John MacAuthur shared an interesting story about Martin Niemoller:
“Martin Niemoller was a Christian, a German Christian who was captured by the Nazis and spent nine years in prison, and endured horrors, just horrible things. At end of World War II, when he was released, he came to America, and of course, there was very much interest in his coming. And he traveled around America and spoke. And he spoke out of the context of nine years, of the horrors of a Nazi prison.
Two Reporters commented on Niemoller and his speech, in one city, and this was their comment. “Imagine,” said one Reporter, disgustedly, “nine years in a Nazi prison and all he can talk about is Jesus Christ.”
“Imagine…” Starting in 1937, Martin Niemoller would spend 14 month in solitary confinement and a total of 9 years in prison on charges the German officials called, “treasonable statements.”
Instead of coming out of prison a hardened man, full of bitterness and resentment towards God, Niemoller became president of the Hessen-Nassau Lutheran Church and began a world tour preaching collective guilt for Nazi persecution and crimes against humanity. Niemoller took every moment and turned it into the gospel.
Connection to Paul
Acts 25 and 26 rightfully should be discussed together, but because of the NIVS (Numeric Interrupter Device’s): Chapters and verses; we have to stick with Chapter 25 today and 26 tomorrow.
Paul just got done a two year prison sentence under Governor Felix, don’t worry, it wasn’t all that bad for him, but now there’s a new Governor in town, Festus; and Festus will need to get caught up on Paul’s case. Here’s something interesting about Paul’s two years in prison: It’s the only time in Paul’s ministry that he doesn’t preach, teach, or write any letters. Some scholars believe this was a sabbatical rest time for Paul who up to this point hadn’t stopped long enough to brush his teeth! But like Niemoller, Paul had the ability to take every moment and turn it into the gospel.
It’s like what Paul communicated to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:
2 Timothy 4:2,5 (NLT) 2 Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.
5 But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.
Paul’s instructions to Timothy aren’t coming from a textbook, but rather from his own life experience. You may be getting tired of hearing that Paul preached the word of God no matter the circumstance, but the whole last half of Acts for Paul… is nothing but circumstance! Even when you read Acts 25 you have to admit that Paul, “kept a clear mind in every situation.” He and Jesus had this in common.
Connection to Jesus
Jesus was the master of making the most of every opportunity. Take for instance these examples:
- The woman at the well needs water: Jesus says, “I am the everlasting water.”
- Feeding of the four and five thousand: Jesus says, “I am the bread of life.”
- A Menorah sits in the Temple: Jesus says, “I am the light of the world.”
- High Priest pours out the water at the Feast of Tabernacle: Jesus says, “I am the water of life”
Both Jesus and Paul were masters at taking every moment and turning it into the gospel.
Back to Paul and Closing
In closing I want us to realize the gravity and connection between all these examples. Whether it was Niemoller overcoming persecution, Paul living out the testimony of the gospel, or Jesus using everything around him as a sermon illustration; not one moment was missed for the gospel.
You have the opportunity today to take your circumstance, your life, your situation, and magnify Jesus in it and through it. You may ask, “how do I do that?” The first thing you need to do is be ready! Don’t read from a script, let you life be the script. Instead of memorizing the four spiritual laws (which is not a bad idea), live the four spiritual laws!
Paul was stuck in a Caesarean prison for two years and with the first opportunity he had, what did he talk about? Jesus! Paul took every moment and turned it into the gospel. Now it’s your turn!