07/20

July 20

Acts 21:15-40

It is between 57 AD and 59 AD. From history we know that in just over 10 years from this time the Romans will destroy the temple and the Holy City of Jerusalem. Tension is mounting between Rome and the Jews. Not only is there tension between Israel and the government, but there is dissension between the Jews. Some Jews are holding on tight to Judaism as they know it, and others are accepting Jesus as their Messiah and Savior. Some Jews don’t think the Gospel of salvation is for the Gentiles, and some do. Some Jews think the believing Gentiles need to follow Jewish customs, and some don’t. Religion is something that goes to the core of a person, so people feel strongly about their positions, especially when they differ from someone else.

Paul walks into this hotbed of Jerusalem, a man who is winning Gentiles to Christ without requiring them to embrace Jewish rituals. He goes to the church in Jerusalem, pastored by James, and he meets with the church leaders there. The church leaders have the revelation that salvation is for everyone through faith in Abraham’s Seed, Jesus. They celebrate what God is doing among the Gentiles.

Paul goes through a purification process to prepare to meet with consecrated Jews who are zealous for the Mosaic Law. The term “pay their expenses” meant to pay the price of purification, a gracious way of honoring these Jews and their beliefs. Paul then enters the temple to end the process by giving an offering.

Jews from Asia were visiting Jerusalem. They recognized Paul from when he had been in their cities. They were against Paul and his message of salvation through Christ and against the salvation of the Gentiles, so they stirred up a crowd in Jerusalem against Paul. The crowd literally drags Paul out of the temple, thinking they are doing what God would want them to do. The mob began to beat Paul. The commotion got the attention of the Roman soldiers, who stopped the gang violence and arrested Paul. It was so violent that the soldiers had to physically carry Paul through the crowd to get up the stairs. The crowd was angry, following the soldier and shouting, “Away with him!”

Paul knew ahead of time this was going to happen. No one knew better than this ex-persecutor and now persecuted man that Jerusalem was a dangerous place to be. He also knows that he will end up in Rome, as a prisoner. Paul knew there was a purpose in this persecution. He definitely has a crowd, and in the chaos, he asked the commander to address his fellow Jews. The commander agrees, and Paul steps into God’s purpose for that moment.

Psalm 31-33

Jesus quotes from Psalm 31:5 when He hung on the cross, saying, “Into Your hand I commit My spirit.” This psalm of David applied then, and it applied to Christ in His day. The rest of the psalm is about adversity and God’s persecution.

Paul quotes from Psalm 32:1-2 in Romans 4:6-8, speaking of the blessings of being forgiven by God’s graciousness. We certainly cannot earn the righteousness of God; no one can. Not only does God forgive, but He also teaches us the way we should go, the way of God, a way that leads to life and godliness. In verse 9, he writes, “Do not be like the horse or like the mule… which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, else they will not come near you.” This is a call for the dependency of faith, to have yielded and open hearts to go after God. This requires trust in His love (verse 10). The same is true of us – we must know the mercy of God in order to trust Him enough to surrender our lives in reliance to Him.

In Psalm 33:3, David writes of a “new song.” This is a spiritual song, a spontaneous song, given from the Holy Spirit for the moment. “New song” is in the book of Psalms 6 times. In the New Testament, Paul speaks of spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 14:15). God speaks to us, so why wouldn’t He sing to us? There is a fresh anointing on new song for what God is saying and doing then.

In Psalm 33:6 and 9 refer to God creating the worlds with His WORD. His authority and power are exercised through God giving breathe to words. Gods’ words are creative and enforcing. As His children, we are wise to learn how to operate in His authority and power by speaking what He gives us to speak. Words can bring life or death, so it is important that we speak words of life.

In verse 5, it says, “The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.” The Hebrew word for goodness is “chesed,” which describes a deep, compassionate, merciful love. The earth is FULL of God’s INEXHAUSTIBLE LOVE.

Verse 18 shows us how to get God’s attention. Of course, God is aware of us, but when the Bible speaks of God’s focus, it speaks of Him noticing and then going into action. So what motivates God? He works on behalf of the one who reverences (fears) Him and who hopes in His mercy. If we rely on our own works or self-sufficiency, then we’re not positioned in a faith that will receive from His grace. God is looking for those who encounter His love, then embrace and rely on His love. Unfortunately, not everyone who encounters His love will embrace it. Some will reject it or withdrawal from it, usually still living in an unhealthy fear, guilt, or shame. Some are broken and seem unable to believe it; but God is patient, continuing to repair previous damage from living in sin and a sinful world. He teaches us how to receive His love; He prepares our hearts to be able to let Him in. What a compassionate Father!

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