Paul says we Christians are running a race. Here's what I'm looking at on my run toward Christ.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Acts 24- Waiting and Squad Car Lights

Read Acts chapter 24.  It won't take you very long as it is a short chapter.

In this chapter Paul went to trial before the Roman governor Felix who had replaced Pontius Pilate.  In the trial the Jewish lawyer Tertullus presented the case against Paul.  Paul, in his defense, refuted every point Tertullus made.  Paul rightfully proved to Felix that the dispute was simply a religious one that violated no Roman law.  Paul proved his innocence to Felix.  Felix, having heard the case, went home to think about it for several days.  He then came back heard again from Paul and proceeded to keep Paul in prison for two years despite his innocence.

What can we learn from this story in Acts?  I believe we can learn a few valuable lessons.

First, God will make you and I wait sometimes.  This story is a relatively short story in the book of Acts, only 27 verses.  It was not a short part of the Apostle Paul's life.  Paul was wrongfully imprisoned for two years in this story.  Think about that.  Paul, the rock star of the early Church who had reached much of the world with the Gospel was thrown in prison for two years!  Why would God do that?  Wouldn't Paul be better served out on missionary journeys?

We aren't given an answer to the questions posed but we, like Paul, are forced to trust that God's plan endures.  I'm sure Paul learned to trust while waiting but I'm also sure he had times when he was supremely frustrated by it.

Next, sometimes people don't respond to the Gospel in acceptance.  Paul shared the Gospel with Felix and Felix in turn kept him in prison for two years.  Beyond that it says Felix "sent for him (Paul) frequently and talked with him."  Felix wanted to get paid a bribe by Paul which is why he sent for Paul, but in doing so Felix frequently heard the Gospel from history's greatest evangelist.  Felix never responded to the Gospel in obedience.  Some people won't respond to your sharing of the Gospel the way you would want, but that isn't a knock on you.  If Paul couldn't get a surrendered response from Felix you won't always get a surrendered response from your hearers.  Felix and others aren't rejecting the messenger rather they reject the message.

Finally, Felix responded to God's authority with fear.  Paul "discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgement to come, Felix was afraid."  Felix heard the God had authority to judge and that scared him.  Some people respond to God's authority and coming judgement in that way.

Others respond to God's coming judgement like we see David do in Psalm 96:10-13

"Say among the nations, 'The Lord reigns.'
The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved;
He will judge the peoples with equity.
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it;
let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them.
Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy;
they will sing before the Lord, for He comes,
He comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples in His Truth."

Same judgement.  Different response completely.

I'm going to steal an analogy from my pastor and expand on it.  The authority of God is like squad car lights.  If you see squad car lights behind you while you are driving you will fear.  I hate seeing those lights then because I know I got caught screwing up.  Felix saw God's authority like that in part because he had taken the wife of another man and felt guilty.

The authority of God is like squad car lights.  If you are being mugged in a dark alley and see squad car lights you will rejoice.  The squad car is there to save you.  That is how David saw God's authority because he recognized God's judgement as a good thing to be rejoiced in.

How do you see God's authority?  I pray that you see the saving squad car lights.  God's authority means salvation for those that believe in Him.

In conclusion: trust in the Lord while you wait.  Don't view the rejection of the Gospel as a rejection of you.  And finally, rejoice in the supreme authority and judgement of God today.

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