Please read Acts 24, 25 and 26 today. Read it with feeling, see if you can grab some of the emotion going on here today. Come on back and share your highlight – here’s mine:
“But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.” Acts 24:14-16
Paul always kept the main thing the main thing. All of these “troubles” come because Paul knows that Jesus was raised from the dead and he preached this truth “first of all” (like he wrote in 1 Cor 15:8). The most important thing was that Christ be preached, and Paul let everything else become a secondary or minor issue.
“‘ I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’ ” Acts 26:17-18
That’s the goal: to turn people “from darkness to light”. In love, let your light so shine. What else could take precedence in our lives in minds, our schedules over accomplishing this ONE thing?
“And Paul said, ‘I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains’ .” Acts 26:29
No jealousy, no bitterness over his situation. Paul desires that ALL come to Christ and experience the blessings he was living. And ALL of this came from Paul as he was in chains. That’s beyond remarkable.
I’ve tried to keep these blogs short and not put too much personal feeling into it, but honestly, y’all, today I’m about in tears reading this account. Did you get this: PAUL WAS IN PRISON, bound in chains. The man in charge, Felix, procrastinates and leaves Paul in jail for ANOTHER TWO YEARS (years, y’all) over charges that no one had been able to articulate to him (Acts 24:22-27). When Paul finally gets the chance to appeal to the new man in charge and to Caesar, did you see how he started his appeal? He said, “I think myself happy”. He thinks himself happy? He’s been in jail for 2 years, clerical errors and procrastinations keeping him there – if anyone had a reason to pick up an offense and be angry, wasn’t it Paul? Wouldn’t we all have said “Yes sir! You tell ’em!” if Paul had absolutely unloaded when he finally got the chance to speak? When he finally is released, Agrippa says that it seems unreasonable to hold him without specifying the charges (Acts 25:27). Is anyone else thinking: “Are you kidding me? After TWO YEARS, that’s all you have to say to me?” Would any of us have criticized him if he said, “peace out, Jerusalem – y’all deserve what you get.” No – he counted himself happy because wherever he was he found a way to communicate the gospel to people in need of the truth.
What are you offended about today? Just drop it – keep the main thing the main thing and be singular in fulfilling your God-given purpose – and then, like Paul, you really will “think yourself happy” 🙂