Links Daily Devotional

The Plot Thickens

“…more than forty of them are waiting in ambush for him. They have taken an oath not to eat or drink until they have killed him. They are ready now, waiting for your consent to their request.” (Acts 23:21, NIV)

My enjoyment of sports is such that I can come in late to a game and relish the final moments of a close competition. But even if those closing moments are historically compelling, I far prefer to have watched from the beginning—to see the plot thicken ahead of the climax.

Yours is a narrative with a triumphant ending if you remain faithful, adherent to Jesus and the new life he has breathed into you.I cannot, for instance, imagine having seen only the last five holes of this year’s Open Championship at Royal Troon. Yes, Phil Mickelson and eventual victor Henrik Stenson came to the fourteenth both at 16 under par. So we could say that you saw all you needed to see if you joined the action at that point. But oh, what all you would have missed!

On occasion in Scripture, we find unfolding drama as well. Indeed, it is fascinating that the revelation of God we call the Bible doesn’t always cut to the chase, as we often find with other religious texts that dispense line after line of doctrine.

One such scenario develops in the waning chapters of Acts. Paul has been held as a purported riot instigator in the temple courts of Jerusalem. This is how the religious leaders wanted the governor to interpret the action, for then the civil laws would have penalized him by keeping him and his “gospel of the Christ” off the streets.

But a particular group of vindictive men took the matter a step further, vowing not to eat until they had killed Paul themselves. They hatched a plan and shared it with those Jewish leaders.

Word leaked out, however, and Paul’s nephew was allowed to whisper this ill intent into the ear of the Roman commander, which is the content of our chosen verse today.

There is an unpleasant reminder in such words, and it is this: since the beginning there have been enemies of the gospel we preach—that a risen Messiah has purchased a way to God that we cannot in all our best efforts forge ourselves. It is the bane of our pride and self-styled morality. No wonder “good men” despise its message!

I do not know how the plot is thickening in your own life. Our brothers and sisters in some locales have enemies as deadly as those plotting against Paul. But the overbearing circumstances crashing down upon you may look more like Job’s curses and sores. Either way, the enemy of your soul would kick you from your bearings.

Let me say it this way, then: Don’t fear the plot. Yours is a narrative with a triumphant ending if you remain faithful, adherent to Jesus and the new life he has breathed into you. Hold fast, brother! Stay true, sister! The joy set before Christ is the joy set before us. For it, he endured the cross. For it, we too can stand with him.

Jeff Hopper
August 8, 2016
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The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday-Friday at www.linksplayers.com.