Archive for January 3rd, 2011

Acts 23

 Acts 23 has Paul standing before the council.  He doesn’t just come in as a defeated man.  Scripture says he was “looking intently at the council” and he begins to make his case stating that he had “lived my life before God in all good conscience”.  That didn’t go well with the high priest who orders him to be struck.  Paul immediately talks back to the high priest until he discovers that he indeed was the man in charge.  Then his complete obedience to God’s truth comes out once he realized the authority of that man and he takes a different approach.  Paul was obviously a student of those he was talking with.  Not only here, but throughout his trips and preaching – he would identify the areas that were important for the audience he was addressing and focus on speaking about relevant and penetrating topics.  Nothing different here.  “Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees”.  That may seem like a little thing – but it is a huge difference of belief and Paul uses that to get the focus off himself and onto their disagreement over the resurrection.  He threw them a big curveball and they were off into the weeds fighting amongst themselves.

The local authorities take him away to protect him.  While he was locked away, something powerful happens.  “The following night the Lord stood by him”.  Jesus came and spoke to him and encouraged him that he would also be taken to Rome to testify.  That didn’t look all that possible given the fact he was locked away in Jerusalem, but it was what he was told.  40 of the locals plotted together to kill Paul.  In fact they made an oath that they would not eat or drink until it was done.  This wasn’t a plan they were going to execute someday – it was a now king of plan.  They were planning to ambush and kill him when brought out of the prison back to the council. 

The son of Paul’s sister heard of their ambush”.  Quite a coincidence don’t you think?  God does have a way of working out coincidences so His will is accomplished.  This young man just happened to be where the topic was being discussed and overheard it.  He comes to Paul to warn him and Paul immediately sends him to the local authority with the information.  Upon learning it, it was time to get Paul out of town and down to Rome to be put on trial.  So Paul is moved with an escort of “two hundred soldiers, with seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen”.  There was no way Paul was going to die on his watch.  Quite an escort for one guy, but they left during the night and he arrives before Felix the governor to be questioned.  Paul is thrown in jail to await his accusers coming to town.  He is fulfilling what he was told when the Lord came to him while in prison in Jerusalem.

So why does God allow Paul to be locked up and treated this way as a minister of the gospel?  Shouldn’t God just keep him out with the people teaching and sharing his faith – not locked up in prison?  God uses us in many ways that may not make sense to us.  But the people in authority need to hear the truth just as badly as anyone else.  God has a plan for Paul to share before those in authority here.  First he did so in Jerusalem, now in Rome.  Serving Christ does not mean the path will be easy.  It is not a ticket to simple and smooth.  But being a Christ Follower does mean that God will use us to accomplish His plan done His way if we walk in obedience.  Paul is living like that – a vessel in God’s hands to deliver the truth wherever God puts him.  Paul is not calling the shots here – God is.  Paul is simply walking where God leads and being faithful to share the truth no matter the audience.  He is living to please an audience of One.  Are you?

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