Sunday, September 5, 2010

bound for Him!

In Acts, chapter 20, we follow Paul as he retraces the path of his earlier journeys.  His purpose on this extended trip (lasting over 2 years) is to follow up churches that sprang up in all the places he had preached the Gospel on earlier travels.  We see that encouragement is just as important as evangelism if we are to be established and effective.  At one point, in a town called Troas, Paul speaks to believers in a third story room, after they have observed Holy Communion.  He speaks for hours, until midnight.  At that point, a young man named Eutychus who had been listening while sitting on a window ledge, nodded off and fell to the ground.  He apparently died, but Paul miraculously brought him back from the dead and then continued to preach till daybreak.  (I don't think we have any room to complain about lengthy sermons!)  But Paul is finishing his journey and is determined to return to Jerusalem.  At one point he decides to walk 30 miles by himself from one town to the next, while his travel companions take a boat between the two places.  Apparently he had much to think and pray about...and to hear from the Lord as his life was headed to a climax.  Paul reveals that the Holy Spirit has shown him that he will suffer with "chains and tribulations" after he returns to Jerusalem but his response is (verse 24) "But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus to testify to the gospel of the grace of God."  Paul says (verse 22) that he is "bound in the spirit to Jerusalem".  I thought about the word "bound".  It seems to have two meanings.  One is to be tied securely, as with ropes, like a prisoner is held from escaping.  The other is to be headed for a specific destination, with purpose.  It strikes me that both meanings come together here.  For Paul is the prisoner of the Lord, bound by the invisible ropes of the Spirit and determined to finish his ministry and his life according to God's purposes.
I am challenged to think of as a journey...the journey mapped out by the Holy Spirit.  There are times of travel...times of ministry...times of personal reflection and time alone with the Lord.  Are we "bound" for our personal Jerusalem...bound by the Spirit and bound for the Spirit that others may find the same Spirit?
Truly we find our purpose when we help others find theirs!
Rob Smith

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