SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Paul, who just (in the previous chapter) gave a defense of his faith to an angry crowd is now in custody to the Roman commander. He was arrested for causing a public disturbance, and now he has to give his defense before the Sanhedrin, the supreme Jewish religious court. Looking around the courtroom, Paul realizes it is filled with both Pharisees and Sadducees. These were two different Jewish sects that had major theological differences. Paul acknowledges that he grew up a Pharisee, thus pitting the two sides against each other. Their argument becomes so violent that Paul is removed from the courtroom. That night, God encourages Paul and tells him that he will be sending him to Rome to share his testimony.
- It's not until the next morning that the Jews recognize what fools Paul made them look like. A group of 40 men decided to take revenge and ambush and kill him on his way back to court. Fortunately, Paul's nephew overhears this and reports it to Paul and the commander. The commander sets up a secret night transfer for Paul to Caesarea in order to save his life.
- God had big plans for Paul's life. Yet we see him suffer, struggle, and face great danger. Waiting. Patiently waiting. Painfully waiting. God had told Paul he would send him to Rome, but that plan wouldn't come to fruition until two years later. God rarely works on the same timeline as us. Paul probably struggled at times, wondering if God was still paying attention. Did God remember he was supposed to be in Rome? Did God remember he was in jail? God did, and he was working his plan behind the scenes, protecting him from death and setting up the next chapter in his life.
- Just like Paul, God has a plan for your life. And the star of that plan is God, not you. And the goal of that plan is to bring glory to God. That plan will be far more fulfilling and exciting than any plan you could ever create for yourself. And just like Paul, God's plan may not exempt you from danger or hardship, but God will get you through. And just like Paul, God may put something in your heart that may not happen for a very long time. But God has not forgotten. If you listen closely, you will hear him speak to you and encourage your soul.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Do you sense that God has a plan for your life? Are you ready to commit to it, no matter what it is? How could you take a step into God's plan this week?