Compelled by the Spirit

“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. Acts 20:22 (NIV)

Have you ever gone to a place solely on account of God’s will? Or maybe taken a decision only because you were persuaded it was what God wanted? An action without benefit or profit for you, one that you have to take at great risk to your life or possessions – would you ever take that kind of action? This is what we hear Paul say in the verse above. Let’s look a little closer…

Paul was bidding the elders of the Ephesian church farewell. Convinced he would never see them again, he gave them parting words, sharing his commitment to preaching the gospel as he went from place to place. Although he lived with a lot of uncertainties, Paul knew one thing was sure – prison and hardships awaited him as he spread the gospel. Yet he was was unwavering. He was set for the defence of the gospel, willing to complete his God-given task at any cost.

Just like his master Jesus, Paul was headed to Jerusalem, knowing the danger that awaited him there, but convinced that he was being led there by God in fulfillment of purpose. He was ready to embrace pain, hardship or even death, that could become his fate as he headed to Jerusalem. He no longer counted his life dear to himself neither did he strive to preserve it – he only lived to obey the Lord’s command and follow his bidding. Like Jesus, Paul was sold out to God – a willing slave.

The lesson is clear; the application is challenging; the demand, unwavering. God wants our all – a total commitment to obeying his commands and doing his will regardless of the cost to us. Although He works with us at every stage to accomplish his purpose, God always desires for us to become more yielded by the day, letting go of everything until like Paul, we too can say, with full devotion and complete sincerity: “I consider my life worth nothing to me”.

Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” Acts 21:13 (NIV)

Further Reading: Acts 20:17-24, 21:10-14

Manna (or Manner) Lessons

So the children of Israel started murmuring against Moses again. This time it wasn’t the Red Sea that hemmed them in, with Pharaoh on the other side. Neither was it thirst that parched their throats, with the bitter waters of Marah staring at them. It was hunger that inspired their cries. Sounds legitimate, huh? But instead of believing and asking God for what they needed, they chose to murmur and complain, comparing their ‘predicament’ to the former abundance of ‘flesh and bread’ in Egypt. God heard their cries, and promised to give them quails (flesh) in the evening and manna (bread) in the morning, with a view to testing them in the process. So he sent word to them through Moses, saying that he would give them food, to prove who he was to them. But there was an instruction: they were not to gather more than a certain amount per person, neither were they to gather more than they needed for a day, except on the sixth day. On the sixth day, they would get enough for two days so that they need not go out for food on the Sabbath day, the day of rest.

And the food came as was promised. In the evening, there were quails, and in the morning there was manna, just as the morning dew disappeared from the ground. The dew seemed to have hidden the manna from view. Perhaps they had descended together from the heavens. The people went out and gathered the manna. They could grind it or crush it, cook it or bake it. It tasted like wafers made with honey. It was indeed, bread from heaven! And as soon as the sun waxed hot, the remnant on the ground melted away and disappeared. However, some of the people disregarded the instruction of Moses not to leave any of the manna they gathered till the following morning. What they left till the day after began to breed worms and stink. What they gathered on the sixth day though, did not stink when they left it till the Sabbath day, for God did not send manna on the day of rest. But some people still went out to look for manna on the Sabbath day, and God became angry with them.

So what are the lessons? One: the Israelites, like many of us, failed to remember and keep a record of the good deeds of God in their lives. As a result, they started complaining, even lamenting, when hunger came knocking. Perhaps they just refused to remember. Whatever the case, they acted as if it wasn’t God who delivered them from Egypt or drowned Pharaoh in the Red Sea. They would have just asked Him – he would have done it. Two: in God’s kingdom, no matter the abundant supply of material provision available, you must learn to take what you need, not what you want. Anything outside of this simple rule is covetousness. Often times, we want God to give us what we want, re-defining our wants as needs in the process, to conform to the standards of the world. We must learn to be content with the simple provisions of God from day to day. God could even give you more than you need to test your heart and see what you would do. Don’t fail the test, take what you need! Three: God’s provision is regulated by God’s instruction and will remain intact and available for us as long as we are in the boundary of obedience. Once we disobey, however, God’s own provision can begin to breed maggots and even stink! God’s provision is preserved by God for us as long as we obey his commandment. Beyond obedience, we have no guarantees from Him. I could go on and on, but you had better check up Exodus chapter sixteen to read up the whole story and let the Holy Spirit speak to you from the abundance of heavenly treasures!

July 18, 2012