Still Unfinished…

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March 27, 2022

  • Daily Devotional

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    DAY 1 – Acts 25 Phase Five

    Things will proceed quickly for the next two chapters. There is a new governor whose name is Festus. He inherits the problem of Paul. The Jewish leadership from Jerusalem make a trip (2 years have gone by!) to seek a favorable response from the new governor, so Paul will be executed.

    Be sure to notice the number of ways Luke reports the innocence of Paul (25:7).

    Festus offers to send Paul to Jerusalem to stand trial. Paul knows his survival will be doubtful if that happens. He appeals to his right as a Roman citizen to stand trial in Rome before Caesar’s court (25:10-12).

    The decision is made that Paul will go to Rome, which is exactly where Paul wants to be. Now, the Roman Empire itself will be responsible to get Paul to his desired outcome—to preach the gospel in the city of Rome!

    Before that happens, the Jewish King, Agrippa, arrives to meet Festus. Festus explains the situation with Paul and Agrippa wants to meet Paul (25:12-27).

    Again, see how many times Luke reports that no one is finding Paul guilty. He is innocent of criminal wrongdoing. He has done nothing (technically) that is illegal. However, Paul knows Jesus is Lord and, in a comical way, Paul is going to be very subversive of Caesar and Rome.

    Be sure to notice how wise and careful Paul has been as he works through his situation with the political powers. Remember, after the gospels, the entire New Testament is a time of the Church advancing in a military empire, led by emperors. It was a dictatorship, not a democracy. The Church did not have any political power. The Church did not grow because they got involved in politics, they grew in spite of the political system. Paul is a master at navigating these challenges.

    DAY 2 – Acts 26 Phase Six

    This is the final phase of Paul’s trial. Now he speaks before the Jewish king, Agrippa. Again, be sure to notice how wisely and carefully Paul is speaking. He is not antagonistic. He will get Agrippa on his side, or at least sympathetic to his situation.

    Be sure to read Acts 9:15-16. Paul is right in the center of God’s will.

    This is the final time Paul gives his Damascus Road testimony (26:4-23). He preaches Jesus the Nazarene (using language that Agrippa would understand). Notice Paul describes his mission to the Gentiles (26:16-23). This is remarkable. Paul is casting a vision for a Gentile mission to the Jewish king. The Gentiles are included in God’s plan for the world. Paul declares his message is rooted in all the Old Testament.

    Festus is incredulous and interrupts Paul. Paul appeals to Agrippa, both rationally and spiritually (26:24-27).

    And the last exchange of Paul and Agrippa is fascinating. Paul is giving it his best shot to lead Agrippa to the Christian faith in Christ (26:27-29).

    Again, notice the strong statement that Paul is innocent, from the king and the governor (26:30-31).

    The conclusion is that Paul has appealed to Caesar. To Caesar (in Rome) Paul will go!

    Remember, Luke wrote a gospel first. In the gospel he told the story of Jesus tried by the Jewish leadership, King Herod, and finally Pontius Pilate, the governor. There are similarities with Paul on these trials, only with this difference: Paul will take the message of Christ crucified to the seat of Roman power, to those who ordered him crucified. Jesus is the true Lord.

    DAY 3 – Acts 27:1–28:16

    This is the long and dangerous trip by sea to Rome. Paul has many adventures (and dangers) on this trip. He could have died many times on this voyage. He is a testimony to God’s sovereign plan.

    There are several themes that the first-century readers would have understood. The sea was the place of danger and chaos. Storms were fierce and sailing perilous. There are several storms that Paul endures. Paul takes a leadership role on the entire journey. He is seen as having the protection of God upon him.

    They endure a shipwreck (27:27-44). You will see how a centurion makes sure Paul stays alive.

    In chapter 28 they discover they are on the island of Malta and Paul is spared from a deadly snake. Paul continues to do ministry through the entire trip.

    By verse 14, Paul and the crew have made it to Italy and then up to Rome. Paul has arrived at his most desired destination.

    Many months have gone by on this trip to Rome. Many dangers have come Paul’s way. It has been hard. There has been much suffering. But God is sovereign. God has a plan for Paul to speak before the rulers of the age. Paul trusts in the plan and protection of God.

    DAY 4 – Acts 28:11-31

    Acts chapter one opened with Jesus teaching about the kingdom of God for 40 days. It finishes with Paul talking about the kingdom of God for 2 years. The irony is that Paul talks about the Lord Jesus in the power center of the Roman Empire. Paul does this while protected by Rome, as he awaits his trial before Caesar.

    Rome was the city that received his great letter, Romans. In that letter, Paul builds a profound biblically grounded case that God is not yet done with the Jewish people. In Jerusalem, Paul had to deal with Jews who didn’t want Gentiles included in God’s plan for the nations. In Rome, Paul has to make sure the Gentiles know they have not replaced Israel. God is creating a new people out of both groups.

    As is his pattern, Paul reasons with the Jews in the synagogue who have some interest and openness to him, while others will not believe. As the Jews debate, Paul speaks words of judgment against any who have hard hearts and reminds them that God loves the Gentiles as well.

    Luke has accomplished his purpose. Acts 1:8 has been realized. First Jerusalem, then Judea, next Samaria, and then on to the ends of the earth. Rome, so distant from Jerusalem, represents the ends of the earth. By the way, Paul knows the land continues westward and north. He wants to go still further. But for Luke, the mission is accomplished.

    Do you remember the six main themes of the Book of Acts? We need to add one more theme—the Kingdom of God.

    The CHURCH of JESUS is empowered by the SPIRIT of God, shaped by the WORD of God, and sent by God on a MISSION to the WORLD that is loved by God, so the KINGDOM OF GOD may come on earth as it is in heaven.

    This is what every church of Jesus must be committed to. This is what every follower of Jesus must be a part of.

    DAY 5 – After Acts: Unfinished and Unstoppable

    You started your devotional study and reading 2 months ago. You have worked your way through one of the major books of the New Testament. We hope you understand this book better than ever.

    The Church has had powerful obstacles and enemies, but they could not stop the mission of God to redeem the world.

    The Church has had amazing leadership, but by themselves, these men and women are not the reason the Church has grown.

    The Church has grown because it is the Church. The Church is the people of God who love Jesus, study the Word, are full of the Spirit, and engage the World.
    A growing church grows because of the PEOPLE in the church.

    Living Word is the church we are because of people like you. Your love for Jesus, your commitment to Living Word, your own life of prayer and study, your own desire to make a difference in our community, your generosity, and so much more are the reasons why Living Word is the church it is.

    The work is still unfinished! In the 21st century, especially in western culture, the Church is struggling. Other places in the world, the Church is growing like crazy. In our place and time, it is much harder.

    But God is the same God. The Word is the same Word. The Spirit is the same Spirit. The Mission is the same Mission, even when we have to find new creative ways to “do mission.” The Church is just as central to the plans of God as ever. Leaders are still needed. A faithful people are needed even more.

    God’s plan is still unstoppable. Like every chapter in Acts, we must trust in God, remain faithful, and be willing to carry our cross while living in the hope of the resurrection.

    Jesus is STILL the LORD JESUS CHRIST. To him be the glory forever and ever.


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