February 17, 2012
i’ve been writing this week about the gift of the spirit the word of knowledge. as i said it very often goes hand in hand with the word of wisdom which i wrote about last week.
there are many instances in the new testament where the church exhibited the use of these two gifts, but the one i want to talk about today is found in acts 21. prior to chapter 21 we see paul’s final journey from to the churches. he was headed back to jerusalem and attempting to get back there by pentecost.
22) “and now, behold, bound by the spirit, i am on my way to jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23) except that the holy spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me.
now here paul knows that the holy spirit is testifying to him in every city what will happen to him when he gets to jerusalem yet he says he feels bound by the spirit to go to jerusalem. so let’s now look at acts 21.
acts 21: 4-6
4) after looking up the disciples, we stayed there seven days; and they kept telling paul through the spirit not to set foot in jerusalem. 5) when our days there were ended, we left and started on our journey, while they all, with wives and children, escorted us until we were out of the city. after kneeling down on the beach and praying, we said farewell to one another. 6) then we went on board the ship, and they returned home again.
ok, so here it says that the disciples through the spirit kept telling paul not to set foot in jerusalem. we saw that in every church of that last tour he was told through the spirit not to go to jerusalem.
this was a word of wisdom that was repeated to paul from the people of the various churches. the is repeated confirmation that he should not have gone to jerusalem. people in various locations which were long distances apart gave the same exact word of wisdom to paul. this is unity of the body.
but here is something to think about. paul himself said he was bound by the spirit. now i do not believe it could be both ways. but let me venture to guess that paul was doing what we all do from time to time. i believe he may have been sensing his own feelings and emotions and his own spirit and interpreting it as the holy spirit.
i don’t want to say that paul missed it here, but he was repeatedly told by independent sources the same word of wisdom. but something was driving paul to go to jerusalem. what could it have been?
have you ever had obvious words of wisdom given to you with confirming deliveries and yet felt something inside driving you to do something different? i believe this was what paul was experiencing.
10) as we were staying there for some days, a prophet named agabus came down from judea. 11) and coming to us, he took paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, “this is what the holy spirit says: ‘in this way the jews at jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the gentiles.’”
now here agabus took paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands in a demonstration to show him with intensity what the holy spirit was telling him. this was a word of knowledge. it was a predictive fact, not what to do about the fact. yet in other cities he was told not to go to jerusalem, this was a word of wisdom. see here how the two go hand in hand?
one was a predictive fact and the other was what to do about that fact.
we know that paul went to jerusalem anyway and we know he was imprisoned there in spite of the repetitive warnings by the body of christ and the holy spirit.
i want to address this even thought it may seem like a side bar to the two gifts i’ve been writing about. i feel that it is imperative to understand fully what was happening here.
first we must always know that in every circumstance the holy spirit can only act out of a massive overwhelming love for us. he is to guide us, comfort us, advise us and literally take care of us at every turn.
the holy spirit was adamantly warning paul out of this deep and sincere devotion. that is what he does.
and yet paul chose to override that warning. why would he do that?
i think one answer may be found in this scripture.
ii timothy 4:7-8
7) i have fought the good fight, i have finished the course, i have kept the faith; 8 ) in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved his appearing.
here paul is telling timothy that he has fought the fight and finished the course. paul had an amazing ministry and he knew that just like jesus, no one could take his life less he lay it down. had he chosen to follow the warnings of the holy spirit he would have undoubtedly ministered for many more years and finally laid his head down to rest one day and then simply went home.
but paul had a sense that he had done what he was sent to do and even without knowing fully, what he was yet to do. paul called the shots and surrendered, choosing the course of the end of his life.
now don’t you dare stretch this into a suicidal or death wish type analogy. but the truth is being led by the spirit he could have avoided all danger. it was by choice that he chose the path that he did. he must have sensed in some way that it would be more beneficial to choose the path that he did.
just as jesus knew that it was much more beneficial for us to go home rather than to stay, so must paul have known.
had paul heeded the warnings of the holy spirit and continued to travel about personally ministering to the churches, he may never have written the letters that now make up about 2/3 of the new testament. it was much more beneficial for us today that he choose the path that he chose.
in light of this, let us now look at our own lives. i dare say none of us have been commissioned with a ministry the magnitude of paul’s and that we may never have the wisdom, insight or need to make such a choice.
so what i want to impart to you today is that the holy spirit is here with us with the same lavish love for each of us. and if we will submit ourselves to a deep relationship with him, he will begin to guide us as he did paul away from all the dangers that seek to plague us each day.
take your car in to have the brakes checked.
did you forget to pay your gas bill?
don’t go to sleep just yet.
double-check your subtraction in your check register.
make sure you have your house key with you.
don’t take that path to work today.
where is your cell phone?
don’t buy that extra new outfit today.
take you heavy coat with you today.