Psalm 23-25 Acts 21:18-40
“So we will tell you what to do: Four of our men have made a promise to God. Take these men with you and share in their cleansing ceremony. Pay their expenses so they can shave their heads. Then it will prove to everyone that what they have heard about you is not true and that you follow the law of Moses in your own life.” (Acts 21:23-24 NCV)
Paul made it back to Jerusalem and reported how God had worked through him in his missionary journeys. Apparently, rumors had come back that not only was Paul teaching Gentiles to follow Christ without obeying the Law, he was teaching Jews the same thing. The Jewish Christians could understand those concessions being made to Gentiles, but those who were born Jewish needed to stand by their heritage as God’s chosen people – in their eyes. They gave Paul a task to prove that he still followed the law: support four guys taking a Nazirite vow by going to the Temple with them and paying the costs for their vows. Sometimes you have to make symbolic gestures for the faith and Paul committed to doing that. Naturally, given that this is Paul we’re talking about, even though he was seeking to show obedience to the Law, someone from Asia saw him and accused him of bringing a Gentile into the Jewish section of the Temple and a riot broke out.
Some people attract trouble and misunderstandings. Paul did because he followed the call of God. There are some who would tell you that if you commit your life to Jesus, He’ll take all your troubles away. It’s a nice sentiment, but if you commit your life to following Christ, you’ll gain plenty of troubles because you’ll be committing yourself to a lifestyle opposed to the ways and wisdom of this world. God never promised that we’d live a trouble-free life; He promised that He’d always be with us in the midst of our troubles. He never promised positive outcomes to all our troubles. He did promise that if we stay faithful through all the troubles we could be assured of a greater joy. When Paul followed God to Jerusalem and the Roman guards arrested him, he probably thought something like, “Yep. Just like everyone warned.” He didn’t resist any arrest, but he did invoke his Roman citizenship for better treatment. The long and the short of this truth is that the only guarantee in life anyone has is that they’ll be in trouble at some point in their life. Since you’re going to have trouble anyway, you might as well have it because you’re living in obedience to God. It’s far better to walk with Him in trouble than run away from Him without trouble.
Lord, I wish I could avoid trouble and live a nice comfortable life. I can’t. Trouble’s gonna come. Remind me to live so that my troubles come because I’m in obedience to Your will. Help me to embrace my troubles and use them to show others Your love and grace.