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Acts 25:1-12 (NIV)
Paul’s Trial Before Festus
25 Three days after arriving in the province, Festus went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem, 2 where the chief priests and the Jewish leaders appeared before him and presented the charges against Paul. 3 They requested Festus, as a favor to them, to have Paul transferred to Jerusalem, for they were preparing an ambush to kill him along the way. 4 Festus answered, “Paul is being held at Caesarea, and I myself am going there soon. 5 Let some of your leaders come with me, and if the man has done anything wrong, they can press charges against him there.” 6 After spending eight or ten days with them, Festus went down to Caesarea. The next day he convened the court and ordered that Paul be brought before him. 7 When Paul came in, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him. They brought many serious charges against him, but they could not prove them. 8 Then Paul made his defense: “I have done nothing wrong against the Jewish law or against the temple or against Caesar.” 9 Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, “Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and stand trial before me there on these charges?” 10 Paul answered: “I am now standing before Caesar’s court, where I ought to be tried. I have not done any wrong to the Jews, as you yourself know very well. 11 If, however, I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die. But if the charges brought against me by these Jews are not true, no one has the right to hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar!” 12 After Festus had conferred with his council, he declared: “You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar, you will go!”
What laws conflict with your efforts to emulate Jesus?
Loving Jesus, during this current season, I am frustrated that the never-ending limitations and mandates have conflicted with my efforts and attitude to emulate You. Your Word tells me to love my neighbor (Galatians 5:13b-14), care for the needy (James 2:14-17), care for the elderly (Leviticus 19:32), to meet together and encourage one another (Hebrews 10:25), to teach, sing spiritual songs (Colossians 3:16) and to not fear what people can do to me (Psalm 118:6). Instead, we are separated, we avoid each other, people are lonely, meeting together is discouraged, the joy of singing praises is gone and the fear of being destroyed by hatred and violence is real. I feel stifled. I feel discouraged and isolated. I am worn down. I want to hug and be hugged. I want to love and be loved. I need to be hospitable and gather with other believers, but the current laws are in conflict with my heart. How long is this going to continue? Lord, encourage me with Your Word. Isaiah 41:10 that says Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. In Psalm 27 You tell me to Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! In Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. And Deuteronomy 31:8 tells me The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Holy God, give me patience, give me Your peace, give me Your courage and strength. Let me remember that You are in control and that I am not separated from You. Paul was restricted by jail and false accusations but continued to be strong and share Your Word. Help me to do the same. You can use all things, even the current state of our society, for Your good and You will strengthen and help me through this. I trust in Your Word. Amen