25 “I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable. 26 The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.”
28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”
29 Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”
30 The king rose, and with him the governor and Bernice and those sitting with them. 31 After they left the room, they began saying to one another, “This man is not doing anything that deserves death or imprisonment.”
32 Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”
10 Paul answered: “I am now standing before Caesar’s court, where I ought to be tried. I have not done any wrong to the Jews, as you yourself know very well. 11 If, however, I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die. But if the charges brought against me by these Jews are not true, no one has the right to hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar!”
12 After Festus had conferred with his council, he declared: “You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go!”
5 Paul replied, “Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.’[a]”
6 Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead
The greatest part of accepting that God holds the plan for our future and its timing is the discovery and recognition of the plan coming to fruition. First, God brought the newly founded church to Jerusalem. There he empowered it with His Spirit to start its growth. Once its growth was established, he used various trials and tribulation to put a structure in the church and then spread the church throughout the region.
Now, as the church was growing out among other parts of the region, God used Antioch as the launching pad for European expansion—he prepared for a Mission. God brought in a godly servant-hearted man named Barnabas (Son of encouragement). Barnabas sought out that reactionary former Pharisee named Saul. He found Saul back in his home town. He brought Saul back to Antioch and mentored him and prepared the two of them to begin the first “Christian” missionary journey–that was designed to primarily to collect food and funds for the new church to provide for a famine God was going to allow.
In these times, God is still in charge. He is still executing his plan. While it seems we live in a time that is post-Christian and his impact diminished; truth is, he is preparing a new group to carry on his mission in these chaotic and difficult days. We do not know who will be this generation’s Saul and Barnabas. But we do know that God has led for thousands of years, and his plan has worked every time. We must continue to trust him, humbly follow and listen to his teaching. We must also allow the trials and discipline he puts in our lives to prepare us for the days ahead. It may be that we will be the next Paul and Barnabas. It also may be that we are simply the structure God uses to prepare and send them out to change the world—either is fine, especially if we allow God to lead!
God Bless You
Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.
22 News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.
25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
27 During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) 29 The disciples, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea. 30 This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.
There is a sharp distinction between people who respect God and others and those who do not. Reverent people are blessed and bless those with whom they come into contact. The irreverent will not end blessed- and rather than bless others—they send people scampering in all directions.
The irreverent abuse all their relationships. They misuse their jobs, their business, the courts, and even the church itself. People dread their contacts and no one truly calls them friends.
Conversely, the reverent are people who walk humbly with the Lord. It pushes them to be kind, and respectful to others. They work as if for God and not men. They build legacies with their families and their churches. They become iconic in their communities and draw folks together. The reverent avoid fanfare and simply push forward to become all God would allow them to be.
So where are we? If your language, attitude and behavior seem to push everyone away…take a look at who you choose to make the star of your movie—if it is always you and never God or others—not very referent. If God stars in your show and you play a supporting role, odds are you respect God and others.
The Great news is one can humble themselves before God at any time—If it is an issue, start now. Simple ask God to take control and step away from the throne!
God Bless You
We have come to an age and culture that is in anarchy and chaos. With endless law and regulations recorded in the courts across the world, we see less order and unity now than we have in ages. Sadly, it is not difficult to tell what the source of change is. A simple review of history across the world shows the same common theme, as nations move away from God, their cultures become less stable.
In our current culture, it is much too easy to weigh in on every difference of opinion. The web has given us social media; which in turn has somehow licensed the world and especially this country to drop all semblance of manners and decorum and weigh in on all matters of opinion. And since such intervention is two dimensional, we have no fear of reprisal beyond being blocked from another’s account.
As God’s chosen people—wholly and dearly loved, we ought to heed Solomon’s warning—mind your own business and be honest. Watch your mouth, don’t use filthy language, spread gossip or be a source of conflict. 20 years ago, most would agree. Now, such behavior and restraint makes people seem aloof, out of touch and somehow socially irresponsible. Funny thing, though—those who practice social grace and restraint grow to be loved and trusted. It is so rare, that over time such people become the most attractive and needed people in the community. We need to choose to be those that stand out as ladies and gentlemen—it could literally be the source of revival.
God Bless You
Like one who grabs a stray dog by the ears is someone who rushes into a quarrel not their own.
18 Like a maniac shooting flaming arrows of death 19 is one who deceives their neighbor and says, “I was only joking!”
20 Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down. 21 As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife. 22 The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.
23 Like a coating of silver dross on earthenware are fervent lips with an evil heart. 24 Enemies disguise themselves with their lips, but in their hearts they harbor deceit. 25 Though their speech is charming, do not believe them, for seven abominations fill their hearts. 26 Their malice may be concealed by deception, but their wickedness will be exposed in the assembly. 27 Whoever digs a pit will fall into it; if someone rolls a stone, it will roll back on them. 28 A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.
We are not our own, we were bought with a price. That is as foundational of a truth as lives in scripture. Still in this world it is difficult to remember that the salvation we received was given to us at the cost of Jesus sacrifice of relinquishing his Godhood and becoming a servant whose torturous death brought redemption for those who choose to follow him.
Knowing this, we should walk through our days showing God’s character. Simply put, we are not like everyone else. We do not snicker when others fail. We do not celebrate when others experience misfortune. Instead, we show class and empathy when those around us—even our rivals, fall into hard times. In addition, we do not exercise our power and authority simply because we can. Instead we rule with grace and wisdom and make decisions that honor God.
Finally, we live a life that shows our respect for God. We work hard, we love our family and we do our best to show as many of his character traits in our lives. If we live that kind of life, at the journey’s end—we will be able to part with joy and few regrets—leaving a legacy that lasts for generations.
God Bless You
Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice, 18 or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from them.
19 Do not fret because of evildoers or be envious of the wicked, 20 for the evildoer has no future hope, and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out.
21 Fear the Lord and the king, my son, and do not join with rebellious officials, 22 for those two will send sudden destruction on them, and who knows what calamities they can bring?
Never has the term “If God is for us, then who can be against us!” been illustrated with such power. Joshua and his army were summoned by their new Gibeonite allies. The Gibeonites were being attacked by 5 different states. Joshua sought the Lord and was told—go get them, I will hand them over to you. Joshua obeys and the armies of the 5 kings are completely defeated by battle, by large hailstones and by the sun standing tall in the sky for an entire day.
Neither Israel, the Gibeonites nor even the vanquished foes—doubted who was leading the charge and fighting the battle! Was Israel a formidable fighting force—absolutely. The thing that drove fear into their enemies hearts, however, was not their skills and victories; it was their God. Their God made clear that he controlled the time of day and the conditions on the Earth. No amount of strategy would stop his plan for his people.
Nothing has changed. God is still God. He still controls the conditions on earth and the time of day. Even when the circumstances in life seem insurmountable, like 5 armies versus 1, as we seek the Lord, he says—I got this. He then will set about moving heaven and earth to execute his plan. As we march by faith, we simply have to cling to the truth of his power and authority. As we do, our enemies will melt before us and He (Not We) will be victorious.
God Bless You
After an all-night march from Gilgal, Joshua took them by surprise. 10 The Lord threw them into confusion before Israel, so Joshua and the Israelites defeated them completely at Gibeon. Israel pursued them along the road going up to Beth Horon and cut them down all the way to Azekah and Makkedah. 11 As they fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon to Azekah, the Lord hurled large hailstones down on them, and more of them died from the hail than were killed by the swords of the Israelites.
12 On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel:
“Sun, stand still over Gibeon, and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.” 13 So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on[b] its enemies,
as it is written in the Book of Jashar.
The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. 14 There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!
15 Then Joshua returned with all Israel to the camp at Gilgal.