Scripture reading for July 7th: Acts 25:1-27
After two years in jail awaiting a decision from governor Felix, Festus replaced Felix and was again approached by the Jews to have Paul brought to Jerusalem for a trial. They again had plans to ambush him and kill him as he was being transported. Old habits die hard! I wonder how the men with the vow had gone without eating or drinking for that amount of time! (Acts 23:21)
Festus again set a time for a trial and invited the Jews to come and press charges at the court in Caesarea. Again the Jews made charges that they could not prove. Paul again reiterated that he had done nothing against their law, temple or against Caesar. (Acts 25:8) Again, Festus asked Paul if he were willing to go to Jerusalem to face their charges. Paul declined and because he was a Roman citizen, appealed to Caesar! Festus granted his plea and the Jews went away empty-handed again! Paul’s call to preach at Rome had been granted with an all-expense paid trip there!
As the details were being worked out, King Agrippa and his wife Bernice came by Caesarea to visit Festus. They discussed Paul’s situation and the King asked to hear Paul. Festus arranged this meeting for he hoped to have some better charges to accompany Paul to give to Caesar.
We can see how in all of this, patience is required of God’s servants as God works out details and brings about His purposes. Where God guides, He provides! He had planned and revealed to Paul that he would stand before the Gentiles and their kings. (Acts 9:15) He would also stand as a witness to the nation of Israel. In confronting the leaders of the Sanhedrin before the court of Felix and now Festus, Paul had opportunity to share the Gospel and his testimony of God’s saving grace in his own life. Some were saved and others were lost because of their hard hearts.
Are you patiently waiting and praying for every opportunity to share the Gospel? Do you complain when things don’t go as you hoped or seem to try your patience? Ask God to show you how to listen to Him and fulfill your calling in the midst of the trying circumstances!
Scripture reading for July 6th: Acts 24:1-27
In reading today’s passage, there is a lot of drama! The high priest, Ananias and some of the elders from the Sanhedrin travel down to see Felix with a lawyer named Tertullus. Tertullus presented the case for them before the governor and accused Paul of being a troublemaker and desecrating the temple. The Jews with him agreed. The governor asked Paul to speak in his own defense. Paul refuted the charges stated that the only thing that could be the cause of the charges was his own stand for the resurrection of the dead. (Acts 24:19-21) Felix postponed making a decision and had Paul taken away and kept under guard.
Some time later, Felix and his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess sent for Paul and listened as he preached about Christ Jesus and the coming judgment. Felix came under conviction and cut Paul off from speaking any more. “That’s enough for now!” You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.” At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe so he sent for him frequently and talked with him.” (Acts 24:25b-26) This went on for two years until Felix was replaced by Porcius Festus. We can see that Felix was a hard man and looked out for himself. His power and position allowed him to receive bribes and extort money for favorable rulings! His Jewish wife made it easy for him to favor the Jews and keep Paul in jail. The “convenient” time to hear more about Christ never came in his life that we know of! The world has not changed much!
Paul shared the Gospel where ever he was placed by the Lord. God opened doors through imprisonment that Paul would never have had otherwise. He lived with integrity, in spite of pressure to work the system through bribes. He was his own lawyer, listening to the Holy Spirit for what to say when taken before judges, governors or kings. God provided for him daily and spoke encouragement to him when it was needed. Paul knew he was in the center of God’s will, even if it did not look like it to those outside the faith. God’s ways are different than man’s and lead to fullness of joy and the Holy Spirit!