July 7

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“So the next day Agrippa and Bernice arrived at the auditorium with great pomp, accompanied by military officers and prominent men of the city. Festus ordered that Paul be brought in” (Acts 25:23 NLT).

From: July 7, 2018

PAUL’S DEFENSE MARKED BY POMP AND PROMINENCE
Porcius Festus was the new Roman governor over Judea. He replaced Felix who had been recalled to Rome by Nero. As a result, Festus inherited the case against the apostle Paul, which Felix had delayed, hoping for a bribe. Historians agree, that overall, Festus was a better governor than Felix, who was actually recalled because of his poor administration. Yet, even Festus was easily wooed by the Jewish leaders who wanted Paul’s trial moved to Jerusalem, so they could kill him along the way. Festus was ready to move the trial from Caesarea to Jerusalem as a favor to the Jewish leaders, but Paul appealed to Caesar. Festus had to honor Paul’s request because of his Roman citizenship.
 
The next day after the trial, Festus received King Agrippa II and his sister, Bernice, who came to pay their respects to the new governor. Agrippa II, whose birth name was Marcus Julius Agrippa, was raised and educated in Rome, while his father, King Herod Agrippa I, reigned in Judea. It was his father who had beheaded the apostle James. Coincidently, Agrippa’s sister, Drusilla, was the wife of the previous governor, Felix. So, when Festus began to talk about the unusual case concerning a man named Paul that Felix had left to him, Agrippa was, no doubt, fully aware. When Agrippa asked to hear Paul for himself, Festus happily agreed.
 
Can you visualize the scene where the auditorium is arrayed in the banners of Rome as trumpets sound announcing the arrival of King Agrippa and his sister, Bernice? Can you see all the Roman military officers decked out in their dress uniforms, gathered there at the order of Governor Felix, along with the prominent Jewish leaders of the region who had received his invitation? Can you see the apostle Paul being led in to face this illustrious crowd, dressed in a plain robe with chains on his wrists? 
 
The apostle Paul was given this amazing opportunity to give his testimony and preach about the resurrected Jesus to all the pomp and prominence of the region. And preach he did.

‘Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.’ (1 Chronicles 4:9-10 NKJV).

From: July 7, 2017

In the listing of names in the lineage of Judah, the author of 1 Chronicles paused to comment on a man named Jabez.
 
What can we know about Jabez from these two verses?
1) He was “more honorable” than his brothers.
2) His mother named him, “Jabez,” meaning “to cause pain, grief or sorrow,” because he caused her such pain in childbirth.
3) He was a praying man.
4) He prayed to the “God of Israel,” not a false god.
5) His prayer revealed that he wanted to overcome the name and situation he had been given at birth.
 
What did Jabez pray?
1) That God would bless him “indeed” (Double use of “barak,” – “blessing” in Hebrew. Literally, that God would “bless bless” me.) Jabez wanted a double blessing!
2) That God would enlarge his “territory” (“coastlines, boundaries”). He wanted God to grow his influence.
3) That the “hand” of God would be with him. He prayed for God’s continual presence on his life.
4) That God would keep him from evil. This request was similar to Christ’s “deliver us from evil” (Matt. 6:13) request in His teaching prayer.
5) That God would keep him from causing pain. Or that God would keep him from pain (As most translators see it).
 
And God “granted” his request. Regardless of our situation at birth, or at present, the Lord is ready to hear our prayers. Jabez did not complain, nor blame. He asked God to bless and be with him. And God is always ready to do just that!

“Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray” (Psalm 5:1-2 ESV)

From: July 7, 2016

David’s crying and groaning were directed to the Lord in prayer. His distress was expressed as an appeal to God. He did not complain to others, nor cry out to man, but to the One who could really help. He knew how to “encourage himself in the Lord” (1 Sam.30:6). Many wallow in their worries and seek solace in expressing their anxiety to others, but David turned his concerns into prayerful confession. Instead of anxious self-talk, he prayed to God.
Are you able to do this?

“You have appealed to Caesar? To Caesar you shall go!” (Acts 25:12 NKJV)

From: July 7, 2015

This is how the Roman governor Festus responded to Paul’s appeal. God had already revealed to Paul that he would carry the gospel to Rome. But in chains? God often uses weakness to speak to strength. It would have been difficult to get an appointment with Caesar. Yet, Paul had an all expense paid invitation.

“But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy” (Psalm 5:11 NLT)

From: July 7, 2014

Joy. Not the conditional stuff of happiness based on favorable circumstance. But joy, the stuff that pours into us from God’s omnipotent and unchanging Spirit. How do we find such joy? Not by searching for it. We find joy by taking “refuge” in the Lord and singing His praises. We find joy by loving His “Name” and letting the joy of God flood our souls. Are you suffering with the Monday blues? Rather than seeking happiness or even joy, seek the Lord Himself. For an overwhelming joy overflows from His Spirit to those who take refuge in Him.

“You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go!” (Acts 25:12)

From: July 7, 2011

How the Roman governor Festus responded to Paul’s appeal. God had already revealed to Paul that he would carry the gospel to Rome. But in chains? God often uses our weakness to speak to strength. It would have been difficult to get an appt. with Caesar. Paul had an all expense paid invitation.