Journal Acts 28 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: (Paul speaking to the Jewish leadership at Rome): “When they had examined me, they (King Agrippa and Festus at Jerusalem–Acts 26:1) wished to set me at liberty, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case. But, because the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar (though I had no charge to bring against my nation).
For this reason, therefore, I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is because of the hope for Israel that I am wearing this chain.
And they said to him, “We have received no letters from Judea about you and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken any evil about you. But we desire to hear from you what your views are—for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.” Acts 28:18-22
Observation: The hope that is within me … the reason I live and breathe and have my being.
Analysis: It is amazing to see what God does. Of course, the observation of amazing often happens looking backwards; it may not seem so terribly amazing at the time it occurs.
Remember this? “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And (Saul) said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city—you will be told what you are to do.” (Acts 9: 4-6) And then: Ananias. Ananias is a disciple, a prophet, and receives a word from the Lord, that he doesn’t quite cotton to: “Lord, isn’t this the guy who is killing and imprisoning the church? Are you sure mercy is a good thing here?” And Jesus says, “Yes, but…
“Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel…” (Acts 9:15)
Only Ananias had a clue of the amazing things that God had in store (according to the biblical text) at the moment.
So, the suffering and toil and hardship, even to the point of death a few times, Paul persevered, held on, kept going, persistent—just following the path that the Holy Spirit was laying out (visible or invisible) until Paul got to Rome.
I think Paul is really a heroic figure, someone to imitate—but I have to be real: he didn’t get there all in an instant. If I sift through the biblical text, I can come up with about 20 years (maybe more) after Damascus until Rome. What did he do until Rome?
Probably developed and majored on the stuff he wrote to Timothy and Titus; studied, spoke to the brothers and sisters in the local church, encouraging them to pursue Jesus in the fear of God; serve one another and do not be discouraged; thought about and spoke to himself daily about the Gospel.
If I want to be bold to strangers, I need to learn to be bold in my family and then the Local Church.
Prayer: Father, my boldness in my family and the Church needs to be more than saying grace at the dinner table in public. Am I ready to chat about the “hope that is within me?” anywhere, but especially with my wife? My children?
It is astounding the minutes of the day, especially with my spouse, that I don’t speak of you at all. Shame on me.
Strengthen my heart,