Paul’s Time Under Felix

​Then Paul, after the governor had nodded to him to speak, answered: “Inasmuch as I know that you have been for many years a judge of this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself, because you may ascertain that it is no more than twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem to worship. And they neither found me in the temple disputing with anyone nor inciting the crowd, either in the synagogues or in the city. Nor can they prove the things of which they now accuse me. But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men. “Now after many years I came to bring alms and offerings to my nation, in the midst of which some Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with a mob nor with tumult. They ought to have been here before you to object if they had anything against me. Or else let those who are here themselves say if they found any wrongdoing in me while I stood before the council, unless it  is for this one statement which I cried out, standing among them, ‘Concerning the resurrection of the dead I am being judged by you this day.’ ” But when Felix heard these things, having more accurate knowledge of the  Way, he adjourned the proceedings and said, “When Lysias the commander comes down, I will make a decision on your case.” So he commanded the centurion to keep Paul and to let him have liberty, and told him not to forbid any of his friends to provide for or visit him. And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.” Meanwhile he also hoped that money would be given him by Paul, that he might release him. Therefore he sent for him more often and conversed with him. But after two years Porcius Festus succeeded Felix; and Felix, wanting to do the Jews a favor, left Paul bound. Acts 24:10‭-‬27 NKJV

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Elymas the Sorcerer

​Now when they had gone through the island to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus, who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. Then Saul, who also is  called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.” And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord. Acts 13:6‭-‬12 NKJV

The Lord Did Not Give Israel Land Because of their Righteousness

​“Hear, O Israel: You are to cross over the Jordan today, and go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than yourself, cities great and fortified up to heaven, a people great and tall, the descendants of the Anakim, whom you know, and of  whom you heard it  said, ‘Who can stand before the descendants of Anak?’ Therefore understand today that the Lord your God is He who goes over before you as a consuming fire. He will destroy them and bring them down before you; so you shall drive them out and destroy them quickly, as the Lord has said to you. “Do not think in your heart, after the Lord your God has cast them out before you, saying, ‘Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land’; but it  is  because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out from before you. It  is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you go in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God drives them out from before you, and that He may fulfill the word which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Therefore understand that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people. “Remember! Do not forget how you provoked the Lord your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day that you departed from the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the Lord. Deuteronomy 9:1‭-‬7 NKJV

Moral and Ceremonial Laws

​And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. ‘Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, and keep My Sabbaths: I am the Lord your God. ‘Do not turn to idols, nor make for yourselves molded gods: I am the Lord your God. ‘And if you offer a sacrifice of a peace offering to the Lord , you shall offer it of your own free will. It shall be eaten the same day you offer it, and on the next day. And if any remains until the third day, it shall be burned in the fire. And if it is eaten at all on the third day, it is an abomination. It shall not be accepted. Therefore everyone who eats it shall bear his iniquity, because he has profaned the hallowed offering of the Lord ; and that person shall be cut off from his people. ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am the Lord your God. ‘You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another. And you shall not swear by My name falsely, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am the Lord . ‘You shall not cheat your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of him who is hired shall not remain with you all night until morning. You shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind, but shall fear your God: I am the Lord . ‘You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor. You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people; nor shall you take a stand against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord . ‘You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord . ‘You shall keep My statutes. You shall not let your livestock breed with another kind. You shall not sow your field with mixed seed. Nor shall a garment of mixed linen and wool come upon you. ‘Whoever lies carnally with a woman who is betrothed to a man as a concubine, and who has not at all been redeemed nor given her freedom, for this there shall be scourging; but they shall not be put to death, because she was not free. And he shall bring his trespass offering to the Lord , to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, a ram as a trespass offering. The priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering before the Lord for his sin which he has committed. And the sin which he has committed shall be forgiven him. ‘When you come into the land, and have planted all kinds of trees for food, then you shall count their fruit as uncircumcised. Three years it shall be as uncircumcised to you. It shall not be eaten. But in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, a praise to the Lord . And in the fifth year you may eat its fruit, that it may yield to you its increase: I am the Lord your God. ‘You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor shall you practice divination or soothsaying. You shall not shave around the sides of your head, nor shall you disfigure the edges of your beard. You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord . ‘Do not prostitute your daughter, to cause her to be a harlot, lest the land fall into harlotry, and the land become full of wickedness. ‘You shall keep My Sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary: I am the Lord . ‘Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God. ‘You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the Lord . ‘And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. ‘You shall do no injustice in judgment, in measurement of length, weight, or volume. You shall have honest scales, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. ‘Therefore you shall observe all My statutes and all My judgments, and perform them: I am the Lord .’” Leviticus 19:1‭-‬37 NKJV

Teaching on a Mountain

​Today’s reading contains so much wisdom and revelation. It is good just to listen to Jesus speaking words of truth. Blessed are the poor in spirit, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers and the persecuted for righteousness’ sake.

We are seasoning among this world – those who are pursuing righteousness in faith. We are to be a light of the world for others to see light in darkness.

Jesus came to fulfill the law. He comitted the ultimate offering for our trangressions. It is up to us to have faith in that offering. That is how we enter the kingdom of heaven and where the Pharisees stumbled. They believed in their own performance, there own law.

And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed  are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.  For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.  Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:1‭-‬20 NKJV

Wisdom vs. Foolishness from Proverbs

Proverbs 12 contains many values to live by: hard work, instruction/council, and truth.

Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid. A good man obtains favor from the Lord , But a man of wicked intentions He will condemn. A man is not established by wickedness, But the root of the righteous cannot be moved. An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, But she who causes shame is  like rottenness in his bones. The thoughts of the righteous are right, But the counsels of the wicked are deceitful. The words of the wicked are, “Lie in wait for blood,” But the mouth of the upright will deliver them. The wicked are overthrown and are no more, But the house of the righteous will stand. A man will be commended according to his wisdom, But he who is of a perverse heart will be despised. Better is  the  one who is slighted but has a servant, Than he who honors himself but lacks bread. A righteous man regards the life of his animal, But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. He who tills his land will be satisfied with bread, But he who follows frivolity is devoid of understanding. The wicked covet the catch of evil men, But the root of the righteous yields fruit. The wicked is ensnared by the transgression of his lips, But the righteous will come through trouble. A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth, And the recompense of a man’s hands will be rendered to him. The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise. A fool’s wrath is known at once, But a prudent man covers shame. He who speaks truth declares righteousness, But a false witness, deceit. There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, But the tongue of the wise promotes health. The truthful lip shall be established forever, But a lying tongue is but for a moment. Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, But counselors of peace have joy. No grave trouble will overtake the righteous, But the wicked shall be filled with evil. Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord , But those who deal truthfully are His delight. A prudent man conceals knowledge, But the heart of fools proclaims foolishness. The hand of the diligent will rule, But the lazy man will be put to forced labor. Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad. The righteous should choose his friends carefully, For the way of the wicked leads them astray. The lazy man does not roast what he took in hunting, But diligence is man’s precious possession. In the way of righteousness is life, And in its pathway there  is no death.
Proverbs 12:1‭-‬28 NKJV

Humility, Righteousness & Understanding

Proverbs 11 has great one liners that remind us of key values: humility, honesty, righteousness, understanding, discretion, etc.

Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord , But a just weight is His delight. When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom. The integrity of the upright will guide them, But the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them. Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, But righteousness delivers from death. The righteousness of the blameless will direct his way aright, But the wicked will fall by his own wickedness. The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, But the unfaithful will be caught by their lust. When a wicked man dies, his expectation will perish, And the hope of the unjust perishes. The righteous is delivered from trouble, And it comes to the wicked instead. The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor, But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered. When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices; And when the wicked perish, there  is jubilation. By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted, But it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked. He who is devoid of wisdom despises his neighbor, But a man of understanding holds his peace. A talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter. Where there  is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there  is safety. He who is surety for a stranger will suffer, But one who hates being surety is secure. A gracious woman retains honor, But ruthless men retain riches. The merciful man does good for his own soul, But he  who  is cruel troubles his own flesh. The wicked man does deceptive work, But he who sows righteousness will  have a sure reward. As righteousness leads to life, So he who pursues evil pursues  it to his own death. Those who are of a perverse heart are an abomination to the Lord , But the blameless in their ways are His delight. Though they join forces, the wicked will not go unpunished; But the posterity of the righteous will be delivered. As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, So  is a lovely woman who lacks discretion. The desire of the righteous is only good, But the expectation of the wicked is wrath. There is one who scatters, yet increases more; And there is one who withholds more than is right, But it leads to poverty. The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself. The people will curse him who withholds grain, But blessing will  be on the head of him who sells it. He who earnestly seeks good finds favor, But trouble will come to him who seeks evil. He who trusts in his riches will fall, But the righteous will flourish like foliage. He who troubles his own house will inherit the wind, And the fool will  be  servant to the wise of heart. The fruit of the righteous is  a tree of life, And he who wins souls is wise. If the righteous will be recompensed on the earth, How much more the ungodly and the sinner.
Proverbs 11:1‭-‬31 NKJV