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The Big Three

In Acts 24, Paul had an opportunity to talk with Felix, the Governor, several times about the most important issues of life. Because Felix was married to a Jewish woman he was interested in Jewish things and wondered about why this new movement, then called “The Way” was so popular. In their interactions, Paul had three main themes (v. 25) which reflected timeless truths that have the potential to transform anyone who will embrace them:
Righteousness: This is not the righteousness that is born out of self-effort which says, “I will try harder to be better than I am.” It is the righteousness that is given to us when we trust in Christ as our savior. It is the ability of the Holy Spirit in us that produces behavior that is beyond our natural ability. The picture that sticks in my mind is riding jet skis on the Colorado River with my sons. When Caleb was 15, I was on the back while he drove. He pushed the throttle wide open and propelled us along the surface of the water at 65 miles per hour. All I could do was hold on and hope it went well. It occurred to me as we rocketed along, “I could never swim this fast. No matter how hard I tried or how much training I engaged in, it would be impossible for me under human power to ever travel this fast on the water. But, with this machine under us, it was easy.” True righteousness is the power of the Holy Spirit working in us making it easy to do what used to be impossible.
Self-control: This is the fruit of the Spirit that enables us to say, “No” to what is unhealthy, “Yes,” to what is healthy, and “I will stay at it,” with our commitments. We are filled with passions by our maker so that we will pursue aggressive, energetic lives. Without self-control, these passions get distracted, misdirected and destructive. Most of human history is the story of men who could not, or would not, reign in their sexual passions, hunger for power, or addictive behaviors. Most of them started out with a desire to build something worthwhile but ended up with empty lives and failed relationships. True success can only be achieved by steering the powerful passions of life with self-control.
The judgment to come: The great equalizer of life is the end event when we all stand before our Creator to give an account. It should not come as a surprise. We all answer to parents, teachers, or bosses. Without leadership, everything moves toward chaos. In the same way, without a life referee, all things would grow chaotic and hurtful. Jesus is faithful and will hold court at the end our lives to settle all accounts and hand our either rewards or consequences appropriately. Those who believe this will actually happen, happily evaluate their lives along the way. Those who deny this will happen, let the imaginations of their hearts run wild. Somebody needs to be the referee in life. I am glad it is the Creator who sees all.
Lord, show me the value of embracing your righteousness, self-control and authority.

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