Acts 26–Pressing on toward the Mark

Paul continued upon his journey toward Rome. This day Paul stood before regional leadership of Festus and Agrippa.  He was to defend his behavior transforming from being the former Jewish enforcer to becoming the proponent of changing the world for Christ.  Agrippa had listened to Paul before but, now the Roman leader Festus heard Paul speak of his transformation.  At the end of the day, not much was different.  


Remembering that Paul had a single purpose is critical.  He was not out to win his freedom.  He was out to reach Rome and change the World for Christ.  Festus called Him crazy.  Why would such a gifted scholar waste his time giving a simple testimony of how Christ changed his Life? Paul was clear–I am not crazy, I am simply telling How God changed me.  Festus responded by asking if He thought he could so quickly convert him.  Paul smiled and replied he was not concerned about when he was converted–JUST THAT he was converted. 

 
Then Festus made the golden statement–If he had not asked to see Caesar, He would be free to go! Point was that he did ask, and as such, to Caesar Paul would go.  God’s plan executed with precision.  Paul said in Philippians that the Philippians did not need to be worried about his imprisonment in Rome.  Because Paul was in chains it had become clear throughout the entire Praetorian guard and everyone else that he was in chains for Christ.  One can only imagine the number of instances that Paul gave the testimony he spoke to Festus.


In the charge of the light brigade, Tennyson writes, “Ours is not to reason why, ours is just to do or die!” As warriors for Christ, We, like Paul, must charge forward and face the enemy no matter the cost.  If we will, he will lose, and we will make a difference in the lives of our family and our community.  We made be called crazy, fanatical, or even criminal; but truth is we cannot help but to share the difference Christ has made in our lives.


God Bless You


“I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests, I put many of the Lord’s people in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. 11 Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. I was so obsessed with persecuting them that I even hunted them down in foreign cities.

12 “On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13 About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. 14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic,[a] ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’

15 “Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’

“ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. 16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

19 “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. 20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds. 21 That is why some Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. 22 But God has helped me to this very day; so, I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen— 23 that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.”

24 At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.”

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.”

Acts 16 Part 1–New Teammate and New Direction

Paul and Silas were sharing the Gospel boldly.  They came to Derby and Lystra and met Timothy.  Paul was drawn to Timothy and knew He would be a great leader in the Church.  So, Paul brought Timothy onto the team.  Timothy was half Jewish but had never been circumcised.  So, Paul had him circumcised so that he would be more effective in preaching to the Jewish people on their journey. 

It was ironic, since they had just established that circumcision was not a prerequisite to being saved or part of the Church.  Paul knew that it would save a lot of problems within the Jewish communities and give Timothy, a young preacher, one less issue to have to confront as he built up churches.

Paul was also intent to preach the Gospel to the people in Asia.  So far, God said not to preach there.  Every time Paul would start that way, God would stop Paul cold.  Paul was faithful and followed God’s lead. Paul simply preached wherever the Spirit led.  Then one night, Paul had a vision to go to Macedonia.  That vision was like a flag releasing Paul and the mission to expand the Church in a new direction.  Paul took off immediately.  

The Church was growing daily.  The men that God used to spread the Gospel would do whatever it took to lead as many as possible to the Lord. We must have that kind of boldness in our lives as well. We must be willing to make sacrifices, like Timothy, if that will open doors to lead people to Christ.  We must be willing to wait and listen for God’s prompting to move forward; even if we are excited to take on a challenge.  Sometimes, our timing and God’s simply do not align.  His timing, however, is always perfect! We cannot confuse our enthusiasm to help God’s mission with God’s prompting and leadership.  Our time in the word and in prayer will give us clarity and confidence as we move forward to serve Him.

God Bless You


 Paul[a] came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. He was well spoken of by the brothers[b] at Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.

The Macedonian Call

And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 And when Paul[c] had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

Joshua 14–A Long Time In Coming

Joshua and Caleb sat across the table from each other.  As they looked into each other’s eyes, there was a sense of accomplishment.  These two men had initially scouted the Promised Land and they were the spies that begged Israel to move forward. Now, Caleb approached his old friend and simply asked to be granted the land that God personally promised him in the presence of Joshua.

For Joshua it was a joyful day.  He was thrilled to grant to his friend the land God promised.  What’s more, as Philistine lands, He knew Caleb and His folks would clear it.  Joshua had grown old from the journey, but, Caleb had not! He was as fit as he had been 45 years before–another kind gift from God.  It had to be a great moment in the leadership journey for Joshua, clearly one so significant, that God wanted it in His word. 

Remaining faithful is much harder than simply being faithful. Life takes its toll on us. Years of following, battling, and facing the world wears folks down. We begin to doubt whether God is going to come through in the end. This story in the life of Joshua reminds us that God always keeps His word.  He prepares us individually for the journey He has laid out. The Lord knows the journey’s ending as clearly as He knows its beginning. 

While it can be a long time in coming, we must wait on the Lord to complete His work and keep His promises. Isaiah said it best, “Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength.  They will mount up with wings–like eagles! they will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Here’s to You Caleb! Go clear your mountain tops!!!

God Bless You


Now the people of Judah approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, but my fellow Israelites who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt in fear. I, however, followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly. So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.’[a]

10 “Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! 11 I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. 12 Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”

13 Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. 14 So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the Lord, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly. 15 (Hebron used to be called Kiriath Arba after Arba, who was the greatest man among the Anakites.)

Then the land had rest from war.