A MAN AFTER GOD'S HEART
"After several days of visiting, a prophet from Judea by the name of Agabus came down to us. He went right up to Paul, took Paul's belt and, in a dramatic gesture, tied himself up, hands and feet. He said, 'This is what the Holy Spirit says. The Jews in Jerusalem are going to tie up the man who owns this belt just like this, and hand him over to godless unbelievers.
"When we heard that, we and everyone there that day begged Paul not to be stubborn and persist in going to Jerusalem. But Paul wouldn't budge. 'Why all this hysteria? Why do you insist on making a scene and making it even harder for me? You're looking at this backwards. The issue in Jerusalem is not what they do to me, whether arrest or murder, but what the Master Jesus does through my obedience. Can't you see that?'" Acts 21:10-13 (The Message).
What a perspective! What a man!
Every time Paul was warned not to go to Jerusalem by well-meaning but misguided people, his resolve to face whatever was coming as long as it was in his Master's will grew stronger. Paul was more concerned about missing God's plan for him than he was about any kind of abuse or suffering from fellow-Jews or Romans. Whatever his friends thought or wanted for him was inconsequential. He had a single-minded determination to see his obedience through to the end, no matter what.
Paul's life-lessons had brought him to the point where he drew his joy and his strength from the wellspring of obedience to Jesus, not circumstances, success or fruitfulness. The union between him and Jesus, established decades ago on the road to Damascus, when his response to Him was a simple, 'Lord, what do you want me to do?' had become stronger and less complicated the longer he walked the road with Him.
From Paul's story in the New Testament and from David's in the Old, we can draw this conclusion: which of His children bring God the most pleasure? Those who win the most souls for Jesus? Those who suffer the most for Him? Those who go to the remotest parts of the earth and give up the most for Him? None of these things count for anything. What pleases God the most is doing what He tells us to do!
It may be as simple as caring for an abused or retarded child. It may be as undramatic as giving a cup of water to a thirsty beggar. It may be as routine as staying at home and raising a family. It is not what we do that gains us Brownie points. God looks at our hearts. Obedience is the hallmark of the one who truly loves Jesus. "'If you love me show it by doing what I've told you.'" John 14:15 (The Message).
This was God's affirmation of David at the end of his life: "After removing Saul, He made David their king. He testified concerning him: 'I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.'" Acts 13:22 (NIV).
That puts every single believer within reach of the same verdict. "A man/woman after my own heart!" Who would not want that written by the finger of God on his/her CV?
How is this achieved? By the lessons of confidence and trust we learn through the trials of life. God told Moses, 'You can't see my face, but I will show you my back.' We cannot see where God is taking us but where can see where He has been and that will surely give us confidence to trust him for the future.
Jesus gave His disciples one simple instruction: 'Follow me.' From that flows every step of our journey with Him. We must beware of every person and every teaching that complicates that simple instruction. God's verdict on us hangs on our obedience to that simple command!
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