July 17 – (Acts 23:23-35) According to some commentaries, Lysias sent approximately half the Roman soldiers in Jerusalem to protect Paul. Antipatris was 35 of the 62 miles by road from Jerusalem to Caesarea (v. 33). This was a difficult but not impossible distance for soldiers to march in the cool of the night (Wouldn’t you say they got their “steps” in that night!). Only the 70 “horsemen” (v. 32) continued on to Caesarea. These are interesting details that again support the fact that God’s plan and purpose for our lives will not be thwarted.
July 18 – (Acts 24:1-21) The closest thing to an actual trial for Paul took place before Felix when the Jews from Jerusalem brought their charges against him. Felix was not persuaded. He dismissed the court but continued to hold Paul in custody. Felix spoke frequently with Paul in private. All of these “trials” may have come about just so Paul would end up conversing in private with Felix about Jesus. Was all this worth a moment to share the gospel with one man? Selah
July 19 – (Acts 24:22-27) How long was Paul in custody in Caesarea? Who was allowed to take care of his needs? To whom did he testify? Paul seemed to use every place he was in to affect anyone around him. He did this whether he chose to be there or was forced to be there. This makes me think of places my steps have taken me, that I really don’t enjoy being at. What can I say or do at those moments to bring His presence there for me or someone else? Think of two places you don’t necessarily enjoy being at. Ask God what He placed you there for. Then take courage and make that an “out-post” of heaven!
July 20 – (Acts 25:1-12) Paul practiced many things in his life. Discipline was one of them. He seemed disciplined before believing in Jesus. He seems disciplined afterwards. One of the main reasons that Paul was used so greatly by God was because he was greatly disciplined by God as well. This puts a different slant on the word “discipline”, doesn’t it? Paul had to go through many difficult times so that he’d be sharpened into one of the greatest men the Church has ever known. He was learning to depend on the Holy Spirit to guide him. We all go through difficult times. Let’s remember it is discipline to follow God’s steps for us no matter what it looks like at the time. It is bringing us closer (if we allow it) to His transforming image!
July 21 – (Acts 25:13-27) We need a little background. Agrippa the king was Agrippa II, son of Herod Agrippa and great-grandson of Herod the Great. He ruled over several minor, primarily Gentile territories. The emperor Claudius had given Agrippa II rule over the temple in Jerusalem. He also gave him the right to appoint the high priest. Bernice was his sister and constant companion. One source said they were living in open incest. Needless to say, Paul was given audience to people who needed to hear of God’s love in sending Jesus.
July 22 – (26:1-11) Festus asked King Agrippa for advice on Paul’s case. When King Agrippa asked to hear Paul’s case, Paul recounted how Jesus had changed his life. Of Paul’s three “defense” speeches (chs. 22,24,26), this one before Agrippa gives the most detailed explanation of the gospel. Why do you think that was? Paul had to tell them about his past. He had to admit or voice publicly, his sin before he could explain how God had forgiven him and cleansed him, which set a new course for his life. How do we testify today? Do we try to expound on the “miracles” of God in our life and not show “where we have come from”? Selah
July 23 – (26:12-23) As Paul continued to testify, his hearers were “almost” convinced to believe in Jesus. They wanted to free him but felt restrained because Paul appealed to Caesar. If Paul had not appealed to Caesar, he probably would not have had an opportunity to testify to those needing to hear God’s message of love on this day. God orders our steps. Let’s make those steps count.