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#21 – Embracing Costly Obedience

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Acts Chapter 21, verses 10 through 13 describes a really interesting interchange as Paul was on his way to Jerusalem. So, verse 10 says, “While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea, and coming to us he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and says, ‘Thus says the Holy Spirit. This is how the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’ When we heard this, we and the people that urged Paul not to go up to Jerusalem.”

Then Paul answered. So listen to Paul’s response. He said, “What are you doing weeping and breaking my heart, for I am ready, not only to be imprisoned but even to die I Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Oh, Paul gets this prophecy that’s saying, hey, if you got to Jerusalem, you’re gonna be bound. You’re gonna be delivered over. So you got people urging him, don’t go, and Paul says, “I’m going. I’m ready to be imprisoned. I’m ready to die in Jerusalem for the name of Christ, if that’s what it means.”

Believers should resolve to obey, even when it’s costly, because Christ is worth it.

This resolve in Paul to say, “If Jesus is leading me to Jerusalem, I’m going, even if that means, even I know that means I might be imprisoned,” which indeed he was. He went to Jerusalem. His goal was to get to Rome, and he ended up getting there. Oh, but not the way he planned. He ended up getting there in chains. So Paul went to Jerusalem knowing that imprisonment was a real possibility, not knowing it was gonna be a reality, and yet he went anyway.

You know, I think about the way we sometimes think about God’s direction and God’s will for our life. We almost say, “Well, if it’s gonna be hard, we know it must not be God’s will for our life.” What if that’s actually part of how we know it is God’s will for our life? It’s not just that we seek after things that are hard or we seek after persecution even, but we know from all of scripture that, as we live in obedience to Christ, our mission as we share the gospel, that … well second, Timothy 3:12 makes clear everyone who wants to live a Godly life in Christ will be persecuted.

When Jesus announced his disciples in Mathew 10, He didn’t say, “If they persecute you,” He said, “When they persecute you,” so let’s just pray in our lives then for a resolve, a Paul-like resolve to obey Christ even when it’s costly. That’s going to look different in each of our lives, but it will be a reality in our lives at some point, if we are obeying Christ, we are proclaiming Christ.

So God, we pray help us. Help us we pray, to obey you even when it’s costly. God, I don’t even know the full identification of what that means in my own life, certainly not for other people’s lives who are listening to this, but God we pray for a trust in you like we see in Paul in Acts 21, a willingness to walk, to go wherever you lead, to do whatever you call us to do, a confidence in your provision, even when we know it will be hard. Lord, we pray for strength and courage in every one of our lives to obey you today and however you lead us in the days to come for the spread of your gospel and the glory of your name.

Help us, we pray. Please help me, help us not to shrink back when things get hard, not to be silent and not to walk away, to disobey you and your leadership in our lives. Help us to follow you even when we know it’s costly in the process to trust that you will show yourself faithful and strong and good on our behalf, just as you did for Paul as he walked into imprisonment.

I pray these things with humility, a sober mind in not knowing what this means for our lives, but knowing that you will be faithful. We pray these things in Jesus name. Amen.

David Platt serves as pastor at McLean Bible Church in Washington, D.C. He is the founder and chairman of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, Counter Culture, and Something Needs to Change.
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