Skip to content
Oct 20 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

October 16, 2016 – Genesis 2:1-8

The Breath of Prayer

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created in the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven. Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the LORD God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground. But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground.

Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Genesis 2:1-8

Intro: A close look at these verses reveals two scenes with a break between them

The break comes at verse 4, which in the Hebrew text begins:

These are the generations . . .

– this introductory phrase is used repeatedly in Genesis to signal the transition to a new section
• verse 4 is a summary of chapter 1, which properly concludes in verse 3 of chapter 2
• after the story of creation is told, chapter 2 backtracks for a close-up on the creatio of humankind
– we are privileged to witness a divine intimacy between God and Adam
• much more so than Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” on the ceiling of the Sistene Chapel
• the spark of life does not pass between their finger tips
◦ rather God’s mouth is near Adam’s and his breath is under Adam’s nose

Two words are used of the work God did during the six day creation
– The Hebrew word asah is translated “made” and bara is translated “created”
• but when it comes to the human, a new word is introduced
yatsar is translated “formed” (sometimes “potter” or sculpt)
◦ again, a creative intimacy unique to the human
– “ground” (or soil) is adahmah and “man” who came from the soil is adahm, Adam or humankind
• with the breath of God, the inanimate and impersonal clay sculpture became a living soul
◦ a “self” or self-conscious person who is given a name
◦ humankind is already seen as one part earth and one part heaven
• but references to God have undergone a similar change from impersonal to personal
◦ in the first chapter, it is always Elohim, who creates this and that
◦ beginning in verse 4 of chapter 2 the shift is to Yahweh Elohim

God too has a a name
and intimacy is now possible,
because these “persons,”
the man and God, can call each other by name

This is our second week of “A Refresher Course In Prayer”

Today we’re going to reflect on the spiritual potential of breath

“Spirit” – Latin, spiritus, which is also “breath”
– the same is true of the Hebrew ruach and Greek pneuma: “air in motion,” wind, breath, spirit
• inspiration and respiration are linked by common roots

Thus says God the LORD, . . .
Who gives breath to the people on [the earth]
And spirit to those who walk in it . . . .
(Isa. 42:5)

◦ inhale, and we receive life from God
◦ exhale, and we temporarily surrender that life back to him
• noticing our breath can help us become aware of God’s Spirit

read more…

Oct 11 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

October 9, 2016 – Mark 3:13-15; 6:30-32

Prayerful Practice

And He went up on the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out the demons.

The apostles gathered together with Jesus; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught. And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) Mark 3:13-15; 6:30-32

Intro: In our first reading, Jesus chose the twelve to be with him

Being with Jesus would qualify them for ministry (cf. Acts 4:13)
– he was going to send them out with his message and authority
• but first they had to experience being with him
• during that time the heard his teaching, witnessed the miracles and came to know Jesus
– the scene in our second reading occurred after their first solo flight
• again, he drew them back to himself, this time to be alone with him
• if they just had just stayed busy, they would have lost something
◦ they would have dried up and eventually burned out
◦ or worse, they would have begun to fake ministry, to perform mechanically

Being with Jesus is what defines an apostle
– I’m also throwing out the idea that being with Jesus is what defines prayer
• what I have in mind is that we spend a few weeks on a refresher course in prayer
– remember, there is a difference between prayers and prayer
prayers have many specific themes: confession, request, complaint, surrender, intercession, etc.
prayer is the one thing that is necessary (Lk. 10:42)

A list of spiritual disciplines appears at end of 1 Thessalonians

In this list, Paul included, pray without ceasing (1 Thes. 5:16-22)
– I don’t think he meant, be always saying prayers
• or as you go about your daily routine keep talking to God in the back of your mind
◦ rather, remain in a state of prayer, of ongoing communion with God
• keep the line open, never hang up
◦ don’t use the word Amen to signal your prayer has ended and now you are on to other things

read more…

Oct 4 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

October 2, 2016 – Ezra 10:1-2

A Slender Ray of Hope

Now while Ezra was praying and making confession, weeping and prostrating himself before the house of God, a very large assembly, men, women and children, gathered to him from Israel; for the people wept bitterly. Shecaniah the son Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, said to Ezra, “We have been unfaithful to our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land; yet now there is hope for Israel in spite of this.” Ezra 10:1-2

Intro: I’m going to ask you to ignore the particulars in passage

Who these people were and the specific issue they raised
– so don’t worry if you cannot relate to the details
• their general situation was one with which we can identify
• they were in deep trouble, yet in spite of it, they could still hold out hope
– for the last three months on Wednesday and Thursday evenings
• the theme of our spiritual reading of scripture has been “cultivating hope”
◦ cultivate is, of course, borrowed from agriculture, horticulture (Latin origin: to “prepare the soil”)
◦ the idea behind our theme is that there are things we can do to nurture hope
• from these weeks of meditation and discussion I got ten insights regarding cultivating hope
◦ so I’ll cite the verses we used and the insights I  got from them

1. Romans 8:35-39 – Review Paul’s checklist
Mark any condition you allow to separate you from God’s love:
☐ ongoing hardship ☐ distress ☐ persecution ☐ famine
☐ an empty closet ☐ danger ☐ invasion ☐ death
☐ life ☐ angels ☐ demons ☐ the present
☐ the future ☐ height ☐ depth
☐ any other created thing

Paul didn’t write a checklist
– he listed a number of events and entities that cannot separate us from God’s love
– it does not hurt to review the severe experiences that cannot cancel hope
• or to remind ourselves of God’s unbreakable bond

2. 2 Corinthians 4:7-10 – Transcend cause and effect

• the cause: difficult circumstances, chaos, confusion
• the effect: negative moods, attitudes and hopelessness
• “this but not that” – we do not have to fall into the trap
• deep breaths can create a prayerful moment and bring us back to free choice

The emotional law of cause and effect is that bad events inevitably evoke bad moods
– for example, Paul talks about being perplexed
• small wonder — we saw a graphic example of the kind of trauma and hardship that was typical for him
◦ the natural effect of overwhelming perplexity would be despair
◦ yet Paul says he was perplexed, but not despairing
• the possibility of transcendence is in the words “but not”
– we hope when we realize we’re not bound to circumstantial ups and downs
• our joy doesn’t fluctuate with the stock exchange
• our peace doesn’t fade in and out with the nightly news

3. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 – To get out of the pit, shift perspectives

• from external decline to internal renewal
• from momentary hardships to the eternal joys of God
• from visible shadows to invisible realities

Negative thought patterns–worry, fear, despair–and negative moods narrow our field of vision
– right now feels like forever; one rude person feels like everyone
– all it takes to correct our vision, is to look at the big picture

read more…

Sep 30 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

September 25, 2016 – Acts 28

Miracles and Manacles

When they had been brought safely through, then we found out that the island was called Malta.
The natives showed us extraordinary kindness; for because of the rain that had set in and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all. But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened itself on his hand. When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they began saying to one another, “Undoubtedly this man is a murderer, and though he has been saved from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.”
However he shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm. But they were expecting that he was about to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had waited a long time and had seen nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and began to say that he was a god. Acts 28:1-6

Intro: Have you ever felt like God has given you too much to handle?

Finally out of hurricane, Paul’s feet were on solid ground
– yes, it raining and cold, but a warm fire was burning nearby
• Paul picked up a few sticks to toss into the flames and felt a sudden sharp pain
• he looked, and a viper was hanging from his hand
◦ this had to feel like the last straw
– at that point, I would look up and say, “Really?!”
• I imagine Paul shaking his head
◦ then shaking the snake of his hand and into the flames
• in high school sports, whenever we took a hit or missed a play
◦ our coaches would shout, “Shake it off!”
◦ there would always be lots of bumps and bad calls
◦ but they wanted us to keep our head in the game

The last few chapters have been about Paul
– but what was Paul about? – this question leads us to the larger theme
– we already know what it is, but Luke wants it clearly spelled out

After the shipwreck, they learned they had washed up on the shores of Malta
– “natives” is misleading, but Greek even more so — barbarians
• anyone who spoke foreign language
(they sounded like they were saying “Bar-bar” or “Blah, blah, blah”)
◦ to us, the word barbarian sounds like savage
◦ but, in fact, it could refer to educated and cultured people
• we get a more accurate picture if think, “the locals”
– the snake bite is good illustration how popular opinion can turn on dime
• in a few minutes, Paul went from being perceived as a murderer to a god
• perhaps there was a purpose for this “last straw” with the snake

7-10 The beach was near the estate of the island’s magistrate

For three days Publius hosted Paul and his companions
– it’s likely, Publius’ intended guests were the centurion, captain and any othe VIPs on board
• but for some reason, Paul was included
• while there, they learned Publius’ father was ill
◦ Paul visited him, then prayed, then touched and healed him
◦ the next thing we know, Paul was taking patients from all over the island
– “divine healing” is for us a tricky and confusing issue

read more…

Sep 20 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

September 18, 2016 – Acts 27

“See? I Told You So!”

When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, they proceeded to deliver Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan cohort named Julius. Acts 27:1

Intro: There are storms in both the second chapter of Acts and the last chapter

The first storm was the Spirit of God descended on the apostles
– we read that he came with the a noise of a violent rushing wind (Acts 2:2)
– linking the two storms may prove enlightening
• but that’s not the direction we’re going today

Daniel Boorstin in The Image informed us that the “old English word ‘travel’ (in the sense of a journey) was originally the same word as ‘travail’ (meaning ‘trouble,’ ‘work,’ or ‘torment’).”

– until recent history, ships went down frequently
• there were nearly 100 notable shipwrecks in 19th century
• and most of them included hundreds of casualties
– Luke’s insertion of “we” tells us what we could have guessed anyway
• that what we have in this chapter is the firsthand report of an eyewitness
• since this is chapter is presented as a story, I will tell the story

1-3 The time came to set sail for Italy

Paul was transferred into custody of a centurion, Julius, for transport to Rome
– we know the home port of the ship they boarded, but not its name
• the ship’s destination was not Rome, but could get them halfway there
• so they sailed north from Caesarea, hugging the coastline
◦ after a day’s sailing they reached their first stop, which was Sidon
◦ Tyre and Sidon had always been a central trading hub (cf. Eze. chapter 27)
– Julius turned out to be a nice guy — he let Paul meet up with friends in Sidon
• travel, making and meeting with believers had been Paul’s life
• so this brief visit after a two year incarceration in Caesarea must have been refreshing

4-6 Sailing from Sidon they had their first encounter with bad weather

The ship was forced to change course and sail between Cyprus and the mainland
– typically the trade route Paul had sailed had been to the island’s southern side
• the way he went on first voyage out and returned on his second and third voyage
◦ this time, they had to use the island for protection from rough seas
◦ the reason given: the winds were contrary
• when were the winds not contrary to Paul?
◦ his entire ministry was a labor against resistance

I’ve had two miserable sea adventures, both on the same yacht
– the first instance was about this time of year–when lobster season opened
• on our way home, we got caught in a heavy storm
◦ crossing the channel between San Clemente Island and Catalina we were fully exposed

read more…

Sep 12 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

September 11, 2016 – Acts 26

Autobiography In Three Sentences

Agrippa sad to Paul, “You are permitted to speak for yourself.” Then Paul stretched out his hand and proceeded to make his defense: “In regard to all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, I consider myself fortunate, King Agrippa, that I am about to make my defense before you today; especially because you are an expert in all customs and questions among the Jews; therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently.” Acts 26:1-3

Intro: This chapter begins and ends with the words of King Agrippa

So we can surmise that he is at least a key player in the story
– it is in his power to influence the next turn in Paul’s situation
– here, at the beginning of the chapter, he gives Paul permission to speak

As a rule, defense lawyers don’t want their accused on the witness stand
– the average person too naive about the law
• and can be rattled by a skilled attorney
◦ this could result in them saying something that can be used against them
• having no one else, Paul testified in his own defense
◦ but what he gave was a dual witness – for himself and also for Jesus
◦ in the end, his defense rested on the probability that his message is the truth
– that Jesus has witnesses is a central theme, if not the main theme, in Acts
• beginning with Jesus’ statement in 1:8, then repeatedly throughout the book
◦ here in verses 16 and 22 (“testifying”)

Paul’s story could be titled “God gets his man”

In the Hebrew Scriptures, the prophetic call follows a basic pattern
– we come across several of these “type scenes” in scripture
• in the case of prophets, the type scene generally goes like this:

  1. God calls
  2. The person declines
    (Moses gives several excuses, Isaiah is impure, Jeremiah is too young, etc.)
  3. God insists
  4. The person undertakes his or her prophetic work

• the prophet was not given a choice – the call was not an offer, but an order
– in some ways, Paul’s experience follows this pattern
• he was able to identify three seasons of his life
◦ each season is characterized by a single line or sentence
• now, these happen to be lines I’ve always loved and found inspiring
◦ so I’ll refer to them as our three fantastic sentences

Paul’s story began with him growing up in Jerusalem (although not born there)
– his religious education led to him become a Pharisee
• a devout follower of Judaism, which he refers to as the strictest sect of our religion
• he was, in fact, so passionate that he took violent action against defectors (i.e., followers of Jesus)
◦ Paul provides quite a list of his actions against believers (cf. 2 Cor. 11:21-33) — he:

  • locked up many in prisons
  • cast his vote for the execution of some
  • punished others in synagogues
  • tried to force them to blaspheme
  • kept pursuing pursuing them even to foreign countries

• Paul summarizes these violent actions in verse 9:

So then, I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

– when you read “name” in scripture, think “person”
• a name was fused with a person’s identity

“. . . the name is regarded as to such an extent an expression of the individual character  of it’s owner that it can, in fact, stand for him, become a concept interchangeable with him.” Walther Eichrodt

◦ taking Yahweh’s name “in vain” was not so much about cussing as swearing an oath in his name falsely
◦ to say his name was to call him, to include him in your affairs and interactions
• the name was one of those forms by which its owner could be present (when physically absent)
◦ so God could say My Word is with you; My Spirit is with You; and My name is with You (cf. Mt. 18:20)
◦ listen to what Paul wrote the Corinthians:

In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus (1 Co. 5:4)

So the target of Paul’s rampage was not a name–like a label–but the person of Jesus Christ
• and his goal was to stamp out the influence of Jesus over Jewish lives
• that is why he was traveling to Damascus when he suddenly hit a wall
◦ he was confronted by Jesus himself
◦ so that Jesus’ question was personal, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?

This brings us to the first of our three fantastic sentences

V. 14, It is hard for you to kick against the goads

read more…

Sep 6 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

September 4, 2016 – Acts 25

The Controversial Dead Man

Festus then, having arrived in the province, three days later went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea. And the chief priests and the leading men of the Jews brought charges against Paul, and they were urging him, requesting a concession against Paul, that he might have him brought to Jerusalem (at the same time, setting an ambush to kill him on the way). Festus then answered that Pal was being kept in  custody at Caesarea and that he himself was about to leave  shortly. “Therefore,” he said, “let the influential men among you go there with me, and if there is anything wrong about the man, let them prosecute him.” Acts 25:1-5

Intro: If you haven’t attended our Wednesday or Thursday meetings,

Our purpose is not to study the Bible, although that is still important
– instead, we attempt to listen for God’s Spirit to speak to us through scripture
• so we read a passage prayerfully, noticing when something stands out
◦ that is, when a word, phrase, or idea lights up or draws our attention
• then we spend rest of our time seeing what God does with that word or phrase
– that is one way that the Spirit will communicate with us through simple sentences
• but there is another very different way he sometimes gets to us
◦ and that can happen any time, anywhere, through anyone
◦ reading a book, talking with a friend, listening to a sermon, watching a movie
• suddenly a few words are filled with divine energy or light
◦ I could share several examples, but there’s one I remember well

Summer camp, lights out, and all the guys were in their sleeping bags nodding off
– I heard a kid crying in the next bunk: I asked,
“You okay?”
“What’s wrong?”
• he told me the camp speaker had asked him a question that evening
◦ and now in the dark it was haunting him, because he didn’t know the answer
◦ all the speaker had asked him was, “Eddie, are you right with God?”
• I doubt anyone could have predicted the effect this question would have on him
◦ that he would be so eaten up by it
– I’ve sometimes wondered where that experience took Eddie
• later I learned, he didn’t live to see his twentieth birthday

There is a phrase in our passage that is potentially this forceful

A new Roman administrator arrived in Israel

Festus was typical soldier, but one with an aptitude for leadership
– he would need that skill
• after three days in Caesarea, he went to Jerusalem
◦ he no doubt needed to check in with the Roman officials and Jewish leaders there
• he was informed regarding Paul’s case and asked to move the trial to Jerusalem
◦ he agreed to hear the charges, but in Caesarea
– within two weeks he was back on the coast
• Paul was escorted into tribunal, where he was surrounded by his accusers
◦ it seems he responded calmly while denying all charges
• Festus asked if Paul was willingly to be tried in Jerusalem
◦ his motivation was not legal, but political, wishing to do the Jews a favor (v. 9)
• knowing the danger that awaited him in Jerusalem,
◦ Paul claimed his right as a Roman citizen and made his appeal to Caesar
– so though he won a small victory, Paul was still in limbo

At this point, two celebrities showed up

King Agrippa–a descendant of Herod the great–received his appointment from Rome
– Bernice was his sister, whom he cared for
• Festus was relieved, because Agrippa was considered an expert in Jewish affairs
• Festus laid Paul’s case before him Agrippa:

Briefly: the Jews had asked Festus to render a death sentence against Paul. However, when he brought Paul to court, the charges not at all what he expected. So Festus gave Paul the option to be tried in Jerusalem and that is when he appealed to Caesar. But now Festus faced an embarrassing situation–he no definite charge against him when delivering Paul to Rome.

– learning this, Agrippa said he would like to hear Paul for himself
• Festus answered, Tomorrow you shall

read more…

Aug 23 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

August 21, 2016 – Acts 23

Most Important

Paul, looking intently at the Council, said, “Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.” The high priest Ananias commanded those standing beside him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit to try me according to the Law, and in violation of the Law order me to be struck?” But the bystanders said, “Do you revile God’s high priest?” And Paul said, “I was not aware, brethren, that he was high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.'” Acts 23:1-5

Intro: Imagine a little girl, ten or eleven years old

One day in school she reads a short essay regarding mothers
– how wonderful they are and about all the loving things they do
• there is also some exagerated statements in the essay
◦ like mothers have “eyes in back of their heads,” know what you’re thinking,
◦ their kisses are magic and can make a child’s pain go away
• suddenly the little girl thinks,

“I don’t have a mother! The who takes care of me is nice and kind, but she can’t work magic. So if that lady thinks she’s my mother, she must be a crazy person.”

– meanwhile, she is awakened each morn to soft voice and sweet smile
• clean clothes are set out for her and breakfast is on the table
◦ she continues to be rides to and from school and soccer practice
• all the while, waiting for the arrival of this other person
◦ who can read her mind, tell her future, and work magic

We’ve heard of “blind faith,” but there’s nothing so blind as unbelief
– each morning the atheist and agnostic wakes up to a world God has prepared
• it doesn’t occur to them to give thanks for health and energy to get out of bed
• they have an idea of what God should be if such a being existed
◦ since they don’t see that god, they conclude there is no god
– God lives eternal in the heavens
• but sometimes our concepts of God grow old and dies
◦ and I believe, at least sometimes, it is God who kills them
• now let’s see what this has to do with our scripture

The Roman commander was still trying to figure out Paul’s offense

So Paul now stands before the Sanhedrin, Israel’s Supreme Court
– without being asked, he offered opening statement
• it was a declaration of his innocence
◦ high priest ordered someone to strike him
◦ no doubt to teach Paul who was in charge of that hearing
• literally, Paul said, “Strike you, God will, you whitewashed wall!”
◦ whitewash was thin coat of paint used to disguise what was beneath
◦ it was clearly a metphor for shallowness and hypocrisy (Eze. 13:8-11; Mt. 23:27-28)
– someone nearby reprimanded Paul for scolding the high priest
• Paul immediately apologized
◦ and added the biblical precedent for not doing such a thing
◦ but he did not back down – he was still going to control the proceedings
• he reframed his version of his alleged offense
◦ he was a Pharisee who held to the hope and resurrection of the dead!

Luke provides the backstory for this statement

For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor an angel, nor a spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all (v. 8)

– as a result, the courtroom was immediately divided
• the argument was so intense, Paul had to be rescued again by the Romans

The following night, Paul had a Visitor

the Lord stood at his side
– I have been waiting for this – we have been waiting for this
• first, there had been no word from God since the Spirit warned Paul of the problems he would have in Jerusalem
• the apostles made their own plan to improve Paul’s image — it backfired
◦ Paul had exploited a fissure between two religious sects — that backfired

read more…

Aug 15 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

August 14, 2016 – Acts 21:7-22:30

When Emotions Run Riot

“Brothers and fathers, hear my defense which now offer to you.” And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew dialect, they became even more quiet. “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God just as you all are today. Acts 22:1-3

Intro: The temple then standing in Jerusalem was built by Herod the Great

Adjacent to it, he built a Roman fortress
– the two structures shared a wall with a doorway between them
• the door opened above the temple’s outer court
• Roman solders had carried Paul up a flight of stairs to the door
◦ situated on the roof of the patio that surrounded the court
◦ there, Paul begged the commander to let him speak to the rioters below
– Paul managed to calm crowd–and then he reignited the riot

I’m guessing, most of us know the eventual outcome of this story
– but remember, at this moment Paul did not
• he did not have God’s answer for “Why is this happening?”
◦ “Why did those troublemakers have to lie about me? Why did the crowd have to riot? Why did I have to be arrested?”
• in our crises, God rarely gives answer to our “Why questions”
◦ we may never get the answers we want
◦ so it’s most likely that “Why?” is the wrong question
– anyway, Paul was not asking Why?
• instead, he was looking for an opportunity
• if Christians know their calling and are passionate for it,
◦ opportunities are everywhere
◦ even here, between God’s people and their Roman oppressors

21:37-22:2 Paul’s first conversation with the commander

The commander was surprised when Paul spoke to him in fluent Greek
– he had assumed Paul was an Egyptian who attempted a revolt
• according to Josephus, Roman soldiers squelched the rebellion
◦ the Egyptian leader, however, escaped into desert
• the commander had quickly formed this explanation for the fracas
– in Acts, Roman soldiers are usually stereotypes
• pragmatic, simple, at ease with violence and fiercely loyal to Rome
• the ones who stand out distinguish themselves by breaking the stereotype
◦ e.g., Cornelius and Sergius Paulus

Given permission to speak, Paul gestured to get the mob’s attention
– the crowd became silent, probably curious about what he would say
• they became even quieter when heard him speak in their own dialect
– Paul was clearly making a point with his opening statements:

read more…

Aug 15 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

August 7, 2016 – Acts 21:1-36

Perfectly Imperfect Saints

After looking up the disciples, we stayed there seven days; and they kept telling Paul through the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem. When our days there were ended, we left and started on our journey, while they all, with wives and children, escorted us until we were out of the city. After kneeling down on the beach and praying, we said farewell to one another. Then we went on board the ship, and they returned home again. Acts 21:4-6

Intro: We are going to swim against the stream this morning

At least, I am swimming upstream–and I’m taking you with me
– most commentators want to justify the apostles’ actions
• I will be trying to do my best to follow the text
• and it appears to me, the apostles made mistakes
– there are two movements in this chapter
• both sections wrestle with the same complication:
◦ the threat to Paul’s life from his own countrymen
• we will see, first, how Paul responded to the threat
◦ then we will see how the Christian leaders in Jerusalem responded to it

1-16 Paul’s sea voyage to Caesarea, and travel by land to Jerusalem

We read how believers in Tyre

kept telling Paul through the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem

– they were listening to God’s Spirit
• as they understood the message, Paul should not complete his trip
• how did Paul understand what the Spirit was saying?
◦ we read last week that Paul had been informed by the Spirit that

in every city . . . bonds and afflictions await me (Acts 20:23)

◦ so I imagine him telling the believers in Tyre,
“Thanks for the heads up,” and then ignoring their warning
– but the warnings did not end there

When Paul & company arrived in Caesarea they lingered for several days
– they stayed with Philip (Acts 6:5; 8:5 & 40)
• Luke adds a foot note about Philip’s four daughters who were prophetesses
◦ nothing more is said about their words of prophecy or the context of their ministry
◦ it’s an intriguing bit of information, but leaves us with many questions
◦ why did Luke even mention this fact?
• I think it serves to plant a seed in the reader’s mind
◦ we’re reminded that God speaks and there are people gifted to hear him
– so while they were there, the prophet Agabus visited them  (cf. Acts 11:28)
• he dramatized his prophecy (“performance art”) not unlike an Old Testament prophet

read more…