says “go!” What are you waiting on? You are so special to God. You have so much potential. You have people watching you. Your level of passion is seen in your level of wanting souls to come to Christ and your wanting of souls is dictated and easily seen by what you do in your daily life. Represent the God who represented you when sin was everywhere, all in your life, sending you to hell. God steps into your life, changes your life so you can change someone else’s life. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t gotten a compliment for singing in a while or you didn’t hear a good job on the prayer you prayed, it doesn’t matter, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t impacting. Most people who are impacted about your life in Christ will never tell you, it’s a secret work God is doing in someone’s heart through your life. Represent Him well, He created the Universe and can use angels, but you are so beautiful, special, loving and amazing that God said “I want you to show Me to the world.”
With the passion of Christ, we are developed, trained and pursued by God. Have you ever thought of how many times God has spoken to your heart, compelling you to come closer to Him? That’s no chance, that’s no coincidence. God has a work for you to do and only you can do it, jealousy isn’t a factor when this is fully realized. You are special, but can you be committed to what you can do for God, can you do more? You are special, but can you pay the price, will you pay the price? You are special, but will you fulfill your purpose even if it means not being rich, selling a million records, and having a new mate? Would you still serve God with nothing in your pockets and hands? In all seriousness all of this is summed up in this statement: “is Jesus worth it to you?”
Father in the name of Jesus we come to You thankful, thankful that You give us an outline for life, a blueprint for problems and a Word for any situation. Holy Spirit, it’s time. Holy Spirit, it’s time for me to be closer, it’s time for me to draw near to God so He can draw near to me. Holy Spirit, I can’t do this alone, work in my heart now to bring me into the fullness of the plan of God in my life. Pastor me, Holy Spirit, Pastor me, show me what to do, where to go, how to get there. Holy Spirit, I will pay the price, I will be committed, I will serve the plan of God and I will fulfill the purpose that Jesus requires of me. Lord, let my life shine and bring souls to You, even when I don’t think it’s taking place, let people be drawn to You. Let my life be one of surrender, sacrifice and the blessings of that. Lord, fill me with peace in storms, prove that You can take me through situations, prove to me that You are worthy. Show me Lord, that You are worthy, show me how to get through this valley. Help me Lord, I don’t know how, please show me so I can go and do what You want. Free me from the bondage that stops me, whatever it is, cut it all the way out of my life, I will pay the price. I thank You for Your grace, love, devotion to me and Your willingness and eagerness to have me on Your side. I love You and thank You so much for the grace that is lavished on me in Jesus name! AMEN!