Before we get started, I want you to know that there are some Scripture addresses I have provided as references in paragraph three. Don’t think that the words preceding these references actually quote those verses; they don’t. I provide them as actual Scripture for your study. They are some of my favorites, so I hope you’ll look them up.
I almost titled this post, ‘Uncle Paul.’ That’s right, Paul had a family, and we get to meet one of them in today’s passage. This week we read the remainder of Acts 23, starting with verse 10. Luke’s words allow us to be a fly on the wall when, “[that same] following night the Lord stood beside Paul and said, Take courage, Paul, for as you have borne faithful witness concerning Me at Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.” (Acts 23:11, Amplified). If we’re truly engaged in Paul’s journey (as I hope we are), we may be wondering how God was going to make this happen. We’ll see the beginning of this answer today and continue it in the weeks to come.
Read Acts 23:10-16. And there he is … Paul’s nephew. God had positioned Paul’s nephew to learn about this plot. We don’t know for sure how He did it, but we know that He did. The Bible is full of examples of God positioning the right person @ the right place @ the right time, and He still operates that way in our lives today. So why don’t we see it? I think it’s because we aren’t looking … even worse, it’s because we often give credit where credit is NOT due.
Compare the number of times you credit luck or coincidence or random chance or karma (cringe) or the gods (double cringe) when good things come your way instead of thanking God for His providence and blessings in your life. In studying for this lesson, I’ve wondered how lives would change if our minds instinctively gave God glory in these times. Being a math teacher by trade, I always encourage my students to stop and think for themselves before hearing my take on the solution to a problem. I encourage you to do the same. Like the students in my class, your thoughts are every bit as valuable as mine. So how would your life change? Meet me back here once you’ve come up with your own answer…
My thoughts are ordered as a trickle-down effect. If my mind instinctively glorified God for “every good and perfect” thing (Jam 1:17), then my outlook would be one of hopeful expectation (Ps 5:3, Amp). With an outlook of hopeful expectation, my attitude would be one of sustained gratitude (Ps 118:24). With gratitude marking my attitude, my words would be filled with thanksgiving (1 Thess 5:18), and my actions would be a blessing to those around me (Gal 6:10).
Picking up with verse 17 in Acts 23 (and continuing through the end of the chapter), you’ll see what happens as a result of Paul’s nephew’s warning and how God gets Paul started on his journey to Rome. I’m not saying that Paul’s nephew had a mind that instinctively glorified God. (In fact I wonder if his nephew may have actually been among the unbelieving Jews at that time.) What I am saying is that God used Paul’s nephew as the right person at the right place at the right time, and God wants each one of us to be His right person for someone else, “For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].”
Given God’s words to Paul in verse 11 (before the planned ambush), if Paul’s nephew had kept silent, I have no doubt that Paul would have made it to Rome, but he would have missed this opportunity to be a part of the Story. In writing this, I keep singing a VBS song:
“God made me a part of His story. I will live all for His glory – every day and every night. Let’s all shine and serve. Let’s all live and love until the whole world knows that Jesus loves them.” (Shine and Serve, Yancy)
“…Who knows but that you…” Yes, you! “…have come to the kingdom for such a time as this and for this very occasion?” (Est 4:14).
Now What? Will you ‘live all for His glory’ today?