17 Three days later he called together the local Jewish leaders. When they had assembled, Paul said to them: “My brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or against the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. 18 They examined me and wanted to release me, because I was not guilty of any crime deserving death. 19 The Jews objected, so I was compelled to make an appeal to Caesar. I certainly did not intend to bring any charge against my own people. 20 For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.”
By this point, Paul was in Rome. Paul was permitted to live in a home rather than a prison, even though he was guarded by a soldier. He was able to receive guests and preach. In this scripture passage, Paul spoke with local Jewish leaders. They were receptive to hearing what Paul had to say, since they had received no letters from Jewish leaders in Judea, nor heard any bad reports about Paul specifically. A large number of people came to hear Paul, and he spent a long time talking about the kingdom of God. Paul tried to persuade them to accept Jesus as messiah from what was written in the Law of Moses and the prophets. Some were convinced; others were not. Paul spent two years there in this home, proclaiming the kingdom of God without hindrance.
What this says to me is that no matter where we are or no matter what the circumstances, God can use them for good. Being imprisoned for two years ended up being an opportunity for Paul to preach to a new audience. We may not be able to control some of the events that happen to us, but by faith we can believe that God can enable some good to come out of even what we would call bad.
Dear God, use us for your good, in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. Help us see the bigger picture of your plan, though we are but a small thread in your overall tapestry. As we listen to you, so we will see opportunities for service that previously eluded us. In all things, let us give you the praise in Jesus Christ. Amen.