Sunday – October 25, 2020
Word On Worship – Sunday – October 25, 2020
If, however, I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die. But if the charges brought against me by these Jews are not true, no one has the right to hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar!
We will often face circumstances that can either be frustrating or fruitful for the Lord, depending on how we handle it. If we see things only from a human perspective, we’ll grow impatient and frustrated as we think, “What a waste of time!” But if we see God’s sovereign hand orchestrating all of our circumstances according to His plan, then we can rest in Him, knowing that He will work it together for good according to His purpose.
Paul easily could have become frustrated while he waited in prison in Caesarea. Felix knew that Paul was innocent, but he kept him in prison, hoping for a bribe from Paul’s wealthy friends until he was recalled back to Rome and a new governor, Festus, was appointed. When Paul found himself standing before the same angry accusers who had tried to get him executed two years earlier, he easily could have become frustrated. It seemed like more of the “same old same old.” These guys just wouldn’t quit! Their charges, which they couldn’t prove, were basically the same as before. Paul could have impatiently thought, “When will this ever end, so that I can get on with the more important task of taking the gospel to the Gentiles who have never heard about Christ?” But Paul didn’t grow frustrated or impatient. Instead, he calmly defended himself before this same angry group of Jews and before the new governor. Through this, God sovereignly was working to get His apostle to Rome.
From a human standpoint, the events of Paul’s time in Jerusalem could seem like a comedy of errors. His gift to the church at Jerusalem had not been well-received, as he had hoped. Their scheme to go into the Temple had backfired, resulting in the riot and Paul’s arrest. His interviews with Felix had not resulted in Felix’s conversion or in Paul’s release. And now, Festus’ misguided suggestion forced Paul to appeal to Caesar, further delaying his release from custody. But from God’s standpoint, God was working all things together for good for Paul according to His purpose of being glorified through the gospel, before the Gentiles, kings, and the Jewish people. He was working to bring His apostle to Rome, where many in Caesar’s household, and probably even Caesar himself, would hear the gospel.
The doctrine of God’s sovereignty is not a point for theological debate; it is a precious reality that brings great comfort to the believer. Often the greatest opportunities for ministry that God gives us come disguised as frustrating or confusing circumstances, where we seem to be restricted from reaching our goals. It is a most comforting truth that the sovereign God is orchestrating all of the circumstances of our lives, no matter how frustrating or confusing they may seem to us. We can trust Him to work all of the trials together for good for us, because we love Him and are called according to His purpose.