Acts #19: Waiting

WaitingFarmerPaintPastor Barry/ The Gathering Church  Acts #19: Waiting  To hear this message and others download our free app @ the App Store.  Search The Gathering Connect.

Truth on Trial Acts 24:1-27, 1 John 3:20-21, Galatians 6:8-10, Romans 8:28

Famous literary icon, Mark Twain once said: “If you tell the truth you don’t have to  remember anything”, and it was Jesus who said “The truth will set you free” (John 8:32). We can clearly see these truths in action as we look at Paul’s trials before Governor Felix, Governor Festus and King Agrippa.

Ananias, the high priest of the Jews secured a lawyer named Tertullus to bring false charges against Paul.  After some of the usual “rose throwing” politics, Tertullus brought his carefully planned lies before the governor.  Paul was labeled a “troublemaker”, a “ringleader of a sect” and one who stirred up riots and attempted to desecrate the temple.  The Lawyer urged Felix to examine Paul to discover the truth himself which sounded quite noble, but the lawyer was a liar as some certainly are, and had carefully mixed the truth with lies in order to accomplish his clients end result.  To get rid of Paul!

If this sounds like a page ripped out of today’s newspaper it is because man hasn’t changed much over the ages.  We can’t change man but we can always work on ourselves.  That is to practice the truth (1 John 3:20-21).  Paul said “I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man” (Acts 24:16).  We must also.  

Paul told the truth  about why he came to Jerusalem: “to bring my people gifts for the poor” (he came to bring both the monetary gifts he had collected from the churches and the gospel) and to present offerings of thanks to God.  Felix adjourned the proceedings without passing judgment with the promise that he would do so later.  He kept Paul in custody but gave him some freedom as he waited.  Several days later Felix brought his wife and they both listened to Paul talk about Jesus.  The conviction prompted Felix to postpone the talk until later.  Felix secretly hoped that Paul would give him a bribe to  release him from custody but that never happened because Paul practiced truth. Although Paul could have offered a bribe and even lied about being a follower of “the Way” to get himself free, he chose to honor God and live truthfully.  When we live in the truth God uses us for His workWhen we lie we cannot accomplish God’s will. Although Paul was kept in custody for two years (for the Jews political appeasement)  he was given the freedom to permit his friends to care for his needs.  God used this time for Paul to have frequent conversations with Felix and whoever would accompany him. This was the way in which God took the gospel even into the courts of world leaders.  Do not grow weary in well doing (Galatians 6:8-10) .  Keep practicing the truth and look for ministry in the midst of waiting.  God had a plan for Paul and He has one for you too: Romans 8:28 

Crazy Acts 25:1-26, 1 Peter 3:15-16, Psalm 14:1-5, Romans 1:20-22

Felix was succeeded by Festus and therefore was handed Paul’s case.  The Jews tried to trick the new leader into transferring Paul to Jerusalem to stand  trial.  They had planned to ambush and kill him on his way there, but God had other plans.  Once again Paul used his rights as a Roman citizen.  He rejected to go up to Jerusalem and stand trail and appealed to Caesar (the highest court).  In doing this Paul escaped the Jewish mob and legally bound Festus to send Paul to Rome to be tried.  Wanting to make himself look good before sending Paul to the high court, Festus talked King Agrippa (who reigned over the territories outside of Judea) into hearing Paul’s defense. It would look better for a King to send Paul on his way than a governor.

With permission from King Agrippa Paul made his defense.  He told the King his testimony of how he persecuted Christians, forcing them to blaspheme and even hunting them down in foreign cities (Acts 26:10-11).  He also told the king about his encounter with Jesus (Acts 26:12-19) and how his life was now about being true to his vision.  He informed the king that he told people to repent and turn to God and that is why the Jews sought to kill him.  At last he told the king that the Jewish prophets foretold that the Messiah (Jesus) would rise from the dead and bring the message to His own people and then to the Gentiles. 

At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense before the king by calling him “crazy” (Acts 26:24) but Paul corrected Festus and said: “What I am saying is true and reasonable”.  Biblical Apologetics is the science and art of answering people like Festus by using reasons and evidence. Every Christian should be able to make a defense for what he/she believes (1 Peter 3:15-16).  Paul countered Festus with the fulfillment of prophecy which King Agrippa was aware of.  In fact Paul said it well: “None of this” has escaped the notice of any thoughtful person because “it was not done in a corner”.  God has made Himself heard so that man is without excuse (Romans 1:20-22).  Biblical Prophecy is still one of the greatest proofs that we Christians are not crazy (followed by creation, recorded history, archaeology, and ages of testimonials from every nation and peoples)!  It is the fool that says in his heart there is no God (Psalm 14:1-5). “God is present in the company of the righteous.”  

Waiting Acts 26:27-32, Psalm 27:14

King Agrippa ask Paul if he thought that he could persuade him to become a Christian.  That is in fact why God had placed Paul where he was.  Paul was not just “waiting” to go to Rome— where God told him that he would go to testify (Acts 23:11).  Paul was doing ministry as an apologist.  Yes, he was in custody, he was in chains and he was falsely accused. Paul had many reasons to be downcast and depressed while he was waiting, but he kept busy in ministry. He wrote letters to the churches he began (which are forever bound in our new testament today), He encouraged church leaders and Christians who visited him, he presented the gospel to governing rulers and their entourage and he fulfilled the call of Christ to be His “witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8b).  As Paul moved ever so slowly to Rome, in his “waiting” the gospel was brought from the Jewish capital of Jerusalem in the east to the Gentile capital of the world in Rome in the west.

Be encouraged as you wait for that something that your heart is aching for.  Continue in faith “be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord (Psalm 27:14).”  Don’t grow weary in well doing” but continue to practice the truth, there is ministry to do in your waiting…   Perhaps, like Paul, through your waiting will come the greatest ministry of your lifetime!

 

 

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