“Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” Acts 23:1 NKJV
Living in good conscience before the Lord – that is a deep concept. I am acutely aware of my faults and disabilities and often wonder why God even loves me. These thoughts can easily spiral into condemnation. Yeah, sometimes we help the enemy and he doesn’t even need to lift a finger. But as long as we are good at staying humble and repenting, we are living in good conscience.
Paul believed with all his heart he was pleasing God by preaching Jesus; these Pharisees also believed they were living in good conscience before God by persecuting Paul – while they were deceived into being the bad guys. They were priests, not just God’s chosen people, but the called.
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
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 23 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV).
The Jerusalem Jews Plot to Kill Paul
23 Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” 2 And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?”
4 And those who stood by said, “Do you revile God’s high priest?”
5 Then Paul said, “I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’ ”
6 But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!”
7 And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees; and the assembly was divided. 8 For Sadducees say that there is no resurrection—and no angel or spirit; but the Pharisees confess both. 9 Then there arose a loud outcry. And the scribes of the Pharisees’ party arose and protested, saying, “We find no evil in this man; [a]but if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him, let us not fight against God.”
10 Now when there arose a great dissension, the commander, fearing lest Paul might be pulled to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and bring him into the barracks.
The Plot Against Paul
11 But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, [b]“Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.”
12 And when it was day, some of the Jews banded together and bound themselves under an oath, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. 13 Now there were more than forty who had formed this conspiracy. 14 They came to the chief priests and elders, and said, “We have bound ourselves under a great oath that we will eat nothing until we have killed Paul. 15 Now you, therefore, together with the council, suggest to the commander that he be brought down to you [c]tomorrow, as though you were going to make further inquiries concerning him; but we are ready to kill him before he comes near.”
16 So when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their ambush, he went and entered the barracks and told Paul. 17 Then Paul called one of the centurions to him and said, “Take this young man to the commander, for he has something to tell him.” 18 So he took him and brought him to the commander and said, “Paul the prisoner called me to him and asked me to bring this young man to you. He has something to say to you.”
19 Then the commander took him by the hand, went aside, and asked privately, “What is it that you have to tell me?”
20 And he said, “The Jews have agreed to ask that you bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as though they were going to inquire more fully about him. 21 But do not yield to them, for more than forty of them lie in wait for him, men who have bound themselves by an oath that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him; and now they are ready, waiting for the promise from you.”
22 So the commander let the young man depart, and commanded him, “Tell no one that you have revealed these things to me.”
Sent to Felix
23 And he called for two centurions, saying, “Prepare two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at the third hour of the night; 24 and provide mounts to set Paul on, and bring him safely to Felix the governor.” 25 He wrote a letter in the following manner:
26 Claudius Lysias,
To the most excellent governor Felix:
27 This man was seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them. Coming with the troops I rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman. 28 And when I wanted to know the reason they accused him, I brought him before their council. 29 I found out that he was accused concerning questions of their law, but had nothing charged against him deserving of death or chains. 30 And when it was told me that [d]the Jews lay in wait for the man, I sent him immediately to you, and also commanded his accusers to state before you the charges against him.
31 Then the soldiers, as they were commanded, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris. 32 The next day they left the horsemen to go on with him, and returned to the barracks. 33 When they came to Caesarea and had delivered the letter to the governor, they also presented Paul to him. 34 And when the governor had read it, he asked what province he was from. And when he understood that he was from Cilicia, 35 he said, “I will hear you when your accusers also have come.” And he commanded him to be kept in Herod’s [e]Praetorium.
- Acts 23:9 NU what if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him? omitting the last clause
- Acts 23:11 Take courage
- Acts 23:15 NU omits tomorrow
- Acts 23:30 NU there would be a plot against the man
- Acts 23:35 Headquarters
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.”
Apparently, about 22 years was not enough time for the Jews in Jerusalem to finally remember the commandment “Thou shall not kill”. 22 or 23 years prior to the events in today’s reading, those same men and leaders plotted to kill Jesus. And then they were killing Jesus’s follower ever since (as we recall, Paul participated). You’d think they would wake up. They did not. And actually, eventually the Romans would join them and in about 20 years for the events in today’s reading Rome would destroy the temple and Jerusalem and take the spoils to fund the construction of the colosseum, in which they would kill both Christians and Jews.
I mention it, to bring our thoughts back to God’s ways and His justice and judgment. Those Jews received punishment for killing Jesus, plotting to kill Paul and for all the other innocent blood, including Stephen. They had about 40 years to repent. We know Paul did and Paul says he also had certain problems because it was the consequences of his past sins. We do not know if any other’s repented.
At for the consequences for Paul’s sins – you must understand that coming to God through Jesus does not erase the consequences of sins – only the death – the final judgment. SO if you find Jesus on your way to jail, you will still have to go to jail. BUT as soon as you turn and start to obey God, he starts to work all the situations and consequences out so things will turn for your good and get you on the path of fulfilling God’s purpose.
When I started this blog a wrote a list of things I was going through and believing God for – I even had the Bible verse promise to stand on. My plan was to make big announcements and check each of those things off my list and show you all what God can do. It has been just over two years now. Not one of those things did God answer with a ‘yes’, ‘no’, or ‘later’. Instead he changed and transformed my whole life and none of those things are relevant – with the exception of souls saved and yes, we are still praying for those. For example, I had a job where I was oppressed and attacked by a witch and lived in constant threat – to no job. God dropped a business in my lap which I have diligently worked and sales started strong and then dropped off while I was sick and now nothing. I was too sick to find work and work is not easy to find – now I live by faith wondering where the money will come from to pay the mortgage, eat, and keep the lights and internet on. Now I no longer care about the struggles of being persecuted there are more important things. I have learned to shift my thinking and understanding. AND to trust the Lord with ALL MY HEART!
This month’s memory verse has been a real life application for all of us!
Even Paul – in today’s reading.
Paul is dragged from jail to be judged by the Jews, but since he is in Roman custody, the Romans have final say in what happens to him.
And it doesn’t start off good as Paul immediately insults the high priest, not knowing it was the High Priest. I have often wondered why he didn’t know. He was not disconnected from the Jewish culture and world. And he used to be a Pharisee and knew most of these men personally, Paul studied and grew up with them. (Which is an added layer we often do not think of. These angry Jews must have felt so betrayed that Paul left them to join this cult – and Paul must have been so hurt that his friends did not see the love and compassion Paul had towards them to testify to them, so they might be saved. a lot of emotions, pain and feelings of betrayal in this group.)
But quickly Paul realized there was already a split in the group and that was their weakness and he slid a verbal wedge in there and got the two side distracted and arguing amongst themselves. God uses tactics too – and can exploit a weakness in an enemy.
“Enemy” here are God’s chosen people who are being influenced by evil. The tactic in the physical confuses the spirit world, the evil. God in gentle on the people until the appointed time when they are overthrown by Rome.
I was thinking of a split that happened in my church years ago – and now all who have attended for years ask me, which one. We kept letting that spirit back in. Both sides were being prayed against as the enemies, calling down God’s judgments. Both sides were also the good side and God’s chosen people. Both said they were reading and praying – and I was young and it is not my job to know the depths of the heart of man and woman. I was young and loved people on both sides. Looking back, and time having past, I see little fruit in either side. I see some fat babies and other sound asleep. From that split anyway (both groups ended up leaving and my family stayed). My mother was told by someone once that you go to church for God – and you stay for God. Period. The end.
So, we watched our friends leave with their families and we watched our friends’ group – family – body of Christ… scatter and the ones we loved we angry at each other. I imagine, it was a similar feeling God must have had Protecting Paul – but the Jewish Priesthood was chosen and called – God’s select. God showed Paul the key to draw confusion and get him out of there.
Next was the secret plot to kill him. There are so many things wrong here I can’t even manage. The people plotting took and oath and were fasting – they honestly believed they were doing the Lords work! Makes me pause to make sure that in my zealousness to please God I am actually in his will and haven’t been deceived. My ministry is about building you up, letting the truth shine, saving souls, keeping us loved, repentant, and humble so we may please God. Shall I pull all those verses? Or after I have recited them this many times will you give me grace, not to. The priests lied, killed, stole and destroyed (who does that sound like)? If a ministry or person makes you feel manipulated, oppressed, and/or condemned, it is not bringing life and salvation ten they have been deceived. Hey may have started out doing the Lord’s work – but they slid away into a lie. BUT even influenced and under the lie – God still loves them and is working. God wishes NONE shall perish. We must trust God in how to show love in those situation. I just try to step away and let God move (stay out of God’s way).
Most of the time, those who are acting under the influence of evil – are also making secret plans. God always makes his plans known, man may not understand it, but God always sends prophets and works in the light.
I have warned you all every time it comes up in the Bible and it comes up frequently – secret plans, secret sins, every time of secret is ALWAYS revealed. Get yourself repented and humbled if you have a secret so you do not have to suffer the humiliation of what will come when secrets are revealed.
The secret plot to kill Paul was revealed.
But in your life and my life – when such things are revealed and we see a brother or sister fall and be exposed, please remember Jesus still LOVES them and wants them to turn back. Do not take any actions that will cause offense or hinder their return and restoration.
In today’s reading no offenses happened – the commander quickly recognized this was out of his pay grade and escalated the situation to the next station higher up. He shipped Paul off to Felix. Which is our discussion for tomorrow.
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!