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Wait for an Opening

Wait for an Opening
Words of Faith 7-22-16
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2016
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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Acts 21
[26] 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.
[27] When the seven days were nearly over, some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, [28] shouting, "Men of Israel, help us! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against our people and our law and this place. And besides, he has brought Greeks into the temple area and defiled this holy place." [29] (They had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with Paul and assumed that Paul had brought him into the temple area.)
[30] The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut. [31] While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander of the Roman troops that the whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar. [32] He at once took some officers and soldiers and ran down to the crowd. When the rioters saw the commander and his soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.
[33] The commander came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. Then he asked who he was and what he had done. [34] Some in the crowd shouted one thing and some another, and since the commander could not get at the truth because of the uproar, he ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks. [35] When Paul reached the steps, the violence of the mob was so great he had to be carried by the soldiers. [36] The crowd that followed kept shouting, "Away with him!"

It is fascinating to think of the Apostle Paul going through Temple rituals of purification. One must wonder what was going through his mind as he went through a seven-day ritual of purification and then rituals of absolution required by the Nazirite vow.
Remember, this same Paul had written to the Roman Christians, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1-4).
This is the same Paul who had written to the Galatians, “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort” (Galatians 3:1-3)?
Indeed, this is the very same Paul who declared, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1-2).
So what was Paul thinking? We don’t know for sure. He may have been screaming inside, “This is not the way!” Surely he did not believe that these rituals were making him righteous or that fulfilling these requirements made him holy. Paul was very likely thinking about the Lord and how much He loves the people of Israel. He was likely focussed on how wonderful it is that the Lord would set up these rituals of purification and sacrifice as a predecessor pointing to the coming of the Lord Jesus and how wonderful it is that all these laws and rituals have been fulfilled in Jesus.
He was also waiting. The arrest was no surprise. Paul was intent upon doing whatever was necessary to share this Good News at least one more time with his people in Jerusalem. He had no illusions that by going through these rituals he would somehow win the favor of those in the Temple and avoid arrest. Paul knew that a major confrontation was coming because this had been prophesied over him repeatedly. Paul was waiting for the other shoe to drop. He was waiting for the arrest that he knew was coming so that he could see what God had next for him.
What a remarkably patient man Paul was at this point. Rather than forcing the issue of grace and law by preaching in the Temple, he quietly went about the rituals and waited for God to present the opportunity. Remember, this is the same Paul who wrote, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Sometimes we have to wait and even put up with the rituals of the day in order for the opportunity to share Christ to present itself. This is Thanksgiving week. For many in America, this is as close they ever get to thinking about the Lord. Many of us will sit with family members who think family traditions and annual gratitude make us right with God. What are we to do? It is a wonderful opportunity to enter into the Turkey and stuffing with an eye open for opportunity. Wait. Listen. Think about how much God loves those who are gathered and when God presents an opportunity, step into it.

Lord, give me patience to wade through the rituals of this week so that I may share the reason for the hope that is in me. In Jesus’ name.

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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2001, 2016
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)
2820 Business Center Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200
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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.