Acts 20:16

For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it be possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.

Paul, the Apostle, lived a life full of determination, before and after he met the Lord. He was a zealous Pharisee and was known to be ruthless in tracking down Christians to be punished for their heresy. After his conversion, we see a man determined to do what God wanted him to do, to the best of his ability.

We see in this scripture that Paul is determined to get to Jerusalem by the feast of Pentecost. He had brought the gospel to the Ephesians and they were very dear to him. Ministering there the first time had almost cost him his life, in the riots. Now we see that he is so determined to get to Jerusalem that he will only stop by the dock and asks that the Elders come for a short meeting with him.

He informs them that this would be the last visit he would make to them and they wept at the thought of not seeing Paul again. Still, Paul was determined to get to Jerusalem.

The ship stopped at Tyre to unload, and Paul found some believers there. They tried to dissuade Paul from going to Jerusalem, but he was determined to get there.

At Caesarea, Paul stayed at the house of Phillip, the Evangelist, one of the first Deacons, and a prophet told Paul that we would be bound and suffer, if he continued to Jerusalem. Upon arrival in Jerusalem, Paul is there almost a full week before he is arrested and bound as the prophet has said.

At this point, one might be thinking, why didn’t Paul stay out on the mission field instead of going through hardships in Jerusalem, which would limit his ministry for some time to come? Because, Paul was determined to be obedient to God in the simple things. He simply knew that he was to be at Jerusalem, and he would let nothing stand in his way to be obedient. Weeping, crying, prophetic utterance and the begging of travel companions could not dissuade him from achieving the goal he felt God had given him.

What was the outcome of Paul’s determination? He was able to witness to the civil authority of both Rome and Israel, which no one else could have done. The Government paid his way to Rome and he began ministering there in complete freedom for two years.

God blessed Paul because he was determined to serve Him. He would not let the difficulties keep him from doing what he felt God had told Him to do. Could he have won more souls for the Kingdom if he had not gone to Jerusalem? Only God can answer that. Was God able to accomplish things for the kingdom that no one but Paul could? The answer is obviously yes!

How steadfast is your determination to do what God has told you to do? Are you affected by circumstances that are boring? Unpopular? Below you abilities? Not as productive as you could be? Then now is the time to realize that God has a plan for you and you are in it! Determine in your heart to be obedient, as Paul was. There could be harder times ahead, but the rewards are “out of the world”!

Here are five “I will” principles to practice in order to incorporate the character trait of determination into your life (write these on a poster, board or overhead transparency).

  1. I will set goals.
  2. I will make sure my goals are right.
  3. I will ignore distractions.
  4. I will not be discouraged by others.
  5. I will face problems head-on.

Closing #1: Let’s dialog about it with one another.

  • Shift the group into small discussion groups of 3-4.
  • Encourage groups to list the hindrances in their own lives to practicing determination in their families and with acquaintances.
  • Ask groups to share their feelings with whole group.

Closing #2: Let’s close in silent prayer, ask God:

  • To forgive you for things in your life that cause you to focus on yourself instead of the needs that are around you.
  • To show you how to practice determination I your life.
  • To make you aware of opportunities to grow in this character trait.


Determination – A Five-Minute Study

Faith Committee, Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky

Contributed by Craig E. Beckley
Bible Teacher, Moores Hill, Indiana

August 1, 2003

Biblical Example: Caleb — Numbers 13:1-14:25

At the beginning of chapter 13 in Numbers Moses sends out men to explore the land of Canaan and bring back a report about the people of the land, the towns, and the soil and fruit of the land. Among the men was Caleb.

The men returned with a report of a rich land flowing with mild and honey populated with powerful people who lived in fortified cities. Caleb spoke out and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it” (13:30). But the others (except Joshua) complained that defeat was certain because the people were so strong and big that “we seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them” (13:33).

As the Israelites heard the majority report, they moaned and wept and regretted leaving Egypt. Then Caleb and Joshua tore their clothes and said to the whole assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with mild and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them” (14:7-9).

In this speech, Caleb and Joshua revealed their determination. They showed that they were not discouraged by the negative reports and pressure of the other men. Although they saw obstacles, which to others looked insurmountable, they saw these obstacles as opportunities for God to intervene and overcome the opposition.

Later the Lord forgives the people for their lack of faith in Him; however, he declares that not one of the men who saw His glory and yet disobeyed Him would see the promised land. But His promise to Caleb was different: But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it (14:24). God rewarded Caleb’s faith and his determination to follow and obey God regardless of the opposition.


Some practical evidences of determination in our lives today are seen in the following “I will” statements:

I will set goals.
I will make sure my goals are right.
I will ignore distractions.
I will not be discouraged by others.
I will face problems head-on.

Divide into pairs and discuss:

  • What are some of the benefits of living a life with determination? (Some possible answers: complete tasks, are not easily influenced by others, can think for self, people can count on, people trust,
  • Why do you think some people do not demonstrate the character quality of determination? (Some possible answers: lazy, selfish, lack of examples, too passive, lack of instruction in goal-setting, etc.)


Spend a few minutes in personal reflection:

  • Think of a task God has called you to. (This does not have to be a task within the church. It may be a task with one of your children, or a task He has given to you at your job.)
  • Evaluate yourself using the determination “I wills”.
  • Prayerfully come up with an action step to grow in determination this week. Share this with a trust friend who will help you.


Determination – A Five-Minute Study

Faith Committee, Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky

Contributed by Margaret Garner
Senior Associate, Worldwide Discipleship Association, Fayetteville, GA

August 1, 2003

This material is published by the Faith Committee of the Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Reproduction and Adaptation is encouraged.