Bridge Family Devotion (November 23, 2014)

We have just spent a lot of weeks concerning the Gifts of the Holy Spirit which must become part of our daily lives. Today we jump back into Paul’s arrest and journey back to Jerusalem.

Acts 21:10 Several days later a man named Agabus, who also had the gift of prophecy, arrived from Judea. 11 He came over, took Paul’s belt, and bound his own feet and hands with it. Then he said, “The Holy Spirit declares, ‘So shall the owner of this belt be bound by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and turned over to the Gentiles.'” 12 When we heard this, we and the local believers all begged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. 13 But he said, “Why all this weeping? You are breaking my heart! I am ready not only to be jailed at Jerusalem but even to die for the sake of the Lord Jesus.” 14 When it was clear that we couldn’t persuade him, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.”

Paul, what a great man of God! He was even willing to die for what He knew to be truth. When it was prophesied he would be bound and imprisoned, they started weeping but Paul said (translated) dry up the tears, being imprisoned is nothing since I’ve already been there and done that, I’m ready to die for Jesus. No wonder he later wrote to live is Christ and that is better for you but to die is gain and that is better for me. In the coming days, we must begin to think with those type of Kingdom Thoughts.

In the next verses we see Paul arriving at Jerusalem to stand trial.

15 After this we packed our things and left for Jerusalem. 16 Some believers from Caesarea accompanied us, and they took us to the home of Manson, a man originally from Cyprus and one of the early believers. 17 When we arrived, the brothers and sisters in Jerusalem welcomed us warmly.

After they could not persuade him not to go to Jerusalem, they got everything packed and continued their journey. His arrival in Jerusalem was a warm reception but soon the fireworks would start.

18 The next day Paul went with us to meet with James, and all the elders of the Jerusalem church were present. 19 After greeting them, Paul gave a detailed account of the things God had accomplished among the Gentiles through his ministry.

Paul is one of those you would want on your ministry team. He liked to get things done. No time to rest from the long trip; the next day he was up and meeting with the leaders of the early church. He preceded to give them details about his ministry among the Gentiles.

20 After hearing this, they praised God. And then they said, “You know, dear brother, how many thousands of Jews have also believed, and they all follow the law of Moses very seriously. 21 But the Jewish believers here in Jerusalem have been told that you are teaching all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn their backs on the laws of Moses. They’ve heard that you teach them not to circumcise their children or follow other Jewish customs. 22 What should we do? They will certainly hear that you have come.

Here comes the conflict. The early leaders praised God for all those who had got saved but then they were concerned about the religious people (not the sinners) because Paul was teaching faith and works not just works of the law. Rumor was that Paul was teaching against the Bible but the truth was this, Paul was teaching New Covenant.

23 “Here’s what we want you to do. We have four men here who have completed their vow. 24 Go with them to the Temple and join them in the purification ceremony, paying for them to have their heads ritually shaved. Then everyone will know that the rumors are all false and that you yourself observe the Jewish laws. 25 “As for the Gentile believers, they should do what we already told them in a letter: They should abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality.”

To show that Paul was not against the law, he performed the law’s requirements with four other men. Then they rehearsed what they had told the Gentile converts to observe: 1. Don’t eat food offered to idols; 2. Don’t consume the blood of animals; 3. Don’t engage in sexual immorality. The early church leaders were not trying to make Jews out of the Gentile converts but they were trying to convert them into being disciples in the Kingdom of Father God. The Gentile believers were not commanded to keep all the laws which the Jews kept since they were living by a New Living Way (faith). Next week we will find that this offended some of the religious Jews who would not accept Jesus as their Messiah.

Prayer Points: Father God in Jesus Name, help us to live our lives like Paul who feared no one but One. Let us have his type of faith which said, all you can do is kill me and if you kill me I’m better off. Help us Father to live our lives pleasing to you in Jesus Name!