A Tale of Two Ships & Two Directions: Do Not Be Surprised & Know You’re Not Alone

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 eleven verses of the twenty-fourth chapter. When you come to this particular portion of scripture you will find the apostle Paul having spent twelve days in the city of Jerusalem after having departed from Miletus where he met with the Ephesian elders. If you study the chronology of the events which have taken place from the twenty-first chapter until now you will find that when the apostle Paul first game to Jerusalem he experienced a period of peace and relative calm before all he’ll seemed to break loose against him. Towards the second half of the twenty-first chapter you will find the apostle Paul entering the city of Jerusalem and greeting the brethren who were there. What’s actually quite interesting and unique is that it would be during this initial interaction between the apostle Paul and the brethren and elders of the church of Jerusalem that we find and discover that there were thousands of believers and followers of Jesus the Christ which were present within the city of Jerusalem from the time the early church was formed until that present moment. What we must recognize and understand when reading the account of the apostle Paul at this stage n his life, as well as at this point in the book of Acts there have been a number of years which have passed since the day of Pentecost had taken place and those original three thousand souls were added to the original one hundred and twenty souls which were present within the upper room. There have been a number of years which have taken place since the day of Pentecost and where the church was at this present point in time. In all reality, I would dare say that it’s the events which take place in this particular time period right now that begin to set the stage for Christianity entering into and coming unto the city of Rome and all the events which took place thereafter. There is not a doubt in my mind when reading the words which are found in the previous chapter of the book of Acts and how the Lord Jesus appeared unto the apostle Paul by night and declared unto him that he must testify and bear witness of Him in Rome just as he did in Jerusalem that it was the beginning of the spread of the gospel within the capital city of Rome. What’s even more interesting and intriguing is that although the Roman Empire was in existence during the days of Jesus, and although it was the dominant super power during those days, Jesus would not make a journey unto it. When Jesus came to the earth and took in the form of human flesh He came unto His own in order that His own might receive Him. Of course we know and understand from the gospel of John that although Jesus came to His own they did not receive Him.

As I sit here this morning I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that on the surface it might seem like the events which are taking place and which have taken place in Jerusalem during these days were only impacting and only about the Jews which were present within the city. It would be very easy to view the events which took place at this time in Jerusalem and think about and consider the fact that they touched Jerusalem only, and yet to do so would be to miss the tremendous and incredible importance of the bigger picture that is being painted by the Holy Spirit. When we read the words which are written and recorded within these verses we must recognize and understand that there is something much bigger that is taking place and something beyond the apostle Paul. It would have been very easy for the apostle Paul to view and consider these events as only touching him and as only touching his life, and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply isn’t the case. The events which took place within Jerusalem and within the life of the apostle Paul didn’t just touch his life, for those events would serve as preparation for a journey that would take the apostle Paul from Jerusalem unto Rome itself. Pause for a moment and consider the tremendous implications of such a journey, as the apostle Paul would come unto Jerusalem not knowing what awaited him there, and not knowing what would befall him, and yet he would learn that the affliction and the opposition which he faced in Jerusalem would only be the beginning. The Lord Jesus Christ would appear unto the apostle Paul while bound by two chains and kept under guard there in Jerusalem and would declare unto him that just as he stood and gave testimony and witness of Him in Jerusalem, so also would he hear witness and give testimony of Him in the city of Rome itself. What adds even more weight to this reality is that when the apostle Paul spoke unto the elders of the Ephesian church and congregation he knew that he was going bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, yet he did not know what would befall and come upon him there—save only that the Spirit bore witness with him that bonds and afflictions abided him in every city he came unto. The apostle Paul knew that his journey was leading him to Jerusalem, yet the apostle Paul did not know of the affliction he would be and experience there in the city, nor even the fact that the journey to Jerusalem would lead to a second journey which would take him away from it.

THE JOURNEY THAT LEADS YOU BEYOND YOUR INTENDED DESTINATION! The apostle Paul made the journey from Miletus where he met with the Ephesian elders, and he knew that he was bound in the spirit to go down unto Jerusalem. What the apostle Paul did not know and what he had absolutely no knowledge of was that by coming unto Jerusalem—even though he would come unto Jerusalem to worship at the time of the feast—his coming unto Jerusalem would lead and bring him unto the city of Rome. Jerusalem was merely the startling point and the beginning of an even greater journey that would take place within the life of the apostle Paul, for it would be from Jerusalem the apostle Paul would find himself on a one way collision course with Rome itself. Despite all the various other cities the apostle Paul journeyed to and preached the gospel unto, his apostolic ministry would take him beyond Jerusalem and Judaea and would even take him beyond Asia itself. The journey of the apostle Paul unto Jerusalem would ultimately be the catalyst for him moving beyond that city and ultimately coming unto Rome itself. If there is one thing I can’t help but think about when reading the words which are found in these chapters it’s that there are times in our lives when life brings us to one place, and yet we think and believe that that place we have been brought to is the ultimate destination. It would have been very easy for the apostle Paul to come unto Jerusalem and in the natural conclude that he was destined to come unto Jerusalem and that was his final destination. The apostle Paul did in fact declare that he was ready and willing to go up to Jerusalem and not only be bound in the city, but also to give his life in the city. The apostle Paul went bound unto the city of Jerusalem and the apostle Paul did not know what would befall and come upon him there in the city, and when speaking unto the disciples and his companions who wept when they heard what would befall and come upon him there in the city his heart was broken because he was willing to not only be bound, but he was also willing to die there in the city of Jerusalem. I am sure that before Jesus the Christ appeared unto and stood beside the apostle Paul that night he had absolutely no idea, nor was it perhaps a thought in his mind that he would move beyond Jerusalem and journey unto Rome itself. Perhaps one of the most intriguing and captivating realities that is found within these chapters is that in the natural it might very well have seemed and appeared unto the apostle Paul that his journey would lead him unto the city of Jerusalem, and that it would be there in Jerusalem where the journey would end. The apostle Paul was willing to be bound in the city, and he was even willing to give his life there in the city, and I am sure that when he was bound by the chief captain Lysias he believed that the beginning of the end was unfolding within his life and that it would only be a matter of time before he would ultimately give his life for the sake of the gospel. I am sure the apostle Paul—when he was bound with those two chains—believed that he was about to give his life for the sake of the gospel there in the city of Jerusalem and that there was nothing beyond this capital city of Judaea.

WHEN THE JOURNEY TAKES YOUR BEYOND WHERE YOU WERE EXPECTING! If there is one thing I can’t help but come to terms with when I read the words found in this passage of Scripture it’s how we can so easily get caught up in the natural and physical realm and think and believe one thing and one way when in all reality that which is ultimately taking place is entire different. The apostle Paul came unto the city of Jerusalem now knowing what would befall and come upon him, and I would venture to say that he did not think for one minute he would make his way unto the city of Rome where he would testify and bear witness concerning Jesus the Christ. The apostle Paul knew that he would go unto Jerusalem and that he would go up to the city to worship, and yet upon coming unto the city he would find himself being seized by the Jews of Asia who stirred up the people there in the city and incensed them against the apostle Paul. While it was true the apostle Paul came unto the city of Jerusalem to worship at the feast of Pentecost as perhaps countless other Jews did, he did not know, nor did he have any clue that his coming up to the city to worship at the feast would lead to and result in his being seized by the Jews, beaten with the intention of being beaten to death, and ultimately rescued by the chief captain of the guard there in Jerusalem. I find it absolutely incredible when reading the words found in these chapters that while it was true the apostle Paul would come unto Jerusalem to worship the Lord at the feast of Pentecost, the Lord Himself would have different plans for the apostle. The apostle Paul would purify himself over a period of seven days and would come unto the Temple at the end and conclusion of those seven days, and it would be his coming unto the Temple that would ultimately bring him face to face with the Jews of Asia who had incensed the people against the apostle Paul there in Asia. In all reality, there are two distinct realities and principles which I find at work within this passage of Scripture, and we would be incredibly wise to recognize and understand them. If and as you read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you will find the trouble which the apostle Paul faced and experienced in Asia coming unto Jerusalem and once again finding him there in the city. The apostle Paul experienced the resistance of the Jews in the cities of Asia and in many of the cities he traveled to, and he experienced the Jews of those cities incensing the people against him and against the gospel, and yet here he is in Jerusalem and the same trouble which came upon him there in the cities of Asia was now coming upon and manifesting itself in his life here in Jerusalem. Oh, what do you do when the trouble you experienced in previous places you have lived and even visited seems to find you where you have journeyed to and perhaps even where you live now? What do you do when the trouble you faced and experienced in previous places seems to find you in that new place you have come unto? For the apostle Paul, he faced and experienced persecution and opposition from the Jews in the cities in Asia and Europe he preached and proclaimed the gospel, and yet here he is in the city of Jerusalem coming to worship the Lord and the same affliction, the same opposition, the same persecution finds him there.

THE SAME TROUBLE JUST A DIFFERENT PLACE! THE SAME AFFLICTION, JUST A DIFFERENT LOCATION! THE SAME OPPOSITION, JUST A DIFFERENCE ZIP CODE! THE SAME CONFLICT, YET JUST A DIFFERENT GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION! If there is one thing these chapters reveals and brings us face to face with it’s that it is possible for us to leave one particular place were have lived and dwelt—a place where we experienced affliction, opposition and trouble—and yet that same affliction, opposition and trouble seems to find us where we have moved. Perhaps the one unique reality concerning the apostle Paul is that he knew that bonds and afflictions abided him in every city he went to and traveled, so in all reality he was prepared for that which would come upon him in those cities. The apostle Paul knew, recognized and understood that the road ahead of him and the journey which was before him was not an easy journey, and that trials, troubles, conflict and struggle awaited and abided him wherever he went. The apostle Paul knew that the journey which was before him was not one of comfort, convenience, ease and security, and that wherever he went he would find himself coming face to face with struggles and hardships. The apostle Paul knew that there was absolutely no avoiding the conflict and the struggles which awaited him in each city, and in all reality, I would dare say he planned and even expected it. Oh how different would our lives be if we began living as though we should somehow be exempt from struggle and conflict. How different would our lives be if we knew we were commanded to love our neighbor and we knew we were commanded to love our enemies, and yet even in that context of our loving others Jesus never prepared us to be loved or received, but to be hated. Think about it—if not even Jesus was received when He came unto His own, but was rejected and despised, what makes us think that we are and should be any different. In fact, Jesus would declare unto His disciples that if they hated Him and hated Him without a cause so also would they hate His disciples and followers without a cause. Jesus declared unto His disciples that if they persecuted Him so also would they persecute His disciples and followers, and there was no way around this particular reality. I sit here this morning and I can’t help but come face to face with the incredible reality that our lives would be drastically and markedly different if we quit thinking and somehow believing that since and as we follow Jesus the Christ our lives should be free and absent struggle, conflict, trial and trouble. Oh I can’t help but think how many men and women there are among us today in our churches who think and feel that because and since they have followed Jesus the Christ they are somehow exempt from struggle, conflict and trouble, and they live their lives attempting to avoid all forms and all manner of conflict.

I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Peter wrote in the first epistle which he wrote unto those who were scattered and dispersed throughout the regions of Asia and Europe. As I sit here this morning I can’t help but come face to face with the words the apostle Peter would write unto those brethren who were and those brethren which had been scattered—perhaps those who had been scattered since the time of the great persecution which broke out in the city of Jerusalem many years ago. I can’t help but wonder if the apostle Peter was writing to countless disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ who had been scattered forth from the city of Jerusalem from the time of the great persecution which broke out against the Christians there in Jerusalem, and thus forced them to be scattered throughout Judaea and Samaria. Once the gospel started being preached among the Gentiles the number of Christians would increase exponentially as churches and congregations would emerge throughout Asia and the regions round about Judaea, Galilee and Samaria. When the apostle Peter wrote his first epistle he took some time to write and speak concerning the struggle and conflict we find ourselves facing and experiencing within our lives. If you begin reading with and from the thirteenth verse of the fourth chapter you will the apostle Peter speaking straight to the heart of suffering and conflict which we face and experience within our lives. What’s more, is that as you read the words found within this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle Peter seeking to strengthen and encourage the saints and believers of Jesus Christ, yet not in a manner or fashion which we would expect or even think. If and as you read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle Peter emphatically writing and declaring unto these saints and dear believers that they should and ought not be surprised when they face conflict and when they face fiery trials and trouble within their lives as though it was somehow some strange thing which came upon and befell them. When the apostle Peter wrote the words which are found within this passage of Scripture he was seeking to correct this line of thinking where we are deceived and believe that because we have made the decision to walk with and follow Jesus the Christ we are somehow immune from conflict and struggle. The words which the apostle Peter write within this passage of Scripture bring us face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that not only should we not seek to somehow avoid conflict and struggle, but we should in all reality expect and anticipate it. I can’t help but wonder how drastically and noticeably different our lives would be if instead of being surprised and somehow shocked when we face conflict, struggle and affliction we actually expect and anticipate it. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Peter wrote within this passage of Scripture beginning with the twelfth verse of the fourth chapter:

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as thou some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murder, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that the judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator. The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partner of the glory that shall be revealed: feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:12-5:11).

There are two distinct realities which are found within this particular passage of Scripture—namely, the instruction and exhortation the apostle Peter provided that we ought not to think it strange concerning the fiery trials which come to try us as though some strange thing has happened to us. Secondly, the apostle Peter also declared unto the saints and believers which were scattered throughout Asia and the known world at that point in time that the afflictions they faced and experienced were the same afflictions which are accomplished in their brethren all over the world. In all reality, we must come face to face with two distinct realities when reading the words which the apostle Peter wrote within this apostle—namely that we ought not to be surprised and taken back when we face fiery trials, trouble, struggle, conflict, affliction and suffering, and that we ought to understand that the same afflictions are being worked within the lives of our brethren which are in the world. DO NOT BE SURPRISED AND KNOW YOU’RE NOT ALONE! I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that when we think about conflict and struggle within our lives, and when we think about suffering and persecution—not only must we not be surprised and shocked, but we must also know that we are not alone and that our brethren throughout the world are facing the same trials and troubles we are. When I read the words which were written concerning the apostle Paul I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that the apostle Paul was not one who was surprised and even shocked by struggle and conflict, but was one who actually anticipated and expected it. The apostle Paul knew what great things he must suffer for the sake of the gospel, and the apostle Paul knew that in every city he journeyed and traveled afflictions and bonds abided him, and what’s more is that you will never find him shying away from or seeking to avoid the conflict or the struggle. If you read the words which are found within the book of Acts you will not find a single time when the apostle Paul sought to avoid those places where he perhaps could experience suffering, affliction, struggle, conflict, opposition, trials, trouble and the like. The only time the apostle Paul would deliberately and intentionally not go unto a place was because the Holy Spirit prohibited him from going in unto Asia, as well as into Bythinia. If you read the sixteenth chapter of the book of Acts you will find the apostle Paul seeking to enter into Asia in order that he might preach the gospel unto those within the region, and yet what you find instead is the Holy Spirit restricting and prohibiting him from entering into Asia—even though if he entered into Asia he would preach the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ and would bear witness and testimony concerning the gospel and kingdom of God.

I read the words which are found within the twenty-first, twenty-second, twenty-third and twenty-fourth chapters of the book of Acts—and even that which is found in the twentieth chapter of the same New Testament book—and I can’t help but come face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that the apostle Paul was never one who backed down from conflict and struggle, and the apostle Paul was never one who sought to avoid suffering, affliction and opposition. The apostle Paul went down unto Jerusalem—even after it was prophesied and declared unto him that he would be bound in Jerusalem and would be handed over to the Gentiles. The apostle Paul would choose to go unto Jerusalem walking in and following the footsteps of his Lord and Master who Himself would set a clear course and path toward and unto the city of Jerusalem knowing full well what things would befall Him there in the city. Jesus the Christ knew that there in Jerusalem He would suffer many things at the hands of the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel, and would even be betrayed by one of His own. Jesus knew that there in Jerusalem He would be handed over to the Gentiles who would mock, scourge and ultimately crucify and put Him to death, and yet He still deliberately, intentionally and purposefully chose to go unto Jerusalem. What about you? Would you chart a course for Jerusalem knowing that by doing so you put yourself at risk of being bound and being handed over to the Gentiles? Would you chart a deliberate and clear course for Jerusalem knowing that it would be in Jerusalem you would be betrayed, and would suffer many things at the hands of others? Would you chart a clear and present course for that place you were destined to go knowing full well that which would befall and come upon you as you made your way there? Oh, how many men and women would try and avoid the conflict and would try and avoid the struggle altogether and would somehow seek to journey somewhere different? Much like Jonah who boarded a ship in the opposite direction of Nineveh not wanting to go unto this Gentile and heathen city knowing the Lord had called him to stand and preach judgment in the midst of the city men and women board ships and head in the opposite direction of where the Lord has clearly guided and directed them. A TALE OF TWO SHIPS! A TALE OF TWO DIRECTIONS! I sit here this morning and I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that what we are ultimately talking about is a tale of two ships and a tale of two directions as there would be those who like the apostle Paul would board a ship going unto Jerusalem knowing that bonds and afflictions abided him, and even knowing that he would be bound by the Jews and handed over to the Gentiles. There are those who think not their own lives as being dear and precious unto them, for they are seeking something far greater and something far grander than that which is present in this natural life. There are those who refuse to avoid conflict and struggle, and those who refuse to avoid suffering and persecution in order to somehow guard and protect their lives. There are those among us who count not their lives as being dear unto them, and instead recognize that the only way to truly and properly steward their lives is by letting it go and laying it down.

The apostle Paul would come unto the city of Jerusalem not knowing that Jerusalem would merely be the launching pad that would lead him beyond Jerusalem itself, and would lead him unto Rome itself in order that he might bear witness concerning the Lord Jesus the Christ there in the midst of this capital city. When the apostle Paul came unto the city of Jerusalem he had absolutely no idea that coming unto the city would set him in a clear and present course with Rome itself where he would stand and bear witness concerning Jesus the Christ. As the apostle Paul arrived in the city of Jerusalem he had absolutely no idea that his being bound by chains would ultimately lead to his needing to journey unto the city of Rome itself where he would bear witness concerning Jesus the Christ, and concerning the gospel. It would be upon coming unto Jerusalem, and after seven days there in the city the floodgates of opposition and affliction would open, and the Jews would rise up against him and seek to put him to death. Of course the account goes how Lysias the chief captain of the guard came with an army and rescued the apostle Paul from the hands of the Jews and form those who sought to put him to death—a reality which is quite interesting in and of itself, for if you think about it—the apostle Paul was preserved and protected there in the city of Jerusalem in order that he might come unto Rome and bear witness concerning Jesus the Christ there in the capital city of the Roman Empire. Who would have thought that this chief captain of the guard would be used by the Lord to guard and protect the apostle Paul from being put to death, for it was His will and good pleasure to bring him unto Rome where he would testify and bear witness concerning Jesus the Christ. Jesus the Christ appeared I unto the apostle Paul by night and instructed him to be of good cheer, for he would not die in the city of Jerusalem but would in fact live and would live to make a journey unto Rome itself. The journey which the apostle Paul took unto Jerusalem would not end or conclude there in the city, but would in fact continue beyond Jerusalem, as Jerusalem itself would be the catalyst and springboard that would launch the apostle Paul unto Rome itself. What’s more, is that as you read the words which are found at the end of the twenty-third chapter—and even the opening verses of the twenty-fourth chapter you will find the apostle Paul actually being moved away from and outside the city of Jerusalem and coming unto Caesarea where the governor Felix resided and dwelt. What makes this truly unique and intriguing is when you think about and consider that it was because of a conspiracy to put the apostle Paul to death secretly, privately and stealthily that would actually cause the apostle Paul to be moved from the city of Jerusalem, and ultimately move him closer to Rome itself. I firmly believe that everything that happened in Jerusalem, and everything that is happening now is the Holy Spirit’s doing, as the Holy Spirit is methodically and strategically moving the apostle Paul closer and closer unto Rome where this apostle of Jesus the Christ would bear witness concerning Jesus the Christ. How absolutely wonderful and incredible it is to think about and consider the fact that when Jesus the Christ walked upon the earth He sought to set up a kingdom within and in the midst of the empire—a kingdom that was not of this world, but was of heaven itself—and now we have the apostle Paul bringing the truth and message of that kingdom to the very heart of the empire itself.

The more I read and the more I consider the words which are written concerning the apostle Paul the more I can’t help but come face to face with the reality that the apostle Paul came unto the city of Jerusalem not knowing that Jerusalem would only be the beginning as the apostle Paul being bound in Jerusalem would ultimately lead him to being haded over to the Gentiles and ultimately being brought unto Rome itself. The apostle Paul would come unto Jerusalem to worship at the fast of Pentecost, and yet there in the midst of the city the apostle Paul would experience the affliction and opposition of the Jews which would ultimately lead to his being bound and ultimately led forth from and out of the city of Jerusalem because of a plot and conspiracy to take his life and put him to death. When we come to the twenty-fourth chapter we find the apostle Paul having been moved from the city of Jerusalem and being brought unto Caesarea and unto the governor Felix in order that it might be determined what—if anything—the apostle Paul did that warranted being bound with chains and even being put to death. What’s truly remarkable about what is found and written in the twenty-third and twenty-fourth chapter is that when Claudius Lysias wrote a letter which would accompany the apostle Paul on his journey to Caesarea, he would write in the letter that he found no fault, nor did he find any wrong in the heart and mind of the apostle Paul. This chief captain of the guard would write unto the governor Felix that he found no fault in the apostle Paul, and that the apostle Paul had not done anything that would warrant his being bound, imprisoned and even put to death. This is truly unique, for you will recall that when Jesus stood before Pilate in the city of Jerusalem, Pilate himself spoke of and declared concerning Jesus the Christ that he found no fault in Him. There before the angry mob of Jews and religious leaders who cried out for His blood and cried out for His being crucified, Pilate spoke over and spoke concerning this Lamb of God that He was indeed and was in fact innocent, and that He had in fact done no wrong. This was quite wonderful and quite astonishing when you think that this man named Jesus Christ would be pronounced before Jews and Gentiles alike that He was innocent and had done no wrong, and yet He was still sentenced and condemned to death. Pilate knew this man was innocent and that He had done no wrong, and yet he still sentenced Him to death and handed Him over to be crucified. How amazing it is that even in the judgment and condemnation of Jesus the Christ we are brought face to face with His innocence as the sinless and spotless Lamb of God, and it was in this innocence He was ultimately handed over to the crucified and put to death.

The apostle Paul would be pronounced as not having done anything worth being bound, worth being imprisoned, and even worth being put to death, and this message was found in the letter which Claudius Lysias sent with the apostle Paul as he sent him unto the governor Felix which was present in Caesarea. It’s quite telling to think about and consider the fact that the apostle Paul would not begin a tremendous and incredible journey from the city of Jerusalem and would make his way unto the city of Rome where he would bring the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ and would bring the manifestation of the kingdom. It would be through the apostle Paul that the kingdom Jesus the Christ sought to establish in the midst of and within empire would come unto Rome. What’s more, is that it would be through the apostle Paul a church would be established there in the midst of Rome. In fact, there is an entire epistle found within the New Testament which was written unto the saints and disciples which were present there in the midst of Rome, for not only had the gospel come unto Rome, but Christianity had also been established in the midst of the city. It’s actually quite amazing to think about what could take place if we don’t try and avoid conflict and struggle within our lives, and when we don’t try and shy away from suffering, affliction, and persecution. The apostle Paul would never do anything to keep himself from experiencing suffering and persecution, and the apostle Paul welcomed and embraced anything that came his way—regardless of whether or not it meant imprisonment, being beaten with rods, and even being stoned to death. The apostle Paul considered his life as not being his own, and willingly and gladly laid it down and surrendered it to the Lord Jesus the Christ in order that His will, plan and purposes might be accomplished and fulfilled within his life. I keep being brought back to the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the letter which was sent unto the saints which were at Philippi, and how the apostle Paul considered his life as not being dear unto himself, but as having belonged to the Lord Jesus the Christ. I leave you once more with the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the third chapter of the epistle which was written unto the Philippians beginning with the seventh verse of the third chapter:

“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God Bey faith: that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made comformable unto His death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing” (Philippians 3:7-16).

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