Listening And Acting In Obedience To The Spirit


And having sought out the disciples, we stayed there for seven days. And through the Spirit they were telling Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. When our days there were ended, we departed and went on our journey. — Acts 21:4-5

So you are going to notice from here that this is going to be another time that the Spirit warns Paul that if he goes to Jerusalem, something terrible will happen. If you recall, Paul was warned in the last chapter by the Spirit that "imprisonment and afflictions" awaited him (Acts 20:23). So this is the second time he is warned. But there is going to be a third confirmation. It's a few verses down from this text, in verses 10-12.

Here is how they read:

While we were staying for many days [in Caesarea], a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. And coming to us, he took Paul's belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, "Thus says the Holy Spirit, 'This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'" When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. — Acts 21:10-12

I think this illustrates something we might all need to understand. That sometimes, the Spirit does speak clear and concise messages about the immediate future. And sometimes, these messages are confirmed by others who also hear the Spirit speak. But this does not always mean that we draw the same conclusions when we hear the Spirit speak. For example, and several people listened to the Spirit speak and concluded that he shouldn't go. But Paul listened to this same Spirit and the same message confirmed by others but came to a different conclusion — that he should go to Jerusalem.

I think this is intriguing because they all heard one Spirit and came to different conclusions. So why? Why does Paul do this? Did he do the right thing? Did he do the wrong thing?

Because Paul acts contrary to the advice of everyone around him, all we learn is that Paul acted contrary to their advice. This does not mean he acted contrary to the Spirit. I don't believe he did. All he did was question their interpretation of the prediction by the Spirit. I think Paul understood that when the Spirit speaks, his predictions are not always prohibitions. Note: his predictions are not always prohibitions. A prediction of the Spirit is just that — a prediction, nothing more. How we choose to act in light of this is up to us. And Paul decided to go. But he does not go dismissively. I believe he weighed the advice of others, prayed about their advice, and gave their advice credence. But in the end, he chooses to go for this one reason: his spiritual calling outweighed the physical cost and comfort.

So today, is God calling you to do something hard? Something you have been avoiding? Something you know if you step into it may have unfortunate consequences? If so, take a lesson from Paul. Pray about it. Weigh it. Seek advice. Listen to the Spirit. And then finally consider the spiritual consequences of not acting versus continuing to avoid it for the reason of physical comfort.

ASK THIS: What have you been avoiding that God has been inviting you to address? (Share below)

DO THIS: Act in obedience.

PRAY THIS: God, I need the courage to act in obedience.

PLAY THIS: Teach Me To Obey — Bria Jean.


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Listening And Acting In Obedience To The Spirit

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9 thoughts on “Listening And Acting In Obedience To The Spirit

  1. Cory B says:

    Reconciliation with someone. All signs point to yes, but is it my own interpretation. Will it help them or hurt them? Is it me interjecting my will over His will?

    • Chris Caliguire says:

      Do it! I had to do that with a gal just a couple of years ago and the Lord proved to me she wasn’t the true Christian for me. I was challenging her to worship with me, join a womens Bible study in her town, etc. There was excuse after excuse, yet her house was decorated with everything Christian hanging on walls. By trying to reconcile on and off again it let me rest knowing I gave it a valiant effort to determine if it was God’s will or mine. FSMC Dec 16th @ 4:30 if you’d like to join me and folks from my Church.

  2. Sheldon Bullard says:

    Jumping in head long in leading a men’s ministry, my fear sometime is not having the help burn out may set in so pray that God would send someone to partner with me in this.

  3. Tom says:

    Deny Self. Take up our Cross. Follow Him. As a slave of Christ, any other response is carnal justification. Thanks Pastor Vince.

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