Sermon Summary - Waiting and Trusting in Times of Silence - Acts 24:24-27
In Acts 24:27, Paul finds himself stuck in jail for two whole years. Why? On one hand it’s because of the governor Felix. Felix wanted to kiss up to the Jews, so Paul was stuck. And remember, it was because of the Jews in the first place that Paul was imprisoned. It’s easy to praise God for His sovereign providence when things are going well. But what about in the midst of His “strange providence”? You can imagine Paul praying Psalm 44:23-26 or Psalm 69:3 or Psalm 62:8 during this time. Luke states verse 27 almost like a passing comment. Why didn’t he tell us about the prayers that were surely made for Paul’s release? These types of circumstances lead Christians to question God’s providence. Have you ever felt that? Just as parents train their children, so also God uses delays, frustrations, and waiting to cause His children to trust Him. None of us will ever be without struggle in this life when it comes to trusting God.
Remember that one year prior, Paul wrote to the church at Rome of his plans to visit Spain (Rom. 15:25-29). He had plans, and he was driven to serve the Lord. He had his sights on Spain, but that wasn’t the Lord’s agenda. Paul eventually makes it to Rome, but historically, we don’t know if he ever gets to Spain (probably not though). Paul’s godly hope was good. It’s good to have gospel-centered hopes and plans. But after all the hoping and planning, we must say, “Lord, not my will, but Yours be done.” Paul is a model for us all to trust God, that He is working out all things for our good (Rom. 8:28).
Luke seems to be saying in this text that the Lord gave Paul no further revelation as He had previously (Acts 23:11). All Christians must endure trials (1 Peter 1:6-7), but the priority in the midst of those trials is loving God (1 Peter 1:8-9), even above ministry like reaching unreached peoples for Jesus. If you allow your circumstances to guide your life and hopes, you’ll be all over the place. Paul was certainly tempted to let his circumstances drive his emotions. He may have thought at times that he was close to winning Felix over. But ultimately Paul is not moved by his circumstances (Cf. 2 Cor. 4:17-18).
Paul worked to keep his conscience clean before God, Felix, and fellow believers. He knew he could gather up enough for a bribe to Felix. He could have rationalized that with the motive of getting back on the mission field. But no, he never went against his conscience. No matter what life circumstances you may face, remember Paul’s example. Paul surely prayed something like Psalm 121:1-4. God may answer, He may not, but He bids us come unto Him (Mat. 11:28). God is always for us (Rom. 8:31), and yet at times we have our feelings come against what we know to be true. The problem comes when we think the “all things” promised in Rom. 8:32 refer to temporal blessing rather than future hope (Rom. 8:38-39). But we must always know that God is more than enough for the next trial that’s coming.