READING: Acts 21-23
I’m not that old, but I’m old enough to think about retirement, annuities, and long-term care. I’m old enough to think about how I will finish well. When I think about this last issue, I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul. When the prophet Agabus and the believers in Tyre, speaking under the influence of the Holy Spirit, warned Paul about coming persecution, he did not hesitate in his response: “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13). Later, standing before the Sanhedrin ready to accuse him, Paul said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day” (Acts 23:1).
Apparently, persecution didn’t threaten Paul. He knew he had lived faithfully for Christ, and he was prepared to die equally faithfully for Him. He would not allow his friends to dissuade him from walking toward the danger if the gospel of Jesus Christ were at stake. Instead, they agreed together, “The Lord’s will be done” (Acts 21:14) — and persecution awaited around the corner. An angry crowd of Jews tried to kill Paul before Roman troops rescued him (Acts 21:27-32). Even the Roman commander, though, had him arrested. A group of Jews later devised a plot to kill Paul, who was saved only when his nephew heard of the plot and warned him (Acts 23:12-22). The end of today’s reading still had Paul under guard in Caeserea, awaiting a trial.
Frankly, I wonder how I would respond if the Holy Spirit made it clear to me that arrest and persecution were to come to my life. I pray that I would serve God with all of my being until that day, and that I would not back down from my faith regardless of the cost on that day. I pray I would trust God just as much as Paul did. Should that happen, I am reminded through this year’s reading of the book of Acts that it is only because of the Holy Spirit in me that I will ever live victoriously or die faithfully in Jesus.
- If you are not fulfilling your duty to God "In all good conscience” this day, turn from your wrong and return to Him. Trust His love.
- Honestly consider this question: If I knew persecution were coming, how would I respond? Would I remain faithful in spite of the cost?
PRAYER: “God, empower me to live faithfully for You, even if faith demands dying. Let me live in good conscience today in preparation for whatever tomorrow brings.”
TOMORROW'S READING: Acts 24-26