- Sermon Notes
Getting On Board with the Will of the Lord
Intro: One’s Will.
As we turn to Acts chapter 21 this morning, we are going to see the Apostle Paul continue on his journey according to the will of the Lord that has been revealed to him, but when the Lord revealed to others the difficulty that was ahead on Paul’s journey, they began pleading with him to go in a different direction.
Paul was headed to Jerusalem; it was a destination that had been revealed to him by the Lord. The first time we read about this is two chapters earlier in Acts chapter 19. Where we read in verse 20 that while he was in Ephesus, the word of the Lord was growing and prevailing mightily. Then we read in verse 21, that Paul was resolved in the Spirit to go to Jerusalem, and then said, “after I have been there, I must also see Rome.”
Acts 20:22-24, And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that chains and afflictions await me. But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of God’s grace.
Paul understood the will of the Lord was for him to go to Jerusalem, it was one thing for him to understand God’s will, and another for God’s will in his life to be done. There are many obstacles to doing “thy will,” first and foremost is often “my will,” but also, there is the will and thoughts of others to which the plan is revealed. Paul was on board with the direction of the Lord in His life which meant going to Jerusalem. But as further details are given to those around him, there are many thoughts, opinions and positions about the Lord’s perfect will and plan for him.
- Part With Whatever is not in His Plan
Acts 21:1-3, Now when we had parted from them and had set sail, we ran a straight course to Cos, and on the next day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara; and having found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, we went aboard and set sail.
- At the end of chapter 20, Paul parted ways with the elders from Ephesus. He had spoken to them about the way he walked when he was with them, what they had seen from him, the word he had given them, and encouraged them in the path to walk in. At the end of the chapter, they embraced him, kissed him, and wept because he revealed to them that he would never see them again.
- Paul was on his way to Jerusalem in response to the will of the Lord. And in order to say “hello” to what the Lord had for him in Jerusalem, he needed to say “goodbye” to the people and places that were not in Jerusalem.
- Jesus spoke about the will of God. In Mark 3:35, he said that those who do the will of the Father are His true family.
- In Matthew 21:32, Jesus speaks of those who refused to repent of their sin and believe in Him as those who had failed to do the will of the Father.
- To repent means to turn around, to have a change of mind and heart. To leave one place and head to another. There are some things to say goodbye to, and a new life to say hello to.
Illus. A journey.
- When it comes to the will of the Lord, there is a parting of ways, with whatever is not in His will. Sometimes what we need to part with, is general, applied to us all, and addressed specifically in Scripture.
Illus. General vs. Specific. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, 1 Thessalonians 4:3, 1 Peter 2:13-15.
- Other times, what we need to part with is less clear, less general, and more personal. Paul’s call to Jerusalem, was personal. Still, in his personal call, there were places he was in that were not a part of God’s plan for him.
Illus. What Paul was parting from in Ephesus.
- Verse 1 in NASB reads that Paul had “parted from them.” In NLT, they said “farewell” to them, and in NIV, the had to “tear themselves away from them.”
- The word used to describe the parting of ways, is a word that means to tear something away, to drag it off, or unsheathe a sword.
- They had to cut away…. These were not bad people, they were not parting from them because of a problem, however, Ephesus was not the final destination for Paul. Ephesus was not the place for Paul to remain, he had to part with it.
- That said, at times there will be good things that we must part with on the way to God’s will, and there are also, not so good things that we must part with.
- Paul was a part of a thriving ministry in Ephesus, the word of the Lord was growing and prevailing, the people loved him, and he loved them.
Romans 12:1-2, Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
- It is important to remember that there are times when we have to say no to something good in order to say yes to God’s best for us. There are times when we must choose the highest good; that which glorifies God the most.
- What is Paul needing to part with: certain places, certain people, and certain people’s opinions of his situation.
- We have seen him part from various places, and a tearing away from the people, and next in chapter 21, we see him part from their thoughts and opinions surrounding what he should do in regard to what was ahead of him.
- Turn Up the Volume of His Voice
Acts 21:3-4, When we came in sight of Cyprus, leaving it on the left, we kept sailing to Syria and landed at Tyre; for the ship was to unload its cargo there. After looking up the disciples, we stayed there for seven days; and they kept telling Paul, through the Spirit, not to set foot in Jerusalem.
- Upon landing in Tyre, Paul and company looked up the disciples living there. Upon finding them, they stayed with them for seven days.
- It seems that the disciples in Tyre had received a word of knowledge about what was ahead for Paul, and because what was ahead was chains and affliction, made sure Paul knew their thoughts on the matter… “Don’t go!”
- This group will be the first of three in chapter 21 to voice their thoughts and opinions regarding Paul’s direction and determination to walk according to the will of the Lord.
- And when you get on board with the will of the Lord, there will be voices you will navigate. Sometimes, very loud and convincing voices.
- Paul would hear various voices and we will look at them. Here in verse 4 we read of the people in Tyre telling him not to set foot in Jerusalem, “don’t go!”
- We read in verse four that they “kept telling Paul” not to go. “Kept telling” is written in the Greek present tense, meaning, again and again and again for seven days, they kept on telling Paul not to go. It’s a continuous form.
Acts 21:5-6, 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. Then we boarded the ship, and they returned home.
- While we don’t know what Paul’s verbal responses were to the people, we see his response clearly as he continued toward Jerusalem, which is the direction he was convinced that the Lord had given.
- As he continued his journey, next we see more voices of warning and opposition to the direction he was going.
Acts 21:7-9, When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais, and after greeting the brothers and sisters, we stayed with them for a day. On the next day we left and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. Now this man had four virgin daughters who were prophetesses.
- Upon their arrival to Caesarea, Paul and his companions stay with Phillip the evangelist.
- We know that Phillip ended up in Caesarea back in Acts 8:40 after preaching the gospel to an Ethiopian eunuch and then along the coast until he got the Caesarea. Not, many year later, he is still there.
- His four virgin daughters are noted at prophetesses, meaning they had the gift of prophecy, yet, it is another prophet who would come from Judea to prophesy to Paul with a word of warning.
Acts 21:10-11, As we were staying there for some days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. And he came to us and 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 in Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and hand him over to the Gentiles.’”
- What Paul already knew previously, he is not seeing. He already said in Acts 20 to the elders at the church of Ephesus that he was bound by the Holy Spirit to go to Jerusalem, and that chains and affliction await him.
- When Paul said he was “bound by the Spirit, “ he used a word for “bound” that means to be bound with chains or ropes.
- Paul submitted himself to the leading of the Holy Spirit in such a way that he was “bound” to it. He was chained, or tied to it, he could not get out of it.
- Now the picture is being made abundantly clear to Paul, “this is what the Holy Spirit says: ‘in this way the Jews in Jerusalem will be the man who owns this belt and hand him over to the Gentiles.’”
- Agabus gives a voice of warning. Paul knew what was coming, and now it is being confirmed and illustrated.
- Here Paul sees a visual of what he already knew, a voice of warning to what was coming…. Not only this, he had spoken about his desire to go to Rome, but now it is being prophesied that he will be bound and ultimately handed over to them.
- After seeing and hearing the prophecy, Paul hears from another set of voices.
Acts 21:12, When we had heard this, we as well as the local residents began begging him not to go up to Jerusalem.
- The believers in Caesarea, Paul’s traveling companions, and now Luke, the writer of Acts all join in and beg Paul not to go to Jerusalem.
- I can only imagine what they specifically said. “Paul, we have walked with you thus far, we have been with you through this all…Please, don’t go!
- The voices were getting louder and louder. Not only this, but they were also voices that were closer and closer to Paul.
- First in a city they were passing through, then a voice that the Lord had spoken directly to, now those he had walked with, those he deeply and personally knew.
- This is important for us to see because the reality is, there is competition when it comes to the voice of God.
Jeremiah 42:6, Whether it is pleasant or unpleasant, we will listen to the voice of the Lord our God to whom we are sending you, so that it may go well for us when we listen to the voice of the Lord our God.”
Illus. In ears.
- Jesus had voices of opposition…
Matthew 16:21-23, From that time Jesus began to point out to His disciples that it was necessary for Him to go to Jerusalem and to suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and to be killed, and to be raised up on the third day. And yet Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You!”
- When Jesus was on the cross, the people walking, the religious leaders, and also one of the criminals being crucified on a cross next to him said, “are you not the Christ? Save yourself!”
Matthew 26:39, And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”
- Jesus had gotten on board with the will of the Lord, he was not going to come down from the cross because he knew that He was making the only way, for the world to be saved.
- There is a volume of voices in this life. Telling you what to do, where to go, where not to go, and what not to do. But if you are in Christ, it is the Lord’s will is the best direction for your life. This mean that it is the volume of His voice that must be turned up.
III. Seek His Will and Start on Your Way
Acts 21:13-14, Then Paul replied, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” And since he would not be persuaded, we became quiet, remarking, “The will of the Lord be done!”
- And Paul, he did not turn away from Jerusalem, because he knew that it was God will and plan, for him.
- Paul knew what was coming, what he was committed to the Lord above all: “whatever the Lord wants be to do, wherever He wants me to go, that is where I am going, that is what I am doing.”
- Paul’s friends heard his response, they became quiet and responded, “the will of the Lord be done!”
- There are various factors that play into the discernment of the will of the Lord. And in closing, I want to look at three specific guiding factors that play an important role in deciphering the will of the Lord.
- The first is, God’s Word. Is what I am doing, or headed into, incongruent with the Word of the Lord. We can see the signs read His Word and try or attempt to redefine it to fit what was imbedded in my will all along.
Illus. Camping Trip.
Joshua 1:8, This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will achieve success.
Psalm 119:11, Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.
- The Lord is not going to call to something that is in opposition to His word.
- In John 17, Jesus prayed that we would be set apart in truth, and then said, God’s Word is truth.
John 8:32, And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
- Next, in discerning the Lord’s will is wise counsel from others. Wait just a minute you might say, wasn’t Paul receiving wise counsel? Yes and no. Yes, it is good to not go where you will be bound and afflicted, but if it is the will of the Lord, then no. Under normal circumstances, their counsel is well received, but Paul believed and was convinced differently.
Proverbs 1:5, A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel.
Proverbs 12:15, The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise.
Proverbs 15:22, Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established.
- You may think that Paul just blew off what others were saying. But he actually weighed it carefully, those voices helped him to clarify the will of the Lord in his life.
- He already knew that chains and afflictions awaited him. But he was bound to the will of the Lord in his life.
- And when the prophet Agabus came to dramatically reveal what was going to take place in Jerusalem, he did not say “the one who owns this belt is not to go,” rather he said, this is what will happen to the owner of this belt in Jerusalem.
- It is important to surround yourself with people who will give wise counsel from the Word of the Lord to you. Biblical truth, on both tough topics and not so tough topics. And when wise counsel comes, that differs from the conclusion to which you have come, approach it humbly.
- It is also important to bring your wise counsel humbly.
1 Corinthians 13:9, For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
- Lastly, it is your own personal conviction that agrees with the word of the Lord in your life.
- From Acts 9, we know that at the moment Paul was called, he was going to bear the name of Christ before Gentiles, kings, and the sons of Israel.
- Paul had ministered many years to Gentiles, and now he was headed to the sons of Israel.
Acts 20:24, But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of God’s grace.
- Here again, Paul is convinced, “I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” And since he would not be persuaded, we became quiet, remarking, “The will of the Lord be done!”
Acts 21:15, After these days we got ready and started on our way up to Jerusalem.
- I love the response of those who are with Paul. He chose what he knew was the will of the Lord over their will, and in response, they said, “God’s will be done, we will go with you.”
- They all were now on board with the will of the Lord. Was there difficulty ahead? Yes. Challenges? Yes. Questions, conflicts, consternation? It seems so. But they were all willing go to, because the Lord had said so.
Illus. On board.