Daily Reading: 5-10-16
Acts 26:19-29 New Living Translation
Paul returns to Jerusalem where he is told by his friends of the many rumors traveling around religious circles about him and his missionary ministry. Paul is being accused by religious leaders of teaching things that are against the instructions of Moses; circumcision. As well, Paul is accused of defiling the temple by bringing in non-Jews or Gentiles. Paul spends the next seven days in prayer and fulfilling Jewish customs in order to demonstrate he is not against the leaders. He still practices the Jewish lifestyle; he goes the extra mile to avoid offending the religious leaders. However, there is still a huge uprising when Paul goes to the Temple. The Jews try to kill him. Well, the Romans hear about the altercation and go into the mob in order to identify Paul and the reason for the riot.
Jerusalem was the seat of Jewish government, but Caesarea was the Roman headquarters for the area. Paul was a Jew and a Roman citizen, so he was sent to Caesarea to stand trial. First, Paul stands trial before Felix, the Roman governor, but Felix avoids judgment in order to keep a level of peace. The Jews are not happy with Felix’s decision. Paul is kept in prison for two years until Felix is moved back to Rome and Festus becomes governor. King Agrippa, descendent of Herod the Great and of Jewish descent, travels to attend the trial, because he is responsible for the Temple. Agrippa and Festus are seeking to govern together. Paul tells these men the story of his encounter with the resurrected Lord on the road to Damascus and Christ’s appointment for Paul to be a witness of what he has seen of the eternal Lord. We pick up our reading with Paul’s trial before Festus and Agrippa.
Acts 26:19-29New Living Translation (NLT)
19 “And so, King Agrippa, I obeyed that vision from heaven. 20 I preached first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that all must repent of their sins and turn to God—and prove they have changed by the good things they do. 21 Some Jews arrested me in the Temple for preaching this, and they tried to kill me. 22 But God has protected me right up to this present time so I can testify to everyone, from the least to the greatest. I teach nothing except what the prophets and Moses said would happen— 23 that the Messiah would suffer and be the first to rise from the dead, and in this way announce God’s light to Jews and Gentiles alike.”
24 Suddenly, Festus shouted, “Paul, you are insane. Too much study has made you crazy!”
25 But Paul replied, “I am not insane, Most Excellent Festus. What I am saying is the sober truth. 26 And King Agrippa knows about these things. I speak boldly, for I am sure these events are all familiar to him, for they were not done in a corner! 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do—”
28 Agrippa interrupted him. “Do you think you can persuade me to become a Christian so quickly?”[a]
29 Paul replied, “Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that both you and everyone here in this audience might become the same as I am, except for these chains.”
God has a way of revealing how things are connected, doesn’t He? During the trial, the Spirit of God flows through Paul helping to bring Light to how the words of the prophets are fulfilled in the Messiah. Paul extends history as his argument for why he lives the way he does today, as well as the way he will live tomorrow; eternal life. Festus cannot wrap his mind around why Paul would risk his earthly life and deprive himself of materialistic gain for such a witness; it’s crazy! Yet, Paul is so concerned about the salvation of others that he cares very little about his own chains or pleasures. Paul preaches about repentance of sin; turning and connecting to God in order to live in the Truth of God’s Love for others. When thinking about Christ’s love for the world and his willingness to lay down his life for our eternal gain and Paul’s message of love and his willingness to lay down his life for the eternal gain of others, I am able to make a connection that eternal life is so much more than I have been able to understand in 59 years of learning. Eternal life is about looking through the lens of Love (in spite of the presence of evil) to witness God’s sovereign hand when I view history, when I bow to live in God’s Love in the present moment and witness a power much greater than myself at work, and when I look forward to tomorrow with God’s liberating Love as my eternal Ruler. Recognizing eternity and choosing to live with that glory as my primary focus may seem crazy to some, but it fills my heart with Love and Peace that passes understanding.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for the many lessons I have learned through the testimonies in Your Word. May I continue to focus on the value of eternity as I enjoy each day on this earth. I realize eternity connects all things and I am a part of it. In Jesus’ name. Amen.