28 Days In Acts- Chapter 25

February 2013:

Festus arrived three days later.  After some time, the Jews who had come from Jerusalem, once again brought charges against Paul with no witnesses or evidence of any kind.  Paul respected the law and had not defiled the customs of the temple. Festus wanted to do the Jews a favor.  He asked Paul if he was willing to go to Jerusalem and stand trial.  Paul insisted that he should be tried where he was, and that he had done no wrong.  Paul also took a stand to say that if he had done anything worthy of death, he would not refuse to die, but none of the charges were true, and because of that, no one could hand him over to the Jews.  As a Roman citizen, Paul appealed to Caesar.  Festus conceded.

Are we willing to take responsibility for our wrongdoing, even to the consequences of death?  I pray we can realize we have consequences for our actions, even persecution for representing God’s Word.

Several days later, King Agrippa and Bernice arrived and visited with Festus.  Festus shared the case with the king. King Agrippa wanted to hear Paul speak.  The next day, in great ceremony, the king entered the auditorium. Festus presented Paul to Agrippa saying that he needed something to write to Caesar as he sent Paul.  There was no reason to send Paul without charges.

Festus has essentially admitted Paul’s case was unfounded. Festus handled civil charges, not religious, and the accusations against Paul were religious. If Festus sent Paul to Caesar without credible charges, he would appear foolish.

I pray we will not be more concerned about how others perceive is when we are attacked or accused falsely because of our sharing the Gospel.

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28 Days In Acts- Chapter 24

February 2013:

After five days Ananias, some elders, and Tertullus (an attorney) went before the governor, Felix, and brought charges against Paul.  They complimented the governor in hopes he would grant them the favor of finding Paul guilty.  Paul was given a chance to speak and told of the false charges against him.  He did admit that he was a follower of Christ.  Paul also told the governor there were Jews from Asia who should have brought the charges.  Felix, knowing about “the Way”, put them off.  He told Paul his case would be decided when Lysias came.  He gave orders for Paul to be kept in custody and still have freedom to allow his friends to minister to him.

Felix and his wife, Drusilla, who was a Jewess, sent for Paul to hear him speak about faith in Jesus.  Paul spoke about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come.   Felix became frightened and sent Paul away until he summoned him.  Felix was also hoping Paul would offer him a bribe and sent for him often.  Two years passed and Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus.  Felix left Paul imprisoned in order to show favor to the Jews.

I pray when we are questioned about our faith, we can be honest and bold.

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28 Days In Acts- Chapter 23

February 2013:

Today, I want to look at some of the verses that stood out to me and made me think.

Verse 1, Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” What is your duty to God?  Have you fulfilled that duty in good conscience?  I pray we can be aware of the call and duty God has put before us and we can fulfill that duty in good conscience.

Verse 3, Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!” I had to stop and evaluate myself in this verse.  Is there a time I am a whitewashed wall?  Whitewashed walls look nice on the outside, but the whitewash often is a cover for mistakes.  How often are we whitewashed walls, judging others according to our own laws and violate them ourselves?  I pray we take heed to the conviction in our lives and grow in holiness, as we have been called.

I found that verse 11 could be good news or bad.  It says,  “The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, ‘Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.’”

So Paul was promised he was going to survive this scenario.  That was good news, because he would live.  Paul, however, is also promised he will be testifying in Rome.  Paul has already been shown prison and bondage in each city.  I pray when God brings news, we can be encouraged and know He will be with us, no matter the situation.

There was a plot to kill Paul and his nephew heard about the plot.  At Paul’s request, the nephew took the information to the commander, who had Paul safely transferred to Caesarea, along with a letter.  The letter explained what had taken place and Paul was kept in Herod’s palace.  God had a perfect plan in place.  I pray we can trust God with His perfect plan and look past our own.

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28 Days In Acts- Chapter 22

February 2013:

Chapter 22 opens with Paul addressing the crowd, and when they heard him speak in an Hebraic language, they became quiet.  Paul let them know he was a Jew from Tarsus, but was raised in Jerusalem.  He told them he was trained in the Jewish Law and was zealous for God, and he had even persecuted the Christians to death.  He told them of his journey to Damascus, for the purpose of persecuting more Christians.  He told of his conversion on the road, of the light and the Lord’s voice speaking to him, of his blinding experience and the scales falling off.  The crowd listened to him until Paul told them that the Lord was sending him to the Gentiles.  When they heard this, they wanted him killed.  The commander ordered Paul taken to the barracks.  He instructed he be flogged.  Just as they were about to whip him, Paul asked, “Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been found guilty?”   The centurion told the commander that Paul was a Roman citizen.  The commander made the comment, “I had to pay a big price for my citizenship.” “But I was born a citizen,” Paul replied.  The next day, Paul was released and the commander ordered the chief priests and Sanhedrin to assemble.  And he brought Paul to stand before them.

The verse that stood out to me most was the commander who said, “I had to pay a big price” and Paul says, “I was born a citizen.”  I thought about the high price Paul had paid for his citizenship into the Kingdom of God.  I bet it was a much higher price than the commander had paid for his citizenship to Rome.  Is there any place you would “pay a big price” to live?  How big of a price are you willing to pay for Christ?  I pray we are willing to pay whatever the price asked of me for the Kingdom of God.

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28 Days In Acts- Chapter 21

February 2013:

“As this chapter opens, Paul’s group was saying goodbye to the Ephesian elders and was heading for Jerusalem.  On the way, they stopped at Tyre and found disciples there, so they stayed for seven days.  These people urged Paul not to go to Jerusalem.  But they left to continue their journey.  As they were leaving, the families of the disciples knelt with them on the beach to pray, and Paul and his group were on their way.

They made another stop on their journey in Caesarea and stayed at the home of Philip, who was one of the Seven chosen in Chapter 6.  Philip had four daughters who prophesied.  The group had been there a number of days and Agabus came and told a prophesy to Paul.  Remember Agabus from Chapter 11?  He prophesied about the drought.  Agabus took Paul’s belt and tied his own hands and feet.  He then said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this very way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.”’ When the people heard this, they began begging Paul not to go to Jerusalem.  Now remember, Paul already knew of his coming bondage.  He had felt bondage in every city.  He told the people he was not only ready to be bound, but to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.  When the group couldn’t convince him, they gave up and prayed the Lord’s will be done.  Are you ready to be bound for Christ?  Are you ready to die for the name of Christ?  I would like to think I am, but I have not been faced with that situation.  We may see a time, in our own country, where this will happen.  What will your position be?  I pray I can be willing to face any situation, even death, for the name of Christ. Are you willing to allow those you love to be faced with bondage or death for the name of Christ and commit them to the will of the Lord?  I pray if any one of my children or loved ones feel the call to live a life on the edge, in a country they will face certain death proclaiming the name of the Lord, I will find glory in You for that life and will thank You and will pray Your will be done.

In Jerusalem, Paul and his company stayed at the home of Mnason, a disciple from the early church.  They visited with James, and all the elders were present. Paul reported to them the work God had done among the Gentiles.  Everyone present gave thanks for this work. The group did share with Paul that many thousands of Jews have believed, but they are still zealous for the law.  Word had spread that Paul  was teaching they Jews to turn from Moses and not to circumcise their children or live according to Jewish custom.  They asked Paul to go through the ceremonial purification rites so no one would question what Paul was teaching. Paul went with them and gave notice to the temple of the days of purification.  Before the seven days were over, some Jews from Asia saw Paul at the temple and started trouble, making assumptions that Paul had defiled the Temple.  The whole city became aroused and  people ran from everywhere, seizing Paul.  They dragged him out of the temple and were trying to kill him when word reached the commander of the Roman troops.  When the commander came, they stopped beating Paul.  The commander arrested him and ordered him to be bound and carried to the barracks, when the crowd became so loud and unruly, again.  The soldiers carried Paul to keep the crowd off of him.  I see this, even though it was harsh, as a protection sent from God, that the crowd did not succeed in killing Paul.  And even after this beating and bondage, what do you think Paul does?  Do you think he goes quietly?  Do you think he fights them back?  No, we see Paul asking the commander to speak.  The commander asks, “Do you speak Greek?  Aren’t you the Egyptian who started a revolt and led four thousand terrorists out into the desert some time ago?  Paul answered, “I am a Jew from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no ordinary city. Please let me speak to the people.” Paul obtained the commander’s permission, stood on the steps, quieted the crowd and spoke to them in their language.  Paul didn’t give up, he didn’t go quietly, but he also didn’t lash out in anger.  Paul simply asked to speak.  I can’t help but believe he was anticipating what the Holy Spirit might do next.  I pray we can live our lives in anticipation of what the Holy Spirit is going to do.”

 

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28 Days In Acts- Chapter 20

February 2013:

We left the last chapter with an uproar going on.  After things quieted down, Paul called for the disciples, encouraged them, and said goodbye.  He headed for Macedonia, Greece, and was heading for Syria, but found out about some Jews who were plotting against him, so he went back through Macedonia.  He was accompanied by Sopater, Aristarchus, Secundus, Gaius, Timothy, Tychicus, and Trophimus.  These men went on to Traos and waited for Paul there.  Paul joined the others there after the Festival of Unleavened Bread.

In Traos, he preached.  Now, we often complain about a sermon going more than the allotted time, but Paul had something to say, and the Holy Spirit had some work to do. Because he was leaving the next day, Paul kept preaching, and preached until midnight.  There was a young man named Eutycus, sitting in the window.  Eutycus fell into a deep sleep, fell from the third story, and was picked up dead.  Verse 10 says, “Paul went down, threw himself on a young man and put his arms around him.  “Don’t be alarmed,” he said.  “He’s alive!”  He went back upstairs, broke bread and ate and talked until daylight.  Paul left and “the people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.”  Do you long to see the power of the Holy Spirit work like this, today?  I pray we can have a desire to stay and listen to a Godly man until the Spirit tells him to stop preaching and talking.  I pray we can have enough faith to see the dead brought back to life.  One more thing I noticed is “they were greatly comforted.”  Do you ever notice how uncomfortable people become when you start talking about what God has done in your life, or in the life of loved ones??  I pray the work of God can be shared and hearts changed to feel the comfort and peace that passes all understanding.

Paul wanted to get to Jerusalem before Pentecost so he sailed past Ephesus, but sent for the Ephesian Elders to come and meet him.  Paul reminded them of how he had lived his life.  Verses 19-21 say,

“I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents. You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.”

I pray we serve the Lord with great humility, even in the midst of tears and severe testing by our opponents.  I pray we never hesitate to share God’s Word in a helpful way, publicly and privately.  I pray everyone will recognize salvation does not come without repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul tells them the Spirit is compelling him to go back to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to him.  Paul next says something that makes me stop and evaluate his reaction, and what mine would be.  He says that the Holy Spirit warns him of prison and the hardships facing him in every city. However, he considers his own life worth nothing.  His only aim is to finish the task the Lord Jesus has set before him, that of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.  We recognize Christians in America are more and more persecuted, but if you were shown, beyond doubt, you would be put in prison and face hardships everywhere you went, would you be so quick to share Christ with others?  Would you consider your own life as nothing?  Would you still be willing to finish the task the Lord has set before you to testify the good news of God’s grace?  Would you even be able to see it as “good news” at this point?  I pray we can become more and more like Paul, to consider our lives worth nothing in light of sharing God’s gift of grace.  I pray we can continue on with boldness and courage, and be able to accept whatever trials may come our way.

Paul shares they will never see him again.  He also lets them know he has proclaimed to them, without hesitation, the will of God, and he is not responsible for their unbelief.  He warned them to keep watch over themselves and the flock, of which they have been made overseers.  He warned them to be shepherds of the church of God, because savage wolves will come and destroy the flock.  He warned that even some of their own would arise and distort the truth to draw away disciples.  Paul had been warning these people, in tears, of this destruction.  I think Paul was brought to emotion about the destruction by wolves, because he knew, first-hand, the destruction, torture, and agony these wolves could bring, for he had been one of those wolves. I pray we can be on guard, and those in church leadership will be on guard.  I pray, again, for discernment to know when the wolves are among us.

Paul encouraged them the Word of God’s grace could build them up and give them an inheritance among the sanctified.  Paul reminded them through hard work, they must help the weak as Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  He then knelt with the men and prayed over them.  They wept as they said goodbye for the last time.  I pray we will allow God’s grace to continue to build us up. I thank God for the inheritance of the sanctified.  I pray we will work and choose to help those who are weak and in need.  What a marvelous legacy Paul shared with these people, the legacy of Christ, a life beyond this.  Because of that, he held such a special place in the hearts of these people.  I pray I can share God’s gift of grace with others and they can see His work in me.

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28 Days In Acts- Chapter 19

Febraury 2013:

As Paul entered Ephesus, he met some disciples and asked if they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed.  They told him they had not and had not even heard there was a Holy Spirit.  They explained they had been baptized in the name of John.  Paul shared with them that John’s baptism was one of repentance, but told the people to believe in the One coming after him, who was Christ.  The disciples were then baptized in the name of Christ.  After their baptism, Paul placed his hands on them and the Holy Spirit came on them.  How many are following Christ but have never felt the fullness of the Holy Spirit?   I pray I can be open to better experiencing the Holy Spirit.

Paul spoke boldly, in the synagogue for three months.  When some became stubborn and refused to believe and then publicly criticize the Way, Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and held public discussions daily.  He did this for two years, and all of the Greeks and Jews in Asia heard the Word of the Lord.   Again, the Scripture shows us there is a time to move on and not keep pressing the Word when others are not going to hear.  Paul was much more effective in a different place.  If you remember from Chapter 16, the Holy Spirit would not allow Paul to preach in Asia, but now, the time was right.  God did such an extraordinary work through Paul “even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.”   I pray we will know when it is time to move on and discern God’s time.

There were a group of Jews who were driving out evil spirits and were trying to use the name of the Lord Jesus over some who were demon-possessed.  There were seven sons of a Jewish chief priest who were involved in this practice.  One day, they encountered an evil spirit who answered them saying, “Jesus I know, and Paul I knew about, but who are you? “  The man with the evil spirit attacked the men and beat them.  I think we overlook the demonic world today.  When the news about the attack spread among the Jews and Greeks in Ephesus, they became afraid and held the Name of the Lord Jesus in high esteem.  Many who believed, now came and openly confessed the things they had done.  Some who practiced sorcery brought their books (scrolls) of magic and burned them publicly.  This act helped the Word of God spread.  We have to be very careful we are actually working in the name of Christ and not a false assumption.  If these men had the power of Christ, the evil spirit would have never been able to overcome them.  Why would the Holy Spirit move to have you confess your sins publicly?  There could be several reasons:  It is a humbling experience.  It is an example to others.  It can become a ministry opportunity.  It shows the power of the Holy Spirit in that you can overcome the secret sins of your life by putting them in the light.  It helps with accountability when those around us  give support and encouragement.  It can reach others by letting them know their sins can also be forgiven, through repentance.

After some time in Ephesus, the business for the local silversmith began falling off.  Why would that be?  Well, the people who worshiped false gods and idols would have those idols cast in silver, so it had a profound impact on his business, along with other craftsman who relied on the trade of making idols.  This silversmith decided to call the craftsmen together and got them all stirred up.  They pulled Paul’s traveling companions in front of a mob.  Many people came and were angry and didn’t even know why they were there.  Isn’t that how many situations work, today?  People get worked up and excited, even angry, because that is what the general population thinks or believes, and will follow along with the crowd, many times without even know why.  I pray we listen for God’s prompting and don’t get caught following the crowd.

The city clerk quieted the crowd and told them they needed to deal with charges legally, and he dismissed the crowd.  We will find out what happens after this in chapter 20!

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