An Acts-ive Faith (Part 26)

Acts 26: A Known Life

Acts 26:4 All the Jews know my way of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation and in Jerusalem.

Paul’s life was not hidden. It was not unknown to his accusers. He had worked with those who were accusing him for many years. He had testified about his life, and why he was serving Jesus, to them before. They had heard about how he was radically changed and had seen the results of it.

Paul was giving his testimony before Governor Festus and King Agrippa. He honored King Agrippa, saying that he knew the king believed the prophets (Acts 26:27). He gave the king the chance to become a Christian, which the king did not accept. Paul was more concerned about giving his listeners a chance to hear about Jesus, than about being set free. King Agrippa declared Paul’s innocence of any crime, telling the governor that he could be set free — if he had not appealed to Caesar.

Paul’s life was known — and the fact that he was innocent was known, too.

I am not, and never will be, famous. Yet, there are those who know my life from the beginning. They know if my testimony is true or not. They know how I have grown as a Christian and how much I still need to grow.

Prayer: Father, my life in known — not only to You, but to those close to me and to the people I regularly deal with. Father, help me life be a testimony to your glory. Amen.

CC: K Carswell 2022

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.

An Acts-ive Faith (Part 25)

Acts 25: Innocent and Hated

Acts 25:10 But Paul said, “I am standing at Caesar’s tribunal, where I ought to be tried. I have done no wrong to the Jews, as even you can see very well. If then I am doing wrong. or have done anything deserving of death, I do not refuse to die, but if there is nothing to what these men accuse me of, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar!”

Ruins at Caesarea

Mediterranean Sea from the forum at Caesarea

The Jewish leaders accused Paul of many things. as they stood before Festus in Caesarea. They were not able to prove them. Paul had not done anything wrong. He had gone to many cities in which Jews lived and told people about Christ, encouraging them to repent. The Jews wanted Paul dead, and Paul knew it. Remember Paul’s nephew in Acts 23 who overheard a plot to kill Paul? They had planned to kill him before he got to Jerusalem. Paul knew the level of their hatred. He appealed to Caesar so that he would not be turned over to the Jews. He also remembered what God had said to him: “Have courage! For as you have testified about Me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome” (Acts 23:11).

Paul was a travelling apostle. He knew God wanted him to speak in Rome. How nice it would be if he could travel to Rome in a first class cabin, with all the luxuries — but no, he was going to Rome as a prisoner. Paul wanted to fulfill God’s call on his life. It did not matter to him if he fulfilled it as a free man or as a prisoner. I marvel at Paul’s dedication to the Lord.

The forum in Caesarea

Question: Will I be that dedicated to the Lord when my trials comes? Will I still follow the Lord, even if I am hated by others for no reason?

Prayer: Lord, Help me to follow you fully. Help me to serve you even if (and when) my outside circumstances are not so pleasant. Help me to know Your call on my life and to fulfill it.

Photo credits: M or K Carswell,

CC: K Carswell 2022

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.

An Acts-ive Faith (Part 24)

Acts 24: Felix’s Desire

Acts 24: 24-26 After some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and listened to him on the subject of faith in Christ Jesus. Now as he spoke about righteousness, self-control and the judgement to come, Felix became afraid and replied, “Leave for now, but when I find time I’ll call for you.: At the same time he was also hoping that money would be given to him by Paul. For this reason he sent for him quite often and conversed with him.

The Jewish leaders had accused Paul of being an agitator among the Jews and a ringleader of the Sect of the Nazarenes. Paul had given his defense, but Felix adjourned the hearing saying that he was waiting for Claudius Lysias, a Roman commander, to come. Felix became afraid at what Paul was saying so adjourned the hearing.

He called Paul often, wanting to converse with him. Paul was telling him about Jesus, about salvation, showing him the way of eternal life. However, what Felix wanted was a bribe.

Imagine the picture: Paul a prisoner, with very limited financial means, speaking before a governor, who was wearing the robes of his office. Paul was willing to speak about Jesus to anyone, and was gladly telling the governor how to come to faith. But the governor was waiting for a bribe–more interested in a little extra cash than in the eternal salvation of his soul.

Felix, how could you be so stupid?

But wait –what kind of choices am I going to make today? Am I going to spend time with Jesus, reading his word and worshipping him, or am I going to fill all my time with work, games and hobbies? Am I concerned about others who do not know Jesus yet, or am I ignoring the reality of hell? Do my choices honor Jesus or am I just going about my day to please myself?

Prayer: Lord, help me make proper choices today — choices that bring You glory and honor. Amen.

CC: K Carswell 2022

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.

An Acts-ive Faith (Part 17b)

Acts 17: Gratitude

Acts 16:40, 17:1 After leaving the jail, they came to Lydia’s house where they saw and encouraged the brothers, and departed. Then they travelled through Amphipolis and Apollnia and came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue.

I am grateful for the spread of the gospel. I am grateful for the missionary journeys that Paul and his group undertook.

But I am also grateful for something else: the four time in my life when God allowed me to be part of short-term missions. In February of 1986, I went to St Lucia and Barbados as a helper to an elderly missionary, In February of 1996, I was part of a church group that was ministering in Russia and Estonia and in 2001 I was a part of another church group that ministered in Guatemala. I am also thankful for the time my husband and I spent attending a church in which the senior pastors and many of the congregation grew up in Nigeria. I owned beautiful Nigerian outfits, before I owned a Scottish tartan (which is part of my own ancestry).

Question: How do I participate in missions at this time of my life?

Prayer: God, as I think about the world, and what some of your people in it our currently facing, I cry out to you for mercy. With a thankful heart, I say pour out your blessings on those that need them. Amen.

CC: K Carswell 2022

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.

An Acts-ive Faith (Part 23)

Acts 23 A Protected Prisoner

Acts 23:23 He summoned two of his centurions and said, “Get 200 soldiers ready with 70 cavalry and 200 spearmen to go to Caesarea at nine tonight. Also provide mounts so they can put Paul on them and bring him safely to Felix the governor.”

Dusty nudged Cornie’s shoulder, thinking he may just have another carrot.

“No more treats for you right now, Dusty. We both have work to do. We have to help transport a prisoner to Caesarea tonight.” Cornie gave his horse a pat on its mane, as he mounted. It was almost time to get into formation for a night ride. Cornie rode to his place in the formation. His centurion smiled at him, and Cornie smiled back. The centurion had the same green eyes as his second oldest daughter. Cornie wanted to please the centurion — not only because he loved being a soldier but because he wanted to get to know his daughter better. He dreamed of going home to her beautiful green eyes every night. “Concentrate Cornie!”, he reminded himself as he took his place in the formation. A sense of anticipation was in the air. Night rides were not that usual, yet he knew that the commander would not have ordered one if it was unnecessary. Cornie was pleased to serve in a unit commanded by Claudius Lysias. Claudius was a fair man and only gave his soldiers necessary duties. Cornie sat up in the saddle, proud to be part of the Roman Cavalry. He noticed that the prisoner was now being brought out — a short, bald Jewish man, who was helped on to a horse. “This is about something even bigger than Rome,” thought Cornie. Then, he shook off the thought. What could be bigger than Rome, the world’s greatest empire?

Soon the command came to move forward and 70 cavalry members, 200 soldiers, 200 spearman and one prisoner left for Caesarea. The ground thundered as they moved.

The story of Cornie and his horse Dusty is of course fiction. Yet, there are so many unnamed people in scripture. It is sometimes fun for me to imagine what they may have been going through.

Paul’s life had been threatened with 40 men making a vow to kill him. The Roman commander took steps to guard his life by sending him to the governor. Paul was guarded by 470 trained soldiers, so if the men had tried to take his life, they would have been out numbered by more than 11 to one. The commander avoided the possible confrontation by having Paul leave the area before the planned attack.

God protects his own — even if he has to use Roman commanders and unnamed cavalry personnel to do it. God had promised Paul he would go to Rome, that Paul would fulfill his purpose and glorify God.

Question for myself: Am I fulfilling my purpose, and letting the consequences rest in God’s capable hands.? Am I doing what I know is God’s purpose for me: things like worshipping him, getting to know Him better and reading his Word?

Prayer: Lord, help me to follow you closely. You are my protection. Amen.

CC: K Carswell 2022

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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An Acts-ive Faith (Part 22)

Acts 22 The Protection of Citizenship

Acts 22:25 As they stretched him out for the lash, Paul said the the centurion standing by, “It is legal for you to scourge a man who is a Roman citizen and is uncondemned?”

Paul was in Jerusalem and had just given his testimony about how he met the Lord. He had said that God was sending him to the Gentiles. That thought caused the Jewish people to put up a fuss, throwing aside their robes and throwing sand in the air. The commander wanted to know why the Jewish people were yelling at Paul, so was going to get ready to examine Paul — by having him scourged.

It is interesting that Paul faced punishment when he had done nothing wrong. He had not caused the commotion, the Jews had. Yet, because the commander planned to have Paul examined by scourging. Paul used his rights as a Roman citizen to avoid punishment. The commander was alarmed when he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and he had bound him. Paul had a right to a Roman trial as a citizen.

I am happy to be a citizen of Canada. I have enjoyed many rights and freedoms throughout my life. Responsibilities of citizenship include paying taxes and voting. Yet, in I not only a citizen of my country; I am a citizen of Christ’s Kingdom. As a citizen of the Kingdom, I have a right of access to the King. I can come before his throne at any time — what a beautiful right it is! My King has paid for my salvation, for the forgiveness of my sins and for healing for my body.

I have responsibilities as well — responsibilities to live in a way that honors my King. Paul would later write to the Philippians “Just one thing: Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (part of Philippians 1:27).

My challenges and questions to myself are these: Am I honoring the fact that Jesus has given me access to His throne by taking the time to be in His presence, or am I just going about my day, with Jesus in the background? (Ouch!) Am I seeking to fulfill my responsibilities in the kingdom as diligently as I can, or am I letting them slide?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for allowing me to be a citizen of your kingdom. Help me to honor you as my King as I go about my day. Amen.

CC: K Carswell 2022

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.

An Acts-ive Faith (Part 21)

Acts 21: When Stupid Stuff Happens

Acts 21: 21-30:

When the seven-day period was almost over, a number of Jews from western Turkey who had seen him in the temple courts stirred up the whole crowd against him. Seizing him, they shouted, “Men of Israel, help us! This the the man who teaches everywhere what is contrary to our nation, our law, and this temple. And not only that, but now he brings these non-Jewish men with him into the inner courts of our temple! They have made this sacred place ritually unclean. (For Trophimus, an Ephesian, had been seen previously with him, and they assumed that he entered the inner courts with Paul). This ignited a huge riot . . .

A riot occurred, A Roman commander heard that the city was in an uproar. He ended up arresting Paul, but let him speak to the people.

Emotions were running high. So high, that no one bothered to check if Trophimus was actually in the temple courts with Paul. Sigh. Some ‘fact checking’ would have solved the problem. Paul was in Jerusalem, and had taken the advice of the elders in Jerusalem to try and prove that he was living according to the law of Moses. Paul was the apostle to the gentiles — but still an observant Jew.

Paul took the opportunity to speak to the people, to give his defense before them.

It was all he could do. He handled the situation well, even though he had just been arrested by a Roman commander and bound with chains.

How do I respond when ‘stupid stuff’ happens to me? Do I have the grace that Paul did? (Okay, I’ll admit it, usually I don’t.)

Also, have I ever contributed to ‘stupid stuff happening”, assuming I know the facts without checking them out?

Just a couple of things for me to think about . . .

Prayer: Father, when things happen that do not make sense to me, give me the grace to continue serving you. Lord Jesus, you are worthy to be served, no matter what the circumstances are. Amen.

CC: K Carswell 2022

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.

An Acts-ive Faith (Part 20)

Acts 20: Following into Hardship

Acts 20: 22-24: “And now I am on my way to Jerusalem, bound in my spirit, not knowing what I will encounter there, except that in town after town the Holy Spirit testifies to me that chains and afflictions are waiting for me. But I count my life of no value to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace.”

Wow. Paul was knowingly heading into affliction. He knew that chains awaited him. He didn’t care. He still moved forward to do what God called him to do.

Paul was used to travelling around, free to go where the Spirit led him. He knew the Spirit was leading him to Jerusalem. He didn’t care that it meant trouble for him personally.

If Paul had been able to travel, some of the most precious parts of the Bible may not have been written. When he was imprisoned he wrote to the Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians, and some believe even to the Hebrews. He even wrote personal letters to Timothy, Titus and Philemon. Many wonderful scriptures come from these books, including an exhortation to have an attitude like that of Christ in Philippians 2 and to put on the armor of God in Ephesians 6.

The church is much richer because of Paul’s obedience to the Spirit.

My challenge for myself is this: Am I willing to follow the Holy Spirit into hardship for the furtherance of the gospel? It gives me much to think about.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me walk closely with you. Help me listen for the Holy Spirit’s voice and yield to it. Help me love you so much, that I like Paul, would be willing to follow You, even if it means hardship. Amen.

CC: K Carswell 2022

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.

An Acts-ive Faith (Part 19)

Acts 19: Protection Amid Mob Mayhem

Acts 19:30 Though Paul wanted to go in before the people, the disciples did not let him. Even some of the provincial officials of Asia, who were his friends, sent word to him, pleading with him not to take a chance by going into the amphitheater.

A riot occurred in Ephesus while Paul was there. A silversmith names Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, stirred up the people saying Paul was misleading others into believing that gods made by hand are not gods. He was afraid of losing his business, of having the temple of Artemis in Ephesus come into disrepute. People began to cry out “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” (Artemis was the Greek goddess believed to control fertility.) As people were yelling, the city was filled with confusion, and they rushed into the amphitheater, dragging some of Paul’s travelling companions with them, Gaius and Aristarchus, who were from Macedonia.

The disciples did not let Paul go into the amphitheater. Provincial officials did not want Paul to go into a dangerous situation. It was the city clerk who calmed the mob by saying that Artemis was great and that everyone knew it, so what was the fuss. He then sent everyone home. He did not want his city charged with rioting, he did not want Roman soldiers coming in to quell a riot.

Paul wanted to defend the gospel. However, the disciples understood there was no reason for Paul to risk his life in this situation.

I am grateful for the disciples’ protection of Paul. It leads me to a question: am I protecting those over me in the Lord? Am I praying for them? Am I encouraging them? Am I trying to make their work a joy?

Prayer: Father, I pray for the Pastor and Elders over me. I thank you for how they have ministered to me. Keep them safe. Bless them and their families. Amen.

CC: K Carswell 2022

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.

An Acts-ive Faith (Part 18)

Acts 18 : Unconcerned

Acts 18:12-16 While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack against Paul and brought him to the judge’s bench. “This man,” they said, “persuades people to worship God contrary to the law!” As Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of a crime or of moral evil, it would be reasonable for me to put up with you Jews. But if these are questions about words, names, and your own law, see to it yourselves. I don’t want to be a judge of such things.”. So he drove them from the judge’s bench.

Gallio was proconsul, and had authority. But he knew the limits to his authority. He was not willing to oversee matters outside of his jurisdiction.

Prayer: Father, help me to discern what matters I should be concerned with, and what matters I should not concern myself with. Lead me and guide me. Amen.

CC: K Carswell 2022

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.