Power That Gives Us Hope

22 But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. 23 Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me 24 and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’   Acts 27:22-24

 

If you haven’t made it to worship at 11 am yet, I want to encourage you to attend via facebook or through the website.  The account of Paul prior to the shipwreck of the Alexandrian ship is amazing.  You will find a 6-minute audio version of Acts 27 that I hope will stir you enough to read more!  By the time you read this, I will have read through Acts 23-28.  The text is challenging, amusing, intriguing and exciting.
 
I have read the scriptures my whole life and still when I come across passages like this, I wonder, “How did I miss this ‘good stuff’ before”.  I have determined that with age and experience, the scriptures become more and more alive to me.  I am especially grateful in this tumultuous season of our lives that the scripture and all the reading and studying we can do is at our fingertips.  The talented and bright minds of scholars and archaeologists have taken so many of the questions out of reading the scriptures.  I took a look at Right Now Media (go to casonumc.org and sign up if you haven’t already) and am intrigued by two of the studies in Acts.  Let me know if you would like to have a study in Acts beginning mid-August for several weeks.  For now, I have excerpted a time line from A Calvary Chapel Pastor, Chuck Smith’s Blue Letter Bible blog that I think will be a tease that I hope will cause you to open to Acts 26-27 (Good Stuff!).
 

Pastor Smith begins with this background:

Paul was rescued by Lysias, the captain of the Roman guard from the mob that was attempting to beat him to death in Jerusalem on the temple mount.  He was taken into protective custody by the Roman government and sent under special guard to Caesarea for his protection, where he appeared before the governor Felix who held Paul a prisoner for two years, more or less, as a political pawn.  When Festus became the governor in Felix’s place, who had been replaced by the Roman Empire because of his corruption, Festus served Paul’s case and began to give Paul the run-around saying, “Are you willing to go to Jerusalem and answer these charges?”  Paul said, “I appeal to Caesar.”  Being a Roman citizen, Festus was obliged to send him to Caesar, but he had a problem.  The problem was this: he could not really send him to Caesar without legitimate charges being made against him, and there were no legitimate charges.  And so, he explained his problem to Herod Agrippa who came to pay a courtesy visit, and Herod Agrippa said, “Well, I will hear his case.”  The whole idea now of Herod Agrippa hearing Paul’s case is that there might be made formal charges to send with Paul as he made his appeal unto Caesar.

 

And so, as we get into Chapter 26, we find that Herod Agrippa, who is the great-grandson of Herod the Great, who ordered the murder of the children at the time of the birth of Christ, who was the grand-nephew of Herod Antipas, who had ordered the death of John the Baptist, the son of Herod Agrippa I, who had put James to death and had imprisoned Peter. Herod Agrippa II, and Paul is now standing before him there in Caesarea to declare his cause, and the idea is that they might formulate charges against him to send with him as he goes to Rome.

 

Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You are permitted to speak for yourself.”  Then Paul stretched forth his hand and answered for himself.  Now, we usually see portrayed in the Roman court are, “Friends, countrymen,” you know, and you usually see them with a wave of the hand.  And evidently, Paul had probably picked up this Roman custom.  So now, appearing before Agrippa, Paul said, “I count it a privilege, Agrippa.”  So he stretched forth his hand to answer for himself.  He said, I am really happy, King Agrippa, to be able to explain to you today the things that I’m accused of by the Jews: Especially because I know that you are an expert in all of the customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to listen to me patiently.

 

And so it was true that Herod Agrippa had become a real student of Jewish law and of Jewish custom, and he was noted for his vast understanding of the Jewish religion.
 
Friends, the richness of the scriptures will continue to change your life.  My prayer is that you will read and be encouraged by the words of Luke in the Acts of the Apostles.  Let’s plan to begin to study this marvelous book in weeks to come. 
 

Joy, joy from your pastor who loves you and loves serving God at Cason!


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