Message:  In Acts 21 Paul was being warned not to go to Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit spoke through several different people and even warned him of what the Jews would do to him when he got there. Paul was undeterred. He told them he was ready to die for the name of Jesus and he went anyway. As soon as he got there the brothers in the faith welcomed him, accommodated him and then warned him that there were thousands of Jews that had been told that he was teaching all of the Jews that were living among the Gentiles to “abandon Moses by telling them not to circumcise their children or walk in our customs.”  As I read this statement I almost rolled my eyes at the twisted perception here. Although it was true that Paul was telling the Gentiles they didn’t need to be circumcised, the statement that he was “abandoning Moses” was their perception of the situation and it had much deeper implications. The Jews looked to Moses as their father of the faith. God had established the law through him when he brought them out of Egypt. They held Moses and the law in high regard even though they were actually terrible at following it themselves. To speak against Moses was to oppose God himself so this is why the Jews often tried to pit the words of Jesus against Moses. This was their sneaky approach for trying to discredit Jesus and eventually Paul. By accusing Jesus and Paul of contradicting Moses, they hoped to prove that they couldn’t possibly be from God. We all use tactics like this to disprove or discredit people.  Our political systems are famous for this. You can actually sell an entire package of speculated beliefs built by a twisted perception of one quote or idea. Once people hear the accusation framed with this perception, it’s difficult to separate it. The package has been sold and only those willing to peel away the filter of perception and look at things in context and without bias will be able to see the truth. This is difficult for literally all of us. We all have personal biases. Some we developed out of our own experiences, and some have been passed to us by people who influence our lives. It’s interesting to me that there believing Jews and there were non believing Jews who looked at the same information and saw something different. Not because the information was different, but because of their personal bias. They were ALL in agreement that a Messiah was to come and they were all waiting for him. I can’t help but speculate a little myself as to the motives of why they wouldn’t want it to be Jesus. He fulfilled all of the prophesies, but he didn’t go along with the system they had worked out. They were using the law and the religious system to promote themselves and they had worked out agreements with the Gentile governments that gave them perks and advantages. They had all of that to lose if they dared acknowledge that Jesus was the actual Messiah. I can’t help but wonder if deep down they knew, but the terrifying thing is that our biases are so strong that we can look directly at something and choose to see it another way. This reading provokes me to examine my personal biases and ask God to show me the truth. We all walk in deception and much of it we do willingly. Today I pray for the Holy Spirit to come in and knock out my personal biases so that I can see the truth for what it is.

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