When life doesn’t go as planned
Updated: Jan 10, 2022
Friends, can you describe a situation where life did not go as planned? What happened? Did it turn out to be worse or better than you expected? Today, we’re going to look at several chapters in the Book of Acts and learn 3 principles to take when life doesn’t go as planned. The apostle Paul’s story will help us in this regard but obviously, we don’t have enough time to look at chapters 21 through 28 in detail. So, I’ll give you the highlights and the summary as best as I could.
1. Try to know the reason for your own situation.
What was Paul’s situation?
“Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea,” 2 Corinthians 11:25, NIV.
“27 When the seven days were nearly over, some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, 28 shouting, “Fellow Israelites, help us! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people and our law and this place. And besides, he has brought Greeks into the temple and defiled this holy place.” Acts 21:27-28
5 “We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect 6 and even tried to desecrate the temple; so, we seized him.” Acts 24:5-6
Wrongful accusations against Paul:
· teaching other Jews to forsake their Jewish heritage.
· opposing the Jewish law
· desecrating the Jewish temple (see Acts 21:28; 24:5-7).
· Later, they added– sedition.
Acts 25:6-7, “6After spending eight or ten days with them, Festus went down to Caesarea. The next day he convened the court and ordered that Paul be brought before him. 7 When Paul came in, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him. They brought many serious charges against him, but they could not prove them.”
Acts 25:18-19, “18 When his accusers got up to speak, they did not charge him with any of the crimes I had expected. 19 Instead, they had some points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive.” (Bold and italic mine)
What brought Paul to this situation? It is part of his call and mission!
“17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them.” Acts 26:17.
God providentially brought Paul before Roman officials to give them the opportunity to hear the gospel.
2. Find out how God wants to use you.
Acts 21:10-13, 10 After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’” 12 When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
· Paul was ready to serve and suffer for the sake of Christ.
· His life was under Christ’s sovereign control so he willingly obeyed.
· He loved and obeyed Jesus even when life was hard.
3. Look to your inheritance for encouragement.
“23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-25, NIV.
· While in prison, Paul looked forward to his divine inheritance for encouragement and to encourage others in suffering.
· As Paul encouraged us with God’s promises, let us also do the same to others.
What kind of inheritance do we have in Christ?
“4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you. 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” 1 Peter 1:4-6.
· Believers have an inheritance that is indestructible.
· This inheritance is eternally secured by God’s power and kept in heaven.
· It has been prepared and waiting for us in God’s glorious presence.
What do we have to do when life isn’t what we expected?
“7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8.
· Paul had no regrets and saw his life complete because he faithfully run the race of life. And so must we also be faithful in living out our faith regardless of our situation.
· He was ready to face Jesus and enjoy His glorious presence. We must be always ready when the Lord calls us home. So, love and obey Him even when its hard, serve Him even when it’s very difficult.
Some additional questions for group discussions:
· Can you describe a situation wherein things didn’t go as planned? How did it go? Was it worse or even better?
· What can you specifically learn from those things? How can those life’s important lessons help you grow as a believer and follower of Jesus?
· What life situation can you think of that it is clearly God’s providence at play? Do you have a supporting Bible verse to go with that?
· How can you use your life’s experiences to help others?