Drusilla

Drusilla

Acts 24:24 “Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus.”

So this is what I find out about Drusilla from the writings of Josephus:

Her father was King Herod Agrippa 1 who died suddenly after he appeared in Caesarea as a god. (Acts 12:19-23)

When her father died she was 6 years of age. She married Felix at 14 years of age and she is standing before Paul at 19 years of age.

She was already married to a king in Syria but Felix hired a magician to tempt her away on the promise he would make her happy.

She was Felix’s third wife.

Four details about Drusilla.

A young woman who had experienced grief, who had grown up in her formative years without a father and who was then taken by older men to be their wife.

She is 19yrs and has experienced brokenness and sin.

Here she stands listening to Paul explain why Jesus had to suffer and die and the effects of the resurrection.

She hears that God loves her.

Today everyone deserves to hear of the story of love.

In each generation broken people need healing, sin needs forgiveness, Christ needs to be preached.

Who do you know today who has a life similar to that of Drusilla?

Pray for the opportunity Paul was given and then take it.

Friendship

Friendship

Acts 24:23 “He ordered the centurion to keep Paul under guard but to give him some freedom and permit his friends to take care of his needs.”

Paul was chained and imprisoned. He had various needs like food and clothes. Above all he needed a friend to care of him.

Are you a friend to those who are held back?

Are you a friend to those with little freedom?

This week I heard how one of my missionaries was taking a lady to the market because that lady was too afraid to leave her home. That missionary was a friend.

Paul was chained and imprisoned. Yet he had some freedom. Friendship needs space to breathe and prove its worth. Some shut down this space maybe because they have been hurt or perhaps they don’t have time for people in their lives. We were not created to be alone. We must not allow pride or pain to close down God’s purposes for our lives.

For friendship to exist there needs to be 2 elements: the desire to be a friend and the desire to have a friend.

Which desire will you focus on today ?

The adjournment

The adjournment

Acts 24:22 “Then Felix, who was well acquainted with the Way, adjourned the proceedings. “When Lysias the commander comes,” he said, “I will decide your case.”

The adjournment would mean that Paul would remain in custody for 2 years.

But that is only half the story.

The adjournment would also mean:

Paul would have several sessions of witnessing to Felix and his wife Drusilla.

Paul most likely wrote to the Philippians from there.

Paul took the opportunity to share with Luke the parts of the story that he had not witnessed which were vital for his gospel and the book of Acts.

The adjournment was not wasted time.

You might be waiting for something but God is using this time and soon the time will be over (v27) and you will look back and see what God has done.

The one thing … resurrection!

The one thing … resurrection!

Acts 24: 21 (Or these who are here should state what crime they found in me when I stood before the Sanhedrin) –  unless it was this one thing I shouted as I stood in their presence: “It is concerning the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you today.”’

This one thing, resurrection!

It is what unites and divides.

Paul preached it and some outside the Church sneered (Acts 17:32) and some inside chose not to believe (1 Corinthians 15:12).

This one thing, resurrection, is not only the foundation of our faith but for Paul it offers the true essence and meaning for our faith.

Why so?

If Jesus Christ was not raised then he lied about his own resurrection (Mark 9:31).

If Jesus Christ was not raised then the cross has no power to save (1 Corinthians 15:3).

If Jesus Christ was not raised then there is no hope that anyone be raised (1 Corinthians 15:18-19).

If Jesus Christ was not raised then God who raises the dead has not vindicated him (1 Corinthians 15:20).

If Jesus Christ was not raised then sin and death cannot be defeated (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).

If Jesus Christ was not raised then there is no new life in God now (Romans 6:4).

Paul and resurrection, one thing, this is why he is on trial.

Most importantly, if this one thing did not exist then … where is the body of Jesus? The Sanhedrin could not and would never be able to explain the whereabouts of the dead body of Jesus Christ.

The Pharisees also believed in resurrection. That was not the one thing Paul was meaning.

You speak to people today and many will hold to a nice thought that people are still alive after their death. But this is not the one thing that challenges.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ and all of the effects of that one thing, that is the one thing!

The difficulty of judging

The difficulty of judging

Acts 24:20 “Or these who are here should state what crime they found in me when I stood before the Sanhedrin.”

Paul is on trial before Felix accused by the Sanhedrin’s lawyer of being a troublemaker, of stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world and a desecrator of the temple.

There was no evidence for any of these accusations and Paul points out that the ones who initially made up these lies were not there.

So he then refers to the time Claudius the Commander took him to the Sanhedrin, to the people who were standing there now behind Tertullus their lawyer. What crime did they find in him then? Well he knew the only offence was his outspokenness to Ananias, the High Priest, but Felix would soon judge their provocation and response to that was far too much, so they would hardly bring that up as a crime.

You see friends the lesson is simple, don’t stand on the side of the prosecution if you cannot give evidence of the crime nor state it because you yourself would not survive the cross-examination. Jesus stated it well when he said make sure the log is taken out of your own eye before you start complaining about the speck in someone else’s.

Judging is really difficult and it is best left to God.

Where is the firelighter?

Where is the firelighter?

Acts 24:19 “But there are some Jews from the province of Asia, who ought to be here before you and bring charges if they have anything against me.”

“Woman, where are they?” This was the question from Jesus to the woman caught in adultery when the Pharisees dropped their stones and walked away quietly.

Paul says something very similar to Felix, “the Jews who first brought the accusation as eye-witnesses are not here, why?” They were the only ones who saw him in the Temple and they are not here bringing the accusation. Tertullus, Ananias and these other accusers are here only on hearsay, they are accusing Paul because of what they had heard, they were never there.

Where is the evidence? That is always the question to ask. Who was there?

It can be difficult enough when 2 people can be present and one says they heard one thing and the other nothing. “What did President Trump actually say?!”

But when those passing judgment, commenting, having opinions, denouncing on the theory of “I heard” well that amounts to nothing but hearsay and gossip.

Those who hear and those who witness something and who feel strongly about it, enough to tell someone, should tell the person who can deal with the matter, not a person who will lament and rage with them.

Fires are started all the time and those who start them are long gone.

If the firelighter isn’t present then there is a reason.

 

Pressure from within Church

Pressure from within Church

Acts 24:18 “I was ceremonially clean when they found me in the temple courts doing this. There was no crowd with me, nor was I involved in any disturbance.”

The Message translation says, “It was while making those offerings that they found me quietly at my prayers in the Temple. There was no crowd, there was no disturbance.”

Paul has brought the money he has raised to the Jerusalem church.

He was in the Temple worshipping God.

He was saying prayers within that Temple.

He was quietly going about his worship.

No crowds.

No disturbance.

No mob.

That’s when he was found by his enemy.

You can be in the right place at the right time doing the right thing and be found by your enemy.

You can be walking in the place of truth and the father of lies can rewrite your history and accuse your present.

Those who accused should have been worshipping and doing what he was doing.

There is too much looking around within Church. Looking and comparing and desiring and envying. Not everyone in Church is there for the good. As Paul found out.

Yet you know.

You know you have been with God. No matter what anyone says, you know.

Paul held to the truth and would not move. And so must we.

The pressure from within the Church can do more damage than that outside.

Stand tall. You know what happened. You know where you were and what you were doing.

7 important thoughts on giving

7 important thoughts on giving

Acts 24:17 “After an absence of several years, I came to Jerusalem to bring my people gifts for the poor and to present offerings.”

  • Enable the Church to give.
    • He was enabling the church in Jerusalem to give. The church must be seen in the community helping the poor. Do everything through the church. Equip the church so that Christ is glorified. Do not just give to a community project but give it to the church to give to that project.
  • Know the place where you are giving.
    • Paul had been in Jerusalem 5 years previously (Acts 21:18) and it was here that James, Peter and John asked Paul to help them with the poor (Galatians 2:10).
  • Keep the poor always with you.
    • He was asked to ‘remember the poor’ (Gal 2:10). There wasn’t a project in mind and there wasn’t an amount they were aiming for. They just asked that Paul didn’t forget about the need. I remember prayers as a child before we ate at the dinner table saying things like ‘…and we remember those less fortunate…’ But in our remembrance let us do something.
  • Encourage cross-culture giving.
    • Some will only give to their own citing that we have to look after ourselves first. These are people whose global responsibility is very small and have shrunken worlds. Paul crossed into Asia Minor and collected from the Gentiles for the Jews (Romans 15: 25-28).
  • Find the true motivation.
    • That is more than “we have more than them and we need to share it around”. Paul saw that the Gentiles owed the Jews so much for their spiritual blessings (Romans 15:27). I have seen the most impoverished people in this world bless me in ways that the richest wouldn’t have a clue how to do. I have never said goodbye to the poor without coming away a better man because of them.
  • Make sure the money gets there.
    • Paul made sure the money got to where it should go (Romans 15:28). You would think this be an obvious point. This is what is hidden in much charity giving. There is always a cost in making sure the giving gets to where it should be. If a charity or a para-church organisation goes bust then no one wins. But some of the percentage costs are horrendous.
  • There are no guarantees.
    • There are so many verses that promise that we will receive if we give. We all have believed and experienced those to be true. I remember the church member who complained that though they were a tither they were experiencing difficulties! Paul is on trial before Felix having been on one of the biggest fund-raising trips of his life. He is saying to Felix that the reason for him being in Jerusalem was not to cause disturbance but to bless the poor. We are involved in giving not for our own benefit for we know there are no guarantees.

Finality doesn’t have the last word.

Finality doesn’t have the last word.

Acts 24: 15 “and I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.”

Paul does not give the reason for his hope, that will come, but he states that as a Jew and a Pharisee he holds to the resurrection of all people.

He knows he will stand before God one day to give an account of his life.

But his hope is different to theirs also. His hope is based on the resurrection of Christ of course (1 Corinthians 15) and they are accusing him of his message of Christ.

Their hope is based on their own teachings coming out of interpretations of Daniel’s prophecies. They hold to every Jew being resurrected in Jerusalem after the temple has been rebuilt in the Messianic age.

Paul knows their charge is his belief in a resurrected Christ. That is why he tells Felix he believes the same as they do.

I believe that one day all will be revealed.

I believe that this life will make sense to those who experience injustice, to the downtrodden and forgotten.

I believe that this isn’t everything.

I believe that there is an existence after life here stops.

I believe I carry on.

I believe when anything dies it can live again.

I need to remind myself constantly of these truths because supposed finality is all around me.