March 3, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Esther Kang, Gracepoint Berkeley.

Paul’s focus to go to Jerusalem is amazing despite the warning of him being bound and dying there. I was moved reading Paul’s speech to the crowds in Jerusalem in Acts 22.  “Brothers and Fathers, listen now to my defense…I am a Jew…brought up in this city.  Under Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers and was just as zealous for God as any of you are today..”  Apostle Paul came back to his home town and to his own people, to his brothers and fathers.  He comes sharing his heart and his story, hoping that they would listen to him.  You see Paul’s heart for his people who were taught the law, grew up in the temple, and did all the right things, through his determination to go to Jerusalem and to preach in the synagogue in every city that he traveled to.  Clearly, Paul has a heart for fellow Jews as he was one himself.  Paul’s life was transformed through God’s divine intervention. Why was Paul saved and not the other Pharisees at that time?  I can imagine with a sense of indebtedness, Paul shares his heart & tells his story with the people in Jerusalem. It’s his heart for his people that causes him to embrace whatever hardship, suffering, and even death that he’s going to face in order to preach to his people and to save some.

In the same way, I’m thankful that I am a part of InterHigh ministry.  My heart goes out to the students in churches without leaders to guide and teach them.  I remember when I was the oldest youth leading the 10 elementary school kids and youth kids.  As a youth, I thought I knew what Christianity was about though I felt like the biggest hypocrite because I had so many doubts.  But God answered my prayers and led me to our church where I could learn what Christianity was all about.  Now, I’m called to continue to preach to others and to tell my story.  I get the privilege to do this through Element and InterHigh ministry.  No matter the results or the response from others, I want to be faithful to the task that God’s given me.

Another thing that struck me was the fact that Paul’s mission to preach in Jerusalem was not an easy task.  Paul faced opposition from the Jews, who tried to kill him; and even from the disciples, who pleaded with Paul not to go to Jerusalem.

o   Acts 21:12 Disciples “pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem”

o   Acts 21:13 “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”

It’s interesting that the disciples are the ones who are urging and pleading with Paul not to go to Jerusalem.  The protective nature of love doesn’t want our loved one to be harmed, bound or to die.  Imagine, the people weeping over the thought of Paul being bound and killed.  How much this picture must break Paul’s heart?  He doesn’t want to see his loved ones cry.  However, for Apostle Paul, he’s not interested in a life of no pain.  Paul is READY to be BOUND and to DIE.  It’s amazing that Paul doesn’t allow the disciples words and tears to detract him from his purpose and calling to go to Jerusalem.  “I am ready not only to be bound, but also to DIE in Jerusalem.”

Jesus’ call to follow him is in invitation to lose our lives.   Luke 9:23-24 says, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”   I see how Satan can use even our loved ones and other Christians to get us to not follow Jesus by not denying ourselves and trying to save our lives.  All the more, I want to be like Apostle Paul, ready not only to be bound, but also to DIE.  I realize that there is so much of me still alive.  I still have my own preferences and I want comfort and control over my life.

It’s scary that our humanistic love and protective instinct goes directly against God’s will.  Our protective instinct of love wants people to not be bound or have to die.  I know that as a leader and a parent, I need to be careful that I don’t URGE or PLEAD people to protect themselves from a life of pain, of being more bound up or dying.  It’s easy for me to die and sacrifice more for God.  However, I want to spare others from this path of denying oneself and dying.  My leadership goes against the Jesus’ words in Luke 9:23-24.

Lord, I see that there is still so much of me alive., and that I am not ready to be bound or to die for your name.  Lord, I want to relinquish my life to follow you.  I want to die to my own life, my own agenda, and comforts.  I want my life to be used in whatever way you want for the name of the Lord Jesus.  Amen.


Submitted by Kevin Han, Gracepoint Davis

Acts 21: 4,5, 11

There were many who urged him not to go ahead to Jerusalem, because of the danger.  They all meant very well.  There were even prophets making it very clear in detail what was going to happen to him when he went there – Apostle Paul himself heard from the Lord that persecutions awaited wherever he went, and he must have had a pretty good idea that in Jerusalem he will face his death.  Yet he was not deterred.  In fact, he had to tell them that they were breaking his heart in trying to stop him.  By this time, Apostle Paul’s life, had been so surrendered to the Lord, that to live was to die and to die was gain.

Given that Jesus himself went to his death in obeying God and showing the good news to the people, Apostle Paul knew a servant cannot be greater than the master.  So he surrendered himself into this kind of life.  Have I esteemed God’s mission, his calling for my life to the point where giving up my physical life would be worth carrying out God’s command?  There’s this pattern that whenever I run into issues, my immediate reaction is to doubt God’s goodness and start thinking about the validity of his will/command – the mindset that if God ordained something, then I should be blessed and things must go well for me.  that’s not a Biblical thinking.  What Jesus commanded is that when I follow him, I would need to carry the cross – meaning to die in the end.  It’s to suffering that I am following Jesus, as he had suffered, even to die the most torturous death.  I really need to cross that point of faith where I fully embrace life of suffering as a part of my discipleship.

 

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