Are You Ready? – Family Email March 13, 2019

Are You Ready?
 
I recently met a family who had to flee from their home country because it had become too dangerous for them to stay there as Christians. I saw a list a few weeks ago of the fifty most dangerous countries in the world for Christians, and it is very sobering. In Acts 21, as Paul was preparing to go to Jerusalem, people kept warning him not to go. They were afraid for his life and thought it was too dangerous. There are many places in the world today where it is dangerous to be a Christian. But how did Paul respond to danger? There were instances, like when Paul was in Ephesus, where he had to flee for his life. But in this story his response was different. A prophet came from Judea and warned him through the Holy Spirit that he would be bound and handed over to the Gentiles. The people all began to weep! But look at his amazing response:
 
Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Acts 21:13 (ESV)
 
Paul was ready. He was willing. Paul understood the risks and knew better than anyone what it meant to suffer for the sake of Christ. But not only that, he was actually willing to die for Jesus if it came to that. That’s commitment! Paul was so overwhelmed by the amazing love of Christ, that he was willing to die himself if it would bring glory to God. In fact, we know from Acts 9:16 that Jesus himself showed Paul how much he would suffer. Paul knew what was ahead of him, but he was ready. So let me ask you the question… are you ready? Are you ready for whatever God has next for you? Are you willing to be stretched and uncomfortable? Are you willing to suffer, be imprisoned or even die for the sake of the gospel? If you’re not ready, why is that? What would you have to do to prepare?
Family Discussion Questions
 
  1. Why was Paul ready to die for Jesus?
  2. What’s the furthest you’ve been out of your comfort zone for Jesus?
  3. Could you have been a Christian in the early church?
  4. How often do you pray for the Christians who are persecuted today?
  5. Are you ready?

And when we had parted from them and set sail, we came by a straight course to Cos, and the next day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara. And having found a ship crossing to Phoenicia, we went aboard and set sail. When we had come in sight of Cyprus, leaving it on the left we sailed to Syria and landed at Tyre, for there the ship was to unload its cargo. And having sought out the disciples, we stayed there for seven days. And through the Spirit they were telling Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. When our days there were ended, we departed and went on our journey, and they all, with wives and children, accompanied us until we were outside the city. And kneeling down on the beach, we prayed and said farewell to one another. Then we went on board the ship, and they returned home. 
When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais, and we greeted the brothers and stayed with them for one day. On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. He had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied. While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles’.” When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” And since he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, “Let the will of the Lord be done.” 
After these days we got ready and went up to Jerusalem. And some of the disciples from Caesarea went with us, bringing us to the house of Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we should lodge. Acts 21:1–16 (ESV)