"When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying at the temple, I fell into a trance and saw the Lord speaking. 'Quick!' he said to me. 'Leave Jerusalem immediately, because they will not accept your testimony about me.' 'Lord,' I replied, 'these men know that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in you. And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.' Then the Lord said to me, 'Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.' "
Thoughts for Today:The Lord instructed Paul to leave Jerusalem immediately because the Jews would not accept his testimony about Jesus. As we've seen throughout the Book of Acts there was just something about Paul (certainly his message -- perhaps the way he said or did things) that incited the Jews to fury and outrage. However, no matter how many beatings he took at the hands of the Jews it never seemed to stop Paul from trying to witness, debate, and convince his countrymen -- despite the Lord's orders to the contrary. The Lord was fairly specific with Paul, "Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles." Now that's pretty clear to me.
I wonder if someone were to read my life story, would they feel the same way about me? Am I hardheaded like Paul -- willing to do the Lord's will yet stubbornly trying to do mine at the same time? I have prayerfully struggled with Paul's presence in Jerusalem. It seems like such a willful act on his part. On one hand he had multiple occasions when his brothers in Christ spoke to him in the Spirit and pleaded with him not to go -- yet he went regardless. Was his presence in Jerusalem (and his current predicament) the Lord's will or simply the result of his own bullheadedness? How much different and peaceful would his life had been had he just done the will of the Lord without regularly placing his own personal twist upon it? Paul wrote this verse in Roman 8:28 which I believe deals with this issue, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." In other words, even if you are doing your own will rather than God's as long as our heart is in the right place (love God), then He will work it out for good. Just remember, some things work out better than others.
Questions to Ponder:Do you see a little of yourself in Paul's behavior as well? Do you regularly go somewhere or do something that the Lord has warned you against? Has your passion left you beaten and bloodied? Sometimes what we want to do for God and what He wants us to do are vastly different. What is your response: "yes Lord," or your own will?