Acts 21:13

Verse of the Day Devotion: Acts 21:13 

“Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” – Acts 21:13

Paul, along with some of his disciples went to visit Philip the evangelist in Caesarea and stayed with him for a time.  An interesting point here is that Philip had four virgin daughters who were prophetesses.  This falls in line with what the prophet Joel prophesized when he said, “It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.” Joel 2:28. 

Now, while they were there, a prophet by the name of Agabus came down from Judea.  “And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, This is what the Holy Spirit says: ‘In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.” Acts 21:11. This was troubling to all those there, but not so much to Paul for He had heard this before.  In speaking to the elders of the Church in Ephesus he said, “And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me.” Acts 20:22-23. 

Upon hearing this prophecy from Agabus everyone there, including the local residents who were there, began to beg Paul not to go to Jerusalem.  This was very much a sign of weakness in them though also an expression of their great love for Paul.  They were concerned for his safety, no doubt knowing how much the Jews hated him.  Also, in turning him over to Rome, the gentiles referred to in verse eleven above, they knew this could very well mean he could be killed.  Paul, answering in a traditional Pauline style said in our focus verse, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” Acts 21:13. The people around him were crying and begging him to not go to Jerusalem.  He states here they were breaking his heart for though he had already decided to go to Jerusalem. and nothing could move him for he was resolute in his decision, yet their tears and what was to come greatly afflicted him, and the more because he could by no means comply with their request.  The Holy Spirit made it very clear on several occasions this is what would happen, and he was ready to die for the cause of Christ. 

When he was before the Ephesian elders where the Holy Spirit told him that bonds and afflictions await him, Paul told them, “But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24. Paul considered his work for the Lord far more important then anything else, even his very life.  And he showed this through what happened later in chapter 21.  This raises the question, are we willing to do the same if we encountered the same situation?  Would we continue to do the work of God knowing we could be arrested and possibly killed?  I know this is a difficult question to answer, but as time progresses, this may become more and more possible.  And if it happens, we must remember that just as Paul was never alone, neither will we be. God will always be with us no matter what.  His work and His ways are far more important than anything else we may have.  Remembering this and focusing on God’s love will make it more than possible, but also desirable.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Acts 2:42

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Acts 2:42  

“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” – Acts 2:42

One of the more important aspects of our Christian walk is the idea of fellowship and supporting each other.  First, I want to present a quote from the Book of Ecclesiastes which points this out so clearly.  “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone?  And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.  Solomon, whom many scholars believe is the writer of Ecclesiastes points out the importance of not separating ourselves from others.  Simply put, if you are alone who will help you when you fall, who will help you in times of need, and who will fight for you when danger is imminent?

These ideas are found in our focus verse from Acts.  What Luke is pointing out is that Christians need to be in fellowship with each other in order keep each other accountable, encouraged and strong in the truth.  Back in the first century there was much persecution upon the church.  The Jewish leadership hated them for they considered Christianity as an attempt to usurp their position and the Romans were against them because they considered Christianity as a new religion and this was forbidden in the areas they were in control over.

The first part of our focus verse says, “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching.” Act 2:42a.  They were to be always devoted to learning all they could about their new life in Christ.  What did it entail?  What did it not?  This was especially critical for the Jews who were always taught that obedience to the Law of Moses was the critical factor in obeying God, and they needed to understand that it went far beyond that.  Also, as they grew in the faith they would be less likely to walk away and more able to train others they come across.   They would also come together in fellowship, often times in sharing a meal.  This was important in developing strong and Godly relationships which created bonds that were not easily broken.  And lastly, with equal if not more importance with the others, they met to pray together.  They came to God regularly to pray that their faith may be strengthened and increase as they grow in God, and for the extension of the kingdom of Christ via the salvation of more and more people. 

And note the accomplishments that were seen in the first century church.  They were built up on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, of which Jesus Christ and His teachings were the cornerstone.  And not only were they built up in the faith, but they steadfastly continued in this doctrine received through the leaders from Christ, learning more so as to grow in their relationship with Him.  Thirdly, they were separated from the world and instead lived in holy Christian fellowship and building all up who were with them.  They frequently spent time speaking of those things that God, through Christ, did for them through His sacrifice.  And they continued in prayers, knowing it was through this communion with God that they were now His children and they looked to Him for all things, including the beautiful relationship they had with Him.

 These things were done in order that the church would grow, not only in numbers but in devotion and strength and love for God almighty.  And this is the type of lifestyle we need to live as well.  As the times get more difficult and as the world begins to persecute Christians even more harshly, we need to come together to encourage each other, supporting our brothers and sisters in Christ, and together helping those who do not know Christ to accept the sacrifice He made for them through His death on the cross.  This is why we are here, and through the Holy Spirit, we have the means to live this life.  Let us all make the decision to make the Acts 2 lifestyle ours and show the world the reality of who we are and this life we have taken hold of.  The church in the first century grew incredibly.  Wouldn’t it be great to see the true church grow in the same way in this generation?

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.