Sailing To Rome On God’s Schedule, Not Ours

Sailing To Rome On God's Schedule, Not Ours

There is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to visit you, I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to see you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while. Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the Lord’s people there. For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem. They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this contribution, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way. – Romans 15:23-28

Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favorably received by the Lord’s people there. Romans 15:31

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Acts 20:35

When Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship. Acts 20:36-38

We sought out the disciples there and stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. Acts 21:4

We reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven. He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied. After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’” Acts 21:8-11

When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.” Acts 21:12-14

The whole city of was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut. While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander of the Roman troops. The commander at once took some officers and soldiers and ran down to the crowd. The commander came up and arrested Paul and ordered him to be bound with two chains. The crowd that followed kept shouting, “Get rid of him!” Acts 21:30-36

When two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, but because Felix wanted to grant a favor to the Jews, he left Paul in prison. Acts 24:27

Three days after arriving in the province, Festus went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem, where the chief priests and the Jewish leaders appeared before him and presented the charges against Paul. Acts 25:1-2

After spending eight or ten days with Jewish leaders, Festus went down to Caesarea. The next day he convened the court and ordered that Paul be brought before him. Acts 25:6

After Festus had conferred with his council, he declared: “You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go! Acts 25:12

Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.” Acts 26:32

When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion named Julius, who belonged to the Imperial Regiment. We boarded a ship from Adramyttium about to sail for ports along the coast of the province of Asia, and we put out to sea. Acts 27:1-2

When we got to Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him. Acts 28:16

For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Acts 28:30

Perhaps in Paul’s mind, his trip to Rome by way of Jerusalem might would take, at most, a year. In fact it took much longer, but the vision he had of reaching Rome and ministering to Christ’s disciples there produced fruit. Did Paul reach Spain? Only God knows for sure. Perhaps we can learn from Paul’s excursion to Rome that the details and dates and milestones are in God’s hands not ours. Whatever he has laid upon our hearts, He will see to completion. . . in His time, not ours.

The Lord’s Will Be Done

Acts 21

The Lord's Will Be Done

We tore ourselves away. Acts 21:1

Though the Spirit they urged Paul not to go . . . we continued on our way. On the beach we knelt and prayed. Acts 21:4-5

Phillip the evangelist had four unmarried daughters who prophesied. Acts 21:9

The prophet Agabus warned, “The Holy Spirit says, the owner of this belt will be handed over to the Gentiles.” Acts 21:11

We pleaded with Paul not to go. Acts 21:12 But then we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.” Acts 21:14

Often we think an open door is God’s will. Or that a closed door is his answer to our prayer. Other times the nudging of the Holy Spirit seems to point us in a direction . . . or stop us in our tracks. In all cases we need to test the spirits.

In the above passages, twice the Holy Spirit warned Paul of the trials he would face if he proceeded. Paul’s godly friends begged him to turn back, but Paul remained sure of his calling and God’s will for him. The Holy Spirit did not tell Paul to turn back, but the Spirit of Christ did prepare him for the trials he was to face. And all that the Holy Spirit warned of came true, and yet Paul did not die. Though he was imprisoned, God opened a door for him to witness in Rome to those in the household of Herod.

If we pay close attention we can hear the Holy Spirit speaking of the trials we may face. This warning may not be our call to retreat, but, like Paul, to advance boldly. Are you leaning forward in your walk with Christ, or looking back?

Savage Wolves Will Come in Among You and Will Not Spare the Flock

Acts 20

Savage Wolves Will Come in Among You and Will Not Spare the Flock

While I testified to the gospel of God’s grace I have served the Lord with great humility and with tears. Although I was severely tested by the plans of others, you know I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you. Acts 20: 19-20

I have declared that all must turn to God in repentance and faith in our Lord Jesus. Acts 20:21

Now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going, not knowing what will happen to me. Acts 20:22

I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the WHOLE WILL of GOD. Therefore, keep watch over all those whom the Holy Spirit has placed in your care. Acts 2028

I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples. Therefore, I have warned you: Be on your guard! Acts 20:29-31

If you are properly devoted to the Lord Jesus, you have reached the lofty height where no one would ever notice you personally. All that is noticed is the power of God coming through you all the time. – Oswald Chambers

Soon the Whole City Was in an Uproar

Acts 19

Soon the Whole City Was in an Uproar

About the time Paul visited the province of Asia there arose a great disturbance in the city of Ephesus about the Way. A silversmith named Demetrius called together the craftsmen and said, “You see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all. There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name but the goddess Artemis will be robbed of her divine majesty.”  Acts 19:23, 26-27

When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: “Great is Artemis.” Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Paul’s traveling companions and rushed as one man into the theater. The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting on thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there. They all shouted in unison for about two hours: “Great is Artemis.” Acts 19:28-29, 32, 34

How about us? Are we in an uproar over some grievance or offence? Have we been insulted, disrespected, disenfranchised, under counted, over looked, left behind, or misunderstood? Are our hurts worth the division and violence that will follow from our outburst?

The city clerk quieted the crowd and said: “Men of Ephesus, you ought to be quiet and not do anything rash. If you have a grievance against anybody, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. They can press charges. If there is anything further you want to bring up, it must be settled in a legal assembly.” Acts 19:35, 36, 38-39.

When we died in Christ and were born into his Spirit, we agreed that our natural born rights granted in the Kingdom of Man became secondary to the rights gained in the Kingdom of God. Now the only right that matters is the right to be called a child of God. In our actions are we imitators of Christ? Let us live in peace with others through the Spirit of Christ, not as the ungodly who worship the idols of some fading movement. Our neighbors are watching.

Apollos Was a Learned Man, With a Thorough Knowledge of the Scriptures

Acts 18

Apollos Was a Learned Man, With a Thorough Knowledge of the ScripturesApollos was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor. He taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John.  – Acts 18:24-25

Are we learned men and women? Do we meditate on God’s word daily? Are we thoroughly knowledgable of the Scriptures?

The Religion News Service recently quoted an individual as saying, “I started to break down my faith and ask, ‘Why is all the Bible written by men? Why is it all one-sided? What do we do with the genocide and the poor treatment of women?’ ”

This individual reflects a growing segment of the population who hold that the Bible is little more than a flawed historical document. To this point Dr. George Barna, founder of The Barna Group, a market research firm specializing in studying the religious beliefs and behavior of Americans, was recently quoted as saying,

“America is in a post-Christian Reformation theology and this reformation is being driven by American culture rather than biblical truth. The worldviews embraced by the adherents of these distinct religious communities reflect contemporary, worldly influence, rather than biblical influence. The most startling realization is how many people from evangelical churches are adopting unbiblical beliefs.”

“Evangelicals have traditionally emphasized the importance of seeing the Bible as the infallible, inerrant Word of God. Now, however, 52 percent do not believe in objective moral truth, which ‘equates to most evangelicals believing that the Bible is either not inerrant or trustworthy in its content.’ That, said Barna, “is a radical and critical departure from the traditional teachings and biblical reliance of evangelicals.”

Contrast the current state of the religious beliefs and behavior of Americans with those of Apollos who, “began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.” – Acts 18:26

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he asked some disciples, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”
“John’s baptism,” they replied. 
Paul then placed his hands on them and the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in other languages and prophesied. – Acts 19:2-4, 6

How about you? Have you been baptized into Christ through his death and resurrection? Do you recall when you professed your faith in Christ? Were you confirmed into a church without receiving the Spirit of Christ through the laying on of hands? If so, find a body of believers who will witness to your Holy Spirit baptism and then record the date of your Holy Spirit Baptism in your Bible. There may come a day when your family and loved ones will find comfort in knowing that you professed your faith in Christ on a certain date.

However some in Ephesus became obstinate. They refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. – Acts 19:9

A hardening of the heart follows obstinance and rebellion. Left unchecked, a mocking spirit takes residence within.

But others were seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. – Acts 19:17-18

Fear of the Lord leads to reverence. Reverence leads to worship. Worship leads to a desire to honor God. And when we have fear of, reverence for, and desire to honor God, we will repent, confess our sins, and worship God with thanks.

By going through our trial we learn to know God better. Oswald Chambers

Life is one trial after another. With the Spirit of Christ within, we can treat each trial as another opportunity to experience God’s love in greater ways.

Examine the Scriptures Every Day

Acts 17

Examine the Scriptures Every DayThe Bereans examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Acts 17:11

How about us? Do we examine the Scriptures each day to see if what Paul said, what a writer, preacher, friend says about God’s words are true? God is not worried that an audit of his words will reveal an error, for through his Spirit the writer of Proverbs said, “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” Proverbs 30:5

Jealous Jews rounded up bad characters, formed a mob, and started a riot in the city. These jealous Jews went to Berea, agitating the crowd, and stirring them up. Acts 17:5 & 13

Do we? When circumstances run counter to what we hoped would happen, do we round up a tribe of like-minded believers, form a mob, and riot in the streets and online? Perhaps because Paul endured beatings prompted by agitated mobs, he wrote, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Romans 12:18

A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with Paul, asking, “What is this babbler trying to say?” They took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “You bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.” Acts 17:18-21

Is this the way we seek wisdom and knowledge? By rushing after the latest popular movement or some awakened understanding that suggests we are more enlightened than God? Do the words of God leave us confused, as though he speaks in code? If so, we only need to raise our hand and ask for help. “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”-  James 1:5

“God is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, for he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. God made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place. God did this in order that they should seek him, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us. In the past God overlooked our times of ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. He has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” Acts 17:26-31

As the psalmist says, “Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!” Psalm 100:2. Never forget that we can only serve God because through his mercy he allows us to come into his presence. He does not need to be served, but through his grace, he allows us to anoint his feet with perfume and wipe his feet with the very hairs on our head. He saves. He redeems. He has fixed a day for judgement.  All he asks of us is that we turn from our sins and towards him. Will we?

 

Lord, you are my shield around me. You bestow glory on me. You lift up my head. To you, I cry aloud and you answer from your holy hill. I lie down and sleep. I awake again because of you. Sustain me. Arise, O Lord. Deliver me, O God! From the Lord comes deliverance. May your blessings be on your people. May your blessings be on me.  Psalm 3