“And as we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. When he had come to us, he took Paul’s belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’ ” Now when we heard these things, both we and those from that place pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” So when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, “The will of the Lord be done.””
Acts 21:10-14 NKJV
As the momentum of this world appears to be spiraling downward, toward the terminus of this age, I find myself coming to terms with all the possibilities I may have to face as a follower of Jesus. The reality is that seeking to follow the Lord in these perilous times, sets one apart from the world, causing one to be exposed to the ridicule that is to come.
Though I have received no mystical revelation, or fantastic vision, I know that one day, barring the Lord taking me away before then, either by natural death or rapture, I will pay with my life, made a martyr for the cause of Jesus. There was a time when such a thought would have brought tears and fear, but now it only brings joy as I ponder what comes next in eternity.
Reading Acts chapter twenty one, I followed Paul on his own journey. Jesus and the Holy Spirit had informed him long before what he must suffer, and Paul was more than ready.
He had persecuted the church, and now he was himself was persecuted. Upon his meeting with the Lord of glory on the road to Damascus, Paul was bound for a life of suffering for the cause of Christ.
“Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.””
Acts 9:13-16 NKJV
In many far off lands, there are many today who have chosen to suffer for Christ, for they have encountered the true God. In nations dominated by Islam, Christians are regularly killed for their faith, and many have gone into the baptismal pool, only later to be baptized in a pool their own blood.
Paul was ready to go, he was ready to die. In the letter to Timothy, his death bed confession, Paul communicated his steadfast desire to glorify God.
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
II Timothy 4:6-8 NKJV
Brothers and sisters, let us have that heart in us, to consider ourselves drink offerings of holy sacrifice, ready to be poured out to the glory of Jesus. We are nearing the end of this journey, and the signs are everywhere. The Gospel has placed in a time decision, a fork in the road. For some the chosen path will lead them away from the cross and forward the world, for others it will lead them to the place of complete submission.
At this time of decision, the forces of evil, will seek to draw many away, sending dire warnings of things to come. Many will come to the followers of Jesus and say, “don’t be so committed to Christ,” warning of impending doom and bad things that could happen. They will be like Paul’s companions, seeking to keep him from fulfilling the ministry for which he was ordained.
I think back to Peter, having had the mountain top moment of confessing Jesus, only to stumble and fall, as he sought to dissuade the Lord from telling the disciples of His coming death.
“From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.””
Matthew 16:21-23 NKJV
There will be many who will seek to rebuke you, as you choose to stand for Jesus in these later days. It is for these days that we have been saved. All that has transpired over the last two thousand years has come down to this time. Let us rejoice that the Lord has allowed us to be His missionaries in these times, to take the message of the Gospel to a sick and dying world before the end of the age.
Pray that you will be ready to go and tell, regardless of what threat there may be. Be ready to take up your cross, knowing that the Lord Jesus took up His, making a way for you to be saved.
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Matthew 16:24-26 NKJV
HAVE A MOST BLESSED SUNDAY!