1 After we tore ourselves away from them and set sail, we came by a direct route to Cos, the next day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara. 2 Finding a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, we boarded and set sail. 3 After we sighted Cyprus, leaving it on the left, we sailed on to Syria and arrived at Tyre, because the ship was to unload its cargo there. 4 So we found some disciples and stayed there seven days. Through the Spirit they told Paul not to go to Jerusalem. 5 When our days there were over, we left to continue our journey, while all of them, with their wives and children, escorted us out of the city. After kneeling down on the beach to pray, 6 we said good-bye to one another. Then we boarded the ship, and they returned home.
7 When we completed our voyage from Tyre, we reached Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and stayed with them one day. 8 The next day we left and came to Caesarea, where we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the Seven, and stayed with him. 9 This man had four virgin daughters who prophesied.
10 While we were staying there many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 He came to us, took Paul’s belt, tied his own feet and hands, and said, “This is what the Holy Spirit says: ‘In this way the Jews in Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into Gentile hands.’” 12 When we heard this, both we and the local people begged him not to go up to Jerusalem.
13 Then Paul replied, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
14 Since he would not be persuaded, we stopped talking and simply said, “The Lord’s will be done!”
15 After these days we got ready and went up to Jerusalem. 16 Some of the disciples from Caesarea also went with us and brought us to Mnason, a Cypriot and an early disciple, with whom we were to stay.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
Then Paul replied, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
— Acts 21:13
This is an interesting passage. The Spirit tells Paul not to go to Jerusalem, so he doesn’t go. Later in the passage, a prophet comes and permits him to go to Jerusalem and foreshadows the persecution that will meet him.
We often seem to think of calling independent of time, but that’s often not the case. God has moments arraigned, and if we’re not prepared or not awake we may miss the moment. We don’t know what else God is working, and since we see through a veil dimly what He sees in full, we have to trust His timing above our understanding and sight. We step into the moments He prepares for His glory.
We see this in the last half of Deuteronomy 1. God tells his people to go take the land He has for them, and they don’t go. So God becomes angry with them. They then realize they have sinned against God and done the wrong thing, so they tell God they will go and fight now. But God tells them not to go because He is not with them. They go anyway, and they are beaten down in their further disobedience.
When they did not do what God was calling them to do at each specific time, they sinned. They sinned in not going to battle when God called them to, and they sinned when they went into battle when God told them not to go. They would not do what God was calling them to do in the moment.
With Paul in this passage we see him obedient to God’s timing. When the Spirit tells him not to go to Jerusalem, he does not go. Once the Spirit indicates he should go, he goes in obedience with what God would have him do.
Often in our ministry, we are called to something for a time or at a time, but rarely do we sense the seasonality of ministry. We often think if we are called to do something, we can start it or join it at our leisure, and we should continue it indefinitely. In my experience, when God has had me steward ministries, He has had me in that place for a season—a time to come, and a time to go.
Often the hardest part is stepping out of a ministry into God’s call. We often get so wrapped up in our current ministry that we miss God’s call to something else. It’s very difficult to give up a ministry when we have put in so much time, prayer, heart, and soul.
Sometimes we become so wrapped up in the call that it starts to merge with our identity and God will call us away from that ministry. Scripture clearly teaches Jesus is our identity and defines us, not what He has us do. This becomes dangerous when what He calls us to do is put above who He calls us to be.
I’ve found that in many calls, you’re either God’s man with God’s message in God’s moment—or you’re not. We have to be prepared for His call by being the person He says you should be. We have to seek His heart and His will to know His message. We have to step into the moment He has arranged in faith.
- What’s God calling you to do now?
- Is He calling you from some of your current ministries into new places and people?