The Book of Acts challenges me to the core! This morning I pushed the pause button in chapter 23. Here we see the Apostle Paul in Jerusalem toward the end of his ministry. Warnings were sounded from other believers about the persecution and difficulties that awaited him, but Paul is unshaken. He knows God wants him to press ahead—no matter what. Suddenly Paul gets arrested (for no reason) and is forced to answer to the Jewish leaders (the Sanhedrin). Allowed to speak, he answers, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead” (Acts 23:6b). The Sanhedrin is split down the middle between the liberals (Sadducees) and conservatives (Pharisees). The Pharisees are willing to release Paul, but the Sadducees want to kill him. Those responsible for guarding Paul whisk him out of harm’s way. They were afraid he would be torn to pieces (verse 10)! Talk about drama! Serving the Lord as a pastor for most of my life, I have discovered something about the will of God. As Christians, we are sometimes called on by the Lord Jesus to place ourselves in the bull’s eye of drama. Think about Paul. He could have easily avoided the missionary life and settled down to some cushy position. He could have kept quiet about his faith—avoiding all controversy. I wonder how many believers settle for “secret service Christianity”? Had Paul opted for an easy, boring life, we would not be reading about him right now. The Kingdom of God is too important to play it safe and avoid drama. The will of God is at stake! After Paul is removed from the Sanhedrin, he still finds himself under arrest…and alone with his thoughts. But he is not alone! The Lord shows up in Paul’s drama and says to him, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome” (Acts 23:11b). Jesus knows what we go through for His name and meets us at our place of need. Read the Gospels. Jesus understands drama! So, if you listen carefully in the middle of the storm, hear Him say to you, “TAKE COURAGE!” The same Lord who kept Paul to the very end is the same God who will carry you through your drama. Don’t give in or give up. Jesus is Lord!
Pastor Mark Boucher