Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The Scriptorium

End of the Beginning

The ongoing work goes on. Acts 28.17-31

The Trials of Paul (20)

Pray Psalm 57.1-3.
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me!
For my soul trusts in You;
And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge,
Until these calamities have passed by.
I will cry out to God Most High,
To God who performs all things for me.
He shall send from heaven and save me;
He reproaches the one who would swallow me up.
Selah
God shall send forth His mercy and His truth.

Sing Psalm 57.1-3.

(Faben: Praise the Lord, Ye Heavens Adore Him)
Lord, be gracious, gracious to me, for my soul retreats in You.
In Your shadow keep me safely till the storms of life are through.
I will cry to You, the Most High; You do all things well for me.
You will save me when I thus cry, routing all who threaten me.

Read Acts 28.1-31; meditate on verses 17-31.

Preparation
1. How did the local religious leaders respond to Paul’s testimony?

2. How did they respond to His teaching?

Meditation
Luke’s story ends where it began – with Jesus and the Kingdom of God, and His faithful servants continuing the work He began to do. Paul called the Jewish leaders in Rome together because he wanted them to hear his case before he went before the emperor (vv. 17-22). They had no clue about him or the charges against him, but they had heard about the “sect” of the Christians, and that it is spoken against everywhere.

On an appointed day, Paul resumed his wonted tactic, reasoning from and expounding the Scriptures about Christ and His Kingdom (v. 23). The results were the same he encountered everywhere else, and his response was the same, too (vv. 24-29). He gave the Jews an opportunity to hear the Gospel. Now he would concentrate on the Gentiles.

Our final lesson from Paul and the entire book of Acts: What Jesus began to do, Jesus continues to do, and Jesus will finish. The ongoing work of Christ goes on. Scandals and plots can’t stop it. Persecution fuels it. Storms and shipwrecks are just open doors of opportunity. Foes may decry and deny the Good News, but the world is full of people who are looking for the hope that is in Jesus. Are we looking for them? Are you?

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
All those who share the love of Jesus Christ continue to reach out to God’s original children of Israel. And that is as it should be. They are, after all, the “apple of His eye” (Zech. 2.8).

Paul gave himself three whole days to recover from all his travels and travails and then he contacted the leaders of the Jewish community in Rome. He wanted to tell them first-hand why he was there and give them the Good News about Jesus. He also wanted to give them a heads-up about why he would be facing a trial. As he said, “For this reason therefore I have called for you, to see you and speak with you, because for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain” (Acts 28.20). Jesus Christ is the “hope of Israel.” He is the only hope for salvation for all of humankind.

Paul then took an extra amount of time to talk with them at his own lodging. He “explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets…and some were persuaded…and some disbelieved” (Acts 28.23, 24). Paul practiced what he preached. “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself” (Phil. 2.3).

He showed them great respect and deference by talking with them first. But then he angered them with the truth about themselves: “the hearts of this people have grown dull” (Acts 28.27; Is. 6.10). He then dutifully informed them that “the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!” (Acts 28.28)

We see Paul following the letter of the Law and the spirit of the Law. But in doing so, he was never afraid to speak the truth of what he saw and of what he knew. We can learn much from his example. He was merely doing what Jesus had taught His own disciples to do: “And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!” (Matt. 10.14, 15).

Paul kept going. We need to keep going.
Paul kept sharing the Gospel. We need to keep sharing the Gospel.
Paul wasn’t afraid to speak the truth in love. Neither should we be.
Paul never hesitated to shake the dust off and move on. Why do we find this so difficult?
Could it be that we are so trained in tolerance that we have lost the power of discernment?
And the courage and permission to move on? Time is short. The fields are ready for the harvest (Matt. 9.37, 38).

God will lead us, in the same way that He led Paul, to have wisdom about who, what, where, when, and how to work our Personal Mission Field for His honor and glory.

Let’s continue to imitate him as he imitated Christ (1 Cor. 11.1).

For reflection

1. What are the most important lessons for us from Paul’s many trials?

2. What is your place in the ongoing work of Jesus Christ?

3. How would you describe the role of Scripture in Paul’s life and ministry? What should it be in ours?

Paul persuaded the Jews concerning Jesus. Some were wrought upon by the word, and others hardened; some received the light, and others shut their eyes against it. And the same has always been the effect of the gospel. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Acts 28.23-31

Pray Psalm 57.4-11.
Pray that God will be glorified and exalted by His people today. Ask Him to lift your soul and embolden you for today’s work in your Personal Mission Field. Commit yourself steadfastly to serve Him and give Him praise and thanks throughout the day.

Sing Psalm 57.4-11.
(Faben: Praise the Lord, Ye Heavens Adore Him)
Send Your truth and lovingkindness; raging lions seek my soul.
Threats and sland’rous words without rest they against me fiercely roll.
Be exalted o’er the heavens, let Your glory fill the earth!
To Your Name all praise be given, let all men proclaim Your worth!

Nets and pits they set before me; overwhelmed, my soul bows down.
Let them all in their own works be thrown and scattered on the ground.
Let my heart no more be shaken, I will sing Your praises, Lord!
Harp and glory, now awaken to extol God’s faithful Word!

Praise and thanks among the nations I will sing with all my might!
For Your truth and love are stationed far above the highest height!
Be exalted o’er the heavens, let Your glory fill the earth!
To Your Name all praise be given, let all men proclaim Your worth

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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