Today we are reading Acts 26. In this chapter we read about Paul’s testimony before Agrippa. “And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.” But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words. For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.” And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.”” Acts‬ ‭26‬:‭24‬-‭29‬ ‭ESV‬‬ So, Paul is speaking to a room full of people—Jews who want to kill him and political leaders who have the authority to do so. He freely speaks the truth to them in a very eloquent way. Here we are nearly 2,000 years later and we can read the words he spoke! How will your words be remembered? May the Holy Spirit give you the courage and eloquence of Paul. Pastor Tim

Today we are reading Acts 25. In this chapter we read about Paul avoiding the miscarriage of justice by the Jews by appealing to Rome. ”Paul argued in his defense, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense.” But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, “Do you wish to go up to Jerusalem and there be tried on these charges before me?” But Paul said, “I am standing before Caesar’s tribunal, where I ought to be tried. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you yourself know very well. If then I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death. But if there is nothing to their charges against me, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar.” Then Festus, when he had conferred with his council, answered, “To Caesar you have appealed; to Caesar you shall go.”“
‭‭Acts‬ ‭25‬:‭8‬-‭12‬ ‭ESV‬‬ Paul was innocent but the Jews wanted to kill him. The devil was trying to eliminate the greatest missionary ever. How has the devil opposed your service to Jesus? How can you defend yourself? How can you keep your focus? May God bless you as you proclaim His love and mercy in Jesus. Pastor Tim

Today we are reading Acts 24. In this chapter we read about Paul on trial before Governor Felix and the Jewish High Priest. ”But Felix, having a rather accurate knowledge of the Way, put them off, saying, “When Lysias the tribune comes down, I will decide your case.” Then he gave orders to the centurion that he should be kept in custody but have some liberty, and that none of his friends should be prevented from attending to his needs. After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.” At the same time he hoped that money would be given him by Paul. So he sent for him often and conversed with him. When two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison.“ Acts‬ ‭24‬:‭22‬-‭27‬ ‭ESV‬‬ I heard something recently about opposition to our faith. “The opposition is spiritual and so is our mission. The opposition is demonic. We, on the other hand, are led, guided, empowered and comforted by the Holy Spirit. When have you experienced demonic opposition? How did you respond? May bless you and keep you. Pastor Tim

Today we are reading Acts 23. In this chapter we read about the plot against Paul in Jerusalem. ”When it was day, the Jews made a plot and bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. There were more than forty who made this conspiracy. They went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have strictly bound ourselves by an oath to taste no food till we have killed Paul. Now therefore you, along with the council, give notice to the tribune to bring him down to you, as though you were going to determine his case more exactly. And we are ready to kill him before he comes near.”“ Acts‬ ‭23‬:‭12‬-‭15‬ ‭ESV‬‬ This story stands out to me. The extreme hatred that the Jews had toward Paul inspires them to commit murder. 40 of them promise they would not eat or drink anything until they did just that. How long do you think they lasted? They never did kill Paul. Hate is ridiculously foolish. God calls us to love our neighbor and pray for those who persecute us. Who are you tempted to hate? May God give you a merciful heart. Pastor Tim

Today we are reading Acts 22. In this chapter we read about Paul speaking to the crowds that had beaten him. ”Up to this word they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live.” And as they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, the tribune ordered him to be brought into the barracks, saying that he should be examined by flogging, to find out why they were shouting against him like this. But when they had stretched him out for the whips, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, “Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?” When the centurion heard this, he went to the tribune and said to him, “What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman citizen.” So the tribune came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?” And he said, “Yes.” The tribune answered, “I bought this citizenship for a large sum.” Paul said, “But I am a citizen by birth.” So those who were about to examine him withdrew from him immediately, and the tribune also was afraid, for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him.“ Acts‬ ‭22‬:‭22‬-‭29‬ ‭ESV‬‬ The turmoil surrounding Paul is something that used to be incomprehensible to us. Now the violent lawless mobs coached and directed by professional agitators are common worldwide. The source of evil is demonic whether it happens today or 2,000 years ago. What we must decide is how we will respond. Speak the truth in love. Love your neighbor as yourself. Be confident that God sees and hears everything. There will be a day when every knee will bow. Be remembered for your profound love and not for a violent or hateful response. Pastor Tim

Today we are reading Acts 21. In this chapter we read about Paul’s arrival in Jerusalem. ”When we had come to Jerusalem, the brothers received us gladly. On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed. They are all zealous for the law, and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs. What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. Do therefore what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; take these men and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses, so that they may shave their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself also live in observance of the law. But as for the Gentiles who have believed, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality.” Then Paul took the men, and the next day he purified himself along with them and went into the temple, giving notice when the days of purification would be fulfilled and the offering presented for each one of them.“ Acts‬ ‭21‬:‭17‬-‭26‬ ‭ESV‬‬ When Paul arrived in Jerusalem he did everything in an open and forthright way. Did it make a difference? Those who hated him still reacted violently to his presence. Was the Gospel proclaimed in spite of the turmoil? Was God’s purpose ultimately accomplished? When you encounter opposition, is God glorified? Pastor Tim

Today we are reading Acts 20. In this chapter we read about Paul returning from his Third Missionary Journey. ”And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.“ ‭‭Acts‬ ‭20‬:‭22‬-‭28‬ ‭ESV‬‬ As Paul gets closer to Jerusalem he is repeatedly warned about impending danger that waits for him. Does he turn away to avoid danger? No. He is constrained by the Holy Spirit to go to Jerusalem. Have you ever turned away from a difficult situation? If God calls you to it He will see you through it. Pastor Tim

Today we are reading Acts 19. In this chapter we read about Paul on his Third Missionary Journey. ”About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen. These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.”“ ‭‭Acts‬ ‭19‬:‭23‬-‭27‬ ‭ESV‬‬ When you read this passage it seems utterly amazing. “Gods made with hands are not gods.” How can anyone make a god? You can make a toy or a useful object. However, you cannot make anything that is supernatural. You cannot make anything that can hear your prayers or satisfy your soul. Only the one true God can do that! Why did Demetrius oppose Paul? Money. The devil used money to stir up opposition to the Gospel. He still uses that today. How do you protect yourself from this strategy of the devil? May God help you to truly trust in Him. Pastor Tim

Today we are reading Acts 18. In this chapter we read about Apollos in Ephesus. ”Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.“ Acts‬ ‭18‬:‭24‬-‭28‬ ‭ESV‬‬ Ephesus was an important hub of early Christian activity. Many notable people spent time there. Apollos came from the Jewish community in Alexandria, Egypt. He used his considerable training and talents to preach the Gospel. What are your training and talents? Have you shared the Gospel? What can you do today to share your faith? How have you taken your faith with you as you have traveled from where you grew up? Pastor Tim

Today we are reading Acts 17. In this chapter we read about Paul in Athens. ”Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new. So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.“ Acts‬ ‭17‬:‭16‬-‭23‬ ‭ESV‬‬ Paul is traveling with companions. He has gone on ahead and now he is waiting for them. In the meantime, he observes his surroundings and begins to speak with the locals. What does he talk about? Naturally, he talks about Jesus! Do you share your faith when you travel? May you view every trip as a mission trip! Pastor Tim