Day 299: October 26, 2013

Today's Reading(s)

Acts 25:13-27
13 After some days had passed, King Agrippa and Bernice arrived in Caesarea and paid a courtesy call on Festus. 14 Since they stayed there many days, Festus presented Paul’s case to the king, saying, “There’s a man who was left as a prisoner by Felix. 15 When I was in Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews presented their case and asked for a judgment against him. 16 I answered them that it’s not the Romans’ custom to give any man up before the accused confronts the accusers face to face and has an opportunity to give a defense concerning the charges. 17 Therefore, when they had assembled here, I did not delay. The next day I sat at the judge’s bench and ordered the man to be brought in. 18 Concerning him, the accusers stood up and brought no charge of the sort I was expecting. 19 Instead they had some disagreements with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, a dead man Paul claimed to be alive. 20 Since I was at a loss in a dispute over such things, I asked him if he wished to go to Jerusalem and be tried there concerning these matters. 21 But when Paul appealed to be held for trial by the Emperor, I ordered him to be kept in custody until I could send him to Caesar.”

22 Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I would like to hear the man myself.”

“Tomorrow you will hear him,” he replied.

23 So the next day, Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp and entered the auditorium with the commanders and prominent men of the city. When Festus gave the command, Paul was brought in. 24 Then Festus said: “King Agrippa and all men present with us, you see this man about whom the whole Jewish community has appealed to me, both in Jerusalem and here, shouting that he should not live any longer. 25 Now I realized that he had not done anything deserving of death, but when he himself appealed to the Emperor, I decided to send him. 26 I have nothing definite to write to my lord about him. Therefore, I have brought him before all of you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that after this examination is over, I may have something to write. 27 For it seems unreasonable to me to send a prisoner and not to indicate the charges against him.”

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)

Instead they had some disagreements with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, a dead man Paul claimed to be alive.
—Acts 25:19

by Donna Soliz, Discipleship Administrative Assistant, Brentwood Campus

“And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free….”

This is one of my favorite lines in the Lee Greenwood song. Anytime it comes on, no matter where I am, I sing it loudly!

My grandmother, “Mrs. Red, White, and Blue,” instilled in me from a young age the pride of being an American. However, I’m afraid that today she’d cringe if she could see how many of our freedoms are being taken for granted or reined in by government.

We should all stand up for our freedom of speech and our freedom of religion (not from religion).  

As much as we don’t like to think about it, it’s still true that other countries still imprison people for their beliefs! Currently, an American preacher is being held in prison in Iran for testifying as Paul did that Jesus is alive! He’s been beaten, jailed, and separated from his family for his beliefs.

In India, a married couple were beaten and tortured often for their religious beliefs. Several times they were offered “freedom” if they’d simply sign a document renouncing Christ. They refused.

Each time they were released, they remained in the area and continued witnessing. Eventually a few of their tormentors came and asked them, “Why do you continue witnessing and asking God to bless us?” From the testimony came new Christians! 

The verses today are almost a déjà vu of another man who was brought before the court due to “some disagreements about religion.” Here we have government leaders who don’t want to sentence Paul because they see no wrongdoing. However, they also want to appease the crowd who wants him dead. Sound familiar?

Paul was imprisoned due to his lack of freedoms. He lacked the freedom of speech, but did that stop him from testifying? No! He lacked the freedom of religion, but did that stop him from worshipping and declaring Jesus as Lord and Savior? No!

This wasn’t Paul’s first imprisonment and it wouldn’t be his last. Did it stop him from telling others about Jesus? No! Paul’s body may have been imprisoned but he knew no one and nothing could take his freedoms away for they were in his heart.

Paul testified to anyone and everyone—fellow prisoners, guards, and government leaders. They all needed to hear about Jesus. 

Did everyone listen? Did they hear the truth? Many did and believed. Many did not. In fact, many today are as Festus. They heard the words but they didn’t make sense of them. Festus was confused as to what the big deal was… “a certain Jesus, a dead man Paul claimed to be alive.” You can almost hear the sarcasm in his voice.

As Festus and Agrippa heard Paul’s testimony, did they roll their eyes? Did they wonder if he was crazy? Were they intrigued? Paul did as he was instructed. He testified. Their hearts were God’s business, the Holy Spirit’s work. Testifying was Paul’s work.

If today, our freedoms of speech and religion were taken away, would there be enough evidence in your life for you to be imprisoned? Would you continue to testify?

Let’s all stand up for the freedoms that we DO still have in America. Let’s join together and speak the truth of Jesus and start an old time revival in our country today!

Reflection Questions

  1. Research countries that still imprison others for their religious beliefs. Choose one country each night to pray for with your family.
  2. How can you stand up for your freedoms this month? Today we don’t have to fear prison, but we do fear embarrassment, ridicule, loss of friendship, and other obstacles. What is it that is holding you back?
  3. Read Ephesians 6:10-17. Put on your Spiritual Armor and ask God for your next assignment.

About the Author

Donna Soliz

Donna Soliz serves on the staff of Brentwood Baptist Church as Administrative Assistant to Jim Baker and Steve Layton. When she’s not at work, Donna spends her time in Franklin with her husband and two puppies. She looks forward to training her new puppies to be therapy dogs as they grow.

Donna and her husband Danny attend the Brentwood Baptist campus for worship. They also enjoy volunteering in various areas. During the winter months, they volunteer with Room in the Inn, a ministry for the homeless that meets on our campus Monday nights from November – March.