Courageous Commitment needs to be brought to our attention fairly often. But it is especially necessary today! Why? One of our most challenging missions begins today. And even if it didn’t, Scripture is filled with reminders that we need to be people of courageous commitment! It is indeed a mountain, but we must climb it. So let’s see how this applies to our mission team and to you!
Even a brief look at the people God has used to accomplish His purposes is an examination of tenacious commitment. You’re probably familiar with these examples. But here are some gentle reminders…
Joshua and Caleb
- 12 men sent to spy out the land of Canaan
- Ten men who lacked commitment said the land could not be taken (Numbers 12:27-28)
- Two courageous men, Joshua & Caleb, disagreed (Numbers 13:30)
- Their faith and dedication fueled courageous commitment (Numbers 14:6-9)
David, Israel and Goliath
- Goliath was facing off against Saul and his army
- Saul & his army saw themselves in their own strength (1 Samuel 17:10-11)
- They had no courage or commitment
- David saw Goliath as an affront to God Almighty (1 Samuel 17:32, 36-37)
- Courageous commitment said for all to hear: There is a God in Israel! (I Samuel 17:45 & 46)
Three Captive Hebrews
- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: dedicated to obedience & following God (Daniel 3:16-18)
- The probability of negative consequences didn’t deter them
- Their commitment was a cause greater than life itself
Courageous Commitment: Apostle Paul
Our church family is studying the book of Acts. It’s no accident that this week’s installment is Acts 21. And Acts 21 is a continuing demonstration of the Apostle’s commitment seen in chapter 20. Here is a recap of events…
- The church in Jerusalem was having a difficult time
- Many in the church were facing persecution
- Paul was to deliver relief funds from the Gentile churches in Asia Minor and Greece
- As he made his journey, Paul often warned about the persecution he would face in Jerusalem (Acts 20:22-23)
- Paul was convinced of God’s call and purpose – he did not turn back
And just this brief synopsis should be instructive for us. To do what we are called to do, we must also possess a conviction that God’s purposes are more important than our safety, desires, or life. In essence: we need courageous commitment. And I think that is one reason our Father gives us so many examples of it! Think about it…
Courageous Commitment: Purpose
Unless we are convinced of our purpose we are not likely to live in courageous commitment. It is obvious that Paul understood his purpose. That was true in the larger, overall perspective. It was also true about the specific events of Acts 20 and 21. We see this is verses 1-3:
- Purpose at hand: get the offering to the Jerusalem church
- Overall purpose: Love God more than life and glorify Him through obedience (spreading the Gospel and making disciples)
So it’s very clear that Paul was focused on his purpose! And based on II Timothy 1:11 Paul probably knew the persecution that awaited him in Jerusalem would be an opportunity to fulfill both purposes above. But there is a bittersweet moment in these events.
Paul was very close to the members of the Ephesian church. He had labored there longer than any other place in his ministry. And in Acts 20 we get to see a meeting he has with the elders of that church. He could have stayed with them. But he didn’t. He chose purpose over pleasure and comfort. That is a demonstration of courageous commitment.
Out Of Focus?
This discussion is vitally important because much of today’s Church is fuzzy about purpose! We have forgotten that we have been given, by God’s grace, the ministry of reconciliation, that we are Christ’s ambassadors on this earth which is the enemy’s kingdom, and that Jesus has commissioned (empowered!) us to make disciples of all nations. Courageous commitment to those things isn’t often displayed. And that’s because we aren’t reminded of our purpose or we have been convinced (falsely) that there is some other purpose.
Courageous Commitment: Paul’s Path Forward
All the above was necessary to set the stage for what follows. Living our commitment at all costs will have consequences. They can be predicted in a general way. First, our lives will be God-honoring. Second, others will not understand why we do what we do. Third, some will see our commitment and join us. Look through Acts and see if you can find a place where Paul was recruiting people to join him. The fact remains that many joined him in his work. Why? They saw the commitment and wanted to join in. The eyes of their hearts were open. I am blessed to know some people like that!
From Acts 20 & 21
The events of Acts 21 bear an uncanny resemblance to the end of Jesus’ earthly life. It’s fitting to see this as we approach Holy Week, next week’s mission to Belize, and God’s call for commitment in our lives. In Acts 20 & 21 see that Paul, like Jesus:
- Traveled to Jerusalem with a group of disciples
- Faced opposition from hostile Jews who plotted to take his life
- Paul made and/or received three predictions of his sufferings in Jerusalem
- Had followers who tried to discourage him from going to Jerusalem
- Said he was ready to lay down his life
- Was determined to complete the ministry that had been given to him
- Verbalized his abandonment to, and preference for, the will of God
- Came to Jerusalem for the purpose of giving
- Was unjustly arrested based on false accusations
- Was arrested alone while his followers/companions were not
- Paul also heard the crowd yelling, Away with him!
- A Roman officer who was handling Paul’s case did not know Paul’s real identity
- Paul was thought, by Roman officials, to be a terrorist
Paul lived that which he wrote in Philippians 3:10 – …to know Him in the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death
Courageous Commitment: The Song
It is thought that Paul wrote his letter to the Romans not long before the events of Acts 20 & 21. That makes it all the more challenging to see his words from Romans 8. The first quote is what I can see and hear as a song of declaration. The second is a simple statement of fact we should not forget:
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (8:38-39)
All believers are predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son (8:29)
All of this really does connect to our mission to Belize. And it really is important to tell you how because we need your help. But that will be my next post. So please check back for a not-so-normal weekend edition.