Observation--I found myself wondering what would have happened if Paul would not have been put in prison. He was in prisoned for a long time--years. Its almost as if the Romans forgot him! It was when he was imprisioned that he wrote so many of the letters that make up our New Testament. I wonder if it clouded his judgement or changed how he saw things. I wonder the impact prison had on him!
Application--We have several times debated the question of "God's Plan". No matter how I mess it up in a sermon, our Methodist doctrine holds our free will over an idea that God has pre-destined things. So, I'm uncomfortable saying that God MEANT for Paul to get put in prison, but it sure seems to be what Wesley called a "Happy Accident". I hold, that no matter what you are going through, God can make good of it. No matter how unfair, difficult, trying, or painful, God can find a way to put it to use. If Paul hadn't been in prison, we might not know as much about God. I won't say it was a good thing he was in prison, but I will say that I am thankful God can and will make good out of everything!
Prayer--God, We pray for those who are hurting today. Help them see your light in their darkness. Help them know God is on its way. Help them feel your love. Thank you! Amen.