Not Disobedient

Friday, June 21, 2013, 6:00 a.m. – the Lord Jesus woke me with the song “Come and See” playing in my mind. Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Acts 25-26 (NIV):;

Compelled by the Spirit

Paul was compelled by the Spirit of God to go to Jerusalem, not knowing what would happen to him there. He said, “I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace” (See Acts 20). Amen! Praise Jesus!

So, Paul went to Jerusalem. Some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple, so they stirred up a crowd against him. They dragged him from the temple, and they tried to kill him. Then, he was arrested and was bound with chains (See Acts 21).

On his way to the barracks he asked permission to speak. With permission he then addressed the crowd. He shared with them his testimony concerning how he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, and of Jesus’ calling upon his life. Paul told them the Lord Jesus had told him the Jews in Jerusalem would not accept his testimony about Christ, so he was to leave Jerusalem and to go far away to the Gentiles. Then the crowd raised their voices against him. “Rid the earth of him! He’s not fit to live!” they shouted (See Acts 22).

Paul was brought before the Sanhedrin. Paul said to them, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” That meeting ended in an argument between the Pharisees and the Sadducees concerning the resurrection of the dead. The following night the Lord Jesus spoke to Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” Then, there was a conspiracy to form a lynch mob and to set Paul up to be killed. Paul’s nephew overheard the plot, he told Paul, and Paul told him to go and tell the commander, who then transferred Paul to Caesarea (See Acts 23).

Paul then appeared before Governor Felix. The high priest Ananias and some elders brought their charges against Paul. Paul was given the opportunity to speak in his own defense. So, Paul refuted the charges, based upon his public activities in Jerusalem, which could be verified. He said, “And they cannot prove to you the charges they are now making against me.” And, then Paul shared his testimony of his faith in Jesus Christ. He said, “I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man” (See Acts 24).

Felix listened to Paul to a point, and then he adjourned the proceedings. “He ordered the centurion to keep Paul under guard but to give him some freedom and permit his friends to take care of his needs.” Felix, hoping Paul would offer him a bribe, sent for Paul frequently and listened to him and talked with him. This happened over the course of two years. Paul spoke about his faith in Jesus Christ, and about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come (See Acts 24).

Two years passed, and then Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. Paul then appeared before Festus. The Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many serious charges against him, which they could not prove. Paul then made his defense before Festus. “Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, ‘Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and stand trial before me there on these charges?’” Paul, knowing this was a trap to kill him, appealed to Caesar, so Festus said that to Caesar Paul would go (See Acts 25).

A few days later King Agrippa arrived in Caesarea, along with his wife Bernice. Festus discussed Paul’s case with the king, so King Agrippa said he would like to hear Paul. So, the next day Paul appeared before the king, his wife, high-ranking military officers and the prominent men of the city. King Agrippa gave Paul permission to speak (See Acts 26).

Paul’s Testimony

Paul told the king that it was because of his hope in what God had promised the ancestors of the Jewish people, namely their promised Messiah, fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ, that he was standing before him on trial. And, then he told him how he, too, at one time was convinced that he should do everything possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Paul said, “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. 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.”

And, then Paul shared with the king how, on one of his journeys when he was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests, Jesus met him via a light from heaven and asked him why he persecuted him. Then Jesus gave him his commission:

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. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 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.’

Paul then said, “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. 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. That is why some Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. 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— 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.”

Festus interrupted Paul’s defense, accusing him of being out of his mind (crazy; loony). Jesus Christ was also accused of being crazy, in fact by his own family members, who went to take charge of him, so Paul was in good company. King Agrippa told Paul that his great learning was driving him insane. Yet, Paul did not succumb to this charge. He refuted the accusation strongly, stating that what he was saying to the king was true and reasonable (not insane). He asked the king, “Do you believe the prophets? I know you do.”
“Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?’ 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.’”

Encouragement to Me

What I take away from this is that I should see every interruption, every change in my life’s circumstances, every difficult circumstance and/or persecution and rejection as an opportunity for the advancement of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Rather than getting upset over any difficult situations in my life, I should pray, asking the Lord Jesus to reveal to me how I can demonstrate his love, grace, and mercy, and how I can share his gospel in spite of or because of whatever I am going through. Because of what Paul went through, the gospel of Jesus Christ was advanced, and many people came to know Christ as Savior.

Come and See / An Original Work / May 20, 2013

Based off John 1:35-51

John, the Baptist, called of God to
Make straight the way for the Lord,
Told his disciples about Jesus,
So two of them followed Him.

One of them who followed Jesus
Told his brother, Simon Peter,
Who then he brought to the Savior,
Who had told them, “Come and see.”

Jesus Christ, our Lord, Messiah,
On his way to Galilee found a man, Philip,
So he told him, “I want you to follow Me.”

Philip then found his friend,
And he told him, “We have found the one
The prophets spoke of – He is Jesus!”
Philip then said, “Come and see.”

Jesus saw the man, Nathanael,
While he sat beneath a fig tree,
Even before Philip called him,
So Nathanael did believe.

Nonetheless the Lord said,
“You believe because of what I told you.
You will see much greater things than these
If you will Come and see.”

Jesus’ calling to each one of us.
He tells us to believe in Him
As our Lord and Messiah,
And to follow where He leads.

He says we must turn from our sins,
Die to sin and self each day,
And put on our new lives in Jesus;
Bow before Him; humbly pray.
Thought: the Lord Jesus was 'obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross' (Philippians 2).

'Thus found in fashion as a man,
All blameless, spotless, pure,
He was obedient unto death,
Sin's judgment to endure.'