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I started this blog when I was following the Life Journal Bible reading plan on YouVersion. (I've since completed that plan.) At that time, YouVersion didn't provide any way for people to respond to my notes, other than to "like" them. So this blog is here to remedy that problem. You may comment on my notes here in the comment section.
I also have a general blog.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

God is Greater than our Goofs

24/10/11 Job 15; Acts 19-20
25/10/11 Job 16; Acts 21-23
26/10/11 Job 17; Acts 24-26

S: Acts 20:22 “And now I am bound by the Spirit (the translator noted: or "my spirit" or "an inner compulsion" -- the original Greek just says "the spirit" which can be interpreted all 3 ways) to go to Jerusalem. I don’t know what awaits me except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead.

Acts 21:4 We went ashore, found the local believers, and stayed with them a week. These believers prophesied through the Holy Spirit that Paul should not go on to Jerusalem.

Acts 21:10-11 Several days later a man named Agabus, who also had the gift of prophecy, arrived from Judea. 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.’”

Acts 21:21-24 (James, the brother of Jesus and the other leaders of the church in Jerusalem, advised Paul) “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. What should we do? They will certainly hear that you have come. Here’s what we want you to do. We have four men here who have completed their vow. 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 rumours are all false and that you yourself observe the Jewish laws.”

Acts 21:26-29 So Paul went to the Temple the next day with the other men. They had already started the purification ritual, so he publicly announced the date when their vows would end and sacrifices would be offered for each of them. The seven days were almost ended when some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul in the Temple and roused a mob against him. They grabbed him, yelling, “Men of Israel, help us! This is the man who preaches against our people everywhere and tells everybody to disobey the Jewish laws. He speaks against the Temple—and even defiles this holy place by bringing in Gentiles.” (For earlier that day they had seen him in the city with Trophimus, a Gentile from Ephesus,t and they assumed Paul had taken him into the Temple.)

Acts 25:25 (Governor Festus said:) But in my opinion he has done nothing deserving death. However, since he appealed his case to the emperor, I have decided to send him to Rome.

Acts 26:31-32 As they went out, they talked it over and agreed, “This man hasn’t done anything to deserve death or imprisonment.” And Agrippa said to Festus, “He could have been set free if he hadn’t appealed to Caesar.”

O: Many Christians interpret Acts 20:22 to mean that the Holy Spirit had compelled Paul to go to Jerusalem, but as the translator's note points out, the same Greek words could be interpreted as "my spirit" or "inner compulsion". In fact, what is clear is that the Holy Spirit warned Paul that he would be jailed if he went to Jerusalem.

Then in city after city, God sent prophets to warn Paul not to go to Jerusalem, but Paul, strong-willed as ever, ignored the Holy Spirit's warnings and went anyway.

James, the brother of Jesus, who by this time had become the Bishop of Jerusalem, tried to "rescue" Paul by suggesting a way to reassure the Jewish Christians of Paul's continued commitment to the Mosaic law, but the whole thing backfired with the Asian Jews saw Paul in the Temple and assumed that he had brought Trophimus in with him, so Paul was indeed arrested and jailed.

Paul languished in jail for 2 years because Governor Felix, who was familiar with both Judaism and Christianity, wanted a bribe and so didn't let Paul go free in spite of knowing that there was no case against him.

Then when Felix was replaced with Festus, Paul apparently goofed again by appealing to Rome, so now he couldn't be set free but instead had to be sent to Rome.

However, if we read the rest of Acts, and the epistles of Paul sent from prison, we can see that in spite of Paul's many goofs (and James' well-meaning advice which backfired), God did not abandon him. In fact, God use Paul to bring many to Christ, both on the journey to Rome as well as while he was in house arrest in Rome.

A: Good Christian can make mistakes. However, as we continue to be faithful to Christ, God can still use our mistakes to further His Kingdom.

So do not despair just because you have goofed up. God is still with you, and you can still be used mightily by God. Even someone so filled with the Holy Spirit like Paul goofed up numerous times. And God still used him. And God can still use you.

P: Father, thank You that You are still in control in spite of all our goofs! In Jesus' name, amen.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

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