Embracing Bonds & Afflictions of the Will of God: The Irony & Conflict of Affliction & Struggle

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament scriptural account of the spiritual body of Jesus Christ which is the church as it was written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke in the book of Acts. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses twelve through twenty-seven of the twenty-fourth chapter. A CONSCIENCE VOID OF OFFENSE! A CONSCIENCE VOID OF OFFENSE TOWARD GOD! A CONSCIENCE VOID OF OFFENSE TOWARD GOD, AND TOWARD MEN! I EXERCISE MYSELF TO HAVE ALWAYS A CONSCIENCE VOICE OF OFFENC! When you come to this particular portion of scripture you will find the apostle Paul having been brought forth from the city of Jerusalem and unto Caesarea in order that he might be brought unto the governor Felix which presided there. It’s worth nothing that the main and underlying reason the apostle Paul was brought forth from Jerusalem was because of fear of how he had been treated being a Roman citizen, as well as a conspiracy and plot which was uncovered to put him to death stealthily and privately. It’s actually quite interesting and unique to read the account of the life of the apostle Paul and to read how on more than one occasion the Lord watched over and protected him—albeit not in the manner in which you would think or expect. There are countless times when we think and feel that the Lord protecting us is to fight our battles for us and for us simply to sit back and enjoy the protection of the living God. There is this common misconception wi Th in the hearts and minds of many saints and believers alike who both think and feel that the Lord can and only will protect them by fighting for them, by fighting their battles and by fighting their battles. The problem with such a line of thinking is that it is incredibly anti-scripture and unbiblical, and is neither rooted nor grounded in any sort of truth that is found and contained within scripture. For On my way! To believe that the sole way the Lord protects us is by deliberately and intentionally fighting each and every battle we face is both incredibly naïve and dangerous to say the least. There is an incredible and inherent danger in thinking and believing the lie and the deception that the Lords sole means of protecting us is to fight all our battles for us and to allow us to simply sit back as He utterly and completely destroys our enemies before our face. While it is in fact true that the Lord does in fact fight for us and will at times defend us in this life, this is not the sole means of the Lords activity within our lives. We dare not and must not be so naïve into thinking and believing that the Lord rises up before us and around us and fights each and every one of our battles for us. The more I read and the more I study scripture the more I come face to face with the exact opposite of this line of thinking and believing system which has the ability to hinder our walk and relationship with the living God.

It’s actually quite unique and quite astonishing to think about and consider the fact that if you read and study the life of the apostle Paul you will find that there was more than one occasion when he was made aware of an attempt of the Jews and those who sought to put him to death. If and as you read the words which are found written within the book of Acts you will find that there were a number of instances and occurrences when the apostle Paul was made aware of attempts which were made on his life. What’s more, is that this reality is evident almost immediately after the apostle Paul was converted to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In the ninth chapter of the book of Acts you will find and read that after Ananias laid hands on and prayed for the apostle Paul to receive his sight and to be filled with the Holy Spirit—not only did he receive his sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit, but he also began reasoning and disputing with the Jews concerning this Jesus who was not only the Christ, but had also risen from the dead. As you read the words which are found in the ninth chapter you will find that there were those in Damascus who lied Waite for the apostle Paul at the gate of the city and watched his coming and his going’s that they might lay hold of and put him to death. Having been made aware of the plot and conspiracy to put him to death the apostle Paul was let down in a basket through the wall of the city, thus allowing him to escape out of the hands of those who sought to put him to death. If you continue reading the ninth chapter you will find that after departing from Damascus the apostle Paul would come unto Jerusalem and would initially be met with skepticism and fear concerning and regarding his conversion. As you read the words which close out the ninth chapter of the book of Acts you will find that Barnabas came alongside the apostle Paul before the apostle Paul and the brethren and not only confirmed that the Lord Jesus had appeared unto him and spoken to him, but also that he boldly preached the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ there in the city of Damascus. Ultimately the apostle Paul was received by the brethren and the apostle and was able to move freely in and out of the city of Jerusalem. What’s more, is that as you read the words which are found in the ninth chapter of the book of Acts you will find the apostle Paul reasoning with the Greeks and how there were none who could withstand him or the doctrine which he preached and proclaimed. Unable to withstand the reasoning of the apostle Paul those whom he disputed with sought to seize and lay hold of him and ultimately put him to death. Having been made aware of their threats and desire the apostle Paul was once more brought forth from the place where he was in order that he might escape the hands of those who sought to put him to death.

If and as you study the New Testament book of Acts you will find that there were numerous occasions when the apostle Paul faced dangers and threats from his own countrymen and from his own brethren, as well as from the Gentiles. The life which the apostle Paul lives was anything but easy as there were countless times when the apostle Paul’s life was in danger and threatened by those who were present before and all around him. Almost immediately after the apostle Paul experiences conversion and salvation on the road to and ultimately in Damascus the apostle Paul would find himself contending indirectly with those who sought to put him to death. I have previously written that one of the enemy’s greatest tactics and strategies is to try and steal, kill and destroy that which the Holy Spirit is doing within our lives while it is still in its infant stage. Time and time again within the scriptures you will find the next and adversary working through world leaders and working through rulers, kings, and such in order to somehow put to death the work which the living God is doing in the earth while it is still in its infant and primitive stage. Perhaps one of the greatest tactics and strategies of the enemy and adversary is to launch and mount a full scale assault and attack on the work which the living God is doing within our lives while it is still in its infant stage and has not yet matured. We must recognize and come to terms with this reality, for failing to do so would be to miss out on truly understanding the activity of the enemy and adversary within our lives. We would be incredibly wise and incredibly discerning to recognize the tactics and strategies of the adversary within our lives and to launch and mount full scale attacks on that which the living God is doing while it is still in its infant stage. There is not a do in t in my mind that this is exactly what was taking place within the life of the apostle Paul shortly after experiencing conversion on the road to and ultimately thin the city of Damascus. It would be not too long after the apostle Paul receives his sight and was filled would it surprise you to hear and read that the enemy and adversary is absolutely terrified and petrified of who and what you become? Would it shock you to know that even in your early and primitive years of walking with and following Jesus the Christ the enemy and adversary has an idea of who and what you will become and even what you have been called to accomplish? There is not a doubt in my mind the enemy and adversary knew and was aware of who and what this man named Saul was destined, called and ordained to be, and as a direct result of this knowledge he sought to put him to death early on. I firmly believe the enemy and adversary was very much aware of that which the apostle Paul was called to do and that which the apostle Paul was called to become, and because of this reality he sought to put him to death so as to effectively put to death the divine will and plan of God for his life. Oh that we would recognize and understand this reality, for by understanding this reality we come face to face with truly understanding the tactics and strategies of the enemy within our lives, and even within the church of Jesus the Christ. Understanding this reality within our lives has the absolute to bring us face to face with how the enemy and adversary moves and operates within our lives and how the enemy desires to destroy the work which the living God is doing in our lives, and that very early on within our lives.

As I sit here this morning I can’t help but come face to face with the awesome and incredible reality of just how the living God was watching over and protecting the apostle Paul, and how He did so early on within his young Christian life. The more you read and the more you study the account of the apostle Paul as it was written in the book of Acts the more you will come to understand just how much the living God watched over, guarded and protected the apostle Paul within his life. What’s more, is that you will truly understand and realize how the Lord alerted the apostle Paul to the dangers which were before and around him in order that they would not come nigh unto him. I am reminded of the words which the ancient psalmists wrote in the book of Psalms concerning the protection of the Lord and how the Lord watches over the lives of His children within this life. If and as you ready and study the words which are found written in the book of the Psalms you will encounter and come face to face with some incredibly strong and powerful language concerning the Lord’s protection and how the Lord is indeed our refuge in times of trouble. I have previously written how Scripture doesn’t declare that the Lord is our refuge from trouble, thus denoting that the Lord somehow delivers and shields us from trouble within this life. This line of thinking is umbilical and not rooted in Scripture, for even Jesus the Christ declared that in this life we would have many trials and troubles, but to not fear because He has overcome the world. What’s more, is the apostle Paul emphatically declared and proclaimed that we must through many trials and troubles enter into the kingdom of God. There is this incredibly dangerous line of thinking that the Lord only protects us and the Lord only defends us out of trouble and not allowing us to face or experience any difficulty, any conflict, any struggle within our lives. There is not a doubt in my mind that this is unscriptural and umbilical and has absolutely no foundation in any degree and measure of truth. The quicker and sooner we come to terms with this truth and reality within our lives, the sooner we can and will understand the activity of the Lord within our lives. I firmly believe that the Lord never promised that He would be our refuge out of times of trouble, nor that he ever promised that He would be our refuge from times of trouble, but rather than He would be our refuge in times of trouble. In other words—though we might go through the fire like Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, and though we might be cast into the lion’s den as was Daniel, so also we must go through the fire and the flood. We would be incredibly naïve to think about and even consider the fact that the Lord has somehow promised us a life absent conflict and struggle, and has somehow promised us a life absent hurt and pain, and even a life absent suffering and affliction. Those who think along these lines and those who choose to believe such realities are not only deceived, but are also naïve and misguided and in need of the Holy Spirit to guide them into all truth.

With that being said, I can’t help but read the words which are written concerning the apostle Paul and how the apostle Paul very early on during his life and ministry experienced the protection of the Lord as he was made aware of the plots and schemes of the enemy and adversary against and upon his life. You cannot make it through the first chapter which describes the life of the apostle Paul without coming face to face with the tremendous and incredible reality that the Lord was watching over, guarding and protecting him from the threats and dangers which were present before and all around him. Both within Damascus, as well as within Jerusalem the living God was watching over, guarding and protecting the apostle Paul—although on the surface it might not seem like that in the natural and physical sense. It would be very easy to read the account of the apostle Paul in the ninth chapter of the book of Acts and to somehow think and believe that the Lord was not watching over and protecting him, and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply isn’t the case. If and as you read the words which are written and found within the ninth chapter of the book of Acts [among other chapters and references] you will find the Lord carefully watching over and guarding the life of the apostle Paul, and protecting him from those threats which were before and around him. Oh how absolutely marvelous and incredible it is to think about and consider the fact that very early on during the Christian life and apostolic ministry of the apostle Paul the enemy and adversary sought to destroy and put him to death, and how the Lord watched over and protected him simply by making him aware of the very real threats which were raised up against him in the physical and natural realm. You cannot come out of the ninth chapter of the book of Acts without recognizing and coming face to face with the astonishing reality that the living God was indeed watching over and protecting him, and was in fact guarding him from very clear and present dangers and threats. Having said that I invite you to read and consider two distinct words and passages which are found within the Old Testament book of Psalms which describe this activity of the living God within our lives, and how the Lord does indeed and does in fact watch over and guard us—despite the fact that the dangers and threats within our lives are indeed very real and very dangerous. Consider if you will the following two passages which are found within the Old Testament poetic book of the Psalms and that which was written by the psalmists concerning their relationship with and their understanding of the living God:

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord” (Psalm 27:1-6).

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust. Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the Fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.k For He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation” (Psalm 91:1-16).

IN THE TIME OF TROUBLE! IN TROUBLE! As you read the words which are found within these two passages you will find two distinct realities which were spoken by the psalmist—both of which bring us face to face with the reality that the Lord has never promised us to deliver us from trouble altogether, nor did or has the Lord promised that we can and will never go through trouble. In fact, I would dare say the exact opposite is true, for the Lord has indeed and has in fact promised that we can and will go through and face trouble, but the Lord will be with us in trouble, and the Lord will hide us in His pavilion in times of trouble. This is actually quite unique and astonishing when you truly take the time to think about and consider it, for we have been taught and trained to think and believe that the Lord has promised to deliver us from all our troubles, and yet this simply isn’t the case. The truth of the matter is that there is a drastic and marked difference between the Lord delivering us from all our troubles and the Lord delivering us out of and through all our troubles. I do not believe for one single minute the Lord has ever promised to deliver us from any and all troubles we face within this life, but has instead promised to be with us in times of trouble, and has promised to deliver us out of and through times of trouble. We have thought and believed for too long that the true reality of the Christian walk and life is the deliverance of the Lord from trouble, and that the Lord has somehow promised that we can never and will never go through trials and troubles, suffering and persecution, affliction and opposition, hurt and pain, conflict and struggle, and the like. We have been taught and led to believe that the Lord can and will fight all our battles for us, and that we need do nothing more than simply sit back and watch Him do all the work. It is true that there are times within our lives when this happens, and a perfect example is found in the fourteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Exodus when the Lord led the children of Israel to the Red Sea and allowed their enemies and adversaries to pursue them. The children of Israel were most certainly in a difficult and trying spot as there was no clear path or direction before and in front of them, and the enemy was pursuing them from behind. The Lord spoke unto Moses and instructed him to declare unto the children of Israel that they need only stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, for the enemies and adversaries they saw on that day they would see no more. Of course you find and read how the Lord opened up a path in the midst of the Red Sea as He parted and divided the waters causing them to rise up in heaps on either side of the children of Israel. What’s more, is that after the children of Israel had passed through the waters of the Red Sea and with their enemies still pursuing them through the same path in the midst of the waters, the Lord caused the waters to return to their original place, thus destroying their enemies with their horses and chariots in the midst of the sea. Oh there are times when the Lord can and will indeed fight our battles for us, but there are other times when the Lord will require us to stand up and fight our own battles with His help and His strength. In fact, the fundamental difference between the children of Israel at the Red Sea and the children of Israel at the Jordan River is that at the Red Sea their enemies were behind them pursuing them, while at the Jordan River their enemies were before them and they were now on the move advancing in the territory of the enemy with the command to drive them out and remove them from the land.

The more I think about and the more I consider the life of the apostle Paul the more I cant help but come face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that the living God watched over, guarded and protected the apostle Paul throughout his Christian life and apostolic ministry, and how the Lord revealed the tactics, the devices, the intentions and the strategies of evil and wicked men within his life. In all reality, I would dare say there were countless times when the apostle Paul faced a similar reality as the psalmist David did when writing countless psalms, for there were multiple times when David referred to himself as being surrounded on all sides by enemies and adversaries, and how there were many which were against him to overtake and destroy him. This was true while he was on the run during the days of Saul king of Israel, and this was true during the days of the rebellion of his son Absalom and his attempt to usurp the throne and kingdom from his father David. What’s more, is this was also true throughout the life of David as he spent most of his life surrounded by enemies and adversaries, and most of his life engaged in battle. If there is one thing that is so incredibly unique and interesting about David is that while he was indeed a man after God’s own heart, and while he was indeed one who worshipped the living God, he also spent most of his life—from the time he engaged Goliath on the battlefield in the Valley of Elah to the time he could no longer fight—on the battlefield engaged in conflict and struggle against his enemies and foes. It was David who alongside his mighty men and the army of Israel fought and engaged the enemies round about the nation of Israel, and whereas Joshua led the children of Israel in battle and conflict against the enemies within the inheritance to take possession of it—David led the children of Israel in battle and conflict against their enemies round about and outside the inheritance in order to expand its influence and dominion. We would be incredibly wise to recognize and understand this reality, for to do so would be to truly understand the movement and operation of the living God within our lives. With that being said, there is a passage within the Old Testament book of Psalms—specifically within the eighteenth chapter of the book—where David expresses and speaks to two distinct realities. In a psalm and song which initially begins with David praising the living God for His fighting his battles and for engaging his enemies before and around him, David would shift gears and transition away from writing and speaking of the Lord fighting his battles, to the Lord teaching and training his hands for war and his hands for battle that he might engage the enemy in conflict, in struggle and battle. Consider if you will the words which are found within the eighteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Psalms beginning with the first verse:

“I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliver; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid. The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me. In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of His temple, and my cry came before Him, even into his ears. Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth. There went up a. Smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet. And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind. He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies. At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire. The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave his voice; hail stones and coals of fire. Yea, he sent out his arrows, and scattered them; and he shot out lightnings, and discomfited them. Then the channels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were discovered at thy rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils. He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me. They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay. He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me. The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God. For all his judgments were before me, and I did not put away his statues from me. I was also upright before him, and I kept myself from iniquity. Therefore hath the Lord recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his eyesight. With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright; with the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward. For thou wilt save the afflicted people; but wilt bring down high looks. For thou wilt light my candle: the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness. For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall. As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is fried: He is a buckler to all those that trust in him. For who is God save the Lord? OR who is a rock save our God? It is God that girdeth me with strength, and make the my way perfect. He make the my feet like hinds’ feet, and setteth me upon my high places. He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms. Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great. Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip. I have pursued my enemies, and overtaken them; neither did I turn again till they were consumed. I have wounded them that they were not able to rise: they are fallen under my feet. For thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle: thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against me. Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies; that I might destroy them that hate me. They cried, but there was none to save them: even unto the Lord, but he answered not. Then did I beat them small as the dust before the wind: I did cast them out as the dirt in the streets. Thou hast delivered me from the strivings of the people; and thou hast made me the head of the heathen: a people whom I have not known shall serve me” (Psalm 18:1-43).

When I sit here this morning and think about and consider the account of the apostle Paul here in this passage of Scripture I cannot help but consider the fact that the entire reason the apostle Paul was brought forth from Jerusalem unto Caesarea was because a plot and conspiracy was uncovered—one which was designed to strike him down and put him to death secretly and privately, so as to finally be rid of him. It’s actually quite interesting and unique to think about and consider the fact that the Lord can and will place the right people in the right place at the right time in order to watch over, guard and protect his children. This reality is manifested in the life of the apostle Paul’s nephew, for if you read the twenty-third chapter of the book of Acts you will find it written how it was Paul’s sister’s son who uncovered the plot to put him to death stealthily and secretly so as to completely destroy and be rid of him. When the apostle Paul was made aware of the desire and intention of the Jews, he called for a centurion and guard to come unto him and escort his nephew to the chief captain with an urgent message and something to tell him. When in the company of the chief captain Paul’s sister’s son made him aware of the danger and threat which was present against the apostle Paul, and how there were men who lied in wait to put the apostle Paul to death, and bound themselves by a curse if they did not put the apostle Paul to death. It’s actually quite astonishing and remarkable how here we are all these years later and the Lord is still watching over, guarding and protecting the apostle Paul, and is doing so by uncovering the plots, the schemes and the tactics of his enemies. There were those who vowed among themselves, and those who bound themselves with a curse that they would not rest until they had put to death. What’s so incredibly unique and interesting about this is that the Lord delivered the apostle Paul out of the hands of his enemies, as the Lord caused the schemes, the devices and the tactics of the enemy to be uncovered and revealed. THE GOD WHO SEES IN SECRET! THE GOD WHO HEARS IN SECRET! THE GOD WHO UNCOVERS THE PLOTS OF MEN! THE GOD WHO UNCOVERS THE SCHEMES OF MEN! THE GOD WHO REVEALS THE INTENTIONS OF MEN’S HEARTS! I find it absolutely remarkable how the living God would deliver the apostle Paul from the schemes and tactics of the enemy by exposing and revealing their intentions, and by positioning his nephew at the right place at the right time. It was true that the danger against the apostle Paul was very real, and yet the Lord was aware of the their desires, their threats and their intentions, and positioned his nephew to be at the right place at the right time. Oh it’s actually quite amazing to think about and consider just how the Lord can and will deliver us out of the hands of our enemies and out of the hands of our adversaries, for in the life of the apostle Paul the Lord revealed, exposed and brought to l ought that which his enemies, that which his adversaries were plotting and scheming against him by vowing to put him to death.

USING TRIALS TO PLACE YOU BEFORE KINGS! USING STRUGGLE TO POSITION YOU BEFORE RULERS! I sit here this morning and I can’t help but think to myself how the apostle Paul was now standing before Felix who was governor in Caesarea, and how the Lord was using chains, shackles and bonds to position the apostle Paul in places where he would stand before rulers, leaders, and kings in order that he might testify and bear witness to Jesus the Christ. While Jesus Christ was being falsely accused and tried He Himself stood before the high priest and the religious leaders of His day, he stood before Herod the great, and he would ultimately stand before Pontius Pilate. Walking with and in the footsteps of his Lord and Master the apostle Paul would stand before rulers and leaders of his and would do so not as a free man, but as a man in chains. The account of the apostle Paul at this point and at this stage in his life must be carefully considered, for while on the surface it might seem like all hell was breaking loose against the apostle Paul, the Lord was actually using the chains, the bonds and the imprisonment of the apostle Paul to position him before rulers and leaders in order that they might hear and listen to the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ. What’s more, is that if you journey down to the twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth verses of the twenty-fourth chapter you will find something actually quite remarkable concerning the apostle Paul—namely, how he stood before Felix and his wife Drusilla and proclaimed unto them the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ. Consider if you will the following words which were written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke in this particular chapter and passage found within the book of Acts: “And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee” (Acts 24:24-25). There are times in our lives when what we going through and what we are experiencing might not make any sense, and there are times within our lives when what we are going through might appear to be discouraging, and yet the truth of the matter is that behind the scenes there is a living God who is not only working all things together for the good of those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose, but is also positioning us to fulfill His divine plan, purpose and will for our lives. On the surface it might seem as though the apostle Paul was in a dangerous place, and yet even in chains, even in shackles, even in bonds and afflictions the Lord was still watching over and protecting him, for the Lord was preparing him to come unto Rome itself where he would stand to witness and bear testimony concerning Jesus the Christ. If there is one thing we must learn and recognize when reading the words which are found within the life of the apostle Paul—particularly and especially during and at this time—it’s that what might seem like chains, bonds and afflictions in the natural is actually the Lord positioning us to fulfill His divine will, plan and purpose, and even working something in our lives which is much bigger than we could even think or imagine. What’s more, is that the chains and bonds which the apostle Paul found himself in was actually used for two distinct purposes—on the one hand to deliver him from the hands of those who would seek to destroy and put him to death, and on the other hand to bring him before rulers and leaders in order that he might bear witness concerning Jesus the Christ

Would it shock and surprise you think about and consider the fact that the Lord could actually use bonds and afflictions to watch over and protect you? Would it shock you to note and discover that the Lord actually used the chains and bonds of the apostle Paul to not only guard and protect him from the threats of those who would seek to kill him, but also to bring him before rulers and leaders of that generation. One of the greatest lessons and realities we must learn and come to terms with when reading and considering the life of the apostle Paul is that the Lord can and the Lord will use chains and bonds, He can use affliction and opposition, and he can even use hurt and pain, as well as conflict and struggle in order to position us in those places he desires us. If we truly believe that all things work together for the good of those who love God and are the called according to His purpose, then we must conclude and believe that He can use chains and shackles, conflict and struggle, hurt and pain, suffering and persecution, and even afflictions and opposition to accomplish in our lives that which He desires and that which He has purposed and willed. Oh that we would recognize and understand the tremendous reality that the living God can and will use that which in the natural might appear to be discouraging and even frustrating in order that He might fulfill His plans and His purposes for our lives. The Lord can and will use those things that might seem like they are intended to destroy us to accomplish in our lives something that is much greater and much bigger than ourselves, and even that which we could think or imagine. We must recognize and come face to face with the awesome and incredible truth that the living God can and will use what might be uncomfortable and inconvenient within our lives to fulfill and accomplish his plans and his purposes within our lives—including positioning us where He wants, when he wants us there, and for his divine plans and purposes.

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