As we read last time about the not-so-quite-favorable reception of Paul’s return to Jerusalem, it gets worse today and the hunt to harm Paul has been unleashed again. I don’t even want to write about this but in all fairness to the book, the truth of the story line and scripture, I will press forward.
“Paul met welcome acceptance from some of the believers in Jerusalem. He met discouraging apprehension from others. Sadly, he also met a third reception: accusation.’ ‘They stirred up the crowd in the temple, the entire city fell into an uproar, and they grabbed Paul and tried to beat him to death.”(1)
“When Paul got to the steps, he had to be carried by the solders because of the mob’s violence, for the mass of people were following and yelling, “Kill him!” (Acts 21:35-36 HCSB)
Was Paul recalling what the prophet Agabus told him a few days earlier when he met Philip? “Wipe this person off the earth – it’s a disgrace for him to live!” (Acts 22:22 HCSB) “Was Paul ready for hatred and wholesale rejection by the people he would have given his life for? I’m not sure how adequately a person can prepare for such pain.” (2)
“Both Christ and Paul knew suffering was inevitable. Both Christ and Paul knew they would end up giving their lives – One as the Savior of the world, and other as His servant. Both grieved over Jerusalem. Both felt compelled to return to the holy city. Both knew the horror of being swept up in an angry mob. Both experienced the newness of every rejection. But no matter how many times it comes, one can hardly prepare for people who wish you dead. Paul did not know what would happen to him, but he did know Christ. As the apostle fellowshipped in His sufferings, he had never known Jesus better.” (3)
I hope that we never have to suffer the way Paul did. But you may have suffered in another way that you don’t understand the whys or the hurts or the whatever. We are coming up on Holy Week and I hope that you would attend a church where you can learn more about and the why behind what Jesus had to go through just so that he could offer us eternal life in exchange for his.
Blessings to you!
(1-3) Paul, 90 Days in His Journey of Faith / Beth Moore / B & H Publishing
Paul continues his journey back to Jerusalem from Tyre to Ptolemais where he stayed one night with the brothers. When he arrived at Caesarea he went to see Philip the evangelist. “Philip is first mentioned in Acts 6:5 in the list of the seven original deacons. Not only was he a Spirit-filled Christian and a very wise man, he was also an extremely effective evangelist.”(1)
Philip had four daughters who prophesied. “What does prophesying mean? The original word is propheteuo, which means ‘to declare truths through the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit… to tell forth God’s message.’ A prophet is a ‘proclaimer, one who speaks out the counsel of God with clearness, energy, and authority.’ In ancient days, prior to His completed revelation, God often used prophets or “proclaimers” to warn people about the future. Virtually all God wanted foretold, He ultimately inspired in His written Word, the Bible. So the gift of prophecy is most often used today as the proclamation of God’s truth. Whether or not they foretold any part of the future, Philip’s four daughters – in today’s terms – were Christian speakers.” (2)
Paul also encountered another prophet by the name of Agabus who delivered a message through a parable. He predicted imprisonment awaited Paul in Jerusalem and all the people pleaded with Paul not to go with weeping (vs. 12). “The original word for ‘weeping’ is the strongest expression of grief in the Greek language. The men were sobbing. Paul responded tenderly, ‘What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart?” (Acts 21:13) (3) Yet with Paul’s emotional response he never wandered from his faith to continue the journey set before him.
“We sometimes feel as if we’re playing tug-of-war with God. In bitter tears we sometimes let go of the rope, tumble to the ground, and cry, “Have your way, God!’ ‘God is not playing a game. He doesn’t jerk on the rope just so He can win. In fact, He doesn’t want us to let go of the rope at all… He wants us to hang on and let Him pull us over to His side. God’s will is always best even when we cannot imagine how. Surrendering to His will doesn’t mean you loose. Ultimately it means you win! Keep hanging on … and one day you’ll understand and will see His glory.”(4)
I couldn’t have said it more beautifully! Have a wonderful weekend!
(1-4) Paul, 90 Days on His Journey of Faith / Beth Moore / B & H Publishing
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“When it was time to leave, we left and continued on our way. All of them, including wives and children, accompanied us out of the city, and there on the beach we knelt to pray. After saying goodbye to each other, we went aboard the ship, and they returned home.” (Acts 21:5-6 HCSB)
“Although Paul had the opportunity to stretch his legs as several ports on his way to Jerusalem, he disembarked twice for a number of days. His first length trip was not by choice.’ ‘Have you ever noticed how often God has a blessing on the unscheduled stops along our way? God had a blessing waiting for Paul and the others on their unscheduled stop.’ ‘The disciples in Phoenicia opened their homes to Paul and his fellow travelers. Their hearts were so instantly bound with his, they begged him not to go to Jerusalem.’” (2) It says in verse 4 that “through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.” Was this a heavy heart or the Lord’s will?
Think about Paul’s initial journeys and where he had traveled. He had faced so many hardships along the way from stoning to almost being left for dead. Remember at one stop along the way the prison doors were unlocked and the captives were set free! What a treat now for the last few times to have been loved and appreciated so much by those around him!
They didn’t want him to leave! All of them (men, women and children) followed them to the beach and there they knelt and prayed! Can you picture this? Everyone was out in the open with no distractions around them. There was just the sky, the sand, maybe a palm tree or two, and the ocean in full view of God looking down upon them.
(1-2) Paul, 90 Days in His Journey of Faith / Beth Moore / B & H Publishing
“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:22-24 HCSB)
Paul shares 3 important points on his way to Jerusalem:
- He knows he’s supposed to go but doesn’t know what will happen to him when he gets there.
- Something he does know and takes the time to reflect on – The Holy Spirit has been warning him of prison and hardships in every city
- But no matter what he’s determined press forward - he considers his goal in life is to finish his race and to complete the task Jesus gave him!
I believe we all have faced similar situations as Paul (not referring to prison and hardships of that nature) but that unction that we know it’s time to go or maybe to reach out to someone whom you don’t know very well. We feel compelled but do not understand all the whys or what for’s or why this thing may keep coming up time and time again. Eventually we just know we need to go or do this thing!
It could be something as simple as calling a friend who you have not spoken to in years. Maybe that one phone call could mean the difference in helping someone at a very low point in their life? Maybe it could mean that person needs some help that you can offer them? Maybe it could mean a reconciliation of some kind? You don’t comprehend all the maybe’s you just know that you have to press in… compelled by the Holy Spirit to pursue something that you have no idea what may happen next. Or maybe it’s to do something and you have no idea how to get it done! You just know that you have to press in because the leading of the Holy Spirit!
In Paul’s case he felt compelled (obligated, required) by the Holy Spirit to go and at the same time the Holy Spirit has been warning him in each city of the prisons/hardships he will face. Can you imagine some of the fear he would have to face and overcome just in this alone! But no matter what … he was going to continue with the goal set before him to complete the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. He didn’t take something away from what Peter or Barnabas or Timothy were doing; he stayed true to what God had placed in him.
So what do you do when you feel the Holy Spirit nudge you? Do you just keep ignoring it or do you press in and move forward?
Paul, 90 Days in His Journey of Faith / Beth Moore / B & H Publishing