Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament scriptural account of the spiritual body of Jesus the Christ which is the church as it was written in the book of Acts by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first twenty-two verses of the twenty-third chapter. When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul still being carefully guarded by the soldiers and guards within the city of Jerusalem. After the city was thrust into an incredible amount of confusion and chaos because of the Jews of Asia, the apostle Paul was nearly killed by an angry mob of Jews who began beating him, and would have beaten him to death were it not for word coming unto the chief captain who interfered with the riot and rescuing the apostle Paul from their hand. When you come to the second half of the twenty-first chapter of the book of Acts you will find the apostle Paul having returned unto Jerusalem and having greeted the brethren who were there upon his arrival. After speaking with the brethren which dwelt in Jerusalem the apostle Paul would take four other brothers and would purify themselves in order that they might fulfill a vow which they had made. When the seven days of purification were ended the apostle Paul and these four brothers made their way to the Temple there in Jerusalem in order that they may signify the end and completion of the purification within their lives. These men would come unto the Temple to offer the customary sacrifice which was needed for the confirmation of their purification in order that it might be complete. It would be while the apostle Paul was at the Temple that all hell would break loose against him, for it would be on the seventh day when they were almost completed that the Jews which were of Asia stirred up all the people within the city when they saw the apostle Paul. What’s more, is that the beloved physician Luke writes concerning this time that once the people which were in Jerusalem were and had been stirred up the Jews which were in Asia laid hands on the apostle Paul and began crying out in the midst of the people. The message which these Jews cried out in the hearing of all those there in Jerusalem was a passionate cry for help [as though help was needed], for this man was the one who thought all men every where against the people, and the law, and the Temple which stood in the city of Jerusalem. The Jews which stirred up the people there in the city of Jerusalem not only laid hands on the apostle Paul, and not only began falsely accusing him before the people, but they also began condemning him for bringing Greeks into the Temple and polluting the holy place of the Temple. Luke would write how one of the men whom the apostle Paul had been seen with—Trophimus who an Ephesian—was accused of having been brought into the Temple who was indeed a Gentile and not a Jew or member of the promise and covenants which were given unto the children of Israel.
If you continue reading in the twenty-first chapter you will find that those Jews which were in Asia were so successful in stirring up the crowd and the masses round about Paul that all the city was moved, and the people ran together taking Paul and drawing him out of the Temple and shutting the doors behind them. Once outside the Temple there in the city of Jerusalem Luke goes on to write how all those who had laid hands on the apostle Paul and dragged him out of the Temple went about to kill, and perhaps would have even succeeded were it not for tidings and report coming unto the chief captain of the band. The report that came to this chief captain was that all Jerusalem was in an uproar and were dangerously close to rioting. Perhaps one of the most intriguing realities concerning the apostle Paul was how familiar he was to riots, uproars and mobs, and how familiar he was with those who being moved with envy would stir up the people and incense men and women against the apostle, against the gospel which the apostle preached, and even against the Jesus whom the apostle Paul preached. It’s quite interesting to think about and considering the fact that this was now at least the third major riot and uproar the apostle Paul would experience since beginning preaching the gospel in the regions of Greece and Macedonia, as well as within Asia itself. What’s even more interesting and intriguing about this is that if you turn and direct your attention back to the sixteenth chapter of the book of Acts you will find the apostle Paul seeking to enter into Asia to preach the gospel unto those who dwelt within its borders and regions, however, the apostle Paul would be forbidden of the Holy Spirit to enter into Asia. What you find after the sixteenth chapter is the apostle Paul being seized in Philippi and thrust into prison together with Silas after driving out an evil spirit which possessed a young girl who brought her masters great financial gain from her soothsaying. Eventually the apostle Paul and Silas would be released from prison after the midnight hour as the angel of the Lord sent an earthquake which would shake the very foundation of the prison, would cause the prison doors of all the prisoners to be opened, and would cause all men’s shackles and fetters to be loosed from their physical bodies. If you continue reading in the sixteenth chapter you will find that more than the release of the apostle Paul and Silas the jailor and his entire household would believe on the name of the Lord Jesus the Christ, would be baptized, and would quite possibly some of the first converts of the Philippian church and congregation.
As you come to the seventeenth chapter you will find the apostle Paul coming unto Thessalonica and reasoning and disputing with the Jews there in the synagogue. The beloved physician Luke writes and records that the Jews which were present in Thessalonica were moved with envy, and as a direct result of their being moved with envy they stirred up the people and incensed them against the apostle Paul and those companions who were with him. Luke would write how when the Jews witnessed and beheld men and women—both Jews and Greeks—receiving the word which the apostle Paul preached they were moved with envy and took unto them certain lewd fellows, gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar. What’s more, is that you will find these Jews also assaulting the house of Jason and sought to bring the apostle Paul out among the people. When they could not find the apostle Paul within the house of Jason they drew Jason and other of the brethren unto the rulers of the city and began crying out concerning those who “have turned the world upside down” had come down unto them. These envious and unbelieving Jews would troubled the people the rulers of the people, and as a direct result of the tumult and uproar that took place within the city of Thessalonica the brethren took the apostle Paul and Silas and sent them away by night unto Berea where they would come and continue preaching the gospel. Luke would write how the apostle Paul and Silas would enter into the synagogue of the Jews there in Berea, and would preach the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ, as well as the resurrection from the dead on the third day. It would be written how the Bereans were more noble than those which were in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether or not those things which the apostle Paul preached were so. Ultimately there would be a number of Jews and Greeks which would believe the word which the apostle Paul preached and would commit themselves to the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. When, however, the Jews which were in Thessalonica heard that the word of the Lord Jesus was being preached in Berea by the apostle Paul they came unto that place and stirred up the people there as well. Thus we now have two cities that were thrust into tumult, chaos and an uproar because of unbelieving and envious Jews which stirred up the people. How incredibly interesting and intriguing it is to think that while it was true the apostle Paul was forbidden to enter into Asia and preach the word, and while it was true the apostle Paul saw a vision by night of a man from Macedonia crying out for him to come down unto them and help, the apostle Paul would find himself in the midst of two tumults and uproars within two different cities, as unbelieving Jews incited and incensed the people against the apostle Paul, against those who were with him, and even against the gospel which the apostle preached.
Moving further into the book of Acts you will find the apostle Paul in Corinth, and how while in Corinth he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. Ultimately the apostle Paul would testify unto the Jews that Jews was indeed the Christ—something which the Jews there in Corinth were unwilling to hear and receive. As a result of their unbelief and hard hearts, they opposed themselves and blasphemed, thus causing the apostle Paul to shake his raiment and declaring unto them that their blood be upon their own heads for he would from that time preach the gospel unto the Gentiles. It’s worth noting that there is no record or report of any uproar or riot taking place within the city of Corinth—despite the fact that the Jews hardened their hearts, refused to believed and would blaspheme in the company of the apostle Paul. Jesus the Christ Himself would appear unto and visit the apostle Paul and would instruct him to be not afraid, but speak and not hold his peace, for He was with him and had much people in that city. What’s more, is Jesus would go on to declare unto the apostle Paul that no man would set themselves upon him to hurt or harm him there in the city. This would ultimately cause the apostle Paul to spend a year and a half in Corinth preaching the gospel and encouraging and strengthening the brethren which were present there within the city. While the apostle Paul find himself in the midst of two uproars and tumults within the cities of Thessalonica and Berea, he would receive comfort and encouragement from the Lord Jesus the Christ while in Corinth instructing him to be not afraid and to preach the word without reservation and hesitation for He was with him and had much people there within the city. It actually wouldn’t be until we come to the time which the apostle Paul would spend in Ephesus, which was a city in what we know as modern day Turkey. If and as you come to the nineteenth chapter of the book of Acts you will find the apostle Paul in Ephesus—first speaking unto twelve disciples whom he would find and his laying hands on them and their receiving the Holy Spirit with the evidence and manifestation of speaking with other tongues and prophesying. The apostle Paul would ultimately enter into the school of one Tyrannus after he spoke in the synagogues but found divers whose hearts were hardened, who believed not, and who spoke evil of the way of Christ before the multitude. What you will find when continuing to read the nineteenth chapter is all those which dwelt in Asia hearing the word of the Lord as a result of the apostle Paul teaching and preaching the school of Tyrannus there in the city of Ephesus. You will also find the name of the Lord Jesus being magnified, the word of God growing mightily and prevailing in Ephesus and Asia, and how many which believed came confessing and showing their deeds before the apostle Paul and those who were with him.
Now on the surface it might seem like everything was going well there in Ephesus as the apostle Paul would spend a total of three years teaching and preaching within the city. If you read the opening verses of the chapter you will find all those who dwelt in Asia hearing the word of the Lord Jesus and how the Spirit wrought special miracles by the hands of the apostle Paul so that even aprons and handkerchiefs were brought from him that men and women might be healed and cured of whatever afflicted them. Luke writes how divers evil spirits departed and were driven out, and how various manners of sickness and illness was removed from the physical bodies of countless men and women. Moreover, we find that the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified there in Asia, and that the word of God would grow mightily there in Ephesus and in Asia. It would seem and appear that everything would be on the up and up and the gospel would and could be preached without any interference from any outside forces. Time would unfortunately prove this to be incorrect, for as you continue reading the nineteenth chapter you will find a silversmith named Demetrius—one who made silver shrines for Diana and achieved great wealth as a result—called together other workmen of like occupation and began stirring them against the apostle Paul, and speaking unto them how they had achieved great wealth from their craft and profession. Furthermore, this one named Demetrius would go on to incense these men against the apostle Paul and against his message, for he would speak unto them how the apostle Paul declared that there be no gods which are made by human hands, and that there be no gods which be made of gold, silver, wood and stone. Demetrius was able to successfully to incense those whom he had gathered unto him, for you will go on to read and find that when those who heard the words which he spoke and considered that their craft and income might be in danger, they were full of wrath and cried out in the midst of the city, saying, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians.” You will go on to read how the whole city was filled with confusion, and two of the apostle Paul’s companions were seized as they all rushed with one accord into the theatre. When the apostle Paul found out what was taking place he would have entered into the theatre, however, he was prohibited and restrained from doing so by the brethren, as well as certain of the chief of Asia who were his friends. It’s worth noting that Luke would write of this chaos and tumult within the city that the entire city was thrust into confusion and did not even know or understand why they were even gathered together in the theater. Ultimately the riot and uproar would be dismissed and silenced, and the people would return unto their homes after the town clerk stood up in the midst of them and declared unto them that they were in danger of being called into question for the day’s activities and the uproar which had taken place.
The reason I mention these particular events which were recorded within the book of Acts is because when you come to the twenty-first chapter of the book of Acts you will find the apostle Paul once more in the throws of a riot and uproar—this time, however, not in one of the cities of Macedonia and Greece, nor even in one of the cities in Asia, but in the city of Jerusalem itself. There in the midst of the city of Jerusalem where the very Temple of the living God stood the apostle Paul would once more find himself in the midst of a great tumult and uproar. When you come to the twenty-first chapter of the book of Acts you will find the apostle Paul coming unto Jerusalem and having aligned himself with the brethren who were there in the city. The apostle Paul then purify himself together with four other brothers, and when the days of their purification were ended, they would come to the Temple in order that sacrifice might be made signifying the end of their purification. It would be there in the Temple, however, where all hell would break loose before and against the apostle Paul as the Jews which were in Asia would see him there in the Temple and would stir up the people. I have to say that I am inclined to believe that the apostle Paul very well might have made it to the city in time for the feast of Pentecost, for this particular feast was one of the feasts which the Jews celebrated—one of the feasts where Jews from all over would gather themselves unto the city of Jerusalem to celebrate there in the city. It’s interesting and worth noting that when the Jews would have come unto the city of Jerusalem to celebrate the feast of the Passover—a feast which itself would be transformed by the arrival and manifestation of the Holy Spirit decades earlier—they would actually find themselves stirred up and incensed against the apostle Paul. In the midst of the celebration of the feast of Pentecost the Jews would find themselves being thrust into tremendous chaos and confusion, as the Jews which were in Asia—when they saw the apostle Paul in the Temple—stirred up and incensed the people against him. What’s more is that this is the beginning of the fulfillment of that which Agabus the prophet from Judaea spoke unto the apostle when he declared unto him that the apostle Paul would be bound by the Jews there in Jerusalem and would be handed over to the Gentiles. Much like the Lord Jesus would be bound by the Jewish religious leaders and would ultimately be handed over to the Gentiles to be crucified, so also would the apostle Paul be bound by the Jews and handed over to the Gentiles. It would be there in the city of Jerusalem where the Jews which were in Asia—perhaps some and many of the same Jews which had vehemently opposed the apostle Paul in Thessalonica, Berea and other cities—would once more stir up the people against the apostle Paul. This time, however, it would Jews from all over within the city of Jerusalem that would be incensed against the apostle Paul and would even drag him out of the temple and seek to kill him.
If you continue reading in the book of Acts and you come to the twenty-first chapter of the book you will find the beginning of the journey which the apostle Paul would ultimately take and make unto Rome itself. Interestingly enough it would be affliction, it would be chaos, it would be confusion, it would be opposition that would ultimately bring the apostle Paul unto the capital city of the Roman Empire itself. We wouldn’t think that affliction and opposition could be used as divine tools in the hand of the living God, however, if there is one thing the book of Acts reveals unto us, it’s that more often than not affliction and opposition can be used as divine tools in the very hands of God to accomplish His will, His plan and His purpose for our lives. If you turn and direct your attention back to the eighth chapter of the book of Acts you will find that at about the time of Stephen’s death there arose a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and many of the Christians and believers were scattered within and throughout Judaea and Samaria. It was also about this time when the apostle formerly known as Saul would emerge on the scene and wreak havoc against the church as he entered into houses and homes and dragged men and women out in order that he might commit them unto prison and to be punished. Perhaps one of the single greatest realities we must come to terms with when reading the words which are found within the book of Acts is that more often than not affliction and opposition can be tools in the hand of the Lord which He will in fact use to bring about and accomplish His plans and purposes. There is not a doubt in my mind that the chaos, the confusion, the riot, the uproar and the affliction which the apostle Paul faced and experienced in the city of Jerusalem would be used in the hand of the Lord to accomplish something much bigger and something far greater than the apostle Paul could think or even imagine. THERE IS SOMETHING BIGGER GOING ON HERE! THERE IS SOMETHING MUCH BIGGER THAN YOU TAKING PLACE RIGHT NOW! THERE IS SOMETHING BEYOND YOUR UNDERSTANDING WHICH IS TAKING PLACE RIGHT NOW! In fact, if you continue reading in the book of Acts and come to the twenty-third chapter of the book of Acts you will find the Lord Jesus Himself appearing unto the apostle Paul as He did while He was in Corinth and instructing him to not fear, but to be of good courage, for he must needs make his way unto Rome itself. Just as the Lord Jesus had appeared unto the apostle Paul there in Corinth instructing him to not fear but to continue speaking without hesitation and reservation, so also would the Lord Jesus appear unto the apostle Paul once more and instruct him to be of good courage, for he would travel and journey as far as Rome and would give witness and testimony there. Oh how absolutely remarkable and wonderful it is to think about and consider this wonderful and incredible fact, for while it was true the apostle Paul would find himself in the midst of another uproar, while it was true the apostle Paul would be beaten and find those who sought to take his life, and while it was true that he was bound with chains and almost scourged by the Romans, he was instructed to be of good cheer and to know that he was destined to travel unto Rome and there give witness and testimony.
The more I read and consider the account of the apostle Paul at this time, the more I can’t help but be absolutely and wonderfully captivated by the fact that despite the fact that he knew he would be bound by the Jews and would be handed over to the Gentiles, he still chose to deliberately and intentionally journey down unto the city of Jerusalem. The apostle Paul knew that bonds and afflictions abided him in every city, and he knew that he would enter Jerusalem and at some point would face tremendous affliction and opposition, and yet he still chose to go down unto the city and to fulfill and carry out that which the living God had purposed and ordained for his life. What we find is that when the apostle Paul would come down unto the city of Jerusalem the Jews which were in Asia would stir up the people once more against the apostle Paul, would finally lay hands on and seize him, and were it not for the intervention of the chief captain of the band rescuing the apostle Paul from their hands, they might have succeeded in killing him. The events we find within these few chapters are absolutely incredible and powerful when you consider them, for even though you find the apostle Paul in chains and bound before the people, he still desired to speak unto the people who had risen up against him in opposition. Even though the apostle Paul would be bound with chains and the people there in Jerusalem sought to kill and put him to death, he still obtained permission to speak unto them. When the apostle Paul was given audience by those in the city of Jerusalem he would speak unto them concerning his former life as a Pharisee under the feet of Gamailel, and how he was zealous for the law and would even persecute the church of Jesus the Christ believing that he was doing a service before and unto the living God. The apostle Paul would declare how there was a time when he believed that he was doing a service and work before the living God by persecuting the early church—only to find himself coming face to face with the reality that it wasn’t simply the church he was persecuting, but it was Jesus the Christ whom he was persecuting. Perhaps that which the apostle Paul was seeking to put on display in his speech before the Jews was that their actions toward and against him weren’t simply against him, but were in fact against Jesus the Christ much like his actions against the church weren’t against the church alone, but were against Jesus the Christ Himself. I find it hard to believe the apostle Paul would seek to defend himself considering the fact that he did not count his life as being dear unto him and was ready to not only be bound in Jerusalem, but also to die there as well. The words which the apostle Paul spoke before the Jews and the angry mob there in the city were not meant to somehow defend himself, but rather to demonstrate actions which are being performed against Jesus the Christ—much like he himself experienced firsthand while traveling on the road to Damascus.
I have to admit that I cannot escape and I can’t get over this reality of there being something much bigger and much larger than anything the apostle Paul could have even thought and imagined, for when the apostle Paul entered into Jerusalem I doubt that he perceived or even thought within his mind that he would ultimately journey unto the city of Rome itself and testify concerning Jesus the Christ. What we find here within these particular chapters is in fact confusion and chaos within the city of Jerusalem, and even the apostle Paul being bound by the Jews before ultimately being handed over to the Gentiles, but I can’t help but see something much bigger taking place here within the life of the apostle Paul. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we find here within this passage is the manifestation of something that is and was much bigger than the apostle Paul and anything he could have thought or imagined for himself. I do not believe for one moment the apostle Paul thought that he would travel and journey unto Rome to testify and bear witness of the Lord Jesus the Christ, and yet if and when you come to the twenty-third chapter of the book of Acts you will find the Lord Jesus standing by him and instructing him to be of good cheer, for as he had testified in Jerusalem, so also would he bear witness in Rome itself. As surely and as certainly as the apostle Paul stood witness and bore testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ in the capital city of the Jews, so also would he stand and bear witness in the most powerful city in the world at that time. In all reality, that which the Lord Jesus the Christ spoke unto the apostle Paul was that Jerusalem would not be the end for him, and Jerusalem would not be the final resting place for him, for Jerusalem would ultimately only be the beginning. It would be his time in Jerusalem that would be the catalyst that would propel him on a one way journey to the capital city of the Roman Empire and to the most powerful city in the world. At the risk of getting ahead of myself you will find the apostle Paul ultimately appealing unto Caesar, and when he might very well have been released there in Jerusalem, he would ultimately find himself traveling and journeying unto Rome itself. THERE IS SOMETHING BEYOND JERUSALEM! THERE IS SOMETHING BEYOND WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW! THERE IS SOMETHING BEYOND WHAT YOU ARE PRESENTLY EXPERIENCING! The apostle Paul’s eyes might very well have been on that which was taking place in the city of Jerusalem, and he perhaps was not even thinking about traveling and journeying unto the city of Rome, and yet it would be the Lord Jesus the Christ who would declare unto him that he would in fact witness and testify of Him in Rome just as he did there in the city of Jerusalem. Jerusalem would only be the beginning for the apostle Paul, for it would be from Jerusalem the apostle Paul would be catapulted and thrust on a one way journey to the capital city of the Roman Empire—Rome itself.
I sit here this morning and I can’t help but be drawn into the tremendous and incredible reality that what we find within these particular chapters is a wonderful and powerful demonstration of the reality that affliction and opposition can in fact be used as divine tools and instruments in the hand of the living God. More often than not we view affliction, opposition, trial and trouble as inconveniences within our lives, and yet more often than not they are divine tools and instruments which are used in the hands of the Lord to fulfill and accomplish His divine plans and purposes for our lives. The apostle Paul found himself being bound in the city of Jerusalem, and even having his life threatened by those Jews who sought to kill him, and later by other Jews who banded together to kill him, and yet the Lord Jesus had plans which were much bigger than anything the apostle Paul would think of or imagine. What’s more, is that these chapters—and specifically the words which the Lord Jesus spoke unto the apostle Paul by night—revealed the wonderful and incredible reality that the apostle Paul would not find and meet his end in the city of Jerusalem, but would in fact journey unto the city of Rome itself and would stand and bear witness of Him there. How absolutely wonderful and incredible it is to think about and consider the fact that there was something much bigger and much larger than the apostle Paul would or could even think and imagine, for the Lord Jesus the Christ was preparing to bring him unto Rome itself to stand and bear witness concerning Him. Oh, not only am I confronted with the fact that affliction and opposition can be used as divine tools and instruments in the hand of the living God, but so also are there times within our lives when there is something going on which is much bigger and much greater than we could think or even imagine. I do not believe the apostle Paul was even thinking about Rome and bearing witness to Jesus the Christ there in Rome, and yet it would be the Lord Jesus Christ who would declare unto him that he must needs journey unto Rome and bear witness there in the city. Oh how absolutely wonderful and incredible it is to think about and consider the fact that what we perceive as inconveniences and interruptions within our lives can more often than not be used as divine tools and instruments in the hand of the Lord. What I so love about this particular passage which is before us is that the Lord preserved and protected the apostle Paul from certain and imminent danger and harm as certain Jews would conspire against him to kill him and once for all be rid of the apostle Paul. If you read the twenty-third chapter of the book of Acts you will find that the apostle Paul’s nephew would hear and become aware of a plot and conspiracy to kill him, and he immediately alerted the apostle Paul to the danger. When the apostle Paul was made aware of that which was and had been conspired against him, he positioned his nephew to speak unto the chief captain of the guard and make him aware of that which had been conspired and plotted against him.
As I prepare to draw and bring this writing to a close I feel a great need to write and speak of the preservation and protection of the Lord, and how carefully the Lord watched over and guarded the apostle Paul. The account of the life and ministry of the apostle Paul are replete with example after example of the apostle Paul becoming aware of plots, conspiracies and threats against his life, and how on more than one occasion the Lord watched over and carefully preserved and protected his life. Even as early as the ninth chapter we find this to be true as the apostle Paul was alerted to the conspiracy against him in Damascus and was rescued from those who lied wait for him at the gate of the city. Within Jerusalem itself the apostle Paul was made aware of the plot of the Jews to kill him back then as well, and the brethren brought him forth from the city unto Caesarea where he would eventually make his way unto Tarsus. The life of the apostle Paul brings us face to face with the reality that the Lord carefully watches over and cares for His own, and even though you might find yourself experiencing affliction, opposition, trial and trouble, that does not mean the Lord is not watching over and protecting you. The apostle Paul was bound with chains and securely guarded by soldiers and guards, and yet there were enemies who conspired against him to kill him, and the Lord exposed the plot against the life of the apostle Paul, thus ensuring that he would ultimately make his way to the city of Rome. This is actually quite remarkable when you think about and consider it, for you wouldn’t think we would be able to say the Lord Jesus Christ was watching over and protecting the apostle Paul, for how could such a statement be made if the apostle Paul was bound with chains and guarded by soldiers and guards? If you read the words which are found within these chapters you will find that although the apostle Paul was bound by chains he would be rescued from the initial assault of the Jews as the sought to kill and put him to death. What’s more, is that the apostle Paul would also be spared from being scourged by the Roman soldiers upon declaring unto them that he was a Roman citizen who was freeborn and did not pay for his citizenship. What’s more, is that here we find the apostle Paul still bound with chains and the Lord was still watching over him by exposing the plot and conspiracy to kill and put him to death. There is this common misconception and misperception that the preservation and protection of the Lord means that we are somehow saved and spared from any and all trouble, and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply isn’t the case. The apostle Paul was still bound with chains and guarded by soldiers and guards, and yet the Lord watched over him by exposing a plot and conspiracy to come upon him suddenly and kill him. PRESERVED IN THE MIDST OF TROUBLE! PRESERVED IN THE MIDST OF AFFLICTION! PRESERVED IN THE MIDST OF TRIAL! The apostle Paul was still bound and was still guarded by soldiers and guards, and yet the Lord was still with him, the Lord Jesus still appeared unto him strengthening him, and the Lord still guarded and preserved his life by exposing and revealing a plot to kill him. Oh that we would recognize and understand the tremendous reality that we can be in the throws of affliction, we can be in the bowels of suffering, and we can even be in the midst of trouble and trial, and yet the Lord is not only still with us, but the Lord also watches over us, preserves and protects in the midst of it.