Mighty God, the world You’ve made is good and beautiful. I praise You for Your great power and goodness.
Read Acts 28:17-31
 Three days later he called together the local Jewish leaders. When they had assembled, Paul said to them: “My brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or against the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans.  They examined me and wanted to release me, because I was not guilty of any crime deserving death.  The Jews objected, so I was compelled to make an appeal to Caesar. I certainly did not intend to bring any charge against my own people.  For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.”  They replied, “We have not received any letters from Judea concerning you, and none of our people who have come from there has reported or said anything bad about you.  But we want to hear what your views are, for we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect.”  They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. He witnessed to them from morning till evening, explaining about the kingdom of God, and from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets he tried to persuade them about Jesus.  Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe.  They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your ancestors when he said through Isaiah the prophet:  “‘Go to this people and say, “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.”  For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’  “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!”   For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him.  He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ-with all boldness and without hindrance! Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectHow did God use Paul, even while in custody?
The disciples were to be witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Rome may not be “the ends of the earth,” but the good news has now reached the center of the empire. Paul is a prisoner, yet he never loses sight of his calling. He longs for both Jew and Gentile to find salvation in Jesus. He still has a concern for his own people (see Rom. 9:1-5). The quotation from Isaiah sounds heavy but while there is judgment for those who will not listen, hope of salvation is available for all. So we leave Paul in captivity, using every opportunity to tell others about the love of God in Jesus. Later, facing death, he recognizes that he has finished the work God gave him to do. For now, however, the concept of “mission accomplished” is alien to him. Paul’s task ended but the mission goes on. While we have life and breath there is work to be done. While we have friends, neighbors, family members and work colleagues who do not know Jesus, there is work to be done. While millions struggle with poverty and disease, there is work to be done. We cannot sit back and do nothing.
Pray that God’s love will be seen through your church during this Thanksgiving and Christmas season.
Lord Jesus, I thank You that Your love has touched me and I pray it may touch others through me.
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