October 31, 2019
Acts 24:10-23 (NIV)
When the governor motioned for him to speak, Paul replied: “I know that for a number of years you have been a judge over this nation; so I gladly make my defense. You can easily verify that no more than twelve days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship. My accusers did not find me arguing with anyone at the temple, or stirring up a crowd in the synagogues or anywhere else in the city. And they cannot prove to you the charges they are now making against me. However, I admit that I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, and I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.
“After an absence of several years, I came to Jerusalem to bring my people gifts for the poor and to present offerings. I was ceremonially clean when they found me in the temple courts doing this. There was no crowd with me, nor was I involved in any disturbance. But there are some Jews from the province of Asia, who ought to be here before you and bring charges if they have anything against me.Or these who are here should state what crime they found in me when I stood before the Sanhedrin—unless it was this one thing I shouted as I stood in their presence: ‘It is concerning the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you today.’”
Then Felix, who was well acquainted with the Way, adjourned the proceedings. “When Lysias the commander comes,” he said, “I will decide your case.” He ordered the centurion to keep Paul under guard but to give him some freedom and permit his friends to take care of his needs.
Paul didn’t seem to be too worried about the situation. Come to think of it, Paul never seemed to be too worried about anything.
But isn’t this situation a bit different? These are the imperial courts of Rome, yet Paul seems to be signaling to us, “I’ve got this.” In the law there’s an old adage some would apply in this case that goes, “Whoever serves as their own lawyer has a fool as a client.”
To the naked eye, Paul clearly appears to be serving in the role of his own attorney. However, whenever the Holy Spirit is involved, there’s oh-so-much-more going on than meets the eye!
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, need I remind you of Exhibit 1A—the Words of Jesus himself:
“When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” (Luke 12:11-12)
Translation: Yes, Paul was up against a legal team rivaling that of O. J. Simpson. Still, Paul knew he had the best lawyer in the land, the Holy Spirit.
Now, did you catch the favorite little three-word phrase of Jesus in the verses above? See if you can find them. Ok, here they are:
“Do not worry.”
Remember back in The Sermon (on the mount), when he said don’t worry about clothes or food or tomorrow or anything else? Paul took him seriously. I mean, Paul had a thing or two to say about worry. Remember when he wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”? (Philippians 4:6-7)
Paul knew his “counsel” was the Holy Spirit and he need not worry about anything. He knew the Holy Spirit would tell him what to say and when and how and to whom. This is what it means to carry “the shield of faith.”
You see, there are our problems, and there is the bigger problem. The bigger problem is always worry and anxiety. Jesus and Paul knew how worry and anxiety literally destroy faith from the inside out, the way cancer destroys a human body. Rather than a shield, anxiety actually has the effect of making us a target.
Faith and worry simply cannot co-exist. One will overcome the other every time. The question is which will win in your case.
COME HOLY SPIRIT!
How much of a problem are worry and anxiety for you these days? What might a new strategy or approach to them look like?
For the Awakening,