ACTS – The Acts of God
We are prisoners of our own doing at times. We cling to worldly standards of living, held hostage by the ways of the world with pride, selfishness and bitterness while trying to reach for God. It is only when we let go of what the world has to offer that God grips our hand and pulls us out of danger and then holds in His protective custody. We are His at last. We are free to move about, guided by His Holy Spirit. This is the picture I imagine as I read about Paul’s plight in Rome under the rule of Governor Felix.
Paul left the world behind to follow the Master, Jesus Christ. His behavior is not criminal yet he is charged with disturbing the peace by the Jewish Council who do not believe in Jesus. Watch how God provides a unique way to be a witness. He is brought into a form of “protective custody” and given the opportunity to witness to Governor Felix and his wife about a life of believing in Jesus for two years. Paul was never out of the grip of God and His protection.
Circumstances will always change in our lives, but if we believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior AND the Lord of our lives we are always in His protective custody, free to talk about Him and live abundant lives of joy unspeakable and full of His glory.
Read, meditate, see how God works and acts in the life of Paul as he lives full throttle, driven by the Holy Spirit. Listen to God speak to you.
Acts 24, The Message
Paul States His Defense
24 1-4 Within five days, the Chief Priest Ananias arrived with a contingent of leaders, along with Tertullus, a trial lawyer. They presented the governor with their case against Paul. When Paul was called before the court, Tertullus spoke for the prosecution: “Most Honorable Felix, we are most grateful in all times and places for your wise and gentle rule. We are much aware that it is because of you and you alone that we enjoy all this peace and gain daily profit from your reforms. I’m not going to tire you out with a long speech. I beg your kind indulgence in listening to me. I’ll be quite brief.
5-8 “We’ve found this man time and again disturbing the peace, stirring up riots against Jews all over the world, the ringleader of a seditious sect called Nazarenes. He’s a real bad apple, I must say. We caught him trying to defile our holy Temple and arrested him. You’ll be able to verify all these accusations when you examine him yourself.”
9 The Jews joined in: “Hear, hear! That’s right!”
10-13 The governor motioned to Paul that it was now his turn. Paul said, “I count myself fortunate to be defending myself before you, Governor, knowing how fair-minded you’ve been in judging us all these years. I’ve been back in the country only twelve days—you can check out these dates easily enough. I came with the express purpose of worshiping in Jerusalem on Pentecost, and I’ve been minding my own business the whole time. Nobody can say they saw me arguing in the Temple or working up a crowd in the streets. Not one of their charges can be backed up with evidence or witnesses.
14-15 “But I do freely admit this: In regard to the Way, which they malign as a dead-end street, I serve and worship the very same God served and worshiped by all our ancestors and embrace everything written in all our Scriptures. And I admit to living in hopeful anticipation that God will raise the dead, both the good and the bad. If that’s my crime, my accusers are just as guilty as I am.
16-19 “Believe me, I do my level best to keep a clear conscience before God and my neighbors in everything I do. I’ve been out of the country for a number of years and now I’m back. While I was away, I took up a collection for the poor and brought that with me, along with offerings for the Temple. It was while making those offerings that they found me quietly at my prayers in the Temple. There was no crowd, there was no disturbance. It was some Jews from around Ephesus who started all this trouble. And you’ll notice they’re not here today. They’re cowards, too cowardly to accuse me in front of you.
20-21 “So ask these others what crime they’ve caught me in. Don’t let them hide behind this smooth-talking Tertullus. The only thing they have on me is that one sentence I shouted out in the council: ‘It’s because I believe in the resurrection that I’ve been hauled into this court!’ Does that sound to you like grounds for a criminal case?”
22-23 Felix shilly-shallied. He knew far more about the Way than he let on, and could have settled the case then and there. But uncertain of his best move politically, he played for time. “When Captain Lysias comes down, I’ll decide your case.” He gave orders to the centurion to keep Paul in custody, but to more or less give him the run of the place and not prevent his friends from helping him.
24-26 A few days later Felix and his wife, Drusilla, who was Jewish, sent for Paul and listened to him talk about a life of believing in Jesus Christ. As Paul continued to insist on right relations with God and his people, about a life of moral discipline and the coming Judgment, Felix felt things getting a little too close for comfort and dismissed him. “That’s enough for today. I’ll call you back when it’s convenient.” At the same time he was secretly hoping that Paul would offer him a substantial bribe. These conversations were repeated frequently.
27 After two years of this, Felix was replaced by Porcius Festus. Still playing up to the Jews and ignoring justice, Felix left Paul in prison.
Something to think about…
–Paul defended his behavior with the Truth. He did not form his defense by tearing down the opposition.
–Tell only what you know to be true.
–When you are working to please God it is hard for others to bring you down…even with lies.
–God protects. God guides and provides.
–Truth wins in the end.
Dear Heavenly Father,
We love how you work in the lives of your disciples then and now. We live in expectation and hope because of You. You are everything to us. Nothing is too hard for You. There is no one else to follow, adore, praise, give glory to, love, cherish, and revere but you. Thank you for your protective custody as we give our lives to You.
In Jesus Name, Amen