Read Acts 25:1-11
5. Paul’s Defense Before Festus. In the book of Acts Festus (i.e., Governor of Judea) goes from Caesarea to Jerusalem. There the Jewish leaders talked to him about bringing Paul back to Jerusalem to defend against his charges.
They wanted to kill Paul in an ambush. Festus told the Jews to come to Caesarea to deal with the case. They did. Paul declared that he had did nothing wrong and ended up appealing to Caesar, as opposed to going back to Jerusalem.
- The devil’s use of religious people. Notice in vss. 1-3 of this section of the book of Acts that religious people can be so mean. First, we ought to work on adjusting our expectations.
We can wrongfully assume that church/religious people will not seek to harm us. When in reality, just as the devil had religious people trying to kill Paul, the devil can trick people into trying to cause us harm.
Second, we should work on keeping the devil from using us. A great way to stay away from being used by the devil is to prayerfully study and obey God’s word with the support of others disciples. At the core of God’s will is for us to love Him and others, as we love our saved selves. Let’s work on keeping the devil from using us.
- Controlling emotional responses. Notice in vs. 7 of the book of Acts that Paul’s opponents could not prove their accusations. First, we ought to focus on living according to God’s word, which will include avoiding wrong doing.
Therefore, people will not be able to prove our involvement in wrong doing because of our avoidance of such. The devil has been known to lie, but we should live in such a way that no legitimate charge can be laid against us.
Second, the court would not act
without having facts to deal with. We should learn to control emotional
reactions to things we don’t totally understand. As mature Christians, people
watch us for examples on how they are to respond. Let’s work on living blameless lives and avoiding emotional responses
- Civil rights stewardship. Notice in vss. 9-11 of the book of Acts that Paul exercised a stewardship of his civil rights, by appealing to Caesar as a Roman citizen. He really had to be assertive, in light of the leader’s pandering to a special interest group, instead of focusing on justice.
First, it is important for believers to be wise stewards of everything that God has placed in our trust. Among the things that God has placed in our trust are civil rights.
Under civil rights are issues like being informed about issues that citizens are called to vote on and then actually voting. Civil rights in America includes holding politicians accountable for doing what is right.
Second, as in the text, we really need to be assertive with exercising our civil rights, when those in power are not focused on doing right. There are too many who are put in position based on their promise to do right, but when they think no one is looking or no one will stop them, they start pursuing other agendas.
Let’s work on being wise stewards of our civil rights. This application calls for us to be those who vote for the best candidates for offices, vote for issues that are for the good of the community, and communicate with those in authority, when we are concerned about things that appear to be out of order.
Additionally, if the Lord calls or allows us to serve as leaders, we should stay focused on doing the right things for the right reasons, instead of being swayed by high powered special interest groups.Reads Acts 25:12-27 (continued)
In the book of Acts Paul was granted his request to be heard before Caesar, but it would take some time to send him there. In the meantime, King Agrippa and his wife, Bernice, happened by. Festus called Paul to defend himself before Agrippa, so Festus would have something to write as a reason for Paul to be heard before Caesar.
- Seeking wise advice. Notice in vs. 14 of the book of Acts that Festus had enough sense to seek advice. There are too many people who run into problems that they are not familiar with how to handle and instead of seeking advice, they simply move forward, often times right into mistakes.
Proverbs 15:22 teaches God’s people to seek wise counsel. Now, all counsel is not good. Therefore, let’s work on seeking wise counsel/advice. It would be great if parents, seniors, and church leaders were among those who could provide wise counsel.
- Hearing the whole case. Notice in vs. 16 that the accused had a right to face his/her accusers and to defend him/her-self. There are so many problems that would simply disappear, if we lived by these two ideas - face the accusers and allow the accused to defend him/her-self.
Too often, we are too quick to judge a matter and condemn a person, without hearing the other side of the story with both parties present. This can be the case in churches, family relationship, and public opinion about people we hear about in the News.
Let’s work on suspending judgment until we have heard the entire case. Think about how you would want people to hear you out, before they reached a conclusion to condemn you.
- Jesus is alive. Notice in vs. 19 of the book of Actsthat the world saw the conflict between the Jews and Christians as some religious dispute about a dead man named Jesus, who Paul said was alive. On one hand, we cannot expect the world to understand spiritual matters.
The only reason we understand them as much as we do is because of the ministry of the Holy Spirit within us. Therefore, it makes very little sense to take any spiritual matter to an unspiritual authority. Taking a doctrinal matter to a civil court is not the wisest thing to do.
On the other hand, Paul was guilty of talking about Jesus is alive. The world ought to say of Christians, “those Christians really think that Jesus is alive.” Our witness and our lives should point to Jesus being alive. Such living should be known for obedience and assurance in the midst of what seems to be uncertain times. Let’s work on living like those who believe that Jesus is alive.
- Not wasting the leader’s time. Notice in vs. 27 in the book of Acts that Festus had enough sense to not waste his superior’s time with issues that didn’t require their attention. This is a great habit for believers to adopt.
Before we talk to those who have rule over us - family, church, job, or community - we should have something worthy of their time and energy.
Every time we stop our leaders from doing what they were selected to do and call them to focus on the matters that we bring to their attention, it needs to be important enough to merit the leader’s turning from his/her leadership duties to hear us. Let’s work on calling on the leaders for only important matters.
Conclusion: Let’s work on being witnesses for the Lord, everywhere we go. God has much for those who obey His will.
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