Scripture: Acts 21: 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.”
Observation: Lots of irony in this passage. Philip the evangelist (v.8) assumed a prominent role in the early church when he was chosen to replace the apostle Stephen who was martyred in Jerusalem – at the hands of a young Pharisee named (wait for it…) Saul. Yes, the same Saul who would become the apostle Paul, the very one now staying at Stephen’s own house in Caesarea! What???!!! Crazy! It’s hard to appreciate the profound transformation of Saul from a promising Pharisee and persecutor of Christians, to one of the greatest apostles of the early church.
Application: I’ve mentioned in this space before I was not always a strong Christian, much less a pastor. My high school and young adult (college) years in particular were mostly spent chasing a good time, hanging out with my buddies. I smile when I remember those days. It was just a phase for sure, but (by the grace of God) one I managed to survive. Unfortunately, not everyone did.
What I find remarkable is how much many of us have changed over the years. We may be scattered to the four winds now, but I still see some of my former buddies on Facebook or Instagram. They’re family men, for the most part. Several of them regularly post Christian messages, having grown to be followers of Jesus. They have families and work hard to set a good example for their children. For the most part, collectively, we’re doing well. I’m guessing many of you reading this blog post have a similar story.
As we see in the life of the apostle Paul, and in many of our own lives, it’s not so much where you start but where you finish that matters most. There’s always hope brothers and sisters. There’s always hope.
Prayer: Lord Jesus today we give you thanks for the transforming nature of the gospel. Many of us are living examples of what is possible when you lay hold of lost people, refusing to let us go. We also pray for those not yet found by you. Send your grace to open their hearts toward you so they too might be transformed from the inside out. We pray these things in your holy name. Amen.