Lessons from Lent: Day 22

14 Mar

 

creation swap lessons from lent coffee cup Kelly Sikkema 22940

An Explanation of Lessons from Lent

In the next 40 days (19 now because you have already accomplished twenty-one), the weeks leading up to Easter, the posts on Glimpsed Glory will be different. I am reading through the New Testament during this time and I am hoping the Holy Spirit will lead me to a fresh revelation each and every day. I’m going into it with a prayerful heart and an expectant spirit but I will fully confess to you that my soul feels sluggish.

I have been in a place of exhaustion over these last months. My mind has been clouded, my body has ached and insomnia has been my companion since late December. The enemy has been and is still whispering in my ear that my Jesus has forgotten me . . . that He has finally tired of my imperfections and left me behind.

I’m not giving in to it! I am going to fight the good fight of faith and follow the example of my Nehemiah Man. I am going to stand firm in my faith because if I do not, I will not stand at all. I’m praising God for bringing me to a place of emptiness so that I can look to Him to fill my cup.

I’m coming before the Lord and I’m asking Him to do a new thing in me. To rouse my heart to His side and to draw me near in real and tangible ways. To plow through the fog that has settled over me in the form of health issues, physical stress, and emotional upheaval and lay a level path before me. I’m entering the throne room and I’m humbly reminding Him that He has invited me to come in my time of need. O Lord – be near to me. Love me where I am. Take me where I need to be.

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That’s the cry of my heart Sweet Sister and I’m thinking that if I am in this place that perhaps you are too. It might be that different life situations have brought us here but here we are. If that’s the case, I want you to know that you are not alone and that you have a faith sister to walk through it with. We can do this together – you and I. It’s why God gave us to one another. We can join our hearts and we can offer up the next 40 days to the Beautiful One and trust Him to do the beautiful thing in us.

So here’s what I’ll do. I’ll post the daily reading on the blog (except for Sundays) and if you read the Scriptures not only will you have read through the entire New Testament by Easter but God promises that He’ll show you deep and unsearchable things you do not know. He promises that His word is alive and active and will transform your heart. I could use some transformation. What about you?

At the end of the daily passage, I’m going to share my “Lesson from Lent” – nothing long or drawn out just something that God uses to speak straight to my heart from the Scripture that day. I’m putting it at the end because if your time runs short on a particular day – I want you to skip reading my words, not His.

I’m hoping that you’ll start your own running record of what God is showing you. Maybe you’ll even be moved to leave a comment so your Sisters can glean from what you’re learning. No matter how you choose to keep track of all He shares with you . . . treasure it up in your heart Sweet One, meditate on it, mull it over, consider the whisper of the Lover of your soul. The God of the Universe is the only Voice we need to revive our tired souls. So, let’s you and I lean in close, pray for ears to hear and hearts to respond. Let’s dig in to the riches He has given us and prepare to be amazed by what He will reveal to our expectant hearts. O Sister, let’s boldly ask Him for a lesson from Lent and then brace ourselves for a glimpse of Glory!

Day Twenty-two

March 14, 2015 ~~ Acts 24-28

Amplified Bible

Footnotes: I’ve left the footnotes in place if you would like to track down sources in word study and language. Please follow the link to each chapter and scroll to the bottom of the passage.

Acts 24

Five days later, the high priest Ananias came down [from Jerusalem to Caesarea] with some elders and a certain forensic advocate Tertullus [acting as spokesman and counsel]. They presented to the governor their evidence against Paul. And when he was called, Tertullus began the complaint [against him] by saying: Since through you we obtain and enjoy much peace, and since by your foresight and provision wonderful reforms (amendments and improvements) are introduced and effected on behalf of this nation, In every way and in every place, most excellent Felix, we accept and acknowledge this with deep appreciation and with all gratitude. But not to hinder or detain you too long, I beg you in your clemency and courtesy and kindness to grant us a brief and [a]concise hearing. For we have found this man a perfect pest (a real plague), an agitator and source of disturbance to all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the [heretical, [b]division-producing] sect of the Nazarenes. He also [even] tried to desecrate and defile the temple, but we laid hands on him [c]and would have sentenced him by our Law, But the commandant Lysias came and took him from us with violence and force, And ordered his accusers to present themselves to you. By examining and cross-questioning him yourself, you will be able to ascertain the truth from him about all these things with which we charge him.

The Jews also agreed and joined in the accusation, declaring that all these things were exactly so. 10 And when the governor had beckoned to Paul to speak, he answered: Because I know that for many years you have been a judge over this nation, I find it easier to make my defense and do it cheerfully and with good courage. 11 As you can readily verify, it is not more than twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem to worship; 12 And neither in the temple nor in the synagogues nor in the city did they find me disputing with anybody or bringing together a seditious crowd. 13 Neither can they present argument or evidence to prove to you what they now bring against me.

14 But this I confess to you, however, that in accordance with the Way [of the Lord], which they call a [heretical, division-producing] sect, I worship (serve) the God of our fathers, still persuaded of the truth of and believing in and placing full confidence in everything laid down in the Law [of Moses] or written in the prophets; 15 Having [the same] hope in God which these themselves hold and look for, that there is to be a resurrection both of the righteous and the unrighteous (the just and the unjust). 16 Therefore I always exercise and discipline myself [mortifying my body, deadening my carnal affections, bodily appetites, and worldly desires, endeavoring in all respects] to have a clear (unshaken, blameless) conscience, void of offense toward God and toward men. 17 Now after several years I came up [to Jerusalem] to bring to my people contributions of charity and offerings. 18 While I was engaged in presenting these, they found me [occupied in the rites of purification] in the temple, without any crowd or uproar. But some Jews from [the province of] Asia [were there], 19 Who ought to be here before you and to present their charges, if they have anything against me. 20 Or else let these men themselves tell of what crime or wrongdoing they found me guilty when I appeared before the council (Sanhedrin), 21 Unless it be this one sentence which I cried out as I stood among them, In regard to the resurrection of the dead I am indicted and on trial before you this day!

22 But Felix, having a rather accurate understanding of the Way [of the Lord], put them off and adjourned the trial, saying, When Lysias the commandant comes down, I will determine your case more fully. 23 Then he ordered the centurion to keep [Paul] in custody, but to treat him with indulgence [giving him some liberty] and not to hinder his friends from ministering to his needs and serving him.

24 Some days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess; and he sent for Paul and listened to him [talk] about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 But as he continued to argue about uprightness, purity of life (the control of the passions), and the judgment to come, Felix became alarmed and terrified and said, Go away for the present; when I have a convenient opportunity, I will send for you.

26 At the same time he hoped to get money from Paul, for which reason he continued to send for him and was in his company and conversed with him often. 27 But when two years had gone by, Felix was succeeded in office by Porcius Festus; and wishing to gain favor with the Jews, Felix left Paul still a prisoner in chains.

Acts 25

Now when Festus had entered into his own province, after three days he went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem. And [there] the chief priests and the principal men of the Jews laid charges before him against Paul, and they kept begging and urging him, Asking as a favor that he would have him brought to Jerusalem; [meanwhile] they were planning an ambush to slay him on the way.

Festus answered that Paul was in custody in Caesarea and that he himself planned to leave for there soon. So, said he, let those who are in a position of authority and are influential among you go down with me, and if there is anything amiss or criminal about the man, let them so charge him.

So when Festus had remained among them not more than eight or ten days, he went down to Caesarea, took his seat the next day on the judgment bench, and ordered Paul to be brought before him. And when he arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood all around him, bringing many grave accusations against him which they were not able to prove.

Paul declared in [his own] defense, Neither against the Law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in any way. But Festus, wishing to ingratiate himself with the Jews, answered Paul, Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and there be put on trial [[a]before the Jewish Sanhedrin] in my presence concerning these charges?

10 But Paul replied, I am standing before Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be tried. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you know [b]better [than your question implies]. 11 If then I am a wrongdoer and a criminal and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not beg off and seek to escape death; but if there is no ground for their accusations against me, no one can give me up and make a present of me [[c]give me up freely] to them. I appeal to Caesar. 12 Then Festus, when he had consulted with the [[d]men who formed his] council, answered, You have appealed to Caesar; to Caesar you shall go.

13 Now after an interval of some days, Agrippa the king and Bernice arrived at Caesarea to pay their respects to Festus [to welcome him and wish him well]. 14 And while they remained there for many days, Festus acquainted the king with Paul’s case, telling him, There is a man left a prisoner in chains by Felix; 15 And when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me about him, petitioning for a judicial hearing and condemnation of him. 16 But I replied to them that it was not the custom of the Romans to [e]give up freely any man for punishment before the accused had met the accusers face to face and had opportunity to defend himself concerning the charge brought against him.

17 So when they came here together, I did not delay, but on the morrow took my place on the judgment seat and ordered that the man be brought before me. 18 [But] when the accusers stood up, they brought forward no accusation [in his case] of any such misconduct as I was expecting. 19 Instead they had some points of controversy with him about their own religion or superstition and concerning one Jesus, Who had died but Whom Paul kept asserting [over and over] to be alive. 20 And I, being puzzled to know how to make inquiries into such questions, asked whether he would be willing to go to Jerusalem and there be tried regarding them. 21 But when Paul had appealed to have his case retained for examination and decision by the emperor, I ordered that he be detained until I could send him to Caesar. 22 Then Agrippa said to Festus, I also desire to hear the man myself. Tomorrow, [Festus] replied, you shall hear him.

23 So the next day Agrippa and Bernice approached with great display, and they went into the audience hall accompanied by the military commandants and the prominent citizens of the city. At the order of Festus Paul was brought in. 24 Then Festus said, King Agrippa and all the men present with us, you see this man about whom the whole Jewish people came to me and complained, both at Jerusalem and here, insisting and shouting that he ought not to live any longer. 25 But I found nothing that he had done deserving of death. Still, as he himself appealed to the emperor, I determined to send him to Rome. 26 [However] I have nothing in particular and definite to write to my lord concerning him. So I have brought him before all of you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that after [further] examination has been made, I may have something to put in writing. 27 For it seems to me senseless and absurd to send a prisoner and not state the accusations against him.

Acts 26

Then Agrippa said to Paul, You are permitted to speak on your own behalf. At that Paul stretched forth his hand and made his defense [as follows]:

I consider myself fortunate, King Agrippa, that it is before you that I am to make my defense today in regard to all the charges brought against me by [the] Jews, [Especially] because you are so fully and unusually conversant with all the Jewish customs and controversies; therefore, I beg you to hear me patiently. My behavior and manner of living from my youth up is known by all the Jews; [they are aware] that from [its] commencement my youth was spent among my own race in Jerusalem. They have had knowledge of me for a long time, if they are willing to testify to it, that in accordance with the strictest sect of our religion I have lived as a Pharisee. And now I stand here on trial [to be judged on the ground] of the hope of that promise made to our forefathers by God, Which hope [of the Messiah and the resurrection] our twelve tribes confidently expect to realize as they fervently worship [without ceasing] night and day. And for that hope, O king, I am accused by Jews and considered a criminal! Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead? I myself indeed was [once] persuaded that it was my duty to do many things contrary to and in defiance of the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And that is what I did in Jerusalem; I [not only] locked up many of the [faithful] saints (holy ones) in prison by virtue of authority received from the chief priests, but when they were being condemned to death, I cast my vote against them. 11 And frequently I punished them in all the synagogues to make them blaspheme; and in my bitter fury against them, I harassed (troubled, molested, persecuted) and pursued them even to foreign cities.

12 Thus engaged I proceeded to Damascus with the authority and orders of the chief priests, 13 When on the road at midday, O king, I saw a light from heaven surpassing the brightness of the sun, flashing about me and those who were traveling with me. 14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice in the Hebrew tongue saying to me, Saul, Saul, why do you continue to persecute Me [to harass and trouble and molest Me]? It is dangerous and turns out badly for you to keep kicking against the goads [to keep offering vain and perilous resistance].

15 And I said, Who are You, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting. 16 But arise and stand upon your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, that I might appoint you to serve as [My] minister and to bear witness both to what you have seen of Me and to that in which I will appear to you, 17 [a]Choosing you out [selecting you for Myself] and [b]delivering you from among this [Jewish] people and the Gentiles to whom I am sending you— 18 To open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may thus receive forgiveness and release from their sins and a place and portion among those who are consecrated and purified by faith in Me.

19 Wherefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision, 20 But made known openly first of all to those at Damascus, then at Jerusalem and throughout the whole land of Judea, and also among the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works and live lives consistent with and worthy of their repentance. 21 Because of these things the Jews seized me in the temple [[c]enclosure] and tried to do away with me. 22 [But] to this day I have had the help which comes from God [as my [d]ally], and so I stand here testifying to small and great alike, asserting nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses declared would come to pass— 23 That the Christ (the Anointed One) must suffer and that He, by being the first to rise from the dead, would declare and show light both to the [Jewish] people and to the Gentiles.

24 And as he thus proceeded with his defense, Festus called out loudly, Paul, you are mad! Your great learning is driving you insane! 25 But Paul replied, I am not mad, most noble Festus, but I am uttering the straight, sound truth. 26 For the king understands about these things well enough, and [therefore] to him I speak with bold frankness and confidence. I am convinced that not one of these things has escaped his notice, for all this did not take place in a corner [in secret]. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? [Do you give credence to God’s messengers and their words?] I perceive and know that you do believe.

28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, You think it a small task to make a Christian of me [just offhand to induce me with little ado and persuasion, at very short notice]. 29 And Paul replied, Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you, but also all who are listening to me today, might become such as I am, except for these chains.

30 Then the king arose, and the governor and Bernice and all those who were seated with them; 31 And after they had gone out, they said to one another, This man is doing nothing deserving of death or [even] of imprisonment. 32 And Agrippa said to Festus, This man could have been set at liberty if he had not appealed to Caesar.

Acts 27

Now when it was determined that we [including Luke] should sail for Italy, they turned Paul and some other prisoners over to a centurion of the imperial regiment named Julius. And going aboard a ship from Adramyttium which was about to sail for the ports along the coast of [the province of] Asia, we put out to sea; and Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, accompanied us.

The following day we landed at Sidon, and Julius treated Paul in a loving way, with much consideration (kindness and care), permitting him to go to his friends [there] and be refreshed and be cared for.

After putting to sea from there we passed to the leeward (south side) of Cyprus [for protection], for the winds were contrary to us.

And when we had sailed over [the whole length] of sea which lies off Cilicia and Pamphylia, we reached Myra in Lycia. There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship bound for Italy, and he transferred us to it.

For a number of days we made slow progress and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus; then, as the wind did not permit us to proceed, we went under the lee (shelter) of Crete off Salmone, And coasting along it with difficulty, we arrived at a place called Fair Havens, near which is located the town of Lasea.

But as [the season was well advanced, for] much time had been lost and navigation was already dangerous, for the time for the Fast [the Day of Atonement, about the beginning of October] had already gone by, Paul warned and advised them, 10 Saying, Sirs, I perceive [after careful observation] that this voyage will be attended with disaster and much heavy loss, not only of the cargo and the ship but of our lives also. 11 However, the centurion paid greater attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said. 12 And as the harbor was not well situated and so unsuitable to winter in, the majority favored the plan of putting to sea again from there, hoping somehow to reach Phoenice, a harbor of Crete facing southwest and northwest, and winter there.

13 So when the south wind blew softly, supposing they were gaining their object, they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete, hugging the coast. 14 But soon afterward a violent wind [of the character of a typhoon], called a northeaster, came bursting down from the island. 15 And when the ship was caught and was unable to head against the wind, we gave up and, letting her drift, were borne along.

16 We ran under the shelter of a small island called Cauda, where we managed with [much] difficulty to draw the [ship’s small] boat on deck and secure it. 17 After hoisting it on board, they used supports with ropes to undergird and brace the ship; then afraid that they would be driven into the Syrtis [quicksands off the north coast of Africa], they lowered the gear (sails and ropes) and so were driven along.

18 As we were being dangerously tossed about by the violence of the storm, the next day they began to throw the freight overboard; 19 And the third day they threw out with their own hands the ship’s equipment (the tackle and the furniture). 20 And when neither sun nor stars were visible for many days and no small tempest kept raging about us, all hope of our being saved was finally abandoned.

21 Then as they had eaten nothing for a long time, Paul came forward into their midst and said, Men, you should have listened to me, and should not have put to sea from Crete and brought on this disaster and harm and misery and loss. 22 But [even] now I beg you to be in good spirits and take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you but only of the ship. 23 For this [very] night there stood by my side an angel of the God to Whom I belong and Whom I serve and worship, 24 And he said, Do not be frightened, Paul! It is necessary for you to stand before Caesar; and behold, God has given you all those who are sailing with you. 25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith (complete confidence) in God that it will be exactly as it was told me; 26 But we shall have to be stranded on some island.

27 The fourteenth night had come and we were drifting and being driven about in the Adriatic Sea, when about midnight the sailors began to suspect that they were drawing near to some land. 28 So they took soundings and found twenty fathoms, and a little farther on they sounded again and found fifteen fathoms. 29 Then fearing that we might fall off [our course] onto rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and kept wishing for daybreak to come. 30 And as the sailors were trying to escape [secretly] from the ship and were lowering the small boat into the sea, pretending that they were going to lay out anchors from the bow, 31 Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, Unless these men remain in the ship, you cannot be saved. 32 Then the soldiers cut away the ropes that held the small boat, and let it fall and drift away.

33 While they waited until it should become day, Paul entreated them all to take some food, saying, This is the fourteenth day that you have been continually in suspense and on the alert without food, having eaten nothing. 34 So I urge (warn, exhort, encourage, advise) you to take some food [for your safety]—it will give you strength; for not a hair is to perish from the head of any one of you.

35 Having said these words, he took bread and, giving thanks to God before them all, he broke it and began to eat. 36 Then they all became more cheerful and were encouraged and took food themselves. 37 All told there were 276 souls of us in the ship.

38 And after they had eaten sufficiently, [they proceeded] to lighten the ship, throwing out the wheat into the sea. 39 Now when it was day [and they saw the land], they did not recognize it, but they noticed a bay with a beach on which they [taking counsel] purposed to run the ship ashore if they possibly could.

40 So they cut the cables and severed the anchors and left them in the sea; at the same time unlashing the ropes that held the rudders and hoisting the foresail to the wind, they headed for the beach. 41 But striking a crosscurrent (a place open to two seas) they ran the ship aground. The prow stuck fast and remained immovable, and the stern began to break up under the violent force of the waves.

42 It was the counsel of the soldiers to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim to land and escape; 43 But the centurion, wishing to save Paul, prevented their carrying out their purpose. He commanded those who could swim to throw themselves overboard first and make for the shore, 44 And the rest on heavy boards or pieces of the vessel. And so it was that all escaped safely to land.

Acts 28

After we were safe on the island, we knew and recognized that it was called Malta.

And the natives showed us unusual and remarkable kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed and received us all, since it had begun to rain and was cold.

Now Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and he was laying them on the fire when a viper crawled out because of the heat and fastened itself on his hand. When the natives saw the little animal hanging from his hand, they said to one another, Doubtless this man is a murderer, for though he has been saved from the sea, Justice [[a]the goddess of avenging] has not permitted that he should live. Then [Paul simply] shook off the small creature into the fire and suffered no evil effects. However, they were waiting, expecting him to swell up or suddenly drop dead; but when they had watched him a long time and saw nothing fatal or harmful come to him, they changed their minds and kept saying over and over that he was a god.

In the vicinity of that place there were estates belonging to the head man of the island, named Publius, who accepted and welcomed and entertained us with hearty hospitality for three days. And it happened that the father of Publius was sick in bed with recurring attacks of fever and dysentery; and Paul went to see him, and after praying and laying his hands on him, he healed him. After this had occurred, the other people on the island who had diseases also kept coming and were cured.

10 They showed us every respect and presented many gifts to us, honoring us with many honors; and when we sailed, they provided and put on [board our ship] everything we needed.

11 It was after three months’ stay there that we set sail in a ship which had wintered in the island, an Alexandrian ship with the Twin Brothers [Castor and Pollux] as its figurehead. 12 We landed at Syracuse and remained there three days,

13 And from there we made a circuit [following the coast] and reached Rhegium; and one day later a south wind sprang up, and the next day we arrived at Puteoli. 14 There we found some [Christian] brethren and were entreated to stay with them for seven days. And so we came to Rome. 15 And the [Christian] brethren there, having had news of us, came as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and received new courage.

16 When we arrived at Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard, but Paul was permitted to live by himself with the soldier who guarded him.

17 Three days after [our arrival], he called together the leading local Jews; and when they had gathered, he said to them, Brethren, though I have done nothing against the people or against the customs of our forefathers, yet I was turned over as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. 18 After they had examined me, they were ready to release me because I was innocent of any offense deserving the death penalty. 19 But when the Jews protested, I was forced to appeal to Caesar, though it was not because I had any charge to make against my nation. 20 This is the reason therefore why I have begged to see you and to talk with you, since it is because of the Hope of Israel (the Messiah) that I am bound with this chain.

21 And they answered him, We have not received any letters about you from Judea, and none of the [Jewish] brethren coming here has reported or spoken anything evil about you. 22 But we think it fitting and are eager to hear from you what it is that you have in mind and believe and what your opinion is, for with regard to this sect it is known to all of us that it is everywhere denounced.

23 So when they had set a day with him, they came in large numbers to his lodging. And he fully set forth and explained the matter to them from morning until night, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. 24 And some were convinced and believed what he said, and others did not believe.

25 And as they disagreed among themselves, they began to leave, [but not before] Paul had added one statement [more]: The Holy Spirit was right in saying through Isaiah the prophet to your forefathers: 26 Go to this people and say to them, You will indeed hear and hear with your ears but will not understand, and you will indeed look and look with your eyes but will not see [not perceive, have knowledge of or become acquainted with what you look at, at all]. 27 For the heart (the understanding, the soul) of this people has grown dull (stupid, hardened, and calloused), and their ears are heavy and hard of hearing and they have shut tight their eyes, so that they may not perceive and have knowledge and become acquainted with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their souls and turn [to Me and be converted], that I may heal them. 28 So let it be understood by you then that [this message of] the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen [to it]!

29 [b]And when he had said these things, the Jews went away, arguing and disputing among themselves.

30 After this Paul lived there for two entire years [at his own expense] in his own rented lodging, and he welcomed all who came to him, 31 Preaching to them the kingdom of God and teaching them about the Lord Jesus Christ with boldness and quite openly, and without being molested or hindered.

With unshackled hands raised, all the Sisters shout in freedom, “Amen”

#lessonsfromlent

Thus concludes the Book of Acts. Paul rejected by the very people he may have emulated as a young man studying at the feet of Gamaliel. Paul, a Pharisee among Pharisees excelling past many of his peers, now an outsider. Paul, zealous for who he imagined God to be, now passionate for a Messiah greater than he could ever have conceived.

Isn’t it odd that when we are first introduced to Paul – Saul standing and guarding the clothes of the murderers attacking Stephen, giving his consent and approval— he most likely would have described himself as a free man? He would have considered himself to be unbound to serve the God of his fathers with no knowledge or recognition of the chains shackling him.

And now we have a transformed Saul . . . Paul under house arrest, imprisoned and rejected by the ones he loved, held at arm’s length by the ones he wanted to grow up and be . . . more free than he had ever been.

The yoke of sin has been removed from his neck and the weight of the Law has been lifted by the work of Jesus. The Messiah, the Sinless One, fulfilled the Law —keeping every commandment by His unflinching commitment to the first . . .

 You shall have no other gods before or besides Me. Exodus 20:3

Word of caution to my own heart and maybe yours as well . . . Don’t think for a minute that you or I keeping God in His proper place as the One, True God does a thing for Him. He does not need us to validate that He is The One and Only God. He fully knows Who He is. He does not need us to seat Him on the throne of our world to feel validated in His Godness. The Great I AM was firmly positioned and securely enthroned before He even spoke our world into being. Like we are learning over and over again on this New Testament journey . . . the blessing is ours. Having no other gods before or besides Him is not a commandment that sprang forth from a universe-sized ego; it’s a boundary that was commanded from a universe-sized LOVE.

Paul, held captive in Rome, was freer than he had ever been because his soul had been liberated from the Law by Grace. The Messiah, the One who became sin, had paid for every transgression Paul had committed – even the approval of the death of Stephen. Even the destruction of the homes he had dragged the saints from to imprison them. Sweet One, we have to raise the hallelujah because the same is true for us. No matter how huge we believe our sin to be . .

No offense is beyond the blood of Jesus.

But the saving work begins long before the shackles drop, does it not begin with a glimmer of recognition that you and I are walking about in chains? Does it not begin with a flicker of our need to be set free?

Remember Paul on the road to Damascus with the light shining all around him, hearing the voice of Jesus say I am the One. This is what I wonder . . . is that the moment Saul knew he was in bondage? His eyes were blinded but did his soul see? Did the Light of World shine so clearly on the chains holding Saul’s heart that for the first time he realized he was a captive? A slave to sin, held in bondage by the Law and yoked to his own inability to be righteous.

I believe the transformed Saul, the one God allowed to pen Galatians 5:1 was very aware of his freedom and it seems to me that you don’t come to appreciate something that way, to the very depth of your soul, unless you know what it is to be without it.

In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off]. Galatians 5:1

The Law was powerless to keep Saul from sinning. It had all the force of God behind it to point to ungodliness and unrighteousness but the Law shackled Saul with sin and death. But God would not leave him bound and chained. He sent the Spirit of Life to set him free.

Is that not the testimony of every believer? We may have worn it differently than Paul in our dispensation of time, but when our Damascus Road moment came and the Living Christ shone about us . . .we saw our chains. We saw our slavery to sin and recognized the shackles of death that entangled us. We thought we were free but when the scales fell from our eyes – we saw our captivity.

But God– (don’t you love those two words, those two life-giving, spirit quickening, soul saving words )–But God . . . sent the Spirit of Life to set us free and Girlfriend, the one the Son sets free is free indeed!

No offense is beyond the blood of JesusNo offense is beyond the blood of Jesus . . . #lessonsfromlent

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