Standing Firm in the Storm

Paul, more than most, understood what it was to stand firm, even in the face of a long and raging storm. Several times, he was imprisoned for his faith, yet each time Paul utilized his time in chains as an opportunity to stand firm, and share with others, the foundation of the faith on which he stood. After two years of imprisonment, Festus brought Paul before himself and the accusers from Jerusalem. Then Paul made his defense: “I have done nothing wrong against the law of the Jews or against the temple or against Caesar.” – (Acts 25:8) As the hearing continued, Paul made it clear that he had no fear of death if he deserved to die; however, knowing that he was innocent, Paul made his appeal to be heard before Caesar as a Roman citizen. After Festus had conferred with his council, he declared: “You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go!” – (Acts 25:12)

 

Because Paul knew he was innocent and knew his rights as a Roman citizen, he was able to seek Rome’s protection. Also, Rome was a destination that Paul had hoped to go to preach the gospel, and this appeal would provide the opportunity – prisoner or not. Paul was standing firm in his faith in Christ’s strength, faithfulness, and provision, as he knew that though the path he was taking to get to Rome was not ideal, it was a way for Paul to arrive in Rome sooner than he might have otherwise. He did not bow down in despair as he remained a prisoner, rather he recognized the upcoming opportunity to share the good news with those who had not yet heard.

 

How can we do likewise? How can God use our circumstances to be light in the midst of darkness? When we remain grounded in Christ, regardless of what is going on around us, there is something magnetic that draws others in. Whether it is wonder or awe, people cannot help but draw near to a space of peace in a storm. May we stand firm in our faith, no matter what storm rages around us.

 

When mighty winds blow,Standing Firm in the Storm

and nothing is still;

depend on the Lord,

Who’s present to fill.

He will grant us strength,

when we have run out;

He’ll love us to life,

show us the safe route.

At times He will lead,

us right through the storm;

where we have to trust,

know He’ll keep us warm.

No matter what comes,

the promise remains;

His grace is enough,

to remove each chain.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us with Your life. Thank You Jesus, that as You stood secure through the storm of the cross and took our every sin upon Yourself, You conquered death and brought new life to all who choose to believe. Thank You that when we stand firm in You, You see us through our every storm. Thank You that You remain present, and You provide the strength and support that is needed to either ride out the storm, or find a way out. Forgive us for failing to stand firm when storms seem too strong for us to face, and teach us to trust You more. Lead us to love well all whom You place in our path. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we stand firm in You, through every storm that blows our way. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; …write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3

Pressed for a Purpose

We pick up again

with imprisoned Paul.

Festus’ arrival –

Jews press for trial.

Oh transfer him please,

they asked him in power.

New plot to ambush,

destroy righteous tower.

Plot that was evil,

was quickly denied.

God-given wisdom,

was Paul’s steady guide.

He knew Jewish law,

and his Roman rights.

To Caesar appealed,

in his freedom fight.

Festus and council,

all stood and agreed.

If Caesar you want,

to Caesar indeed!

A few days later,

the king and his queen,

arrived in that place,

agreed to be seen.

For Festus had shared

the woes of the man,

brought by this Roman,

left too, in his hands.

Elders and chief priests

all stood and accused.

Not the expected,

image by RTI

image by RTI

but of their faith views.

Jerusalem asked,

and swiftly denied.

“To Caesar, please, Sir.”

It was in his right.

The king was intrigued,

and wanted to meet,

this man who stood strong,

wouldn’t accept defeat.

King and queen entered,

with much pomp and show.

Paul shared of the truth,

so they too might know.

(Responding to Acts 25)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your ongoing examples of people who press on, despite tremendous pressure.  Thank You that though there was the threat of losing his life, Paul’s concern was with sharing Your truth before those who knew You not.  Oh to have our priorities aligned accordingly all the time…  Father, thank You that Your Son, Jesus, showed us the ultimate example of selflessness and continued to present Your truth, even as He was hanging on the cross and being mocked by a criminal hanging beside Him.  He found the strength to share His hope with the one who was ready to hear.  Lord, I was to love like that, all the time, unhindered by circumstances – with all that I am.  Forgive us for fixing our eyes on anything other than You.  Empower and equip us to stand strong, even in the storm, so that we may share our hope with those who are starting to sink.  Use us as Your lifelines of truth, so many may come to trust You.  Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

Two-Year Trial

When seated on trial

image by David Warkentin

image by David Warkentin

the false witness did fly.

Such slanderous speaking,

their story, falsified.

In power, Paul’s response,

uncovered every lie.

All heard the truth he spoke,

his words they’d not deny.

Felix, who knew the Way,

adjourned ’til later meet.

Paul ordered under guard,

so friends could meet his needs.

Felix came to visit,

with hope of gaining bribe.

Instead, he heard the truth,

required for new life.

When two years had passed by,

Festus succeeded him.

Felix wanted favor,

and left Paul in prison.

(Responding to Acts 24)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the examples of patience and faithful endurance that are presented again and again in Your word.  Here, Paul, who had done nothing wrong, was stuck under guard and in prison for two years.  What is more remarkable still, is despite his seemingly “stuck” space, Paul shared of Your goodness and truth, even with those who were imprisoning him.  Forgive us for whining or wallowing when we have to wait, or when things don’t seem to go our way.  Please teach us to trust and be patient in the process, and protect our hearts and minds from grumbling.  Lead us to live in love in all things and at all times.  May Your light shine brightly through us, whether we are in the darkest night or in the light of day.  Use us Lord, to lead the lost to Your loving arms of grace.  Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present