Outside the Comfort Zone
Lord, use Your Word today to command me and comfort me. I need Your direction and consolation.
Consider: "When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul" (Horatio G. Spafford, 1828-1888). There are times when these words can give us comfort and courage.
Paul knew this day was coming. Agabus and the other prophets said he was headed for trouble. Even the Holy Spirit warned him (Acts 20:23). But Paul went to Jerusalem because the Holy Spirit also made it clear he should go. Have you ever done something for God that you knew would be challenging, even dangerous? I find it difficult to take risks. I'd much rather stay on the safe path for God. Yet in spite of this I have to admit I've grown the most, and accomplished the most, when I've stepped, or been pushed, outside my comfort zone.
That's what's happening to Paul here; he's way outside the comfort zone. The Jewish leaders have whipped the crowd into a frenzy. Their shouts for the death penalty (36) have an eerie resemblance to the final days of Jesus. Why were these religious men so threatened by a one-time Pharisee with no organization, no militia and no money? We get a clue in verse 28. They accused Paul of being against "our" law. The emphasis is not on God's law, or even the Law of Moses; it was on "our law," our rules, our system. What's clear from this passage, and from world history ever since, is that when religion becomes a means for human control, it is one of the most dangerous things on earth. That's not the good news.
I wonder if Paul ever second-guessed his decision to go to Jerusalem. It can be physically stressful and spiritually confusing when a step of faith takes us into a sinkhole, but as we'll soon see in Paul's experience, when God is leading, even ministry setbacks can lead to spiritual breakthroughs. That's why, in spite of the growing chaos, Paul could be confident that God was in charge.
How can we know the difference between a step of faith and a big mistake? What helps you maintain your faith that God is in charge of your future?
Heavenly Father, it gives me confidence and comfort to know that You are in charge. When darkness descends, encourage me as I remember the promise of Your presence.
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