Acts 21 Lesson

Staying Faithful During Times Of Adversity

GRACE UNDER PRESSURE

Does adversityaffect our decision-making process? 

Do we make the same decisions under pressure that we would make when we are not under duress?  

God does not want us to be fair-weather Christians who only obey Him when it is convenient. That is the last thing that He wants!

He would rather that we run hot or cold than be indifferent about our faith.

  • “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.” - Revelation 3:15-16.

PAUL WILLINGLY SUFFERED FOR THE LORD

In Acts Chapter 21, we see that things are getting serious for the Apostle Paul.

As he approached Jerusalem, his friends and brethren warn him twice of the dangers that await him.  The first warning came from a prophet named Agabus. 

  • “As we were staying there for some days, 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, “This is what the Holy Spirit says: ‘In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’” – Acts 21:10-11.

The second warning came from the other disciples and locals who begged Paul not to go to Jerusalem.   Their pleading was well-intentioned, but it was in direct conflict with what Paul knew God had called him to do.  And to Paul’s credit, he stuck to God’s plan, regardless of the consequences.  So should we.

After receiving multiple warnings to stay clear of Jerusalem, a determined Paul replied:

  • “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”  And since he would not be persuaded, we fell silent, remarking, “The will of the Lord be done!” – Acts 21:13-14.

Something worth noting in the above scripture is how Luke uses the word “we,” to indicate that he was part of the group that was traveling with Paul.

SUFFERING FOR THE LORD 

All of us are going to suffer during our time on earth. God allows suffering for three reasons:

  1. To teach us,
  2. Todisciplineus,
  3. To shape us (into the people that He created us to be).

The Bible talks a lot about suffering. For today’s lesson we have highlighted the following two verses:

  1. “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” - 2 Timothy 3:12,
  2. “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” - Luke 9:23.

PAUL’S SUFFERING

Paul suffered greatly while serving the Lord.  And because he kept the faithand did not deviate from God's plan for him, his reward in Heaven will be great. 

Likewise, if we remain faithful, and follow God’s plan for us, we too will be rewarded with eternal life in Heaven.

In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he wrote:

  • “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” – 2 Timothy 4:7-8.

While serving the Lord, Paul endured:

  1. Lies,
  2. Beatings,
  3. Imprisonment,
  4. And twice being stoned nearly to death.

Through it all, Paul remained committed to following God’s plan.

Can we say the same?  Are we willing to suffer?  Are we committed to following Jesus, even during the most difficult times of our lives?

CONCLUSION

God gives us free will to decide whether we are going to follow His plan or do things our way.  If we follow His plan, He will bless us. If we ignore it, we will become lost, isolated, and eventually perish.  

The Apostle Paul understood the risks involved in going to Jerusalem and went anyway. He knew the price that he was going to pay, and he was willing to pay it. 

What about us?  Can we say the same?  Being a Christian involves sacrifice. Jesus was not spared adversity. Neither were the Apostles. And we will not be spared either.

We will end today’s lesson with three scriptures.  They highlight the importance of following God’s plan and the sacrifices that we must be prepared to make along the way.

  1. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11,
  2. “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect to do good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” - Hebrews 13:15-16,
  3. “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies 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.” - Romans 12:1-2.

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Virtual Bible Study

1) What did today’s Bible study make you think and feel?
2) How can you apply what you have just learned to something specific that is happening in your life?

***PLEASE POST YOUR QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS HERE***

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John

Paul's is a great testimony of faith and obedience. He showed his love for the Lord by staying faithful, even when it caused him great personal. He is a wonderful example for all to strive for!

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John
John

Blessed

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