Summary: This message focuses on the need for believers to have courageous commitment as they follow God in this world
* Those God has used to accomplish his will and extend his mission are people who had courageous commitment
- commitment = completely dedicated to the task at hand
- courageous = complete the task regardless of the threat they experience
* Some examples of courageous commitment:
- Caleb and Joshua: spying out Canaan
(a) Num. 12:27-28, “We can’t do it! It can’t be done!”
(b) Num. 13:30, “Yes, we can!”
(c) Num. 14:6-9, their convictions lead to courageous commitment
- David/Saul and the Israelites: facing Goliath
(a) 1 Sam. 17:10-11, lack of courage and commitment
(b) 1 Sam. 17:32, 36-37, David is convinced
(c) 1 Sam. 17:45-46, courageous conviction causes others to “know that there is a God in Israel”
- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Dan. 3:16-18)
* Accepting the plan of God requires conviction (convinced to do it), and that conviction must be so strong that it fuels a courageous conviction in our hearts.
* What’s happening with Paul in Acts 21...
- the church in Jerusalem is going through a difficult time; many pilgrims are in the church and they are facing alienation and persecution
- Paul is on a mission to deliver relief funds to this church from the Gentile churches in Asia Minor and Greece
- as he makes his way to Jerusalem, Paul was repeatedly warned about the persecution he would face when he got there (see Acts 20:22-23)
- despite these warnings, Paul is convinced that God has called him to do this, and he displays a courageous commitment in order to do what God has called him to do
* If we are to do what we are called to do, we must also possess a conviction that leads to courageous conviction
1. Courageous conviction is developed when we know our purpose (v. 1-3)
* Paul clearly understood his purpose...
- specifically: to get funds to the Jerusalem church
- generally/overall: to spread the Gospel (to extend God’s glory)
* Paul likely knew all along that the adversity he would face in Jerusalem would provide him with opportunities to accomplish his purpose in life
* The dilemma Paul is facing (see 20:36-38): he has gotten very close to the leaders at Ephesus
* Does Paul stay where he’s comfortable and where everything is convenient, or does he leave and head to a place where he knows he’ll experience difficulty?
* Paul understood that his main purpose in life wasn’t comfort or convenience or even fellowship: he knew it was to become a servant of Christ and the Gospel
* Had Paul not understood his purpose, or if he had misunderstood it, he would not have developed the courageous commitment he needed
* Confusion today over our purpose as believers and as a church... The solution is to look to Scripture to find our purpose = 2 Cor. 5:18
* When we begin to understand and live that plan/purpose in our lives, God begins to infuse our lives with courageous commitment
2. Courageous commitment does not allow us to stray from our purpose (v. 4-6)
* Knowing his purpose wasn’t enough; Paul had to make sure he did not deviate from that purpose. His courageous commitment allowed him to stay on task.
* At one time or another, we all clearly understood our purpose. We knew that God wanted to know us and have us make him known to others.
* Somewhere along the way, we strayed from our purpose...
- some lose the fire and zeal they once had
- some lose the sense of awe at who God is and what he’s done
- some lose their focus and shift it inward instead of outward
* Satan’s strategy is to get us to put enough focus on other things so that we get away from our true purpose (both personally and as a church)
* Paul knew that staying would not be a “bad” thing per se, but he knew he couldn’t do that and fulfill his most basic purpose
* We need to ask God to continually keep us focused on the task at hand: doing what needs to be done to reconcile others to Christ
3. Courageous commitment is willing to pay the price to accomplish the purpose (v. 7-14)
* Courageous commitment cannot simply be talked about - it must be lived
* Verse 13: How Paul lived it...
* Are we willing to pay whatever price it takes to get the Gospel out of the church and into the world?
* Read stories of persecution occurring around the world = God’s use of this to accomplish his purpose
* We may never be in a situation where we have to pay a price like Paul. But are we willing to do so if that’s what it takes?