When we walk with the Lord, in the Light of His Word,                                   What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

I am hearing and singing this old hymn as it plays in the background of my mind today.  In our previous passage, Paul had been woefully warned of the impending dangers that he would experience if he went to Jerusalem, a large city with mixed, diverse religious views.  Thousands were believing in Jesus which angered zealous religious leaders and those who still followed tradition.  Those who were instrumental in setting the stage for the killing of Jesus are now pulling out all the stops of religious tradition to stop the spread of believers who follow Jesus.

The leaders know their religion well and have even added their detailed laws to clarify who is in power over the people who do not comply.  They have no relationship with God, only in tradition and religion.  Jesus did not come to destroy God’s Law but to fulfil it and provide a way back to a relationship with God who made us in His image.  But traditionalist have lived this life too long to change their hearts.  They prefer religion over relationship—at all costs.


Remember, Paul’s dear friends misunderstood his plans (21:1–17) to go to Jerusalem knowing that it would be dangerous. Paul had to tear himself away from the Ephesian elders, so great was his love for them.  Now, the Jerusalem church misunderstood his message.  The first meeting was devoted primarily to fellowship and personal matters, because the second meeting was given over to Paul’s personal report of his ministry to the Gentiles. The Jerusalem leaders had agreed years before that Paul should minister to the Gentiles (Gal. 2:7–10), and the elders rejoiced at what they heard. Paul gave a full and accurate account, not of what he had done, but of what the Lord had done through his ministry.

You get the impression that the legalists had been working behind the scenes. No sooner had Paul finished his report than the elders brought up the rumors that were then being circulated about Paul among the Jewish Christians. What were his enemies saying about Paul? Almost the same things they said about Jesus and Stephen: he was teaching the Jews to forsake the laws and customs given by Moses and the fathers. They were not worried about what Paul taught the Gentile believers, because the relationship of the Gentiles to the law had been settled at the Jerusalem Conference (Acts 15). In fact, the elders carefully rehearsed the matter (Acts 21:25), probably for the sake of Paul’s Gentile companions.


Old customs are difficult to change. In fact, one day God would have to send a special letter to the Jews, the epistle to the Hebrews, to explain the relationship between the old and new covenants. As Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse used to say, “The book of Hebrews was written to the Hebrews to tell them to stop being Hebrews!” It was not until the city and the temple were destroyed in AD 70 that traditional Jewish worship ceased.

Warren Wiersbe, Commentator, explains:

“Paul did warn the Gentiles not to get involved in the old Jewish religion (Gal. 4:1–11), but he nowhere told the Jews that it was wrong for them to practice their customs, so long as they did not trust in ceremony or make their customs a test of fellowship (Rom. 14:1— 15:7). There was freedom to observe special days and diets, and believers were not to judge or condemn one another. The same grace that gave the Gentiles freedom to abstain also gave the Jews freedom to observe. All God asked was that they receive one another and not create problems or divisions.”

Wait a second, friends.  How do we cope with change?  I must stop and ask myself this question while judging the awful actions of the hard-hearted legalists of Paul’s day.  Am I a legalist in my traditions?  Am I wholeheartedly following Jesus, not matter what He asks of me to do?  Or following a list of manmade rules that keep people out instead of inviting them into a relationship with God?

We have to learn to trust God with changeThere is a tension that happens when we are in the midst of change. Living in the middle of what was and the hope of what is yet to come is challenging. We have to LEARN that we can trust God with change, even when we don’t see the end. We are told in Psalm 37:34“Don’t be impatient for the Lord to act! Keep traveling steadily along his pathway and in due season he will honor you with every blessing.” (TLB) As we navigate the tumultuous waters of learning to trust God with change, we have to decide where we are going to place our trust or anchor our soul. We can look at Saul who changed to Paul to see how he navigated change from legalism to relationship with God through Jesus who is now Lord of his life after Savior from his sins!  Heroes of the Bible like Paul made it through trials as they put their trust in God, while others got lost on the path to their destination.

Now I realize why Paul often warned believer to fix their eyes on Jesus! We must, like Paul, keep our eyes fixed on the author and finisher of our faith. Change is simply God’s means for bringing us closer to our destiny, but in order to stay the course, it is important to know the beauty of destiny:

  • We have a destiny of becoming more of a reflection of Him. (2 Cor. 2:18)
  • We have a destiny of bringing His Kingdom here on earth. (Matt. 6:10)
  • We have a destiny of producing GOOD FRUIT that represents His character. (John 15:5)
  • We have a destiny of beauty coming from ashes. (Isaiah 61)

The Word of God is FULL of promises for our destiny in Christ Jesus.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

ACTS—God’s actions through His Disciples

Acts 21:17-26, The Message


17-19 In Jerusalem, our friends, glad to see us, received us with open arms. The first thing next morning, we took Paul to see James. All the church leaders were there. After a time of greeting and small talk, Paul told the story, detail by detail, of what God had done among the non-Jewish people through his ministry. They listened with delight and gave God the glory.

20-21 They had a story to tell, too: “And just look at what’s been happening here—thousands upon thousands of God-fearing Jews have become believers in Jesus! But there’s also a problem because they are more zealous than ever in observing the laws of Moses. They’ve been told that you advise believing Jews who live surrounded by unbelieving outsiders to go light on Moses, telling them that they don’t need to circumcise their children or keep up the old traditions. This isn’t sitting at all well with them.

22-24 “We’re worried about what will happen when they discover you’re in town. There’s bound to be trouble. So here is what we want you to do: There are four men from our company who have taken a vow involving ritual purification, but have no money to pay the expenses. Join these men in their vows and pay their expenses. Then it will become obvious to everyone that there is nothing to the rumors going around about you and that you are in fact scrupulous in your reverence for the laws of Moses.

25 “In asking you to do this, we’re not going back on our agreement regarding non-Jews who have become believers. We continue to hold fast to what we wrote in that letter, namely, to be careful not to get involved in activities connected with idols; to avoid serving food offensive to Jewish Christians; to guard the morality of sex and marriage.”

26 So Paul did it—took the men, joined them in their vows, and paid their way. The next day he went to the Temple to make it official and stay there until the proper sacrifices had been offered and completed for each of them.


Paul’s actions did not appease the legalists who refuse change.  It seems incredible that Paul’s enemies would accuse him of these things, for all the evidence was against them.  However, rumors are not usually based on fact, but thrive on half-truths, prejudices, and outright lies.  The whole plan appeared to be safe and wise, but it did not work. Instead of bringing peace, it caused an uproar, and Paul ended up a prisoner.

The Jews misunderstood Paul’s ministry in riotous proportions.  We will explore this tomorrow.


Change is hard but inevitable.  Change happens whether we “approve” or not.  We must fix our eyes on you for the Way, Truth and real Life to follow.  You have already won!  You are the Victor!  We must consider what does not change—Your love, mercy and grace!  So, help us to remember to trust in You, Our Redeemer, Savior and Lord, always and forevermore!

In Jesus Name, Amen

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet.
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way.
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

About randscallawayffm

Randy and Susan co founded Finding Focus Ministries in 2006. Their goal as former full time pastors, is to serve and provide spiritual encouragement and focus to those on the "front lines" of ministry. Extensive experience being on both sides of ministry, paid and volunteer, on the mission fields of other countries as well as the United States, helps them bring a different perspective to those who need it most. Need a lift? Call us 260 229 2276.
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