From Chapter 23 of Acts, we can learn much about how Paul handles detours put in his path. Even though he had his sights set on returning to Jerusalem, a dispute between the Sadducees and Pharisees became so violent that a commander has him whisked away by force in order to save his life. While detained in some barracks, Paul finds out about a conspiracy by the Jews to have him killed. Arrangements are made to take him to Caesarea under heavy protection. There, he was handed over to the governor of Caesarea who agrees to hear his case. Paul’s journey toward Jerusalem certainly was not going the way he envisioned it going. You might even say his dream was not being fulfilled – all while people are trying to kill him.
When have you experienced a detour in your life – perhaps the detour even felt as if your life and dreams had been derailed? Pastor Adam spoke about the reality that in life there will be detours and delays. These detours invariably cause disappointment and perhaps even disillusionment. Adam shared vulnerably about how his family moved to San Antonio after much prayer and discernment, thinking they were clear on God’s plan and purpose, but it all promptly fell apart. They experienced a season of feeling betrayed, confused, and even disappointed with God. Have you ever felt that way? How do you handle detours and disappointments in life? Do you trust that God is present even at such times? Paul had been sacrificing and living a life sold out for the gospel of Jesus Christ. How could landing in prison possibly be part of God’s plan? It seems impossible, doesn’t it? Maybe it seems even unfair. Have you ever felt that way in your life?
God IS aware of the details of your life and mine. God was present and aware of Paul’s situation and also Pastor Adam’s situation as they packed and moved to San Antonio. He is as present in the crumbled mess of the detours of life as he is on the mountaintop experiences. In the midst of disappointment, delay and detour, God is always working – putting together something we likely cannot see or imagine. This journey of faith is about transformation, and sometimes that occurs in the most unlikely places – – such as detours and setbacks. Can you trust God at such times?
MONDAY: Acts 23:10-11: Verse 11 indicates “the Lord stood near Paul.” Try picturing a time when you felt “enemies” surrounding you, trying to reach you. But Jesus stood next to you and they could not come into his light. Just as He tells Paul, he tells you to “take courage!” Your battle is not yet over, for he has more for you to do. Take courage. What might that look like for you today and this week?
TUESDAY: Acts 23:12-24: What in your life has been a detour? In a moment, life can change. What do you do during times when God feels far away? Pastor Adam explained that how we react to circumstances is just as important as what actually happens to us. Some guidance we gain from Paul’s journey are: 1) stay flexible yet focused 2) there is strength in staying connected 3) don’t get offended. Do you retreat and become a “lone ranger” when things are not going as planned or expected or do you stay plugged in to support systems?
WEDNESDAY: Acts 24:27: In this verse we see Paul was in jail for two years. That is a long detour! We can only imagine how stuck Paul must have felt since he originally discerned he was called to Jerusalem. Have you ever felt stuck and like it was impossible to see a reason or purpose for where you were in life or what was going on? Pastor Adam mentioned 5 spiritual growth catalysts for such times: 1) practical teaching 2) practicing spiritual disciplines 3) personal ministry 4) significant relationships 5) pivotal circumstances. What spiritual disciplines do you have in place in your life? Are you regularly under practical, Biblical teaching?
THURSDAY: Philippians 4:12-13: Paul writes – while in prison – “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…” Have you learned this in your life journey? Perhaps you can pray for God’s help in this regard.
FRIDAY: Acts 20:24; Ephesians 4:1–3: How much are you God of your own life vs. letting Jesus be the Lord of your life? Have you let bitterness take root in your life about a person or a situation? How might praying these verses from Ephesians help with that bitterness? Remember, Paul wrote these words about gentleness, patience and humility while he was in prison.
SATURDAY: Hebrews 13:5; Romans 8:28: When facing disappointment and pain, remember that God is present – even in the middle of it. Even YOUR pain and disappointment. Also, he has an ultimate purpose that you and I may not be able to see or know at the present time. Can you lean into that and believe in His goodness in spite of your circumstances?