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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Psalm 23:3, 4 He renews my life; he leads me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me. (CSB)
Daniel 5:11 “There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. In the days of your predecessor he was found to have insight, intelligence, and wisdom like that of the gods. Your predecessor, King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him chief of the magicians, mediums, Chaldeans, and diviners. (CSB)
Daniel 1:20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding that the king consulted them about, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and mediums in his entire kingdom. (CSB)