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The Scriptorium

Undeterred

One family. One vision. One love. Acts 21.7-14

Paul’s Legacy (9)

Pray Psalm 124.6-8.
Blessed be the LORD,
Who has not given us as prey to their teeth.
Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers;
The snare is broken, and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.

Sing Psalm 124.6-8.
(Neumark: If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee)
Blest be the Lord who has not given us to our foes to be devoured.
We shall escape and rise to heaven by His eternal grace and power.
Refrain v. 8
Our help is in Your Name, O Lord, Who made creation by Your Word.

Read Acts 21.1-14; meditate on verses 7-14.

Preparation
1. Where did Paul and his companions stay for many days?

2. Of what did Agabus warn Paul?

Meditation

Luke continues slowing down the trip to Jerusalem, as he relates Paul’s southward movement from Tyre to Caesarea (v. 7), and their stay there with Philip “many days” (v. 8). We feel the drama building to a pre-denouement peak with the arrival of Agabus and his terrifying word of warning (v. 11). The Holy Spirit clearly revealed to Agabus that Paul would be arrested by the Jews and handed over to the Gentiles. But was that prophetic word contrary to Paul’s reason for going to Jerusalem?

Not at all, even though the brethren and those in Caesarea seemed to have taken it so (v. 12). Paul was carrying a gift from many churches to relieve the suffering of the Church in Judea (Rom. 15.25, 26). Ministering to God’s people took priority over personal safety or convenience for Paul. Maintaining oneness among the many disparate congregations of believers was a focus of Paul’s ministry wherever he went. He would not risk that oneness by departing from his appointed task, come what may.

Paul was undeterred, and he rebuked his friends mildly, because he had long ago made up his mind that if he had to die for the Gospel, so be it (v. 13). Paul was making his way to Jerusalem, stopping frequently to meet with and encourage other believers – many of them the fruit of his ministry. Luke was building the drama toward the events in Jerusalem, but we’re also learning something about the ongoing work of Christ: Despite continuous opposition, the Gospel had taken root in many places, and the believers had a strong sense of oneness in the Lord. And this too is part of Paul’s legacy to future generations.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints” (Ps. 116.15).

The Lord has blessed our family in so many ways, not the least of which is an abundance of people. We have four children, fourteen grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Two dear grandchildren are already in heaven—one lost through miscarriage and the other in an accident. Even though they are no longer residents of earth, they are still very much our beloved and remembered family members. As are both sets of our departed parents and a brother.

In Acts 21.8 we read of Paul’s visit to Philip the evangelist. One of “the seven.” And who might these seven be? They are the original group of deacons chosen by the early church to serve the Hellenist widows. The church was told to “seek out seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom” to be appointed over this generous and loving task (Acts 6.3). And the men they chose were: Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, Nicolas, and Stephen (Acts 6.5). Our brother Stephen, by this point in time, had already been martyred by stoning; but he was still counted: one of the seven.

We will remember also, that our brother Paul tended to the clothes removed by the murderers so they wouldn’t get dirty. And he consented to Stephen’s death (Acts 7.58; 8.1).

This was a really loaded visit! So much happening, so many memories swirling, but the grace of God ruled supremely over the feelings of everyone involved. God changes hearts and minds. There is no doubt about it.
We are all new creations in Him (2 Cor. 5.17). And while this visit could have conjured up feelings of anger and remorse over the past, I don’t think it did at all. But what it undoubtedly did kindle was a loving memory of Stephen. One of the seven.

Jesus gave us a special way to remember Him, because He knew this to be an important function of our minds and hearts. “And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you’” (Lk. 22.19, 20). “This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me” (1Cor. 11.25).

All these remembered saints are “cheering us on”, as many have observed: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of [cheering] witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus…” (Heb. 12.1, 2). And remembering. And thus, being encouraged by their examples.

“Undeterred.”

For reflection

1. Why is it important that we remember our connections with believers from previous days?

2. What’s the key to forgiving those who have offended against us in the past?

3. How can daily Scripture reading and prayer help us to gain the kind of “undeterred” vision that Paul had?

When we see trouble coming, it becomes us to say, not only, The will of the Lord must be done, and there is no remedy; but, Let the will of the Lord be done; for his will is his wisdom, and he doeth all according to the counsel of it. When a trouble is come, this must allay our griefs, that the will of the Lord is done; when we see it coming, this must silence our fears, that the will of the Lord shall be done; and we ought to say, Amen, let it be done. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Acts 21.8-18

Pray Psalm 124.1-5.
We cannot know in advance what temptations or trials we may face. But, like Paul, if we keep our eyes on Jesus and His calling, we can count on Him to be on our side and buoy us through every challenge. Commit yourself afresh to the Lord, and call on Him to make His Presence with you known throughout the day.

Sing Psalm 124.1-5, 8.
(Neumark: If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee)
If You had not been with us, Jesus – let all who love You say with pride –
When foes rose up to fright and seize us, they would have swallowed us alive!
Refrain v. 8
Our help is in Your Name, O Lord, Who made creation by Your Word.

When all their anger flared against us, the flood would us have swept away.
Torrents and waters sore had drenched us, were not You all our hope and stay!
Refrain

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website, www.ailbe.org, and clicking theScriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Acts by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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