Sunday, April 28, 2013

From Acts to Revelation Part 72 – Festus Takes Paul to King Agrippa

From Acts to Revelation
Part 72  – Festus Takes Paul to King Agrippa
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | |

Last week we took a side step from the series to speak about a time and purpose, a season for our lives, and how Paul had many seasons in his, as we do in ours.

This week we are returning to Paul in his travels, as he Festus took the Governors seat, replacing Felix, after Paul being in prison for two years.

The chief priests and elders of the Jews confronting Festus upon his arrival in Jerusalem, wanting Paul's death, Festus calls for another hearing, where Paul refuses to return with the Jews, and asks for his case to be heard by Caesar, which is his right as a Roman citizen.

Today, we will read about Festus taking Paul to King Agrippa, in hopes of sorting this issue out. As of now, Festus is at a loss as to what he is to charge Paul with, or what he will send to Rome as charges to Caesar with Paul. Festus hopes King Agrippa may clear things up for him.

Acts 25:13-27
13 A few days later King Agrippa and Bernice arrived at Caesarea to pay their respects to Festus.14 Since they were spending many days there, Festus discussed Paul’s case with the king. He said: “There is a man here whom Felix left as a prisoner. 15 When I went to Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews brought charges against him and asked that he be condemned.

16 “I told them that it is not the Roman custom to hand over anyone before they have faced their accusers and have had an opportunity to defend themselves against the charges. 17 When they came here with me, I did not delay the case, but convened the court the next day and ordered the man to be brought in. 18 When his accusers got up to speak, they did not charge him with any of the crimes I had expected. 19 Instead, they had some points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive. 20 I was at a loss how to investigate such matters; so I asked if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem and stand trial there on these charges. 21 But when Paul made his appeal to be held over for the Emperor’s decision, I ordered him held until I could send him to Caesar.”

22 Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I would like to hear this man myself.”
He replied, “Tomorrow you will hear him.”

Paul Before Agrippa

23 The next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp and entered the audience room with the high-ranking military officers and the prominent men of the city. At the command of Festus, Paul was brought in. 24 Festus said: “King Agrippa, and all who are present with us, you see this man! The whole Jewish community has petitioned me about him in Jerusalem and here in Caesarea, shouting that he ought not to live any longer. 25 I found he had done nothing deserving of death, but because he made his appeal to the Emperor I decided to send him to Rome. 26 But I have nothing definite to write to His Majesty about him. Therefore I have brought him before all of you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that as a result of this investigation I may have something to write. 27 For I think it is unreasonable to send a prisoner on to Rome without specifying the charges against him.”

In today's scripture we will see;
1.   Sometimes worldly law is not on your side.
2.   Accusations from those who hate you are sometimes heard louder than your innocence.
3.   Eventually, as they say, you will have your day in court.

a.      Festus explains that Felix had left Paul a prisoner
i.       Insinuating that the previous administration could not resolve this issue.

ii.    Festus makes it clear, as soon as he arrived in Jerusalem, the Chief Priests and Elders of the Jews began accusing Paul and wanted Festus to give them justice.

iii. Festus explains to Agrippa, he addressed the issue as soon as they returned from Jerusalem, and called a hearing the next day for Paul.

b.     HOWEVER...
i.       They did not charge Paul with anything Festus expected

ii.    Instead, it was a religious matter, and someone named Jesus, who the Jews said were dead, and Paul said was alive.
iii. Festus admits, “I was at a loss...”
a.      and gave Paul the opportunity to go to Jerusalem, however, he chose “Emperor's Decision”

c.      Paul, being a Roman Citizen, had this right.
i.       He knew he would be killed if he traveled back to Jerusalem

ii.    He also knew there was no possibility he would have a fair trial if judged in the hands of the Sanhedrin

iii. So he chose to be heard by Caesar

a.      Festus points out the reason for bringing Paul
i.       The Jews are crying for Paul's death

ii.    I've listened to their accusations, and they do not make sense to me

b.     They want Paul dead
i.       After two years in prison, they have not forgotten their hate for Paul

ii.    They waited, and waited, and when the opportunity came, and the new Governor showed up in Jerusalem, they immediately returned to their quest to kill Paul.

iii. Their hate came from Satan, and their desire was driven by evil. They were pawns to the devil.

c.      Festus admits in court, “I want to send him to Caesar as he requested, but I have nothing to write as an accusation.”
i.       Festus was unwilling to send Paul to Rome before Caesar without an accusation that made sense.

ii.    Festus states, “I think it is unreasonable to send a prisoner to Rome without specific charges against him. This is why I brought him before you King Agrippa.”

a.      Children of God still have struggles
i.       Like Paul, we too can struggle

ii.    We need to remember who our “real” enemy is though
a.      Ephesians 6 makes it clear who our enemy is

b.     also, tells us how we are to defend ourselves against this enemy

iii. Though things may get bad in this world around us, the Lord is with us, and His Will be done

b.     Sometimes the “powers that be” in the land, seem to hold the upper hand
i.       Paul is held captive, in prison

ii.    He is taken here and there, from court to court

iii. Accusations fly, charges are made, and it looks like he is in the middle of a chaotic scene
a.      However, Paul, being obedient to the Lord, is simply following where the Holy Spirit is taking him.

b.     The Lord told Paul, “you will go to Rome and preach the Gospel.”

c.      Paul has been protected by trained, armed Roman soldiers for two years now, where neither the Sanhedrin's influence, power or assassins could reach him.

d.     Paul is now on his way to Rome, just as the Lord said

e.      Though it may appear Paul's life is spiraling out of control, he is safe from harm, taken care of, and now on his way to Rome.

c.      God's Will is beyond us, and He is always in control
i.       God is in control!
a.      Romans 8:28 - And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.

b.     Proverbs 16: 9 The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

c.      In Matthew 10:29, Jesus says, "No sparrow falls to the ground apart from your Father's will." Put another way: No sparrow dies apart from the Heavenly Father's complete control and divine permission.

ii.    Though we may not understand
a.      I Corinthians 2:11 For who knows a person's thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.

b.     Isaiah 55:8-11 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

iii. The Lord is with us
a.       for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Romans 10:13

b.     Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. (Isaiah 65:24)

c.      Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
(Romans 8:1)

1.      Sometimes worldly law is not on your side.  - but the Lord is always with you
2.      Accusations from those who hate you are sometimes heard louder than your innocence. - Truth always prevails
3.      Eventually, as they say, you will have your day in court. - God's Will be done
Want to learn more about Salvation and Getting Saved?    CLICK HERE!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

From Acts to Revelation Part 71 – A Time for Everything

From Acts to Revelation
Part 71  – A Time for Everything
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | |

Last week we were talking about Paul's life, and the ups and downs, and I mentioned that this week we were going to chase a rabbit, and talk about God's timing, and seasons in our lives.

I wanted to talk about this subject, simply because many times I see people struggling in their lives because they do not recognize the season they are in, and they try to accomplish things before their time.

God has a time and a season for everything in his creation, and He has told us as much in His word.

Our challenge, is to understand the seasons, thus, understand God's timing for us in our lives, and ask the question, "What is it God expects of me during this time?"

Sometimes He expects us to speak out, and sometimes, shut up. Sometimes He wants us to act, and sometimes sit and do nothing.

You know, when we "do nothing", if God has called us to that, and we are obeying, then we really are doing something!

Obeying God!

Today, we will be looking at a section of Ecclesiastes, just the first eight versus.

Listen as God tells us in His Word, there are seasons in our lives, and these are ordained by HIM!

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,

    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,

    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,

    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,

    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,

    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

We are stopping at verse 8, simply because there is so much here in the scriptures, this could be a series in itself.

But the point we are trying to see here, is the fact that;

In today's scripture we will see;
1.      God has laid a path for us to live, from Birth to Death

2.      Seasons in our life is God's timing

3.      If we listen to God's Holy Spirit, we will be guided through life, and recognize the seasons in our lives, thus, living within God's Will for us!

I.       PAUL'S LIFE
a.      Paul received Christ as his Lord and Savior in 36 AD, on a road to Damascus to hunt down Followers of Christ.
i.       This was God's Timing, Paul's Season

ii.    Paul had a choice, as we all do, to accept Jesus Christ as our lord and Savior, kneeling before Him, or turning our back, and trying to run from Him.

iii. You may run your entire life, but there is coming a day, when you will have to stand before Him, how much greater it would be to stand before your King, rather than your Judge to await your sentence.

b.     Paul's life is full of highs and lows
i.       9 years after Paul's conversion, he travels on his FIRST Missionary Trip
a.      God prepared Paul for his ministry for 9 years.

b.     When God calls us to something, He prepares and Equips us!

ii.    Paul then spent 1 year with the Council in Jerusalem

iii. 51-53AD was Paul's SECOND Missionary Trip

iv.   54-58AD Paul's THIRD Missionary Trip

v.      Paul is then ARRESTED in Jerusalem (Where we are NOW in the Book of Acts!)

vi.   Paul is under "House Arrest" for a few years.

c.      Paul tells us of some of the lows or hard seasons in his life in 2 Corinthians 11:21b-33
i.        Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?

ii.    Paul recognizes that there are times in his life when things get bad...sometimes really bad, however, he BOASTS of them, rather than complain!
a.      Because he knows that he lives, because God says.

b.     In his boasting, he is actually praising God for preserving him, regardless of the season, or storms in his life.

c.      He does not claim it is easy though. In 2 Corinthians 12 he says that many times he prayed to God for these things to end, however, he realized that God's Grace was enough to get him through whatever came his way.

a.      We are promised Storms
i.       However, Jesus also showed us in Luke 8:24;
ii.    The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.

b.     We are promised Seasons
i.       God tells us how we MUST be aware in Jeremiah 8:7;
ii.    Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the Lord.

iii. God controls the seasons in our lives, Daniel 2:21;
iv.   He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.

v.      Are you in control of your seasons? Job thought he was in control; Job 38:32;
vi.   God asked Job, "Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs?"

c.      We are promised Trials and Tribulations
i.       James 1:2 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,"

ii.    1 Peter 1:6 "In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials."

iii. REMEMBER 2 Peter 2:9 "the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment."

d.     We are promised the Lord is with us, and if we are in Him, all things are possible

a.      We need to be aware that there are seasons in our lives as well
i.       Jeremiah 8:7

b.     God may call us to serve, but everything is in God's timing!
i.       What if Noah built the ark after the rain started?

ii.    What if God parted the sea a day before the Israelites arrived?

iii. What if the hand of God wrote the ten commandments the day after Moses returned from the mountain?

iv.   Timing is CRUCIAL, and God knows this!

v.      How important is timing to God?
a.      All of His feasts have a DATE

b.     Everything Christ did, was ON A SPECIFIC TIME

c.      NOTHING God says or does is OUT OF SEASON

vi.   God's timing is crucial to our obedience being SUCCESSFUL

c.      When we accept God is in control of the seasons, and we recognize the season we may be in, we can then work towards what it is God wants us to accomplish during that time in our life!
1.      God has laid a path for us to live, from Birth to Death

2.      Seasons in our life is God's timing

3.      If we listen to God's Holy Spirit, we will be guided through life, and recognize the seasons in our lives, thus, living within God's Will for us!

Jeremiah 8:7, be aware of your season

Daniel 2:21, God is in control of your season

2 Peter 2:9, the Lord rescues the godly from trials

Remember, Luke 8:24, Jesus commands the storms

Want to learn more about Salvation and Getting Saved?    CLICK HERE!