Tuesday, April 19, 2016

When life doesn't make Sense

Acts 25.

Paul was arrested in Jerusalem as he was about to be killed by an angry mob.  Next, he stood before the Sanhedrin being falsely accused.  Again, the Roman soldiers had to step in and rescue him from being "torn to pieces" by the religious leaders.  Then, in a move to protect his life from an assassination, the Roman soldiers escorted Paul to Caesarea.  There, Governor Felix listened to the case, determined it had no merit, but kept Paul in prison for two more years.

After two years, a new governor was appointed.  Porcius Festus held court to hear the case for himself on his first full day in office at Caesarea.  He concluded that there was no reasonable case to decide.  In fact, he could not even figure out what to write concerning the charges against Paul (v.27).

What was going on here?  This makes no sense.  Why would any rational authority keep a prisoner for years without cause?  Why wasn't his case thrown out for lack of evidence?

Politically, the Roman appointees wanted to maintain peace in their territories at any price.  Ruling over Israel meant dealing successfully with the Jews.  With the past riots and threats, keeping Paul locked away seemed the easy decision.

Spiritually, the war was raging.  Paul, along with others, expanded the reach of the gospel from Jerusalem, throughout Judea, into Samaria, and had gone as far as Greece.  Satan launched every attack he could to try to stop the life-changing message of Jesus from going any further.  Paul later wrote to the Corinthians concerning the work of the devil, "...we are not ignorant of his designs." (2 Corinthians 2:11)

Personally, Paul appeared to be out of commission, imprisoned for years without just cause.

Why?  Why did not God intervene and do something?  The answer: He was at work the entire time, even controlling the movements of the Roman Empire.  What seemed judiciously ridiculous and could not have made any sense to Paul and his friends fit perfectly into God's plan for Paul's life.  Upon his conversion to Christ, the Lord declared that Paul would "carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.  For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." (Acts 9:15-16)  The plan continued to unfold.  The story was not over yet.  Paul was going to Rome for an audience with Caesar, the infamous Nero.

What can we learn from this example that may serve to encourage us in times of adversity, loss, and lack?  When life doesn't make sense...

1. Trust God.
He knows what He is doing when we cannot see the plan.  He is in control when we think things have gotten out of control.  He is worthy of our worship and loves us eternally, even when we do not feel His love.  Our feelings do not change the facts.

2. Wait on God.
Much of our worry comes from our impatience.  We want what concerns us to be fixed immediately.  The Lord does not work on our time schedule.  Psalm 27:14-"Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!"  The results will be worth the wait.

3. Expect God to work on your behalf.
"And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." (Hebrews 11:6)

4. Be ready.
Most of life is beyond our control.  Instead of focusing on what we cannot fix, we need to take charge of what has been given to us.  We must make sure we are doing all that is within our responsibility.   That way, when the God's plan is revealed, we are the person God can use at that moment, ready to seize the opportunity and fulfill our life purpose.  "Finally, be strong in the LORD and in the strength of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil." (Ephesians 6:10-11)

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