September 1, 2021 - Acts 23:11-22
The news has been filled with the actions of individuals conspiring to accomplish various acts of evil or sabotage. The events in Afghanistan and the Middle East fill our screens each night but occasionally we hear of something positive that comes out of the chaos and despair. In turbulent circumstances, there are people standing up risking their lives to assist and save strangers of all ages and nationalities.
Paul was now a prisoner of the Roman government, and he was being protected from his fellow countrymen that desired to kill him for his public stance as a follower of Christ. A group of Jews had banded together and made a pact that they would not eat nor drink until Paul was dead (v.12). Along with the Jewish religious leadership they begin to create a plan to position themselves to exterminate Paul.
In their scheming and preparation for accomplishing their mission they failed to take into consideration two important factors in their plan. The protection the Lord gives to His workers and Paul’s associates and family. In verse 11, Jesus had spoken to Paul and declared that he would speak of Christ in Rome. Also, Paul’s nephew heard of the plot and warned Paul of the ambush that was being set for his destruction (v.16).
A cliché that is often bantered around in Christian circles is, “The safest place to be is in the center of God’s will!” Paul was clearly in God’s will as he was comforted with the Lord’s statement, but the path Paul was going to travel would be filled with danger and near-death situations. Until his life ended, Paul’s journey was anything but safe. Even while being where God had placed and directed him, the perils of life confronted Paul daily!
J. Hudson Taylor is credited with the quote, “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply”, a statement that Taylor found to be true as he ministered in the nation of China for many years. Paul had certainly found it to be true in the years of ministry throughout Asia Minor and Greece. God had supplied Paul’s needs and protected him from many dangers.
Whether it is Paul, J. Hudson Taylor, or us, the Lord places circumstances and at times death defying situations in our lives in order to demonstrate and possibly stretch our faith to match His plan. Paul penned the words in 1 Corinthians 10 that offer encouragement and renewal, “… God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able…” (v.13). As believers, we can trust that nothing enters our lives by mistake even though living through the experience may tax us to the limit.