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Archive for January, 2016

Verses 40-42: “But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord.”

My family and I were in a sports-themed restaurant watching the recent AFC Championship NFL playoff game between the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos. Toward the end of the game, my wife asked me about an interesting graphic that appeared on the TV screen about Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots pass-catching tight end. It was detailing not only his yards per catch, but the “yards after catch”; this was what my wife asked about. I described it was the yards that a receiver achieves after he has caught the football…the additional yards he gained during the play, not just the initial yards the ball flew from the quarterback to him. It was what he did after he caught the pass.

My wife remarked, “Kind of like what people do with Jesus after they accept Him as Lord and Savior…what they do with Him after they have been saved.” I paused from watching the game and thought, “that’s good.” I told my wife, “Honey, that’s real good!” and made a note to use that for an upcoming blog entry…which I just did. 🙂

Peter’s salvation was already assured, but he, like the other apostles, carried out Jesus’s command to the fullest, telling all the world about Him. Peter came when sent for, saw the grief of Tabitha’s (also translated Dorcas’s) friends. He prayed, and in the name of Jesus, raised her from the dead. The miracle was used to win many to believe in Jesus Christ. Like my previous post, Tabitha did eventually die and go to Heaven; Peter’s raising her didn’t give her immortality on Earth. But accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior and trusting in Him does give you eternal life.

So…what are you doing after you catch the ball?

Something to think about.

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Verses 36-39: “At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them. Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them.”

My Uncle Howard was an incredible handyman. He worked for Alabama Power for decades, but his hobby was tinkering, repairing, and building things in his workshop. He and my Aunt Sara lived in a neighborhood bordered by 3 different churches. All 3 of the churches used to ask for Uncle Howard’s help from time to time, and he always gave it. At his funeral, the pastors of all 3 churches spoke. One of them had asked Aunt Sara permission to share something that he thought some might think offensive for a somber funeral, but it turned out to be just the perfect thing to salute Uncle Howard.

“How many of you have one of these in your homes?” asked the pastor. He held up a small piece of machined wood with a notch on the end, a bigger notch in the middle, a clothespin glued to the side, and a round end with a nail-sized hole in it to hang onto a peg. It was a handy device for pulling and pushing hot oven racks, and Uncle Howard used to make them and give them out like candy! Over half that huge attendance at the funeral raised their hands at having one. The pastor used this to talk about how Uncle Howard was always helping people…in big ways and in small ways.

I thought about Uncle Howard when I read the verse on the weeping widows showing Peter the tunics and garments that Dorcas would make them. They both thought of others and were always very giving. They both also ultimately passed away. I know my Uncle Howard is in Heaven; he knew Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. The verse reminded me that sometimes sad things (like death) happen to good people. Dorcas did die…but God had plans for this woman.

More to come…

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Verses 26-28: “And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out.”

O’Malley: “Duchess and kittens in trouble? Look, you go get Scat Cat and his gang of alley cats!”
Roquefort: “Alley cats??? But, I’m a mouse!”
O’Malley: “Look…I’m gonna need help.”
Roquefort: “You mean you want me to…”
O’Malley: “MOVE! Just tell them O’Malley sent you and you won’t have a bit of trouble!”

Unfortunately, when Roquefort found Scat Cat and his gang, they didn’t believe him; all they saw was an easy meal. What’s worse, Roquefort was so flustered, he couldn’t remember the name of the cat who had sent him. After three incorrect guesses (“strikes”), Scat Cat flicked a claw under Roquefort’s throat.

Scat Cat: “Mousey…you just struck out. Any last words?”
Roquefort: “Ohhh…WHY DID I LISTEN TO THAT O’MALLEY CAT?!?”
Scat Cat: “O’Malley???”
Scat Cat’s gang: “O’Malley? O’Malley!”
Scat Cat: “Hold it cats! This little guy’s on the level!”
Roquefort: “You’re darn tootin’ I’m on the level!”
Peppo: “We didn’t mean to, to ruffle you, Squeaky.”
Roquefort: “Don’t worry about me; O’Malley needs help! Duchess and kittens are in trouble!”  (as the cats’ expressions change to ones of determined courage)
Scat Cat: “Come on, cats! We gotta split!”

The preceding dialogue was from the 1970 Walt Disney movie The Aristocats. O’Malley, who was trying to save Duchess and her kittens from the butler who was trying to do away with them, had assured Roquefort that just mentioning his name would grant him credibility and safety when facing Scat Cat’s gang (as Scat Cat and O’Malley were old pals).

Saul was in a similar predicament. Here he was, a new Christian convert, on fire for Jesus…and the disciples in Jerusalem wanted nothing to do with him due to his past reputation. They probably suspected that it might be a trick. It took Barnabas, a well-respected disciple, to be Saul’s introduction to the apostles. His testimony on Saul’s behalf helped assuage their fears and reassure them to the genuineness of Saul’s story. Next thing you know, Saul is fellowshipping with the disciples in Jerusalem and preaching all the more.

Sometimes, all it takes is for someone to be an intermediary to bridge two sides. Is Jesus asking you to such a bridge today?

Something to think about today.

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Verses 21-23: “Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?” But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.” Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him.”

“And now we’d like to introduce the guest speaker in our service today…Adolf Hitler.” I do believe that type of announcement of one of history’s greatest villains speaking in a church service would get your attention. Imagine if he were giving the sermon in a church service. Or Saddam Hussein. Or Osama bin Laden. I daresay you wouldn’t believe it, even if you saw it.

Yet here was the man who was hunting down Christians, now a convert himself! He was preaching Jesus in the synagogues, confounding the Jews by giving proof through knowledge and discussion that Jesus was the Christ! People couldn’t believe it! Remember, Jesus can use anybody to spread the Word; even the most fanatical opponent. Josh McDowell started similarly; he was so convinced that he could prove the Bible was false that, during the journey, he had no choice after all his research, to conclude that the Bible was true! Nothing is too difficult for God!

Something to think about today.

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Verses 13-19: “Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized. So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.

When I was on a mission trip with the Carpenters for Christ to a town in Kansas, we were driving down the road one day and had to stop at a railroad crossing. A very long freight train was stopping and starting as it made its way through the railyard. What caught my attention was to hear the “rat-tat-tat-tat” rapid-fire halting of each car from right to left as the entire train stopped. Not sure what I had heard, I listened more closely; soon enough, the train started up again and the “rat-tat-tat-tat” sound was from each car jerking the car behind it into motion, again very quickly the sound travelling right to left. My father reminded me that this was how a train got all the cars going; it couldn’t pull all the cars at once to start moving; each car in succession would tug on the one behind it, as the engine moved forward, eventually getting all the cars to move together.

There was a footnote in my Holman Bible referring to how Saul didn’t receive all his “marching” instructions and duties at one time. First the Lord Jesus “got his attention” by appearing to him and blinding his sight. Then Jesus had Ananias come to him; laying his hands on him, he was used by God to restore his sight and bless him with the Holy Spirit. Now Paul was saved in Christ. Next he physically recovered through nourishment, strengthening, and fellowshipping with the Damascus disciples. Up next, he himself would begin preaching Jesus in the synagogues. Just like that long train, one thing had to move before the next thing was in motion. That Bible footnote made note of the fact that Saul would’ve been overwhelmed by what Jesus had in store for Him, had he heard it all at one time.

I was assigned to a very good business manager and mentor in my early years in the IT industry. Before he turned me loose to be on the rotation for the oncall contact list (which is how Operations would contact help support during the nighttime batch jobstream updates, in case there was a problem), he had me accompany him, in person, when it came to fixing issues. He would review with me how to diagnose the problem, what the solution was, and how to implement the fix. I made notes of all this in a “crash log” which would help me remember how to fix things. Finally, he told me, “you’re ready.” Even on my first solo oncall, he assured me I could call him to verify my diagnosis and solution if I was contacted by Operations. This gave me great confidence and assurance that I wasn’t being “thrown to the wolves”; that I was being prepared for my work.

Jesus was doing the same thing in preparing Saul.

Something to think about today.

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Verses 4-6: “Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” ”

I enjoyed the movie, The Polar Express; my family actually got to see it on the local IMAX movie screen in a theater before I saw it on DVD…but I was still entranced. One scene I vividly recall is when the kids are at the North Pole, and Santa is about to make his grand entrance into the thronging crowd. The main character, a boy who was doubting, still couldn’t see Santa, or even hear a sleigh bell that had popped off a reindeer harness and landed at his feet. It was only when he made up him mind to believe, to truly believe, that he heard the bell! And then…on top of that joyous moment…he looks in the reflection of the bell and sees Santa standing behind him looking into the bell too! Santa was right there behind him!

Saul’s moment didn’t see joyous to him in the above verses; no, it was probably rather terrifying, to say the least! I cannot begin to imagine what went through his fanatical mind when he was confronted by the blinding, holy presence of Jesus! What’s more, Jesus made reference to the fact that “I’ve got plans for you” when He told him to go into the city. It is probably very well that the Lord didn’t tell him everything at one time; Saul was already overwhelmed by the presence of the very Messiah whose followers he was trying to stamp out! Get ready for the story of the beginning of Christianity’s greatest missionary. Human beings couldn’t make up a script to match the incredible story of Saul…soon to be Paul!

Something to think about.

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