Blessed Be the Name of the Lord
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“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.  Finding a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, we boarded and set sail.  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.  So we found some disciples and stayed there seven days. They said to Paul through the Spirit not to go to Jerusalem.  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,  we said good-bye to one another. Then we boarded the ship, and they returned home.  When we completed our voyage from Tyre, we reached Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and stayed with them one day.  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.  This man had four virgin daughters who prophesied.  While we were staying there many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea.  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.’’  When we heard this, both we and the local people begged him not to go up to Jerusalem.  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.’  Since he would not be persuaded, we stopped talking and simply said, ‘The Lord’s will be done!’” (HCSB)
I don’t know if this sermon is what you need today or not, but I know it is exactly what I need to hear. Theoretically, I want to be able to respond like Paul did, but when I have a trial, to be honest with you, I don’t fair quite as well as Paul. I’m not proud of the fact that there are times that I pout when life isn’t treating me the way I think it should or when I complain to God when I face setbacks. Normally, I have enough grace not to do either out loud—at least not in your earshot, but that doesn’t mean I don’t do it.
Now Paul had his moments too. As we’ve studied the book of Acts together we’ve noticed a time or two when Paul acted like a spiritual baby—the point is, we all have times when we aren’t at our best. But in this passage Paul demonstrates extreme maturity and personifies the type of attitude we all aspire to. How was Paul able to be so strong in such a dire situation?
PAUL WAS DEVOTED TO A CAUSE THAT WAS BIGGER THAN HIMSELF. I admire people who throw themselves into their cause. It is easy for me to take exception with the details of Mother Theresa’s religion—frankly, there isn’t much about the Catholic faith that I agree with, but I can’t fault her dedication and the outcome of her life. It was a life well spent—it was a life devoted to something bigger than herself. She shunned comfort and personal advancement for the sake of her calling.
Daniel Metzdorf is doing the same thing. No, he isn’t a nun ministering to the poorest of the poor, but he is a man who is devoted to a cause. Sergeant Metzdorf lost a leg to a roadside bomb in Iraq in January, 2004. Under most circumstances he would have received a medical discharge from the Army and transitioned into the civilian world. But after 19 operations, and countless hours of rehabilitation, Metzdorf applied for reinstatement. Repeatedly, he was denied, until his unit commander intervened on his behalf and the Army assigned him to a desk at Fort Bragg, NC. But Metzdorf isn’t satisfied riding a desk. Recently, he traded in his high-tech prosthesis for an older hydraulic model that would be better suited for the battlefield. He wants to go back into Iraq to fight the war on terror. “I’m still an asset. I just want to give back as much as I got.” He said. (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html) Paul said, “For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” Paul’s resolve came from his total commitment to his cause. We are at out best when we have a Kingdom perspective and are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. We are at our worst when our vision shrinks down to our little world and are immersed in our desires, preferences, wants and needs.
Paul was living for a cause that was greater than himself. But there’s more. PAUL ALSO UNDERSTOOD THAT GOD CAN USE PERSONAL TRAGEDY FOR KINGDOM ADVANCEMENT.
This one is tough. We spend so much time praying for God
to bless us, we forget the wise words of Job, “He said, ‘Naked I came from
my mother's womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and Thank
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