Daily D – Acts 25:11-12
“If I have done something worthy of death, I don’t refuse to die. But if I am innocent, no one has a right to turn me over to these men to kill me. I appeal to Caeser!” Festus conferred with his advisers and then replied, “Very well! You have appealed to Caesar, and to Caesar you will go!” ACTS 25:11-12 (NLT)
Paul the prisoner had a choice of where to stand trial. How often does that happen? Here were his choices: Go back to Jerusalem and be ambushed and murdered along the way (v. 3), or go to Rome, maybe die on the journey, and possibly die when you get there. Either way, death was a significant part of the equation.
Which path would you choose?
Maybe you would refuse to choose. Paralyzed by fear and indecision, you would abandon all hope and leave yourself in the grip of the inevitable. Why could Paul say he was unafraid of death? How could he so confidently appeal to Caesar? Remember what Jesus told him in 23:11: “Be encouraged, Paul. Just as you have been a witness to me here in Jerusalem, you must preach the Good News in Rome as well.”
Paul had a mission to complete. He had nothing left to prove in Jerusalem. It was time to move to Rome.
It was clear to Paul, there was no going back. If he was to spill martyr blood, it would be in Rome. As Tertullian would later note, the blood of martyrs was the seed of the church. Paul was an apostle. His orientation was toward what lay ahead. He stood firmly upon his past, but he did not depend on it for his future (Phil. 3:1-14). He leaned toward the finish line that lay far away from a murderous ambush on the way to Jerusalem (2 Tim. 4:6-8).
Someone gave me a book a while back with the title, Don’t Quit Before You Finish. That’s a good summary of Paul’s life. He could have given up so many times. He could have taken the easy way. He knew, however, taking the easy way is never the easy way. The wrong, easy way is harder than the hard, right way. The consequences are ever so much more dreadful. Paul gave preference to the hard right way again and again. He was able to complete his mission by doing so. He did not quit before he finished.
Today is a good day not to give up. Today is a good day to take another step in the right direction. Today is a good day to lie down and rest with gratitude for the successful completion of one more day on mission with God. By God’s grace and under his leadership, this will be a good day. Make progress away from everything tying you to your proud accomplishments of the past and lean into all that honors God and serves others. Remember, what Jesus told Paul in 23:11 he tells all of us. He is with us now and always.
I will live on mission today in confidence and courage.
Our Father, a broken trophy sits nearby reminding of races won in the distant past and new races to run with my remaining days. I will run to win a prize which does not perish. I will live confidently because you are with me. I will live courageously because you will protect me, defend me, and provide for me. I will finish the race you have marked out for me. Today is going to be a good day. Amen.
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Deuteronomy 8:12-18 When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, and your herds and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. He led you through the great and terrible wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, a thirsty land where there was no water. He brought water out of the flint rock for you. He fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your ancestors had not known, in order to humble and test you, so that in the end he might cause you to prosper. You may say to yourself, ‘My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me,’ but remember that the Lord your God gives you the power to gain wealth, in order to confirm his covenant he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.“
Deuteronomy 1:2, 3 It is an eleven-day journey from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea by way of Mount Seir. In the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first of the month, Moses told the Israelites everything the Lord had commanded him to say to them.