In the Midst of Judgment – 3-11-22

“Now it happened, when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I was in a trance and saw Him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, for they will not receive your testimony concerning Me.’ Acts 22:17-18 NKJV

Hopefully on earth judgment is just – but we all know it isn’t always. God’s judgment, is always just. He is always judging if it is a season for correction or a season for consequences and vindication. The world, has waxed cold and complacent over the years, and during that time we were warned and corrected. So a season of consequences (for those who were judged to be in er) or vindication (for those innocently accused) will follow.  The process with God is much like the process with man – Man is brought before the judge who decides if there should be a consequence or if the accused should be vindicated. This is an easy concept to understand. So when God (the judge) looks at us, deep down where no person can see, will we suffer consequences or be vindicated? Before that moment, today, we can repent of our sins and turn to Jesus for help – so we can present ourselves blameless before God.

RELATIONSHIP:

Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

BIBLE READING:

Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word and our sound mind. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is the Book of Acts chapter 22 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 
Paul’s Defense at Jerusalem

22 “Brethren and fathers, hear my defense before you now.” And when they heard that he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, they kept all the more silent.

Then he said: “I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, as also the high priest bears me witness, and all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished.

“Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ So I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’

“And those who were with me indeed saw the light [a]and were afraid, but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me. 10 So I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.’ 11 And since I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of those who were with me, I came into Damascus.

12 “Then a certain Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there, 13 came to me; and he stood and said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that same hour I looked up at him. 14 Then he said, ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. 15 For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’

17 “Now it happened, when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I was in a trance 18 and saw Him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, for they will not receive your testimony concerning Me.’ 19 So I said, ‘Lord, they know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believe on You. 20 And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by consenting [b]to his death, and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’ 21 Then He said to me, ‘Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.’ ”

Paul’s Roman Citizenship

22 And they listened to him until this word, and then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live!” 23 Then, as they cried out and [c]tore off their clothes and threw dust into the air, 24 the commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks, and said that he should be examined under scourging, so that he might know why they shouted so against him. 25 And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who stood by, “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?”

26 When the centurion heard that, he went and told the commander, saying, “Take care what you do, for this man is a Roman.”

27 Then the commander came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman?”

He said, “Yes.”

28 The commander answered, “With a large sum I obtained this citizenship.”

And Paul said, “But I was born a citizen.

29 Then immediately those who were about to examine him withdrew from him; and the commander was also afraid after he found out that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.

The Sanhedrin Divided

30 The next day, because he wanted to know for certain why he was accused by the Jews, he released him from his bonds, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down and set him before them.

Footnotes

  1. Acts 22:9 NU omits and were afraid
  2. Acts 22:20 NU omits to his death
  3. Acts 22:23 Lit. threw

MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:

Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”

STUDY/DEVOTIONAL:

Yesterday Paul was captured in Jerusalem, beat, and grabbed up by the Romans, who were just trying to stop an uproar in their city. Justice played out slightly differently back then. Multiple levels and offices could judge a situation and it could be passed along to a higher person or appealed to a higher office. Today Paul stands before the lowest of those who have that authority.  They are trying to determine why this man is accused by his people, if he broke any Roman laws, and if he should be sent free.
Paul asks to address his accusers and is permitted. And today’s reading is what Paul offered as a defense: his testimony!

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” Revelation 12:11 NKJV
John wrote this in the book of the Revelations of Jesus. But it seems like something the apostles all inherently knew already. Probably because Jesus said:
“But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.” Matt 10:19-20 NKJV
And Jesus knew that the way to overcome was through Him (aka the blood of the lamb), being ready to die for Christ (as Paul demonstrated), and our testimony!
Paul was guaranteed a win!  But a win did not come looking like we would have thought was a win. The win meant Paul was not released. The win looked like a loss and means the enemy thought for a moment that he won. This is why we must trust the Lord. When he says you overcome, you do indeed overcome – even if it looks like you lost. Stay humble enough to accept this victory – while your enemies rejoice.

and saw Him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, for they will not receive your testimony concerning Me.’ Acts 22:18
AND, while Paul was making gains in the spirit… God already told him, these people will not receive it.  Isaiah was told that the people wouldn’t listen, so was Jeremiah and many others – But God still sent them to speak to them. Even Jesus was sent to people who he knew wouldn’t receive him.
Why does God send us to these people? It seldom ends in a kind and gentle way for those sent.  It obviously has some effect – we could speculate that it might be a seed planted or it causes a shift I the spirit. The truth is, we do not know why God does what he does.
So Paul’s defense is the one thing that will make them the most angry and unreceptive – and it is the one thing that was needed for Paul to overcome and be victorious.

I used to read this section and say, ‘shut up Paul, you are making it worse!’ I didn’t look at the word of God as a whole – I did not know Rev. 12:11 was tied in here. 
I thought, because sermons often have isolated verses, compiled and disjointed, that verses were these independent concepts not connected to the whole – and somehow did not contradict. As I grew in the Lord, I learned that the bible should be taken as a whole! For example: God is love so you can find every place it refers to God and replace it with Love!  Jesus is the word, so every time the Old Testament speaks of the word, or “the Lord said”, or refers to scripture, we can replace it with Jesus! And every time we see Jesus, we can replace it with the word. So every time we see a testimony spoken – we see a victory.

Even if the testimony starts another riot – as in verses 22.

The Roman Centurion still needed to complete his task of figuring out what to do with Paul. So he plans to scourge Paul to get some answers… but Paul is a Roman and they cannot scourge an uncondemned Roman. Worst yet, they have a roman citizen in their jail for no reason, and if they let him go, the mob will kill him.  The centurion hand Paul off to the commander to take good care of him while the centurion escalates the matter to a higher authority.

In all the seriousness of this chapter the commander’s conversation seems a tad comical.  There were a few ways to become citizens. Being born one, buying into it, or being an enslaved warrior from a conquered army who endured a long and arduous conversion to become a soldier for Rome.  Roman culture had a very important class system. Wealthy could buy in and maybe even buy in at a higher social class, but they would always be looked down on for having not been born a Roman.

The commander says to Paul: So you’re a citizen? It cost me a lot of money to buy my citizenship, how about you? (it is obvious that Paul, short and aging, was not converted through the military system.)
And Paul is like, actually, I out rank you in our cultural class system – I was born a Roman.

So now it make more sense why at that moment the commander became more afraid. Because they didn’t have a lowlife second class citizen – they had a full rights and full protection citizen bound in their jail.

Now the Roman’s have to figure out a whole lot – these men want to protect themselves from getting in trouble – and needed a plan.

Outside, the Sanhedrin, knowing of this also needed to figure out what was going on and the next day assembled everyone to see if they could clear through all the confusion and chaos. But that is a story for Monday!

***

Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

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