My memory verse for this week:
"Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it and whoever loses their life for me will find it." Matthew 16:24-25
NTC Day 9
Matthew 17-18 and Acts 25-27
Today's Acts chapters returns us to the courtroom drama of Paul. I like knowing the history and political intrigue of the times because it tells the temperature of the people at the time. Felix, who we read about yesterday, is succeeded by Festus. My study Bible says that history states Festus was only in office there for 2 years before he dies, but that his rule showed wisdom and honesty, superior to Felix.
In chapter 25, Festus talks with Paul and listens to the charges brought on him by the Jewish leaders. He thinks Paul has done nothing wrong, and wants him to face his accusers in Jerusalem. Paul refuses, and appeals to Caesar. Being a Roman citizen, Paul had this right, to take his case to the highest court.
In the meantime, King Agrippa and his sister come to visit Festus. It was customary for rulers to pay their respects to new rulers, and advantageous if rulers had good relationships, (such as Herod Antipas and Pilate years before.)
Festus and Agrippa talk about Paul's case and Agrippa wants to hear from Paul himself. Paul is agreeable to this since Agrippa has experience and knowledge of Jewish customs and laws. He tells his whole life story to Agrippa, from his years as Pharisee to his transformation on his way to Damascus.
During his retelling of his story, Festus interrupts him and says that his learning has made him crazy. Paul defends himself and appeals to Agrippa's knowledge of the prophets and asks if he believes those prophets.
Agrippa, while he thinks Paul has done nothing wrong, he evades Paul's question by making a statement that in this short time, he will not persuaded to become a Christian.
Paul is then placed on a ship and headed toward Rome for his trial. All of Chapter 27 is about this journey...a terrible storm comes up and they end up shipwrecked.
All of this is quite like reading a novel...so much drama, excitement and intrigue!
Today's Matthew chapters are exciting in their own right. Peter, James and John get to witness the transfiguration of Jesus...for a brief moment, his appearance changed and he was seen in all his glory, along with Moses and Elijah. This experience had 3 outcomes for these three men.1) they got to see Jesus in God's glory, which is hidden now, but will be revealed when he comes again. 2) it was a confirmation of the difficult teaching that they were receiving about the future of Jesus. 3) it was a beneficial, encouraging experience as they were discouraged about being told of Jesus' coming suffering and death. Peter, James and John were amazed and afraid of the power of God they were witnessing.
A boy with seizures was brought to Jesus. The disciples had tried to heal him before, but they had failed. Jesus says again their faith is too little...not in quantity, but in quality...they need a faith bathed in prayer. Jesus makes his famous statement about faith the size of a mustard seed...When that faith comes from God you can move mountains.
Again, so much to think about and write about in just 5 chapters of the Bible! They are all filled with lessons that are interesting to read and that make you want to read more! I don't have time to write more. I encourage you to read these chapters for yourself and see how God speaks to YOUR heart!