Responding to the Story

Responding to the Story
Words of Faith 8-30-16
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2016
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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Acts 28
[30] For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. [31] Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.

So how does this story end?
Luke does not give us details about Paul's two years in Rome. We only know that Paul did not view this time as wasted or unfortunate. He preached the Kingdom and taught about Jesus in every way possible. He wrote four magnificent letters while in prison: Colossians about the preeminence of Christ, Philemon as an appeal for a slave, Ephesians regarding the Church and the position of Christ, and Philippians regarding the nature of joy.
We also learn from the letter to the Philippians that while in prison Paul kept leading his guards to Christ! No matter the circumstance, Paul continually looked for what it was God wanted him to do there!
So what happened? If Paul’s accusers did not appear within 18 months of his arrival in Rome, the charges would have been dropped. Some have suggested that this was the case but we must remember that the Angel assured Paul that he would stand trial before Caesar (27:24).
We have no record of Paul’s trial but it is likely that he appeared before the Emperor was then released somewhere around 63 A.D. Paul probably then continued evangelistic work in the eastern portion of the empire. Some believe that Paul eventually visited Spain but there is no solid record of this other than his desire to go there (Romans 15:23-24).
2 Timothy 4:6-18 speaks of an approaching second trial. Most scholars conclude that Paul was rearrested about 67 A.D. and, according to tradition, was beheaded in Rome by order of the emperor Nero.
So what was there to show for this life which began in Tarsus? A great deal. Think about it. Thirteen of the most powerful letters ever written which became much of the body of the New Testament. The evangelization of a large portion of the Gentile world. Dear friendships in churches throughout the Mediterranean region. Several disciples such as Barnabas, Timothy, Silas, Luke and John Mark who carried on the work of preaching and teaching the Gospel of Jesus.
Perhaps most important of all, Paul left the legacy of a life surrendered. Paul’s story is not one of careful strategies and decisive planning. His story is about listening, trusting, and obeying. When God gets your attention, pay attention.
How do we live in response to the witness and life of Paul? We do not necessarily board a ship for the far corners of the earth but we do respond by listening, trusting and obeying. We respond by not fearing the barriers humans have put up between people.
Paul spent most of his ministry breaking down walls between Jews and Gentiles, men and women, slaves and free men, wealthy and poor. We can seek to live boldly and passionately in response to the Spirit of God, proclaiming freedom in Christ rather than the burden of religion. We can surrender to the fruit of the Holy Spirit in the situations that confront us and faithfully trust that God is at work in all things.

Lord, I am awed by the witness and life of Your servant Paul. Thank You for preserving His story. By Your Spirit show me how I can walk in obedience to the call and assignment You have for me. In Jesus’ name.

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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2001, 2016
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)
2820 Business Center Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200
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