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Hold on a Sec!

Paul's not done yet. Acts 12.37-40

Paul’s Legacy (13)

Pray Psalm 102.12-14.
But You, O LORD, shall endure forever,
And the remembrance of Your name to all generations.
You will arise and have mercy on Zion;
For the time to favor her,
Yes, the set time, has come.
For Your servants take pleasure in her stones,
And show favor to her dust.

Sing Psalm 102.12-14.
(Leominster: Not What My Hands Have Done)
But You, O Lord, abide forever in Your place.
Arise and stand on Zion’s side and lavish us with grace!
Revive Your Church, O Lord! Let all her dust and stones
be strengthened by Your mighty Word, and compact be as one.

Read Acts 21.1-40; meditate on verses 37-40.

Preparation
1. Whom did the commander think Paul was?

2. What did Paul say about himself?

Meditation

So, bloodied, bruised, and borne away by Roman soldiers, Paul wanted to defend himself before his fellow Jews (v. 39). His heart for his people is evident. His civility toward the tribune is almost unbelievable. No ranting, no threats, no demanding his rights; he just asked permission, based on his status as a Roman citizen.

Paul recognized the man’s authority and respected it accordingly. His asking in Greek surprised the Roman, who had obviously heard wild and crazy rumors about Paul (vv. 37, 38). Again, as in Philippi, Paul played his citizenship card and appealed to Roman protocol to continue his mission in the face of a mob that had been beating him to death (v. 39).

So he stood to speak – this time in Hebrew (Aramaic, v. 40) – always thinking about the best way to fulfill his mission. Never-say-die Paul was always looking to give it one more try. These are the kind of people who turn the world rightside-up for Jesus Christ, people who will not stop seeking ways to proclaim the Lord until they’ve breathed their last.

Agabus was right. The plan of James and the elders was good, but it did not achieve the desired result. Paul was beaten within an inch of his life and taken captive by Rome. But God was not finished with Paul yet – not by a long shot. Paul understood that suffering was part of the ongoing work of the Lord. But neither suffering nor captivity would keep him from seeking ways to fulfill his calling.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
And to fulfill this calling he had to rely on the strength that can only come from God. He could not conjure it up on his own.
Much of Scripture is written to comfort us in our weakness and to spur us on to greater achievements, but only through the power of the Holy Spirit. Let’s read what David, the sons of Korah, Solomon, Isaiah, and Paul teach us about God’s strength:

“I will love You, O LORD, my strength” (Ps. 18.1).
“The LORD is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Ps. 27.1)
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Ps. 46.1).
Wisdom said, “Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom; I am understanding, I have strength” (Prov. 8.14).
“He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength” (Is. 40.29).
“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’
Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12.9, 10).

So before Paul had received medical attention for his injuries, when he was hungry and tired, he took pleasure in his circumstances. Most gladly. And that is the miracle of God’s grace being sufficient for Paul. We have read Paul’s writings on the subject. And here, we have the privilege of seeing him living out his words. His was no “do as I say, not as I do” religion (1 Cor. 11.1). And just like Jesus, Paul’s works always aligned with his words.

Instead of longing for a nice hot shower, some professional bandaging, a scrumptious meal, and a good night’s sleep, will we, in the face of persecution, be as willing as Paul to make the request: “permit me to speak to the people”? (Acts 21.39) Allow me to keep on going.

If we are willing, God will make us able (Jude 24, 25).

For reflection

1. How would you counsel a new believer to prepare for the possibility of persecution?

2. In times of trouble, we need to believe what we read in God’s Word. Explain.

3. Write a prayer that you might use to help you in a time of trouble or even persecution.

When [Paul] argues with those from the outside, he does not hesitate to use the help of the laws. Here he impresses the tribune by the name of his city. And likewise on another occasion he says, [he was accosted] “publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison.” John Chrysostom (344-407), Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles 47

Pray Psalm 102.15-24.
Pray for revival among the churches of your community, our nation, and the world. Pray that God will move multitudes of His people to seek Him in prayer for revival, renewal, and awakening.

Sing Psalm 102.15-24.
(Leominster: Not What My Hands Have Done)
Then let the nations fear the glory of the Lord!
For He shall in His Church appear to heed our sighing words.
Then let our children learn to praise the Lord above.
He hears their groans and knows they yearn to dwell within His love.

Yet let us tell God’s Name and praise His glorious grace;
let all as one His love proclaim together in this place.
Though now our strength is low; though shortened grow our days,
Our God will not forsake us so, but keep us in His ways!

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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