Acts 21:7 When we (the author Luke and the apostle Paul) had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais; and we greeted the believers and stayed with them for one day. 8 The next day we left and came to Caesarea; and we went into the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the seven, and stayed with him. 9 He had four unmarried daughters who had the gift of prophecy. 10 While we were staying there for several days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 He came to us and took Paul’s belt, bound his own feet and hands with it, and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is the way the Jews in Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’ ” 12 When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. 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 in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14 Since he would not be persuaded, we remained silent except to say, “The Lord’s will be done.”
This passage is full of irony. We’re told the apostle Paul stayed with Philip the evangelist in Caesarea on his down way to Jerusalem. Philip had been a companion of Stephen in Jerusalem, who was the first person recorded in scripture to be a martyr for the faith (Acts 7). And who was the young Jewish leader who led the proceedings against Stephen? The young man’s name was Saul – who later became the Christian apostle Paul. It was Philip’s fear of persecution by Saul in Jerusalem that led him (and many others) to flee that city and spread the gospel in places like Caesarea. Now, many years later, it was these very churches that the apostle Paul visited and encouraged. Isn’t that amazing? What does this passage say to us this morning?
Some of you reading this blog post may have a bit of a rugged past. There are things you’ve been, or you’ve done, that you’re not proud of. And, if you’re honest, your past has been getting in the way of your future. Is that you dear sister/brother? If so, you have lots of company, I can assure you. Two things to say about that:
1. You may have been told that you won’t amount to anything, that you’ll never make it in this life because of your mistakes. That is a lie, as our passage from today illustrates. Your past does not have to define your future.
2. The way out of a rugged past into a new future – is through a relationship with Jesus Christ. When you place your trust in the Lord Jesus and allow him to lead and guide your future, there’s no limit to what you might become with the years you have left. Trust me in this – I know.
Lord Jesus, you are all about giving people new life. The way you worked in the life of the Pharisee Saul, who became the apostle Paul, is incredible! Do a work in us, oh Lord. Give us grace to repent of past sins and brokenness, and accept you as Lord and savior. For we ask this in your precious name. Amen.