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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.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Plan B


S: Acts 19:21 After all these things had happened, Paul decided to go to Jerusalem by traveling through Macedonia and Greece. He said, “After I have been there, I must see Rome.”
Acts 20:22-23 “I am determined to go to Jerusalem now. I don’t know what will happen to me there. However, the Holy Spirit warns me in every city that imprisonment and suffering are waiting for me.
Acts 21:4 In Tyre we searched for the disciples. After we found them, we stayed there for seven days. The Spirit had the disciples tell Paul not to go to Jerusalem.
Acts 21:10-14 After we had been there for a number of days, a prophet named Agabus arrived from Judea. During his visit he took Paul’s belt and tied his own feet and hands with it. Then he said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘This is how the Jews in Jerusalem will tie up the man who owns this belt. Then they will hand him over to people who are not Jewish.’” When we heard this, we and the believers who lived there begged Paul not to go to Jerusalem. Then Paul replied, “Why are you crying like this and breaking my heart? I’m ready not only to be tied up in Jerusalem but also to die there for the sake of the Lord, the one named Jesus.” When Paul could not be persuaded, we dropped the issue and said, “May the Lord’s will be done.”

O: The Holy Spirit warned Paul time and time again not to go to Jerusalem, but Paul was determined to go. He saw the great turning to Christ among the Gentiles, and he longed to see a similar turning to Christ among his own people, the Jews. So Paul allowed his own desires to cloud his judgment and he managed to rationalize disobeying the clear command of the Holy Spirit, saying, “Why are you crying like this and breaking my heart? I’m ready not only to be tied up in Jerusalem but also to die there for the sake of the Lord, the one named Jesus.”

However, God did not abandon Paul because of this disobedience. Indeed, Paul was arrested in Jerusalem and spent at least 4 years in captivity as a result. Who knows what plans God may have had for him in those two or three years? But God still used Paul in prison — He used that time to inspire Paul to write several epistles, and also used Paul to lead many of Caesar's soldiers to Christ.

A: Even a great man of God like Paul messed up. And he wasn't the only one — Abraham, David, Peter, they all messed up. Yet God did not abandon them. God still had a Plan B for them.

So, if you find that you have messed up, that you've disobeyed God, that you have deluded yourself somehow to think that your own desire is God's plan, don't give up! He still can use you, just as he did Paul.

P: Father, thank You that you're ever merciful and give us second chances. When I mess up, may I quickly get up, repent, and return to following You. In Jesus' name, amen.
Note: Some Christians disagree with the interpretation that Paul had disobeyed God in insisting to return to Jerusalem. This is mainly due to the ambiguity of translation of verses like Acts 19:21 and Acts 20:22. The Greek is ambiguous: the word "spirit" can mean a person resolved to do something. However, if you compare many translations, for example using, you can see that only some of the translations translate this as "Spirit" — others translate it as "spirit", while others translate it as "decided to" or "determined" or "resolved to."

Given that God sent several prophecies to warn Paul not to go back to Jerusalem, including one by the same Agabus who accurately predicted the Judean famine, I think it makes a lot more sense to interpret it this way. These web pages have a more detailed discussion of this issue:
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

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