Summary: This sermon examines two critical question for a believer to understand and apply: 1) Can suffering be God's will for us? -and- 2) How should we act when we know suffering awaits us? (Acts 21)
Responding to Trouble
We are called to have a common purpose in what we do
-- The purpose is to worship, to love, and to celebrate Christ and share Him always
-- That is our challenge, mission, and it is STILL where we find ourselves today
Most will agree that Paul was a unique man; one who stood apart from others
-- He was not swayed by public opinion nor worried about what others thought
Paul understood that Grace was the key to life; for it had been shown to him
-- Jesus is not to be ‘used’ or consulted only when we need something
-- APP: It’s not right to want the blessings without the relationship/commitment
LAST WEEK: We saw the importance of not worshipping false idols
We have to admit that have modern idols; things that take our focus off of Jesus
BIG APP: Your reason for going to church IS what you worship.
Make sure it’s not trusting in something that’s false!!
TODAY: Did trouble take Paul by surprise? If you think about it, it shouldn’t have
-- In Acts 9, right at his conversion, Jesus made it clear to then Saul what his future would be like. He told Ananias (Acts 9:15-16), who was sent to pray for Saul, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”
He’s been before the Gentiles and the Jews; suffering through riots and beatings
-- But, he hasn’t appeared before Kings like he is about too
Paul hasn’t really known what’s ahead of him in the various cities he’s been
-- This time, he gets the word over and over that Jerusalem spells danger
-- Most reasonable people would probably avoid the place, but not Paul
APP: His attitude teaches us when trouble comes in our lives, we can withstand it
Since we are going to tackle this entire chapter, let’s break this reading apart
IMP: If you stay with me, this will draw us to a deep application for all of us!
Read v1 – 4
It’s interesting that the people told him not to go but it was God’s will for him to go (Acts 20:22, “I am going to Jerusalem, constrained (“bound”) by the Spirit, not knowing what happen to me there.”). The people heard of Paul’s future trouble and concluded that God would not want him to experience it.
Read v5 – 6
This is such a tender moment; Luke notes how not just the elders but their entire families went with them to the ship, knelt on the beach and prayed, sending him off to who knows what! This is discipleship and support at its finest!
Read v7 – 9
Many think this is Philip who preached to the Ethiopian eunuch in chapter 8
-- This same man was one of the FIRST deacons of the church
Read v10 – 16
Agabus also predicted a famine in Jerusalem in chapter 11 & 15 years earlier
-- Agabus could only tell the truth, it was up to Paul to decide how to respond
-- Pastors can lead people to the truth but cannot constrain them to obey God
-- Interesting that Agabus used the same Greek word (dēsas) that Paul used when he said he was “bound” by the Spirit; it means he was constrained or tied to it
v14 – Luke too didn’t want Paul to go. Paul had walked away from other fights (like in Ephesus) but here he won’t. Paul was not suicidal … he was obedient!
Read v17 – 26
James is Jesus’ half -brother, not the disciple James, who was martyred
Josephus reports that this time (A.D. 56-57) was full of political upheaval
-- Lots of uprisings and Jewish nationalism, all put down by Governor Felix
-- Paul, with a mission to the Gentiles, would not be greeted warmly, even by Jewish believers, who were zealous for their countrymen.
There is no evidence that Paul told Jews not to do things like get circumcised
-- Remember, he had Timothy, who had a Jewish mother, get circumcised
-- But for Gentiles, he communicated no such practice (already given instructions)
Now, instead of being strong and denouncing the rumor mongers, the council wanted Paul to pay the expenses of some folks who’d taken a Nazirite vow.
So was Paul under the law or not?
-- No, but he bent to some non-essentials in order to win the Jews.
1 Corinthians 9:20-23, “To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.”