Acts 21

Vs. 30, “The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut.”  The fears of many came to fruition as Paul would indeed be in danger in Jerusalem (vs. 12).  We read earlier in our chapter that Paul makes his journey by ship from Miletus (in Asia) across the Mediterranean Sea to Tyre, Ptolemais, and Caesarea (vs. 1-9).  Along the way, Paul takes the time to encourage the local churches.  Paul runs into Philip (one of the original seven deacons chosen from Acts 6) and we read about his four prophesying daughters (vs. 8-9).  Moving on to Tyre, the prophet Agabus, acting out his prophecy much like Ezekiel did and gave an ominous prophecy of trouble ahead for Paul (vs. 10-11).  But Paul is resolute and will not allow this to sway his decision to bring the offerings to Jerusalem in time for Pentecost.  When Paul arrives to Jerusalem, he is warmly greeted by James (Jesus’ half-brother) and the rest of the disciples.  But, their was already opposition (Jewish Christians) ready to criticize Paul for their misunderstanding of Paul’s teaching to the Gentiles.  Question: Why the purification requirement (vs. 23-26)?  Some have argued why didn’t James and the leaders at the Jerusalem church defend Paul more?  Valid question and one I struggle with too.  Perhaps they too were unsure how to go about and they thought having Paul go through the ritual would suffice.  With Paul supporting the vows of these four men at the temple, they had hoped that the Jewish Christians would see this as a good gesture of support from Paul to the church.  But, this was Pentecost time and Jews from all over the regions were there, including some Jews from Asia (probably Ephesus)…who had been insulted by Paul and stirred up the crowds at the Temple.  Fortunately, the uproar and public beating of Paul caught the attention of the Roman soldiers (vs. 31-32).  He was subsequently arrested but before he was taken, he prepares his defense which we will read in chapter 22.

Regarding application…Surrendering to God’s Will.  Vs. 14, “When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.”  In Caesarea, the Christians there upon hearing Agabus’ prophecy of Paul’s demise…begged Paul not to go.  We get a real sense of the struggle Paul must have had (vs. 13)…for it was breaking his heart to know and see the anguish in others and quite possibly his own fears.  Yet, Paul and those in Caesarea finally realized that all they could do in the end is surrender it all to the Lord’s will.  Author and pastor, A.W. Tozer, “Before God can use a man greatly, He must allow him to be hurt deeply.”  Question: Isn’t that so true?  Following God’s will hurts at times.  We can live a pretty care-free life if we go down our own path…(the wide path – Matthew 7:13).  That path has no obstacles and life is great.  But the narrow path of God’s will is arduous and long.  It is a road that many choose not to go down.  Even for Paul, many tears flowed because he knew the sadness and toil that was to come.  Brothers and sisters…are you surrendering to God’s will?  If you are, life isn’t going to be easy.  But, yet…we can still consider it joy for while we may lose our life, we are bringing the life and light to others!  As Joshua and the Israelites entered into the Promised Land, God would exhort them to be “Be strong and courageous!”  Let us do likewise.

QT – I Timothy 2

Vs. 1, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone…” As Christians it is our duty not only to be in the Word, but to also ensure that prayer is a vital part of our lives. But Paul even gets more specific with us regarding prayer…we are to pray for our Kings (President) and all of those in authority above us. I don’t know about you, but this isn’t always the easist thing to do. Yet, there is a powerful precedent for us to pray for our leaders becauses it simply pleases God. Sometimes we have good leaders and sometimes we have bad ones, but God desires all of them to be saved. Additionally….there are benefits of leaders who fear God vs. those who live pagan lives. Regarding women…the Gospel opened up so many opportunities for women, but this new found opportunity brought some of the women to disrespect authority, but don’t think that the men were not at fault either. The aspect of submission is not to degrade or look down…it is a picture of how all of us should submit to our Lord. We are all submitted to God.

Regarding application…Surrender. Vs. 8, “I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.” One of the things with prayer is that it helps to remind us all that we can’t live this life alone. Both public and private prayer help us to surrender to God…the lifting of hands signifies this gesture of surrender. Our mediator (Jesus) gives us that direct access to God when we surrender our lives in the word & prayer. I’ve been thinking of the small amount of hymns I know these days and I remembered “I Surrender All”, where the lyrics state, “All to Jesus I surrender, all to him I freely give.” This is quite a convicting statement and I realize in my own life that I must surrender not only all that I call mine…but also God’s will in my life. For over a decade, I knew exactly where God wanted me as a Youth Director at GKUMC. Surrending to God isn’t just at the salvation moment, or choosing the right college, choosing the right career, spouse, friends, etc. It’s a journey of surrendering our lives daily to our Lord. May we know God’s will and direction as our lives unfolds with His word & prayer.