Day 296: October 23, 2013

Today's Reading(s)

Acts 23:12-35
12 When it was day, the Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves under a curse: neither to eat nor to drink until they had killed Paul. 13 There were more than 40 who had formed this plot. 14 These men went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have bound ourselves under a solemn curse that we won’t eat anything until we have killed Paul. 15 So now you, along with the Sanhedrin, make a request to the commander that he bring him down to you as if you were going to investigate his case more thoroughly. However, before he gets near, we are ready to kill him.”

16 But the son of Paul’s sister, hearing about their ambush, came and entered the barracks and reported it to Paul. 17 Then Paul called one of the centurions and said, “Take this young man to the commander, because he has something to report to him.”

18 So he took him, brought him to the commander, and said, “The prisoner Paul called me and asked me to bring this young man to you, because he has something to tell you.”

19 Then the commander took him by the hand, led him aside, and inquired privately, “What is it you have to report to me?”

20 “The Jews,” he said, “have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down to the Sanhedrin tomorrow, as though they are going to hold a somewhat more careful inquiry about him. 21 Don’t let them persuade you, because there are more than 40 of them arranging to ambush him, men who have bound themselves under a curse not to eat or drink until they kill him. Now they are ready, waiting for a commitment from you.”

22 So the commander dismissed the young man and instructed him, “Don’t tell anyone that you have informed me about this.” 

23 He summoned two of his centurions and said, “Get 200 soldiers ready with 70 cavalry and 200 spearmen to go to Caesarea at nine tonight. 24 Also provide mounts so they can put Paul on them and bring him safely to Felix the governor.”

25 He wrote a letter of this kind:

26 Claudius Lysias, To the most excellent governor Felix:

Greetings. 27 When this man had been seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them, I arrived with my troops and rescued him because I learned that he is a Roman citizen. 28 Wanting to know the charge they were accusing him of, I brought him down before their Sanhedrin. 29 I found out that the accusations were about disputed matters in their law, and that there was no charge that merited death or chains. 30 When I was informed that there was a plot against the man, I sent him to you right away. I also ordered his accusers to state their case against him in your presence.

31 Therefore, the soldiers took Paul during the night and brought him to Antipatris as they were ordered. 32 The next day, they returned to the barracks, allowing the cavalry to go on with him. 33 When these men entered Caesarea and delivered the letter to the governor, they also presented Paul to him. 34 After he read it, he asked what province he was from. So when he learned he was from Cilicia, 35 he said, “I will give you a hearing whenever your accusers get here too.” And he ordered that he be kept under guard in Herod’s palace.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.



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Today's Reflection

Key Verse(s)

When it was day, the Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves under a curse: neither to eat nor to drink until they had killed Paul.
—Acts 23:12

Encountering Opposition
by Cliff Duren, Music & Worship Associate Minister, Brentwood Campus

I grew up in a family that loved basketball. At the earliest age possible, my parents signed my brother and me up to play in recreation leagues.

He and I would spend many afternoons playing and practicing in our driveway. We watched every game we could on TV. My dad would often even sit us down to watch the classic Gene Hackman film, Hoosiers, right before game time for inspiration.

I had tons of coaches throughout the years. (I actually feel like Gene Hackman was one of them because of how many times I’ve watched Hoosiers!) They all had different strategies, strengths, and philosophies, but they also all had one thing in common.

In the context of the game, they all focused on beating the opposing players who were on the court. We all knew about the opposing team’s best players, the ones who were making the greatest impact, and the ones who could keep us from winning the game.

Our goal was to stop them.

In Acts 23, more than 40 Jewish members came up with a plan to stop one of the Church’s strongest players: the Apostle Paul. Unfortunately, this wasn’t any type of game. They wanted to end his life. He had become too great a threat to them.

Living with a purpose. Focused on a mission. Radical.

These actions from the Apostle Paul are what bring us to this passage. Once Christ changed his life, he was completely and wholly committed to preaching the gospel. He took action—bold action—and many came to know Christ as a result. In other words, once Paul got in the game, he NEVER wanted to be a spectator on the bench.

In all those seasons of basketball, with all those coaches, none of them ever told us to go over and guard the opposing team’s players on the bench. They were no threat to us, because they weren’t involved.

When you choose to devote yourself wholly to Christ and to sharing the good news of His salvation, there are some important things you should know and remember:

  • There will be opposition. The last thing Satan wants is for you to live boldly for Christ, so plan for opposition to come in many forms. There’s a battle for every soul, and he’ll do whatever it takes to distract, discourage, and intimidate you.
  • You’ll be treated unfairly. This hostile group of Jews wanted Paul dead, but verse 29 confirms he’d done “nothing deserving death or imprisonment.” Obviously, our greatest example of unfair treatment is Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect sinless life, yet endured unfair and unwarranted treatment, ultimately even death on a cross.
  • Be encouraged when you encounter opposition! Don’t ever forget, when you find yourself in the midst of opposition, that you’re shaking up Satan’s plans to steal, kill, and destroy when you spread the gospel to those who don’t know Christ. Remember, you’re encountering opposition because you’re in the game—and you’re making a difference.

Reflection Questions

  1. Are you experiencing opposition from the enemy in your life right now? Ask the Lord to give you the strength and focus to stay actively on mission with Him. He is with you and never intended for you to fight this fight alone.
  2. Are you praying for those who oppose you? While this may be challenging, it will only cause you to love them more and realize that they, too, need a Savior.
  3. Do you find yourself struggling to fully engage, to stand boldly for Christ, especially when it’s not popular or accepted? Allow this passage to encourage you today to be strong and confident in who you are in Christ.

About the Author

Cliff Duren

Originally from Georgia, Cliff graduated from Shorter University with a music education degree and from Lee University with a masters degree in church music. Before he came to Brentwood Baptist in 2012, he served as the Staff Arranger at First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Georgia for six years. During that time, he was nominated for five Dove Awards. In addition to leading worship to Brentwood Baptist on Sundays, he also arranges, orchestrates, and produces music resources for various publishers and produces multiple artist recordings. Cliff is married to April and they have three children: Mac, Sydney, and Emma Kate.