June 7 — Acts 23 — Little Things. It is interesting how God used Paul’s young nephew to avoid an ambush of his uncle. He was twice called a “young man” in this chapter (vv. 17, 22). How young was he? My guess is that he was a preteen. He was young enough that when the tribune took him aside, he “took him by the hand” (v. 19). He was also young enough to be considered a “fly on the wall” to those who were plotting to kill Paul, not being noticed as significant (v. 16). Do you sometimes feel like an unimportant part of God’s plan? Too young? Too old? Too uneducated? Too unknown? Well, be assured that God doesn’t need super-significant people to carry out his universal plan. He can and will use “little people” like Paul’s nephew and us.
June 8 — Acts 24 — Flirting with Faith. Antonius Felix, a former slave, was appointed by Emperor Claudius to be governor of Judea, where he served for 7 or 8 years. His wife Drusilla was Jewish (v. 24), which would suggest that he was familiar with Judaism. In addition, we learn that he had “a rather accurate knowledge of the Way” (v. 22), meaning Christianity. After the initial official hearing in Caesarea before the high priest, Felix “sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus” (v. 24). This showed interest but that might have been limited to his desire for bribe money (v. 26). He apparently heard more than he wanted to hear because he “was alarmed” and sent Paul away when he spoke “about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment” (v. 25). Having accurate knowledge of Christ or Christianity is not enough to have one’s life changed; there must also be surrender to Christ in obedience.
June 9 — Acts 25 — Efficient Ignorance. In contrast to Felix who knew a lot about Judaism and Christianity, his replacement, Festus, was quite ignorant about these things. Porcius Festus was a procurator (governor) of Judea for 3-6 years and showed evidence of being very efficient. After only three days in his new position in Caesarea, he traveled 30 miles to Jerusalem (v. 1) to meet with the Jewish leaders, who then accompanied him back to Caesarea to face Paul with their charges. Not delaying, the next day (vv. 6, 17) Festus brought Paul before them. After discovering that King Agrippa was interested in hearing Paul, very efficiently on the next day (v. 22) the meeting was held. Although Festus was well-organized, he was uninformed. He seemed to have barely heard “about a certain Jesus” (v. 19), appeared confused about His resurrection, and admitted that he was “at a loss how to investigate these questions” (v. 20). He was able in some areas but empty in others. There is only a little we can do about adding to our abilities but we can greatly increase our understanding by informing ourselves about the Word of God, as you have been doing.
June 10 — Acts 26 — Feeling the Pressure. King Agrippa was the last in a line of Herod rulers, including his great-grandfather, Herod the Great at the time of the birth of Jesus, and Herod Agrippa, who tried to interrogate Jesus just before His crucifixion. The king in our story for today was Herod Agrippa II and Bernice was his always-together sister. As Paul indicated, this Agrippa was very knowledgeable about the Jews (v. 3) and probably about the controversy surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus. In fact, although Paul spoke to him about the resurrection, he doesn’t even mention Jesus’ death. He does give him the gospel message, however—that people should “turn from darkness to light” (v. 18) in repentance (v. 20) to “receive forgiveness of sins” (v. 18). Listening, Festus felt the pressure and shouted that Paul was out of his mind (v. 24). Agrippa also felt the pressure and mildly reprimanded Paul for trying to persuade him to become a Christian (v. 28). Like Paul, we have been assigned to declare Christ’s message of salvation, whether people turn to God after feeling the pressure or not.
June 11 — Acts 27 — Leadership. Both Julius the centurion and the Apostle Paul showed leadership in this chapter. Julius kindly let Paul visit friends in Sidon, certainly with a military escort (v. 3; see 28:16). Also, just before the shipwreck, he saved Paul from the soldiers’ plan of killing all the prisoners (v. 43). Paul showed leadership as well when he advised those in charge of the ship that it would be disastrous to leave the Fair Havens harbor. The text doesn’t tell us how he knew that but only that he said, “I perceive...” (v. 10). Paul’s next bit of advice, 14 days later, was given much more attention, partly because his previous warning had proved true: “You should have listened to me” (v. 21). The basis for Paul’s next prediction of all aboard being saved came not from perception but from a vision of God’s angel (v. 23). The angel said, “you must stand before Caesar” (v. 24), which was an expansion of what the Lord told him earlier: “You must testify also in Rome” (Acts 23:11). We can be confident about the way we should live our lives and advise others if it is based on what God has said. We learn and remember what God has said by spending time daily in reading, studying, and meditating on the Word of God.