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Posts Tagged ‘centurion’

Verses 23-24: “For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.'”

Whenever I do not drive myself on Carpenters for Christ mission trips, most of the other times I travel with my father in his truck. Since he is driving, I’ll chart our progress on a map to see how close we are to state lines and such (in most cases to take some snapshots). There have been times he has asked me where we are on the map and how close we are to certain landmarks or towns. He has even asked before how many miles we are to a certain area (good thing I took land navigation in high school!) I thought of this when reading all the detail that Luke put into the account of Paul travelling to Rome aboard the ship and his trials during the storm. Most of the account is filled with this navigational detail, but there were three things that drew my attention while reading this account.

In verse 3, Luke writes that Julius (the centurion in charge of the prisoners) treated Paul kindly. I’m reminded that God “clears the way” when we need His help, and sometimes that help comes in unexpected people that He sends our way.

The second item is in verses 23-24: that God reminded Paul that he was to make it to Rome alive to be brought before Caesar. Worry is one of the devil’s favorite weapons…with that weapon, he can rob us of the energy and focus that we need in ministering for God. Paul was probably emboldened and strengthened to be reminded of this by God’s angel. The weight of concern about their survival was lifted from him with this reminder, allowing him to focus on the task at hand.

The third item is in verse 36; Paul encouraged the men, who hadn’t eaten anything in the last 14 days, to take nourishment for their survival. The angel had told Paul that they would survive, but the ship would be run aground, so they would need strength to make it shore (go without food for 2 weeks, and see how strong you are!) This verse is a reminder that God gave us physical bodies that we need to take care of in order to better serve Him. That means making sure we take the nourishment we need to keep our bodies running as they should.

Sounds like common sense, right? But as I’m often reminded in this old world, common sense ain’t as common as it used to be. It’s better to let God do the driving and we “ride shotgun” with Him!

Something to think about.

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Verse 25: “And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who stood by, “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?””

In the 1979 TV special The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t, Count Dracula (played comically by Judd Hirsch) and the other monsters are trying to stop the Wicked Witch (played equally comically by Mariette Hartley) from leaving his castle; if she doesn’t fly over the moon, there will be no Halloween. The Witch is tired of being seen as ugly and unimportant, and wants to quit. As all the monsters corner her in the hallway and attempt to dogpile her, she causes the lights to go out briefly. Igor (played comically by Henry Gibson) has a stranglehold on her, gloating, “I got her. I got her! Now she’ll never get away!” As they all get up, the caped figure turns out to be a snarling Count Dracula, with Igor meekly saying, “She got away.” The look and reaction on their faces is the typical screwball comedy ploy of “whoops, we caught our leader”!

Once more, Paul uses his legal knowledge in God’s service. About to be scourged to ascertain why the mob is out for his blood, he calmly asks the centurion if it’s legal to scourge a Roman citizen who is uncondemned. You could almost hear the figurative “brakes screeching” as all the soldiers backed away and the commander realized the trouble he was in and could be in, even worse! Romans loved their laws and prided themselves on applying that to conquered societies as part of the Roman way. They saw it as part of their “civilized” structure. And if you broke that law…big trouble. Though not out of the woods yet, Paul used what he knew and used it in the service of the Lord, as a way of furthering the Gospel.

Like the old joke about the man threatened by a flood, when God told him “I sent you two rowboats and a helicopter”, God wants us to use what we know and what we have in His service.

More to come!

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Verses 3-5: “About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!” And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?” So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter.””

In the 1998 movie rendition of Godzilla, there is a scene in Golfo de San Miguel, Panama, where Nuclear Regulatory Commission biologist Dr. Nick Tatopoulos is asking Col. Hicks why he was brought there. He states that although he is a biologist with the NRC, his specialty is not nuclear accidents (which he believes the colonel has brought him there to study). They are walking across a field and down into a hole. The camera angle is tight on the two men and their conversation.

Nick: “That’s what I’m trying to say, I’m a biologist. I take radioactive samples and I study them.”
Hicks: “That’s great. Here’s your sample…study it.”
Nick: “What sample?”
Hicks: “You’re standing in it.” (Hicks climbs out of the hole via a ladder)
Nick: “I don’t see it….”(camera begins to pull back) “where is it? I don’t see it…”(camera pans out to show Nick is standing in Godzilla’s footprint…and then Nick realizes it with opened-mouth astonishment)
Nick: (chasing after Colonel Hicks, who has walked toward a tent) “Colonel! Colonel! That was a footprint! I was standing inside of a footprint!”
Hicks: (seriously, but in a matter-of-fact voice) “That’s right.”
Nick: “But there’s no animal in the world that makes footprints like that…is there?”

Cornelius was a centurion who feared God, gave alms to people generously, and prayed to God. An angel of God appeared to Cornelius, telling him that God had been honored by his prayers and giving. The angel instructs Cornelius to send men to Joppa to bring back Simon Peter. Cornelius, like Dr. Nick Tatopoulos above, is about to soon see the big picture. He doesn’t realize it yet, but he knows that when God speaks, you better listen and do what He says. What’s neat in this chapter is to see how God brought Cornelius and Peter together for a very special conversation. More of this big picture to come!

Something to think about.

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