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LIVING UNASHAMED AND READY TO BEAR WITNESS

Acts 25:23 - 26:23 | Part 50

 


 
1 Peter 2:9-10 (ESV) 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

RECAP

  • Where did we leave off last Sunday?

Acts 25:22 (CSB) 22 Agrippa said to Festus, “I would like to hear the man myself.” “Tomorrow you will hear him,” he replied.

 

Acts 25:23-26 (CSB) 23 So the next day, Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp and entered the auditorium…
  • Who is Bernice?

    • Bernice was King Agrippa’s sister

    • Bernice was married 3 times, widowed 2 times, divorced once

    • It was well-known that King Agrippa & Bernice were committing incest


  • Who is King Agrippa?

    • Herod Agrippa II

    • He was the great-grandson of Herod the Great

    • Herod the Great was the king who tried to kill baby Jesus

    • Herod the Great was the first Roman-appointed king of the Jews

    • King Agrippa’s grandfather beheaded John the Baptist

    • King Agrippa’s father martyred James, the apostle, the brother of Jesus

    • He was given the right to oversee the temple in Jerusalem

    • He was given the right to appoint the high priest

    • His family lineage clearly made him an enemy of Paul and of God & the gospel


23 So the next day, Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp and entered the auditorium with the military commanders and prominent men of the city. When Festus gave the command, Paul was brought in.
  • Consider the contrast here…

  • Agrippa & Bernice enter with “great pomp”

  • Paul has to be brought in…in his chains

  • Agrippa & Bernice have power, prestige, & prominence

  • They have their entourage

  • Paul has no entourage. Paul has no groupies. Paul has no one.

  • Paul is seemingly alone. (But, is he?)

  • Have you ever felt like God has abandoned you?

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (CSB) 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.”

Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. 10 So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and in difficulties, for the sake of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
  • Paul knew that God had not abandoned Him…

  • Paul knew that He was in right-standing before God

  • Paul knew that God loved him

  • Paul knew that God had created him & saved him & called him for a purpose

  • Paul knew that God had him exactly where He wanted him to be


24 Then Festus said, “King Agrippa and all men present with us, you see this man. The whole Jewish community has appealed to me concerning him, both in Jerusalem and here, shouting that he should not live any longer.
  • The Jews want Paul dead.

  • They are revealing that they are indeed children of Satan, as Jesus proclaimed.

  • We have a very real spiritual enemy

  • Our enemy ultimately wants us dead

  • But if our enemy can’t kill us…they're gonna do everything in their power to make us miserable, joyless, fruitless, & ineffective

1 Peter 5:8-9 (CSB) 8 Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. 9 Resist him, firm in the faith, knowing that the same kind of sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world.
  • Some of you shouldn’t be drinking

  • Some of you shouldn’t be watching the stuff that you’re watching

  • Some of you shouldn’t be maintaining the relationships you’re in

  • It’s toxic. It’s harmful. It’s leaving a back door open to the devil

  • Shut the back door. Resist him. Stand firm in the faith.

  • Stay on-point.

[Festus continues] 25 I found that he had not done anything deserving of death, but when he himself appealed to the Emperor [Nero], I decided to send him. 26 I have nothing definite to write to my lord about him. Therefore, I have brought him before all of you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that after this examination is over, I may have something to write. 27 For it seems unreasonable to me to send a prisoner without indicating the charges against him.”

26:1 Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.”
  • Remember, Paul has been under guard for 2+ years

  • He’s just waiting & waiting & waiting…

1 Peter 3:15 (CSB) 15 but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.
  • & finally, when God gives him the opportunity, Paul is ready…


Acts 26:1-23 (CSB) Then Paul stretched out his hand and began his defense: 2 “I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am to make my defense today against all the accusations of the Jews, 3 especially since you are very knowledgeable about all the Jewish customs and controversies. Therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently.
  • Paul’s speech is seasoned with humility & grace

  • Are we praying for the people in our lives?

  • Are we asking God for favor with them?…for the right words to say?

  • Are we asking God to make us effective in the contexts in which we live?


4 “All the Jews know my way of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own people and in Jerusalem. 5 They have known me for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived as a Pharisee.
  • Do you know your story?

  • Are there parts of your story that you’d like to just leave out?

  • Ask God to reveal to you if there is any part of your past that you’re ashamed of

  • Ask Him to shine His light on those dark parts of your past

  • Ask Him to set you free & heal you of that shame


6 And now I stand on trial because of the hope in what God promised to our ancestors, 7 the promise our twelve tribes hope to reach as they earnestly serve him night and day. King Agrippa, I am being accused by the Jews because of this hope. 8 Why do any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?
  • What is this hope?

  • It is the hope of a Messiah

  • It is the fulfillment of all the promises of the Old Testament for God’s people

  • It is the promise of resurrection & salvation

  • It’s the Christmas story…it’s the Easter story…

  • If you’re a Christian, then this is your story!

  • & it’s the greatest story ever!


[Paul continues…] 9 In fact, I myself was convinced that it was necessary to do many things in opposition to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 I actually did this in Jerusalem, and I locked up many of the saints in prison, since I had received authority for that from the chief priests. When they were put to death, I was in agreement against them. 11 In all the synagogues I often punished them and tried to make them blaspheme. Since I was terribly enraged at them, I pursued them even to foreign cities.
  • It is possible to know the Bible really well (Paul had it memorized)

  • Go to church, serve the poor, do all the right things…

  • & still not actually KNOW God.

John 5:39-40 (ESV) 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

  • We can pursue religion bc we wanna be right

  • We can act like a Christian bc that’s just what we’re supposed to do…

  • We can attempt to pursue God bc we’re interested in all of His goodies, right?

  • We can want all of the benefits of being in right relationship with Him…without actually wanting Him

John 17:3 (ESV) 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

  • Eternal life is to KNOW God…to KNOW Jesus…the one & only God of the universe

  • Do you KNOW Him?

  • Do you want to KNOW Him?

  • Do you consider Him to be the greatest treasure in all the world?

[Hear the words of Jesus…] Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV) 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

[Paul continues to share his testimony…] 12 “I was traveling to Damascus under these circumstances with authority and a commission from the chief priests. 13 King Agrippa, while on the road at midday, I saw a light from heaven brighter than the sun, shining around me and those traveling with me. 14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice speaking to me in Aramaic,[a] ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 “I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’
  • A goad was a sharp stick used to prod oxen on to plow when they wouldn’t go.

  • When the oxen would kick back against the goads, it would stab deeper into the hindquarters of the animal.

  • Jesus is telling Paul that it is futile to resist Him…it will only cause Paul more pain

“And the Lord replied, ‘I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting.
  • Jesus takes it personally when anyone messes with His kids.


[Jesus continues to speak to Paul…] 16 But get up and stand on your feet. For I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and a witness of what you have seen and will see of me.
  • Every single one of us has the ability to serve in some capacity

  • Every single one of us can be a witness to what Jesus has done in our life


17 I will rescue you from your people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes so that they may turn[b] from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

Colossians 1:13-14 (CSB) 13 He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son he loves. 14 In him we have redemption,[f] the forgiveness of sins.

  • None of us will be apostles & missionaries like Paul

  • But all of us can serve…we can invite…we can share our story with those around us


[Paul continues..] 19 “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision. 20 Instead, I preached to those in Damascus first, and to those in Jerusalem and in all the region of Judea, and to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works worthy of repentance.

21 For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and were trying to kill me. 22 To this very day, I have had help from God, and I stand and testify to both small and great, saying nothing other than what the prophets and Moses said would take place— 23 that the Messiah would suffer, and that, as the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light to our people and to the Gentiles.”

  • Paul knew the Bible really well, but it did him no good until Jesus made Himself known

  • Once Jesus revealed Himself to Paul, the entire story of God came to life

  • Are you reading your Bible?

  • Pick a bible reading plan in the Bible app

  • If you have any questions about it, PLEASE come ask me


1 Peter 2:9-10 (CSB) 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
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