Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Felix (Acts 24)

Towards the end of Acts 23 we’re introduced to a Roman procurator by the name of Felix. Acts 24 gives us a more in depth look at this man and his character. Here are some surface level facts we learn about him from Acts 24:

Surface Level Observations:

- A Roman Governor (over the region of Caesarea). Verse 1b, They brought their charges against Paul before the governor.

- Able to keep peace in his designated area. Verses 2b-3a, "We have enjoyed a long period of peace under you, and your foresight has brought about reforms in this nation. Everywhere and in every way, most excellent Felix.”

- Familiar with Christianity. Verse 22, Then Felix, who was well acquainted with the Way.

- A judge in charge of Paul’s fate. Verse 22b, "I will decide your case."

- Lenient on Paul. Verse 23, He ordered the centurion to keep Paul under guard but to give him some freedom and permit his friends to take care of his needs.

- Married. Verse 24, Later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess.

- Curious about Paul’s beliefs. Verse 24, He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus.

- Fearful of what Paul said. Verse 25, As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, "That's enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you."

- Could be bribed. Verse 26, At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently and talked with him.

- A Jewish people pleaser. Verse 27, but because Felix wanted to grant a favor to the Jews, he left Paul in prison.

These are just general observations. Next week, with your help, I want to go sub-surface into Felix’s character. So, I challenge you to read Acts 24 several times and deduct for yourself a character sketch of Felix. We’ll compare our findings next week.

*Also, I’ll be posting your findings into my blog next week. So, be sure to leave a comment sometime this week with what you find out about Felix.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Loving the Law (Acts 23)

Read Acts 23:12-22

In Acts 23 Paul once again finds himself amidst trouble. Listen as Luke describes a secret plan devised by some of Paul’s accusers,

When it was day, the Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves under an oath, saying that they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul. There were more than forty who formed this plot.

For Paul, the outlook is grim. This is a sobering situation. The Jews moved from trying to publicly remove Paul to secretly conspiring to kill him. The word oath that’s used here is the Greek word anathematizo, meaning to bind by a curse. This tells us just how serious theses Jews were about killing Paul. To make matters worse, they pulled the chief priests and elders into their devilish plan (v.14-15). The chief priests and elders were supposed to be the spiritual leaders of their day. But, now we find them conspiring and agreeing to break one of God’s Ten Commandments.

You shall not murder.

The Law was the very thing they were so adamantly trying to protect and uphold. Paul was seized and almost beaten to death by them for supposedly preaching against the Law. Luke writes in Acts 21:27-28a,

The Jews from Asia, upon seeing him in the temple, began to stir up all the crowd and laid hands on him, crying out, “Men of Israel, come to our aid! This is the man who preaches to all me everywhere against our people and the Law and this place.”

In Acts 23 we find them about to break the very thing they were so intent on protecting. The Law makes it very clear that murder is a sin, but now it’s all of a sudden ok. Seems there is a double standard here.

Sometimes I find myself loving God’s commandments more than God Himself. I find myself acting like the forty Jews. Striving to protect His commandments, but at the same time eager to break them to satisfy my desires. The truth is that it’s really a matter of the heart. The Jews who were persecuting Paul didn’t have their hearts in the right place (or Person). Even the Old Testament tells us that we should love God with all our heart, soul and might (Deut 6:5). They loved the Law like they should have loved God and when they placed their hearts in it; they couldn’t love God which meant they couldn’t really love others. The Law became an end for them. Jesus said,

If you love me you will keep my commands.

It’s interesting to note that our obedience to God starts with loving Jesus. So, we see in this verse that the Jews didn’t really love God, because they were about to break His commands. Had their love been for God, rather than the Law, things would have been different and Paul would have had forty new disciples. Instead he had forty men who loved the Law.

Here are some questions for you to think about pertaining to this:
- Why do you think the Jews (who were very zealous about the Law) were so willing to break the Law by murdering Paul?
- How would they have been able to justify themselves before God if they were able to follow through with murdering Paul? Could they justify themselves?
- Do you think it’s possible to be in love with God’s commandments (the Law) more than Him?
- What are the dangers in loving His commandments more than Him?
- Are there any dangers?
- What would a person’s life look like if he/she loved God’s commandments more than God?

Thursday, July 13, 2006


I'm going on vacation! The wife and I are going to St. Louis for the weekend. A city we have both been by, but never in. We'll be exploring it a little. Here's a little of what we plan to do:

1. Relax
2. See and go up in the Arch
3. Take a river boat cruise and listen to live jazz music.
4. Visit the zoo.
5. Check out the Historical Museum.
6. Do some more relaxing.

We're both very excited and have been looking forward to this for a while! The last time we vacationed alone was April 2005 (our honeymoon). I can't wait to have some time alone with my wife! Our jobs have kept us both very busy all day and sometimes even on the weekend. It's been a real struggle balancing work/personal time/time with wife/etc. I guess that's life though. So, hopefullly a little time off will help me keep things in perspective.

*I'll be back next week with an article over Acts 22 and/or 23.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

I don't want to hear it! (Acts 22)

In Acts 22 we find Paul on the defensive against the Jews. Once again the Jews have incited the crowds against Paul. Their problem? They say Paul is teaching against their people, their law, and that he brought a Gentile into the temple (see Acts 21:28-29). So, Paul addresses them and tells them his testimony. He starts (v.3) with himself and where’s he’s from,

“I am a Jew born in Tarsus of Cilicia.”

Then he backtracks to what his life and thoughts were before encountering Christ,

“I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, as also the high priest and all the Council can testify. I even obtained letters from them to their brothers in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.”

He definitely had a passion for persecuting Christ’s followers. After this he talks about his Damascus Road experience (see Acts 9) and the change it brought in his life. Towards the end of his talk Paul begins telling the crowd about God’s plan for him (v.18-21). This is where things heat up. After Paul tells them that God has specifically sent him to the Gentiles, the crowd goes nuts (v.22-23). If you listen as you read this passage you can hear them yelling and screaming at Paul, “I don’t want to hear it!”

As soon as Paul talks about the Gentiles (and God’s plan for them) they get upset. I’m curious if we still act like that today. What do you think? Do you really believe the Gospel is for everyone? I think we have to keep a close watch on ourselves, because the media (and I’m talking conservative media) will lead us to think that some people aren’t worthy of the Gospel. Sometimes we (I’m guilty of this too!) tend to think that because someone is a Conservative Republican their every word and action are going to be Christian. But, that’s not always true! I’ve heard some call terrorists the most evil group of people on the face of the earth. Do you believe that? Aren’t we all born with a sinful nature that makes it easy for us to choose evil and be selfish? Labeling others as the most evil people on the face of the earth can change our view of them.

I just think we need to be careful with how we think of others. If not, we may end up like the Jews persecuting Paul, hands over ears and screaming, “I don’t want to hear it!” Maybe we need to read John 3:16 again to grasp who it is God loves.

- Your thoughts?
- How do you view and think of people outside our country?
- How should a Christian view others?