Acts 24:22-27 Video Devotional

“But Felix, having a rather accurate knowledge of the Way, put them off, saying, “When Lysias the tribune comes down, I will decide your case.” Then he gave orders to the centurion that he should be kept in custody but have some liberty, and that none of his friends should be prevented from attending to his needs. After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.” At the same time he hoped that money would be given him by Paul. So he sent for him often and conversed with him. When two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison.” (Acts 24:22-27)

Chapter 24 plays out like a humorous (in my opinion) version of a courtroom trial. Tertullus, the spokesman for the Jewish council started off by going for the flattery play and never actually told Felix about the doctrinal disagreement or cultural clash that was truly at the center of the conflict. Instead, they accused Paul of starting riots and profaning the temple. So, basically they went with lies.

Paul, on the other hand, defended himself, but took a chance to share the gospel (whenever he has the opportunity, remember?) and used that to bring the conflict down to the actual truth – the doctrinal disagreement. And then the politics set in – Felix wants to do the Jews a favor, but has a prior understanding of Christianity and chooses to delay. So, the Jews at least get Paul in prison, though Felix gives him liberty and the ability to have visitors. Felix also had Paul come to meet with him and his wife to talk about Jesus. Wanting a bribe, Felix kept him around.

Paul’s goal is to get to Rome, not just to Felix the governor, so this work out beautifully for Paul. He gets to share the gospel with lots of people, he gets protection, and he gets to continue on his mission. All about serving God. God had that go on for two years until Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus.

This could be looked at as a terrible situation with Paul in jail for two years over a disagreement. However, this is not the case. Paul is quite content, as this is his pathway to Rome and he knows it. This is a challenge to us and our comfort-filled lifestyles today. How quickly would you take on obvious hardship and toil for the gospel? Even though he trusted he would survive to see Rome, it will end up being a very difficult journey. Who’s in?

The rewards will certainly be worth it.



Acts 23:1-11 Video Devotional

“And looking intently at the council, Paul said, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.” And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?” Those who stood by said, “Would you revile God’s high priest?” And Paul said, “I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’” Now when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.” And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. Then a great clamor arose, and some of the scribes of the Pharisees’ party stood up and contended sharply, “We find nothing wrong in this man. What if a spirit or an angel spoke to him?” And when the dissension became violent, the tribune, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him away from among them by force and bring him into the barracks. The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.” (Acts 23:1-11)

It almost appears here in this passage that Paul may have been playing sides a bit. He was certainly strategic in his wording as he faced off against the high priest. While the nature of Jesus’ resurrection was certainly a point of contention with the Jews, Paul played that up (as opposed to the bringing near of the Gentiles) in this context so that he could get the crowd arguing against itself. It can look like Paul manipulated the crowd, but what he said was true about the resurrection and we don’t know what else he may have mentioned (and not recorded) or what he didn’t get the chance to say. The Jews in the high court were more than happy to get violent on that one point alone.

Remember, this is happening under the supervision of the Roman tribune, meaning that Rome was watching. Paul’s goal was to get to Rome, and as this passage makes clear, that was also God’s plan. Psalm 37:4 says that when we “delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our heart.” This doesn’t mean if we seek God, we will get what we want, it means that when we are in tune with God, our wants become His wants. This is the case with Paul. Paul was so focused on God that his mind was in tune to what God was doing and his goals became the same as God’s goals.

This, just like Paul, is an opportunity for each one of us. Our ability to participate and even see His plan unfold is open to us if we are fully focused on Him. Set your eyes on nothing or no one else and you will begin to see things from God’s perspective a bit (at least as much as He is willing to show you). What would it take for you to put your mind that much on God? You interested in some great adventures?



Acts 12:6-11 Video Devotional

“Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him. When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.” (Acts 12:6-11)

By now, Herod was getting tired of these newly formed Christians making such a noise. It was an annoyance to him, and he was no friend of God. Thus, Herod decided to turn up the heat on those agitators. After killing James, the brother of John, Herod got approval from the Jews and began his pursuit of Peter, arresting him.

This side of heaven, we will never know why people like James was allowed to be martyred and others like Peter were rescued, so all we can do is trust in God’s plan. But, regardless, it is clear here (again) that the Holy Spirit is working full force for the glory of Christ and the building of His church. Peter was in prison and completely helpless. And throughout the course of his rescue, he thought he was dreaming! God was running the show and putting people exactly where He wanted them. Again, we aren’t able to understand why some live and some don’t, but we do know that God is good all the time and that all the time, God is good. Therefore, he choice to rescue Peter (but not James) is the right choice for the best of everyone.

Peter is rescued, purely by the power of the Holy Spirit and winds up on the street, safe and sound. He then went to Mary’s house where they thought they were seeing Peter as an angel. There was significant cause for concern in regards to Herod’s persecution, and while they trusted in God, the early disciples were right to be wary of Herod’s efforts to eradicate the faith. Yet God still has His plan, and Herod, shortly thereafter, was struck down by an angel of the Lord.

God is moving the pieces around an opening up an opportunity for Paul to meet Agrippa (Herod’s successor) and share Jesus with him. Though we don’t tend to understand all of what God is doing and allowing, His plan is complete and perfect and good. And we can trust in that.



Acts 9:36-43 Video Devotional

“Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then, calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. And he stayed in Joppa for many days with one Simon, a tanner.” (Acts 9:36-43)

Again, the Spirit was working. Here again is Peter – the one who so many of us know as the ultimate screw-up – being the hero. Fresh off of healing a paralyzed man in a neighboring town, we find him in Joppa bringing a deal woman back to life. Let me ask you – is this Peter’s power? Of course not! Acts is about the power and plan of the Holy Spirit. That plan being taking the gospel from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth and it was on the move. With the Dispersion scattering everyone around and the apostles tending to the new believers around Jerusalem, here we see Peter living in faith and praying for this woman to come back to life.

There are two observations to make about this story. First, the person he healed was a woman. It is worth pointing out that in the male-dominated culture of the time, this woman was of such renown that the city sent for Peter to try and bring this woman back! Women (Tabitha, in this instance) hold immense value to God and His plan, so much so that she was given her earthly life back. We can infer through the story that her ministry was of serving and making garments, and she was of such worth that God brought her back from the dead. Women hold incredible value in ministry and should have the opportunity to use the gifts given them by God for the calling He calls them to. It is an honorable service to be called to be a witness for Jesus (whatever the specifics of the job entail), one that comes to any believer, regardless of gender.

Gender equality, however, is not the only statement God is making by raising Tabitha from the dead. This also puts Peter in touch with a man named Simon the Tanner, whose house Peter has while having a very vivid and important dream. God is setting Peter up to make a very important cultural statement as well. Tune in for the next devotional to find out about the dream.

Are there any women you know that have made a significant different in your walk with Christ? This would be a great place to be thankful for our ladies in ministry who have led us to a closer walk with God. Highlight them in the comments!



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