Friday, August 2, 2019
The king stood up and the governor and Bernice, and those who were sitting with them, and when they had drawn aside, they began talking to one another, saying, ‘This man is not doing anything worthy of death or imprisonment.’ And Agrippa said to Festus, ‘This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.’
I’ll never forget reading the story of Steve Linscott, a young Bible college student who was tried for the murder of a nursing student living in his neighborhood. He was found guilty primarily because he had received a troubling dream about the girl’s murder, and on the advice of well-intentioned friends he shared his dream with the police. They arrested him, interpreting his story as the confession of a psychopathic killer, and he was sentenced to forty years in prison.
Often separated from his wife and children, it took twelve years and numerous appeals before he was vindicated and set free. Looking back on that difficult trial, Steve Linscott wrote these profound words:
I have come to realize that we cannot judge God’s purposes, nor where He places us, nor why He chooses one path for our lives as opposed to another. The Bible is replete with accounts of divine action (or inaction) that does not seem fair, that does not make sense, except when viewed in light of God’s perfect plan. Thousands of children were massacred, while a baby named Moses was spared. Jacob was a thief; and yet it was he, not Esau, who received the blessing of their father Isaac. On one level it makes no sense that God would even allow His Son to die for the sins of humans . . . but God has a plan, a perfect plan.
For Paul, two years of imprisonment have already passed by without any verdict. Will he ever be free again? Will he ever get to Rome? What is God’s plan in all this?
Here, in Acts 26, he stands before King Agrippa and delivers a powerful and honest testimony. Agrippa nearly bows his knee to Christ on the spot, and he even takes Festus aside to declare Paul’s innocence. But does he let Paul go? No. The revolving door of confusing, unjust decisions continues. At the end of chapter 26, Paul leaves the tribunal the same way he entered: in chains.
Is that a picture of you today? Are you in the middle of a trial right now that doesn’t make any sense? Maybe you lost a job or a house or had a tragic accident that was someone else’s fault. Are you questioning God’s goodness and sovereignty or are you clinging to them?
Paul’s chains will eventually lead him all the way to Caesar’s household where many will come to faith in Christ as a result. God had a perfect plan for Paul, and He has a perfect plan for you as well. But you need to trust Him along the way. As Solomon said, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight”(Proverbs 3:5-6).
The path may not look straight from where you’re standing now, but one day you’ll see it from God’s perspective and it will all make sense.
Prayer Point: Paul wasn’t afraid to stand before one of the most powerful men of his day and deliver the gospel. How about you? Who is the Agrippa in your life? Is it a spouse? A boss? A parent? Pray for God to fill you with a sense of holy fear and love for Him, so that you will be able to stand fearlessly before others and proclaim His truth.
Read the full account of Paul’s amazing testimony in Acts 26, and let it serve as a reminder that God does not call us to save anyone; He simply calls us to be faithful witnesses.