Reading in Acts 27 got me to thinking about how we get to where we are now. In Acts 9 -The Pharisee Paul who called Gentiles “dogs”, was converted and turned from persecuting anyone who believed in JESUS- to one who not only believed in JESUS but one who zealously preached about JESUS. GOD told him upfront that he would meet lots of trouble but that he was chosen by GOD to be HIS instrument to bear HIS name before Gentiles and kings.
Unless Paul regularly hung out with a Gentile friend, the Jews would not have mistakenly assumed he had taken a Gentile into the temple. Unless they had assumed wrongfully, Paul would not have been arrested: Unless there was a plot of many to kill Paul, he would not have been taken by night to another place. Unless he had been there, he would not have spoken to a king who was visiting there. Unless Paul had appealed to Caesar, he could have been released, but instead he was going to Rome to appear before a king. On that trip to Rome, there was a bad storm, Paul told them not to sail, but they did. Later, in the midst of the storm the angel of the LORD appeared to Paul and told him that he must appear before Caesar (GOD had decree it. It was part of the work GOD had prepared for Paul to do) (Ephesians 2:10). The angel gave him a promise that his prayers had been answered and all the people on the ship would be saved alive. The angel then gave Paul instructions.
Paul spoke to all on the ship, “If you had done what I told you, you wouldn’t be in this fix.” I don’t think this as a mere “I told you so.” But, I believe he said it to give weight to what he was about to say next. For the angel of GOD said, “unless the sailors stayed on board the others would die.” The soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners so they wouldn’t swim away and escape. Unless the centurion had wanted to protect Paul, it would have happened; and unless the ship ran aground they would have all died. Instead, everyone was kept alive. Unless that poisonous snake had gotten on Paul’s hand, the islanders would not have found out he was a man of GOD. Unless they had shipwrecked on that island, the islanders would never have heard of JESUS or been healed.
Like with Paul, some of the unless-es we experience in our lives are hard things; things we would not naturally choose and often fight against. But notice, all of the unless-es achieved something good. Every time you see me use the word unless think GOD used that as a means. Throughout Acts 27 we see over and over means that GOD used to produce a desired result. So don’t despise the means. Notice GOD pre-planned for Paul to speak to kings and he did, but how he got Paul there was often through difficulty. GOD promised to save everyone on the ship, and HE did, but several other things had to be brought into play.
Everything GOD said would happen, happened because HE worked all things together for a predetermined end result of good (Romans 8:28).
Speaking of believers in JESUS, the Bible says, All things are for your benefit…Your present troubles are achieving for you and eternal good that far outweighs the pain of today. So look not at what you see (your personal situation) but what you can’t see (that GOD is using it to achieve wonderful eternal things for you) (see 2 Corinthians 4:15-18).
When I was 15, I lived with my semi-invalid grandmother. It had been the best 3 years of my life. She was always there when I got home, there was stability and peace. I learned so much under the tutelage of my grandma, the most important of course is my knowledge of GOD. But one day, I came home late from my 1st week in high school and Momo was freaking out. Actually, she was scared- we lived in West Hollywood, a really big city. She had no idea why I was late (way before cell phones). I thought she was being silly, I’d just stopped by a new girl’s house on the way home to meet her mom. But Momo was so upset she called my dad. He grounded me and I, in an attempt to hurt him, retorted, “I want to go live with my mom.”
Little did I know, Dad was planning to get married and a teenage girl creating problems was the last thing he needed around. So although Dad had sworn I would never live with my mom, I went to live with my mom.
Unless I had stopped by to meet my new friend’s mom, my grandmother wouldn’t have been so worried that she called my dad into the picture. Unless I had said, I want to go live with my mom, I would have stayed there in West Hollywood. But instead, I moved to Quincy- a small town in the mountains of Northeastern California. Unless I had moved to Quincy I never would have met Mac and married him and come to Colorado. Unless my son had died, I would not have moved to Ellicott, CO (there is a story to each unless that I am not going into). Unless I had moved to Ellicott, I would not have met Shirley Boucher who years later conned me to going to Camp Elim in her place. I would have missed out on some of the most blessed years I have ever known. Years filled with praising GOD, working with kids and adults, leading some to JESUS CHRIST, years of work and play and making solid friendships that bless me to this day.
Reading the above about me you see I made some poor choices and some good choices…
but GOD says that HE scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe- Ps 139:16
GOD says that HE predetermined the exact times and places… for the purpose that men would reach out to GOD Acts 17:26b,27
GOD says HE preplanned works for me to walk in… (that means everything I did at Camp Elim) Ephesians 2:10
What it all boils down to is, GOD is actively conspiring to use all things together for an end result of good to those who love HIM and are the called according to HIS purpose (Romans 8:28). HE made HIS plans according to HIS foreknowledge of us and our choices (I Peter 1:2). So HE planned means to achieve the ends HE wanted- fully knowing the choices each of us would make along the way.
Doesn’t that kind of knowledge blow your mind? It does mine!
See now why GOD tells us to give thanks in all things? HE is at work perfecting us and HE uses means.
Looking unto JESUS, the Author and Perfector of my faith