Word@Work, Let God's Word energise your working day!

Fellowship In Times Of Danger

Acts 21:7-11
the brothers and sisters and stayed with them for a day. Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven. He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied. After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. Coming over to us, he took Paul's belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, 'The Holy Spirit says, "In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles."' (NIVUK)

Paul was determined to follow the Lord's call to go to Jerusalem. Choosing to take the faster sea route to get back from what is now Greece and Turkey, he also avoided the protracted social conversations and hospitality invitations, which are still part of the culture of that area. Although those interactions may well have been gospel opportunities he knew that the Lord had called him to Jerusalem for the next phase of his ministry – to kings and rulers.

Until then, Paul had evangelised many cities but had never directly witnessed to the top rulers. That was to come. Jesus had said, "On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you." (Matthew 10:18-20) After Paul's conversion, the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man [Paul] is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name." (Acts 9:15-16)

Agabus confirmed those prophetic statements. In taking Paul's belt and wrapping it around his own hands and feet, the apostle could see a man sitting down bound and unable to move. Paul could see himself as he would become - bound hand and foot (Acts 21:33). Abagus then prophesied the details of Paul's arrest by the religious leaders in Jerusalem and handing over to the Gentile authorities (Acts 20:23). Paul had this last opportunity to turn back. But he refused: the Lord was calling him to take the Name of Jesus to local kings and eventually the emperor himself.

We may assume that fellowship is God's way of providing comfort and encouragement. Often that is so. But true fellowship will also tell us uncomfortable truths and identify the challenges ahead. It is like a soldier going into battle: the commander's briefing must be honest about the dangers as well as the prospect of victory eventually. The military leader does not want to make the troops run away, but to prepare courageously so that the mission will be successfully accomplished. Whatever challenge lies ahead for you, listen well to the Lord and the fellowship He places around you, so that you may receive strength from the Lord to be His servant in a difficult situation (2 Timothy 4:17). Wherever He calls, He also provides; and will never leave you alone (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Father God. Thank You for honest fellowship which confirms Your written Word, preparing me for the challenges ahead. Forgive me for wanting to ignore the preparation You give me so that I can be effective in difficult circumstances, or for wanting to run away from Your call. Please help me to gain strength from Your Word as I encounter unfamiliar or dangerous circumstances, that I will fulfil well the mission You have appointed for me. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Bible Book: 

© Dr Paul Adams