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Thursday, January 19, 2012
I took this photo of an old bank barn several years ago in Berks County Pennsylvania. Bank barns are common throughout Pennsylvania with the typical uneven terrain. The design allows direct access to both levels. I sure enjoy old barns and have been featuring photos this week and expect to share another barn photo tomorrow!
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"Compelled by the Spirit"
“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace" (Acts 20:22-24).
When Brooksyne and I were in college we read a book that left a lasting impact on both of us. "For This Cross I Will Kill You" is an autobiography written by Bruce Olson, a young man compelled by the Holy Spirit, to live among a primitive tribe in South America. Only 19 years old at the time he was captured by the Motilone Indians and faced disease, terror, loneliness and torture to evangelize this Stone Age tribe. When we, like Olson, are compelled by the Holy Spirit, no troublesome circumstance or dissuading individual can deter us from following the divine will of God as He leads us.
Today's verse was written as the Apostle Paul was concluding his third missionary journey. He is preaching what I believe to be one of his greatest sermons; his instructional and heartfelt farewell to the Ephesian elders (Acts 20:17-38). This passage is a model passage for those in ministry who've had to bid farewell to a group of believers, as the Lord moved them on to other positions of service. The chapter concludes with a moving scene at the dock as Paul left.
Paul tells these Ephesian elders the reason for his departure to Jerusalem: He is "compelled by the Spirit." Many of you have experienced this kind of leading, although it's difficult to explain to someone who has not, particularly a non-believer. Being compelled means being driven beyond our ability to resist the leading prompted by the Holy Spirit as He directs our lives. "If we can bring ourselves to that place of ultimate surrender, then we will be compelled and propelled by the Spirit into our destiny and into God's divine will for our life" (Mark E. Hardgrove).
This leading does not always make sense. Paul acknowledged that he did not know what would happen to him. He had been warned in every city by the Holy Spirit that he was to face prison and hardships. Later in his journey the disciples at Tyre through the Spirit urged him not to go (Acts 21:4) and still later a prophet at Caesarea named Agabus with great drama accurately prophesied Paul's experience and again pleaded with Paul not to go (Acts 21:9-11). Interestingly the text reads, "We and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem" (Acts 21:12). Apparently even Luke, the writer of Acts, who was traveling with Paul, joined in the pleading!
But the Spirit compelled Paul and in obedience he followed the leading of the Spirit. As had been prophesied he indeed faced prison and hardships as the remaining chapters of Acts record. Not only did he use each opportunity to witness for the Lord, but most of the New Testament epistles were written after this point. His greatest legacy is in his writings that are read as part of the Holy Scriptures by hundreds of millions throughout the church age. Paul summarized his response to the compelling work of the Holy Spirit; "However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace" (Acts 20:24).
Is the Spirit compelling you today? Are you open to following God's will for your life and stepping out of your comfort zone at His leading? The apostle Paul provides a positive example of a life lived well. In his final epistle to Timothy he is able to write, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7). Today may we be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit as we walk in obedience to Christ!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily Prayer: Father, we pray for listening ears to hear the voice of Your Spirit. Help us to understand the meaning of Your leading as You walk with us along the path of Your commands, where we find contentment, peace and connectedness to You, our Lord and Master. Turn our hearts away from those things that lead away from pursuing Your purpose for our lives. We desire to be in the center of Your will. Amen.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus" Video Casting Crowns
"He Leadeth Me" Video Candi Pearson
"Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer" Video Welsh Chapel Choir My, oh my, do these people ever sing out!
Bruce Olson is still working among the same tribal people he went to, as a teenager, in 1961! This website has some interesting material.
"For This Cross I Will Kill You" has been republished as "Bruchko"
Bruchko By Bruce Olson / Charisma House
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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