I am finding it very interesting to read Paul’s epistles (his letters to the churches) in the context of the book of Acts. It is bringing some new insights into some of the details that I had not grasped before. I hope and pray that you are finding the same.
I am struck very much by something today from this part of Acts. Paul writes in chapter 20 that the Holy Spirit had shown him that there was chains and afflictions waiting for Paul. Then, as we read forward in today’s section, we see some of the outworking of that truth. Paul meets major resistance when he travels to Jerusalem, even though he is careful to observe all of the necessary religious obligations necessary to appease the Jewish faith. (This very much reminds me of Paul’s statement that he became all things to all people in order to win a few…but I’ll talk more about then when we get there in our readings.)
What happens? The Jews from the province of Asia who were in Jerusalem to observe the religious festival rile up the crowd against Paul and a huge mob gathers seeking to kill. What I find amazing in this account is that Paul walked into Jerusalem knowing that he was walking into a hostile situation, and yet he still went.
I know that this speaks to me pretty strongly because I know what it is like to have an openly hostile situation going on in life and not face, in fact to avoid it at all costs. The problem with that approach is two-fold (in my experience). First, it does a number on your self esteem. You might rationalize your refusal to deal with the situation by saying that you’re turning the other cheek, or wanting to keep the peace. But deep down you know that you’re avoiding the situation out of fear, and that is never a confidence booster.
Second, if you do not deal with these types of situations, they never get resolved and they are likely to happen more often.
Paul spent almost his entire ministry knowing that difficulty was going to follow him, and he went on preaching the gospel anyway. He traveled to Rome knowing it would kill him! But if it was for the gospel, if it was to complete the task that God had laid out for him, then Paul was all for it.
So, what would you do?
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: Acts 24-26