I pray, then anticipate that something I want to have happen is just around the corner. As I try to move forward in faith, I often find that what I want to happen seems to move away from me. It often takes months or even years sometimes to reach a point which I thought was right there.

The Biblical account of Paul’s trial before Felix and Paul’s long imprisonment in Rome helps me to see God’s discipline of delays in my own life.

The following is an excerpt from Ray Stedman’s Daily Devotionals titled: THE DISCIPLINE OF DELAYS. It is an account of what happened to Paul as a result of his disobedience.

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Felix calls on Lysias to come to Rome. Felix really doesn’t need to have Lysias come because he had already received from Lysias a letter exonerating Paul.

Instead, Felix uses this as an excuse so that he that he might hear and learn something more from the apostle.

Felix’s curiosity has been awakened and, as Luke tells us, although he knew something about Christianity, he wanted to hear more.

So he retains Paul in custody, even though he has every legal right to set him free.

Felix is being used as an instrument to carry out God’s purposes with Paul.

Paul’s prolonged custody in Rome is the work of a loving, heavenly Father who is concerned with a beloved son.

We must not forget that Paul, by disobedience, and despite the consistent warnings of the Holy Spirit to not go to Rome, chose to go to Rome anyway. That choice led to bondage and imprisonment.

Paul had disobeyed the direct command of the Spirit that he should not go up to Jerusalem.

He went to Jerusalem anyway.

There is a very instructive lesson here for us, that being:

When we disobey God and are later forgiven, as Paul was forgiven and restored, forgiveness does not change the consequences of our disobedience.

God doesn’t eliminate the trials and the difficulties we have deliberately assumed when we chose to do what we want, rather than what God wants.

However, forgiveness restores our pathway in all the power and joy and gladness that was our experience before we disobeyed.

That is what happened with Paul.

When Paul was finally restored to the fellowship of his Lord by the appearance of the Lord Jesus to him in prison in Jerusalem; the pathway of imprisonment was NOT cancelled.

Paul remained a prisoner, and ahead of him were two long, weary years of waiting in Caesarea, and three more in Rome, as a prisoner of the Lord.

God didn’t eliminate the consequences of Paul’s sin; he transformed it into a fruitful experience for the apostle.

This is the point that Paul’s confinement is making for us.

We see Paul now going ahead, bound as a prisoner, yet finding, nevertheless, that the fullness of God’s power and glory is able to work in him just as freely through the channel of imprisonment as it did when he was free.

The imprisonment was not comfortable. It added a good deal of agony and heartache to the apostle’s own experience.

But Paul accepted it as God’s provision for him, and found it to be no less the instrument of God’s working and power than anything else he had experienced before.

This was my experience that I referred to at the end of my testimony when I knowingly, willingly and deliberately disobeyed God, knowing full well exactly what I was doing. Yes, the Lord has forgiven me, and yes, to this day, 27 years later, I am still not free of the bondage that my sin created in my disobedience to what I knew was both a teaching and a command. When God tells us not to do something, he is not being mean. He is trying to protect us.

The Lord forgave me, and He has blessed me exceedingly abundantly above and beyond all that I could think or imagine despite my sin. My hope is that He has also blessed those who were affected by my sin.

The consequences of my sin have not been removed to this day either for myself or for those I hurt by my sin.

However, the Lord has used those consequences to both discipline me and to train me to trust and obey Him more each passing day. And yes, many times I still stumble and fall. I will continue to do so as long as I walk this earth. And no, I don’t like being disciplined. However I know the value of Discipline. Discipline is not fun. But it is valuable.

And I ask all those whom I have offended to ‘Please be Patient With Me (even though I don’t deserve it…) God isn’t finished with me yet.

God isn’t finished with anyone yet!

Perhaps that is the most important lesson we can all learn from our earthly trials and tribulations. God has a purpose for your life and mine.

He will never cease until those purposes are complete!

And once they are… what a joy it will be to then, and only then, see Him face to face. For all eternity!

Here is the Biblical Account that is being referenced in this article: Acts 24: 1-23


24 Five days later the high priest Ananias went down to Caesarea with some of the elders and a lawyer named Tertullus, and they brought their charges against Paul before the governor. 2 When Paul was called in, Tertullus presented his case before Felix: “We have enjoyed a long period of peace under you, and your foresight has brought about reforms in this nation. 3 Everywhere and in every way, most excellent Felix, we acknowledge this with profound gratitude. 4 But in order not to weary you further, I would request that you be kind enough to hear us briefly.

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. [7] 8 By examining him yourself you will be able to learn the truth about all these charges we are bringing against him.”

9 The other Jews joined in the accusation, asserting that these things were true.

10 When the governor motioned for him to speak, Paul replied: “I know that for a number of years you have been a judge over this nation; so I gladly make my defense. 11 You can easily verify that no more than twelve days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship. 12 My accusers did not find me arguing with anyone at the temple, or stirring up a crowd in the synagogues or anywhere else in the city. 13 And they cannot prove to you the charges they are now making against me. 14 However, I admit that I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, 15 and I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. 16 So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.

17 “After an absence of several years, I came to Jerusalem to bring my people gifts for the poor and to present offerings. 18 I was ceremonially clean when they found me in the temple courts doing this. There was no crowd with me, nor was I involved in any disturbance. 19 But there are some Jews from the province of Asia, who ought to be here before you and bring charges if they have anything against me. 20 Or these who are here should state what crime they found in me when I stood before the Sanhedrin— 21 unless it was this one thing I shouted as I stood in their presence: ‘It is concerning the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you today.’”

22 Then Felix, who was well acquainted with the Way, adjourned the proceedings. “When Lysias the commander comes,” he said, “I will decide your case.” 23 He ordered the centurion to keep Paul under guard but to give him some freedom and permit his friends to take care of his needs.