Doing It Their Way
Loving Lord, I thank You that You know me inside out and love me completely, in spite of my weaknesses.
Read Acts 21:1-26
 After we had torn ourselves away from them, we put out to sea and sailed straight to Kos. The next day we went to Rhodes and from there to Patara.  We found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, went on board and set sail.  After sighting Cyprus and passing to the south of it, we sailed on to Syria. We landed at Tyre, where our ship was to unload its cargo.  We sought out the disciples there and stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.  When it was time to leave, we left and continued on our way. All of them, including wives and children, accompanied us out of the city, and there on the beach we knelt to pray.  After saying goodbye to each other, we went aboard the ship, and they returned home.  We continued our voyage from Tyre and landed at Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and sisters and stayed with them for a day.  Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven.  He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.  After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea.  Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.'”  When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem.  Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”  When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.”  After this, we started on our way up to Jerusalem.  Some of the disciples from Caesarea accompanied us and brought us to the home of Mnason, where we were to stay. He was a man from Cyprus and one of the early disciples.  When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers and sisters received us warmly.  The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present.  Paul greeted them and reported in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.  When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law.  They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs.  What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come,  so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow.  Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everyone will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law.  As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.”  The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them. Then he went to the temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end and the offering would be made for each of them. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhat was Agabus’ message and how did Paul react?
In this passage Paul bids farewell to the believers along his route to Jerusalem. It is an emotional journey as nobody doubts that this is the last time they will meet. Finally arriving in Jerusalem, Paul walks straight into a controversy. He tells the Jerusalem church the exciting stories of his experiences on the mission field: how God has been transforming Gentiles and calling them to faith in Jesus. We can imagine his enthusiasm as he recalls the places, the people, the power of God! The church in Jerusalem responds by praising God (20). Then comes the but: “That’s fantastic, brother,” they say, “but it’s not the way we do things here!” Paul has lived and worshiped among Gentiles, breaking many of the taboos of Jewish culture in order to reach non-Jews with the gospel. Now he quickly agrees to take part in a Jewish ritual to demonstrate his commitment to the Law. Although he knows he’s free from the requirements of the Law, he submits himself in the hope that the Jews might be won over (1 Cor. 9:19-23). Paul doesn’t want what he does to prevent people hearing the words he speaks.
Pray for any missionaries you know that they would adapt to the local culture so people can hear their message.
Lord Jesus, show me any way that my life gets in the way of anyone hearing and believing Your Good News.