Acts 25:13-22 Video Devotional

“Now when some days had passed, Agrippa the king and Bernice arrived at Caesarea and greeted Festus. And as they stayed there many days, Festus laid Paul’s case before the king, saying, “There is a man left prisoner by Felix, and when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews laid out their case against him, asking for a sentence of condemnation against him. I answered them that it was not the custom of the Romans to give up anyone before the accused met the accusers face to face and had opportunity to make his defense concerning the charge laid against him. So when they came together here, I made no delay, but on the next day took my seat on the tribunal and ordered the man to be brought. When the accusers stood up, they brought no charge in his case of such evils as I supposed. Rather they had certain points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who was dead, but whom Paul asserted to be alive. Being at a loss how to investigate these questions, I asked whether he wanted to go to Jerusalem and be tried there regarding them. But when Paul had appealed to be kept in custody for the decision of the emperor, I ordered him to be held until I could send him to Caesar.” Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I would like to hear the man myself.” “Tomorrow,” said he, “you will hear him.” (Acts 25:13-22)

I find it very interesting that in these verses we get a unique conversation between Festus and Agrippa, which offers some insight into how the Romans view this conflict. King Agrippa was the “king” of Judea, but since the Jews were under Roman rule, he was more of a Roman client in place in that territory for the benefit of the emperor. As such, he had a place and some authority, but was ultimately another stop for Paul on the way to Rome.

He was introduced to Paul and Paul again took his chance to share his story – which means he shared the gospel with them. This “defense” Paul made gave the Roman officials enough evidence to actually render their verdict (at least among themselves) – Paul did nothing that deserved death. They couldn’t even properly lay out the charges against him.

It seems like Paul was going through all this craziness for nothing! Right? It’s clear to the Romans that there is no need to send him on to Caesar, as there is no reason to hold him. Yet, to Caesar he goes. Why? Because this journey is not about getting cleared of the charges. This journey is about reaching Rome and sharing the gospel to Caesar, along with anyone else who will listen. 

There are many things that we get lost in. Maybe it’s an unplanned job change or cross-country move, maybe an unexpected death or loss of a home; whatever the circumstances, it can be easy to get lost in the drama of the situation and seek only the end of the situation. But often there is more – if we are willing to take the journey to its full conclusion and allow ourselves to travail the difficult path, we can find incredible rewards in the fullness of His path and presence. Don’t run from the bad situation. Journey through it and seek God in, allowing yourself to find the plan God has for you in that pain. 



Acts 23:23-35 Video Devotional

“Then he called two of the centurions and said, “Get ready two hundred soldiers, with seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go as far as Caesarea at the third hour of the night. Also provide mounts for Paul to ride and bring him safely to Felix the governor.” And he wrote a letter to this effect: “Claudius Lysias, to his Excellency the governor Felix, greetings. This man was seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them when I came upon them with the soldiers and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman citizen. And desiring to know the charge for which they were accusing him, I brought him down to their council. I found that he was being accused about questions of their law, but charged with nothing deserving death or imprisonment. And when it was disclosed to me that there would be a plot against the man, I sent him to you at once, ordering his accusers also to state before you what they have against him.” So the soldiers, according to their instructions, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris. And on the next day they returned to the barracks, letting the horsemen go on with him. When they had come to Caesarea and delivered the letter to the governor, they presented Paul also before him. On reading the letter, he asked what province he was from. And when he learned that he was from Cilicia, he said, “I will give you a hearing when your accusers arrive.” And he commanded him to be guarded in Herod’s praetorium.” (Acts 23:23-35)

The Jewish council responded to Paul’s argument by getting angry and violent. They wanted him dead so badly that they vowed not to eat or dink until Paul was killed. I am guessing they got pretty hungry (and lost some weight), as thankfully their efforts and plotting were unsuccessful. Paul’s nephew was warned of the ambush and set off to save Paul’s life, leading the tribune to pass Paul off to the governor Felix. With Paul went 200 soldiers, 70 horsemen, 200 spearmen! That might have been a bit much, but it is incredible to see how overtly God protected His witness.

This was the first step in Paul’s movement up the chain of the Roman command. It began with a tribune and a murderous plot by the Jewish council. It ended with the Emperor in Rome. God is amazing in how He sets everything up so perfectly!

While it was perfect planning and timing by God, that didn’t mean it was an easy road for Paul. Once they got to Caesarea and to Felix the Governor, they were told to hurry up and wait. Paul would spend a lot of time waiting – for Felix, Festus and even the emperor himself. But what did Paul do with all that time? What would you do with all that time?

Paul used every chance he got to share the gospel of Jesus. More often than not, I feel I would end up getting impatient and let too many of those small moments pass. Waiting is never fun. But, we can be joyful and trust in God during any situation. I pray that is how I would act in that situation. I will pray the same for you.



Genesis 50:24-26 Video Devotional

“And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” So Joseph died, being 110 years old. They embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.” (Genesis 50:24-26)

The ending verses of Genesis chronicle the end of Joseph’s life and the last words he said to his brothers. Joseph knew Egypt was not their home, and with his unusual understanding of the time it can take for God’s promises to be fulfilled, seemed clear that their journey from Egypt would not happen for a while. But again, Egypt was not their home.

This was so clear to Joseph that he made his brothers promise to carry his bones with them when they left, a promise fulfilled in Exodus 13:19 by Moses. What is cool here is that Joseph had the future vision in his sights – he wasn’t focused on the immediate, he was intent to see God’s promises fulfilled despite how long it may take to come to pass.

This is consistent with his character throughout his story. God’s promises may take time (see Hebrews 11:39 – “And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised”), but they are all fulfilled. Whatever situation you find yourself in, relax and be patient, for God’s promises will come to completion in Christ Jesus. We just don’t know exactly when. Blessings to you!



Hebrews 12:1-3 Video Devotional

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)

I may have good excuses for being exhausted lately, but they are nothing compared to friends that are taking extra jobs, including night shift work to provide for and protect their families. People who are doing what it takes to properly care for their loved ones are to be commended during this time (and any time, for that matter). 

And even they are not alone in this. Everyone is exhausted. Mentally, physically, socially, emotionally. Maybe even spiritually. This is a time when we can very easily be weak and become more prone to sin. I know temptations have been higher for myself and I am sure I am not alone in that.

That’s where today’s verses come in – friends, this is an long range situation we are in and we have to endure through it. There is no option; either we endure or we die. To do that, we need to shed the sin and get ourselves free of entanglements – then stare straight at Jesus and run! He will give us the strength and energy we need – just keep your eyes on Him.

As a way of running towards Jesus and connecting with the hall of fame in Hebrews 11, please reply to this thread or make a new post and tag me/the church in it and share your testimonial. What was the key turning point that brought you to trust in Jesus? I would really love to hear your story. Blessings to you!



Exodus 12:40-42 Video Devotional

“The time that the people of Israel lived in Egypt was 430 years. At the end of 430 years, on that very day, all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. It was a night of watching by the Lord, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to the Lord by all the people of Israel throughout their generations.” (Exodus 12:40-42)
 
Sitting here at my desk, it is difficult to put my mind around the next few months and how to make it through this time. It literally feels like forever. Yet it is only a couple of months. Imagine trying to picture the idea of waiting 430 years! That’s how long the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. Every moment of every day they were holding their breath, unsure of what would happen next and constantly waiting for their rescue. It must have been excruciating. Yet, through it all, God was right by their side, feeling their pain with them, but putting together the perfect solution that would ultimately help them understand the sacrifice Jesus would make on the cross. God passes over the Christians’ sin because we are hidden in Christ.
 
I am with you; this waiting is hard. But we can do it, because we know that God is working out something good for us, as well as showing the whole world His greatness and glory. People will come to faith in Jesus as a result of this difficult time. God is faithful and will work it all out for His purposes and glory – and one of His main purposes is to bring life and healing to people.
 
So, let’s be patient together, bearing one another in love, gentleness and humility (Ephesians 4:2).


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