Paul’s Legacy (14)
Pray Psalm 147.1, 19, 20.
Praise the LORD!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful…
He declares His word to Jacob,
His statutes and His judgments to Israel.
He has not dealt thus with any nation;
And as for His judgments, they have not known them.
Praise the LORD!
Sing Psalm 147.1, 19, 20.
(St. Ann: O God, Our Help in Ages Past)
Praise God, for it is good to sing loud praises to the Lord!
With joy our songs of praise we bring to God and to His Word.
His Word He to His Church bestows – His promises and Law.
No other nation God thus knows: praise Him with songs of awe!
Read Acts 21.1-40; meditate on verses 37-39.
1. How did Paul try to show respect for others in this chapter?
2. What did he ask of the commander?
It’s been a little more than twenty years or so since Paul encountered Jesus on that Damascus road (cf. Gal. 1.15-18, 2.1; Acts 18.11, 19.10). A little more than twenty years earlier Paul would been among that crowd calling for the heads of those who preached the Gospel. Acts 21 gives vivid testimony to the power of love, of Jesus’ love for Paul, and the love of Jesus through Paul for lost people.
Luke slowed down the action in this chapter so that we could glimpse the legacy Paul had accumulated in those twenty years. Disciples and churches everywhere he went. A new generation of leaders called, trained, and ready to serve. Many of his epistles already written, sent, read, and being copied and shared around (1 and 2 Thessalonians, Galatians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, and Romans, at least; cf. Col. 4.16).
And at the end of Acts 21, we see the power of love at work in Paul – the very power that had energized his mission and established this glorious legacy. Beaten badly and barely rescued by the Romans, Paul showed no anger or vindictiveness, no resentment or indignation, only patience, civility, and a heart of love for the people who nearly killed him.
Paul had written earlier, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2.20). He shows us what can happen in a life completely given over to Jesus. And he calls us to imitate him as he imitated Christ (1 Cor. 11.1).
Let us ask ourselves: What legacy have we been creating over the last twenty years?
Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
What legacy? Indeed. How I wish I had embraced Paul’s attitude of, “…none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I can finish my race with joy…” (Acts 20.24) Instead, I fear, I have been unpleasantly surprised by cruelty and unkindness. Most surely, I can say with Jeremiah, “Remember my affliction and roaming, the wormwood and the gall. My soul still remembers and sinks within me” (Lam. 3.19, 20). Yes, I am sorry.
So much of the last twenty years would not have been wasted in anger and sadness had I merely been expecting the suffering. After all, Jesus promised it would be so. “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16.33). It just seemed so convoluted to be coming from within the church.
But why should it, that is what Jesus experienced, and Paul. So really, why shouldn’t I?
If happiness is the difference between what we expect and what we experience, then in a certain sense, if we expect the tribulations, we will maintain our happiness, “most gladly” (2 Cor. 12.9) when we experience troubles. Paul did.
I am comforted, though, when I read the rest of Jeremiah’s lament: “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I hope in Him!’” (Lam. 3.22-24)
The power of God’s love changes minds and hearts. And my heart will be changed. I long to be more like Jesus, and like Paul, and to say with him that we “know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8.28, 31, 35, 38, 39).
“Beaten badly and barely rescued by the Romans, Paul showed no anger or vindictiveness, no resentment or indignation, only patience, civility, and a heart of love for the people who nearly killed him.” That love is one aspect of Paul’s legacy. And because God’s compassions are new every morning (Lam. 3.23), that legacy can be mine as well, starting today!
1. What do we mean by Paul’s “legacy”?
2. Why should we as Christians be thinking in terms of leaving a legacy (cf. Ps. 45.17)?
3. What are some things that might make up the legacy you will leave to future generations?
God seasonably interposes for the safety of his servants, from wicked and unreasonable men; and gives them opportunities to speak for themselves, to plead for the Redeemer, and to spread abroad his glorious gospel. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Acts 21.27-40
Pray Psalm 147.2-7.
Give thanks and praise to the Lord for the Gospel, for His salvation, for the Church, and for our mission to take Jesus to the world. Pray for your work in your own Personal Mission Field today.
Sing Psalm 147.2-7.
(St. Ann: O God, Our Help in Ages Past)
The Lord builds up His Church and He His people gathers in.
The broken hearts He tenderly repairs and heals their sin.
The stars He counts, He knows the name of every chosen soul;
His pow’r is great, and great His fame Who understands us whole.
The humble God exalts above; the wicked He casts down.
Sing thanks to this great God of love; let songs of praise abound.
T. M. and Susie Moore
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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.