28 Weeks Acts Devotion Week 24
WEEK 24 - ACTS 24 – January 21, 2019
Written by Kent Fulton, Chancellor of the Oklahoma Conference, New Covenant UMC - Edmond; General Conference Alternate Delegate; Second Laity Alternate to the Judicial Council
In the secular world and within our own denomination, we may look to the courts or to the Judicial Council for justice. In doing so, we place our hope in the institutions of humankind, and yet, this can lead to disappointment as these institutions are as flawed as the individuals who serve in these positions of power. Perfection is simply not possible among people. This is not to say that justice is impossible or even unlikely for us as individuals, but as Paul learned before Felix, sometimes other considerations can motivate those who sit in a position of power over our lives, and justice itself can be the last consideration. Paul clearly understood his circumstances, and yet he also understood that there was only one judge that matters, and Paul conducted himself accordingly.
I have advised young lawyers who have encountered difficult judges that if you cannot respect the person who is the judge, then you must respect the position itself, because that person sits in a position of power over your circumstances regardless whether you believe they are worthy of it or not. In life, we do not get to pick our judges, but that doesn’t stop our judges from impacting our lives, for good or ill. The question is how do we respond, whatever the outcome may be?
Personally, I think it is always important for us to take the long view. When Jesus was being scourged with a whip, it was probably very hard for the Disciples to think positively about the future. Yet, as we know, the story doesn’t end with the scourging of Jesus. Crucifixion awaits, but so does the redemption of all of our sins and the resurrection of our Lord! In the darkness, it can sometimes be hard to see the light, but it is there all the same, it is always there! Our Lord did not die for nothing, He died for us, and He arose! Jesus suffered through all of the evil that man could throw His way, and yet He overcame it all.
As we face a time of decision and potential transition within the life of the United Methodist Church, we need to ask ourselves, where do we place our trust and confidence? Do we align ourselves with advocacy groups and attempt to work the political process within the church to achieve our personal priorities for the church’s future? Do we seek unity above all, placing our hope in the institution of the United Methodist Church itself? Where does the Gospel and prayer enter into our evaluation and decision-making? Will we, like Paul, be able to stand before our judge with a clear conscience, confident that our behavior and actions have been in harmony with the teachings, love and grace of Jesus Christ? How do we avoid Felix’s error in acting only out of our own self-interest?
Whatever direction the United Methodist Church may choose to embark upon, it should have no impact on where we place our trust and confidence: in our God and in our Savior Jesus Christ. Confidence and trust in any other place will ultimately lead to disappointment.
We have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. It is in Him and in our God that our hope lies.
Suggested reading schedule
• Monday - Acts 24:1
• Tuesday - Acts 24:2-9
• Wednesday - Acts 24:10-13
• Thursday - Acts 24:14-21
• Friday - Acts 24:22-23
• Saturday - Acts 24:24-26
• Sunday - Acts 24:27
- What is the faithful response to injustice that we witness?
- What is justice within the United Methodist Church?
- What steps can we take to find the light in the dark places of life?
- In whom or in what do I place my trust and confidence when reflecting upon the future of the United Methodist Church?
Prayer focus: Those facing injustice around the world.
If you wish to contact the delegation via email the address is firstname.lastname@example.org