Friday, July 7, 2017

July 7

1 Chronicles 4:5-5:17; Acts 25:1-27; Psalm 5:1-12; Proverbs 18:19

I know we said this in Leviticus, but now that we’re slogging our way through the genealogies of 1 Chronicles, it bears repeating – hang in there. Don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged. As you’re reading verse after verse of “the sons of,” try to remember that “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). Think of these verses as part of the legacy of the Jewish faith, upon which our Christian faith is built. Read these verses as a demonstration of God’s faithfulness through thousands of generations and be encouraged.

That being said, I think I’ll still spend the bulk of our time together today on our New Testament passage. =)

Interesting things are happening as we’re wrapping up Acts. Paul, once again, is falsely accused and now finds himself in trial in front of King Agrippa. This king was the 7th and last king of the family of Herod the Great. He was king over several territories, but we find him interacting with Paul now because King Agrippa was responsible for the superintendence of the Temple in Jerusalem.

Paul had arrived in Jerusalem for the fifth and final time around 57AD. As we saw earlier this week, he’s received warmly at first but things take a turn for the worse, and Paul ends up in prison once more. He appeals to Caesar (the turning point that will eventually land him in Rome), but he first spends two years in prison in Caesarea as a political favor for the Jews by Felix. Then Paul’s case is reopened by Felix and when Felix (who is the governor) gets a visit from the king of the province, he decides to tell the king all about Paul. King Agrippa has come to Caesarea with his sister, Bernice, to check on things there. We’ll get to see in tomorrow’s reading that Paul presents his case for himself before the king and more so. Not intimidated by the power of the person in front of him, nor discouraged by the length of time he’s already been under arrest, Paul tells his side of the story and, more importantly, preaches the gospel. Be on the lookout for that tomorrow!

What I especially love about this unfolding drama is how it fulfills God’s purposes, as this is the moment that finally gets Paul on the way to Rome, where the gospel will explode. “To Caesar you have appealed; to Caesar you shall go” (Acts 25:12b). It’s easy for us to see this as a boring trial – Paul tells his case to this government official and then to that government official - but it’s actually part of God’s plan to bring all of humanity to himself.

A few more thoughts really quick – I am usually pretty intimidated by Paul’s life and his boldness for the gospel. I’m not what you would call a natural evangelist. But I find today as I think about Paul that I’m inspired– tomorrow we’ll see him take advantage of the story he is in to tell the truth of what Jesus did. I can do that, too. Whatever story I’m in, even if it’s the small story of nursing a baby or potty training or fixing meals, I can tell those around me of what Jesus did.

I’m also in awe of how God works. Agrippa and Felix think Paul’s a fool for appealing to Caesar. But it was always part of God’s plan for Paul to end up in Rome, so that God could use him to bring many to faith. We don’t always know God’s plan, at least all the steps that lie out ahead of us, and the world may sometimes think that what we’re doing doesn’t make sense. But like Paul, we press on, knowing and trusting that God knows what he’s doing and that it’s not just for our gain, but for the benefit of others as well. So press on, friend. Press on!

- Esther McCurry

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  1. Esther, I too am always fascinated by the story of how Paul gets to Rome and I'm always challenged in my commitment to follow Gods leading even if I knew it would involve something like imprisonment !
    (One quick observation & im sure it's a typo, but Festus is the one dealing with Paul & King Agrippa instead of Felix.)