Reading; Acts 20:17-28
[a] When we were in the North of Scotland, the Gospel ship Logos 2 visited Aberdeen.
[b] You will no doubt be aware that the organisation which runs it, is OPERATION MOBILIZATION, who became famous during the hay-day of Communism, for smuggling Bibles behind the Iron Curtain, often in the face of great danger, literally risking life and limb for the cause of Christ and His Gospel!
[c] I think of the young Christian schoolboy, in Russia, who although top of the class, was downgraded in all of his exams, “because of an unhealthy mental attitude!” But through it all, he strongly held on to his faith! Others were put in mental asylums for their beliefs.
[d] Today, the threat of Communism has largely faded into the background, but in many countries, Islam, has taken over as the main persecutor of Christianity, even imposing death sentences for preaching the Gospel!
[e] Many are the stories of heroism and sacrifice, from lands where even to worship Christ is forbidden.
[f] All the Christians under persecution who stood firm for Christ, and still do today in many parts of the world, have one thing in common, they feel COMPELLED to hold fast their faith!
[a] In our Bible reading, we find that the Apostle Paul, felt very much the same!
[b] “I know” he says in verse 35, “that ye .... shall see my face no more.” In other words, he knew it was inevitable that the course he was taking would lead to his death.
[c] But even though he had this knowledge, he says emphatically, “Behold I go bound in the Spirit unto Jerusalem.”
It can be also translated as “I go, OBLIGATED AND COMPELLED IN THE SPIRIT.”
[d] If we take an honest look at ourselves, I think we find that all too often, the COMPULSION of our lives is not due to us being BOUND IN THE SPIRIT.
[e] But this was what meant everything to Paul - the will of God, made known through the promptings and compulsion of the Spirit of God within!
[f] It would have been so easy for Paul to have said “no” - after all there was plenty of other things he could do - but he had a burden for this work - and had he not obeyed, he would have been stepping out of the will of God!
[g] He says in verse 24,
“BUT NONE OF THESE THINGS MOVE ME!”
OH THAT WE HAD THAT SAME 'STICKABILITY' IN FULFILLING THE LORD’S WILL IN OUR OWN LIVES!
[a] The Salvation Army is such a busy part of the Christian Church!!
[b] We have so many avenues for service, often the churches covet the many opportunities which we have.
[c] But you know, every so often, we have to review our lives for God, and ask ourselves, “WHY AM I DOING WHAT I DO??”
[d] There could be many answers, “I like it!” “It’s my duty!” “People expect it of me!” “There’s no-one else to do it!”
[e] Often in different corps we have been in, I have bluntly refused to make people ‘DO THEIR DUTY’ in sections or whatever.
[f] My reasoning is simple - I am not so much interested in how many are there - rather in the MOTIVATION which brought along those who have come! I have been in some Army meetings that were a total and complete waste of time - because so many were there for the wrong reason (duty etc) that God could do nothing!
[g] I am convinced that in God’s statistics, it is better to have five people present, because they were "BOUND IN THE SPIRIT" TO COME, THAN HAVE FIVE HUNDRED THERE FOR THE WRONG REASONS! I have said so often, God is more interested in the sincerity and the motivation, rather than the numbers.
[h] The same goes for anything we do for the Lord - it MUST be because we are COMPELLED IN THE SPIRIT!
[i] Sometimes, as Christians, we act as if it is a matter of personal choice what we do for the LORD, AND SOMEHOW HE DOESN’T CARE VERY MUCH WHAT WE DO!! NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH!
[j] If you have felt the compulsion of the Spirit in you life, showing you the way ahead in your service for God, dare I ask, HAVE YOU OBEYED?
[k] If we are living and walking in the Spirit, God shows us what He wants us to do for Him, and that same compulsion which Paul felt will be ours.
[l] If on the other hand, we refuse to follow through that revelation of God to our hearts, then, inevitably, it will affect our spiritual lives! After all, if we refuse to accept God’s guidance and act upon it, then He will not give us further guidance! WE could easily end up in ‘no man’s land’, spiritually!
[m] God has a work for each one of us to do for Him He wants to use us!
But, He can only do that to the full, if we allow ourselves to be “BOUND IN THE SPIRIT” to do His will!
[a] It will do us all good in these moments, to examine our motivation - that which drives us, in what we do for the Lord!
[b] We have come across many in different corps, who could not have been motivated by the Spirit, because their whole service for God was done in a miserable fashion, and they created disharmony with others in the process of fulfilling it!
[c] We must ask ourselves, “Is doing the Will of God, the most important thing in my life??”
[d] Are we, like Paul, “BOUND IN THE SPIRIT” to follow God’s leading and direction?
[e] The only real satisfying Christian experience, is to do the will of God, because we are “Bound in the Spirit”, and only then will we experience the thrill, and sense of purpose, in doing what God wants of us!
Salvation Army Song Book
CHORUS - FOR JESUS SAKE