The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
In American Christianity it has long been fashionable to act on the spur of the moment. Forethought and advance planning is seen as somehow unspiritual. We value spontaneity above all else. Maybe it seems more like being led by the Spirit.
Acts 19:21-22 tells a different story. Here the apostle Paul has a very detailed plan. Yes, it says he has it “in the spirit.” Is it in his mind? If it were “from the [Holy] Spirit” we’d expect a different construction in the phrase. It looks very much as if this is Paul’s idea. So what’s the idea? He plans to go through Macedonia and Achaia on his way into Jerusalem, then wants to go to Rome afterward. That’s exactly what he ends up doing.
We have previously seen that Paul’s journeys are purposeful. That’s not at issue. The text doesn’t say what Paul as up to, but we can safely assume he was making much of Jesus, making and strengthening disciples. The important issue is that Paul planned to go somewhere and do something. The Holy Spirit didn’t hinder him. His desire was not inconsistent with the Scripture. It was a good thing, then.
Often a little forethought would be a wonderful blessing in our lives. Planning for the future, considering how to be a blessing to people, thinking about who could benefit from our presence or our activities, deciding how to best use the resources God gives us to be a force for good in this world - it is a great thing to act with purpose.
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