A “quiet time” is simply being intentional about having a conversation with God. This usually means listening for God’s voice by reading the Bible or devotions, and speaking to God through prayer. Jesus did this numerous times in the Gospels, sometimes slipping away all night or in the early morning, to spend time with his Father.
Here are some well-respected reading plans that can help you plan this time, they all come with mobile optimised options so you can even take them with you as you travel to work.
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‘The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance’ (2 Peter 3:9).
Raising the stakes
When it came to speaking, clearly Paul wasn’t impressed by the advice, ‘If you’re in a hole, stop digging’! Already he’d claimed to have met Jesus on the journey to Damascus (v 14), which was controversial enough. Now he raises the stakes by saying that he preaches the gospel to Jew and Gentile alike, in obedience to the vision from heaven (v 19). The implication is clear. If they stop him from preaching they are opposing God.
Tailoring the argument
His argument made no sense to Festus who called him insane (v 24). But since Paul related his argument to Moses and the prophets, that’s not too surprising (v 22). Agrippa was different, however: he knew where Paul’s argument was coming from (v 3). Paul’s defence was straightforward: he had preached nothing contrary to the Jewish scriptures. Tailoring the argument to the person is important.
Again Paul turns the screw, directly challenging Agrippa (vs 26,27). As far as Paul was concerned, the king couldn’t plead ignorance – he knew too much. Agrippa knew exactly what was going on – Paul was trying to convert him. And Paul sealed it with his not very subtle evangelistic appeal (v 29)!
Are you praying for someone who knows the gospel but hasn’t done anything about it? Don’t give up – patiently follow Paul’s example (v 29).
Paul now begins to personalise his message, focusing on Festus and Agrippa. His teaching about Jesus’ death and resurrection becomes so intense that Festus protests, accusing Paul of going insane (v 24). Paul has clearly hit a raw nerve with Festus (as he did with Felix) (Acts 24:25), but he is undeterred and goes on to make a personal appeal to Agrippa on the basis of his belief in the Old Testament prophets. Agrippa’s response is revealing: ‘Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?’ (v 28). Paul’s reply is uncompromising: ‘Short time or long – I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am’ (v 29).
This interaction reveals the heart of Paul’s missional strategy: he is seeking to persuade even Festus and King Agrippa to become followers of Christ – and this is obvious to them. Though Paul is clearly socially and financially inferior to them, he ends up in the ascendancy in this interaction and they are clearly impressed and affected by what he has said (vs 30–32).
Paul is continually ready to give a reason for his hope, in the desire that the people with whom he interacts will become Christians. He sees his trials as a mission opportunity and is aware that if people such as these were to believe it would have a massive effect on the spread of the Christian mission through the larger Roman world. We may not often speak with royals or politicians, but we interact every day with many people who do not know Christ. Do we have this same desire for them – and the same intention in these interactions?Daniel McGinnis
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