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 23:23-35 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.



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 21:17-26 Video Devotional

“When we had come to Jerusalem, the brothers received us gladly. On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed. They are all zealous for the law, and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs. What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. Do therefore what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; take these men and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses, so that they may shave their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself also live in observance of the law. But as for the Gentiles who have believed, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality.” Then Paul took the men, and the next day he purified himself along with them and went into the temple, giving notice when the days of purification would be fulfilled and the offering presented for each one of them.” (Acts 21:17-26)

If the book of Acts were a movie or screenplay, this is where Act III would begin. The stakes are ramping up and getting serious. Paul, on his way to Jerusalem, arrives and connects with James and the elders in Jerusalem. All of Paul’s adventures are recounted and God is glorified. It doesn’t seem (at least from our vantage point) however, that they fully got the message that the Gentiles are a part of this too – or at least that Paul wasn’t trying to destroy everything that had been built thus far.

The elders respond by asking Paul to walk through the purification rituals with some others that had been in a vow, the thought behind this being that it will calm the Jews down as they learn about his ministry to the Gentiles. Culturally, we know that what Paul did was a huge affront to the Jewish culture and this is where the conflict begins to take shape. Even with the elders making sure to dot all their “I’s” and cross every “T” with the letter they sent, there was only hope that the Jewish majority would accept this and therefore accept Paul.

What Paul then did was to go along with the elders and purified himself along with the others. Was this an appeasement like what he criticized Peter doing in Galatians? It can look that way, but I don’t think so. I think this is more of Paul working so that the heart of his message is received by his brethren. An “all things to all people so that by all means” type of effort. Paul purifies himself to show respect to the Jewish traditions and get them to the point to where they may be willing to accept him and even accept the Gentiles that were now their siblings in the faith.

The purification was a step of love towards his own people, even though he knew they were going to have to swallow the hard truth that Gentiles were receiving the Holy Spirit as well. Would you be able to lovingly confront like Paul? Or would you avoid that conflict? Or forget the love part? Paul was in an impossible position, but he did everything he could with love. That’s a pretty amazing witness to the power of the gospel – especially considering what we know about Paul’s personality.



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