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Verses 37-40: “Then as Paul was about to be led into the barracks, he said to the commander, “May I speak to you?” He replied, “Can you speak Greek? Are you not the Egyptian who some time ago stirred up a rebellion and led the four thousand assassins out into the wilderness?” But Paul said, “I am a Jew from Tarsus, in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city; and I implore you, permit me to speak to the people.” So when he had given him permission, Paul stood on the stairs and motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great silence, he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, saying,”

The Grand Councilwoman is directing her anger at Jumbaa, after the capture of Stitch (Experiment 626).
Grand Councilwoman: You! You’re the cause of all this! If it wasn’t for your Experiment 6-2-6, none of this-
Stitch: [interrupting] Stitch.
Grand Councilwoman: What?
Stitch: My name Stitch.
Grand Councilwoman: Stitch, then. If it wasn’t for Stitch- [realizes what just happened, turns back to Stitch]
Stitch: Does Stitch have to go in the ship?
Grand Councilwoman: [shocked, hesitant] …Yes.
Stitch: Can Stitch say goodbye?
Grand Councilwoman: Yes.
Stitch: Thank you. [walks over to Nani and Lilo]
Grand Councilwoman: [looks at Nani and Lilo] Who are you?
Stitch: This is my family. I found it all on my own. It’s little and broken, but still good. Yeah. Still good.

The preceding dialogue was from the Disney animated movie Lilo & Stitch. (This dialogue found at https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Lilo_%_Stitch).

Prior to this conversation, the Grand Councilwoman had only known Stitch as the monstrous, destructive Experiment 626. Now, here he was, calling himself by the name Lilo had given him, Stitch; he also was civilized, polite, and respectful. I still love the look on the Grand Councilwoman’s face when she realizes this creature is now vastly different from what she knew before.

I thought of this scene when reading this passage in Acts. Here is Paul, about to become yet another victim of the Jewish mob, and saved only by the Roman soldiers. Trying to get to the bottom of the disturbance and thinking him just another rabble-rouser, the commander was about to take him into the barracks, when Paul spoke to him. Paul’s use of the Greek language startles the commander; he begins thinking he is another rebel leader from recent times, an Egyptian, but Paul calmly corrects him, and even more, he begs to speak to the crowd. The commander gives his permission, and Paul is about to launch into an address to defend himself and to preach Jesus to the crowd.

How do people of this world act when they meet you, a Christian? Do you leave a positive impact? Do you surprise jaded individuals, who have drawn their own conclusions about Christianity through encounters with less-than-stellar representatives? Does your encounter with people leave them a mite bit bewildered? (You’re a Christian?) While each encounter we have with people, from common folk to authority figures, might not be as dramatic as that which Paul has here, we should leave no doubt as to the change Christ makes in our lives. That change should be as obvious as the change Stitch undergoes in the movie.

Something to think about.

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Verse 5: “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Years ago, Marvel Comics published a comic series entitled What If ___? and then would fill in the blank. The first story was entitled “What if Spider-Man had joined the Fantastic Four?” In the original storyline, Spider-Man tried to join, but was rejected by the FF when he was told they didn’t get paid salaries (Spidey was trying to find a way to earn more money to support him and Aunt May). In this “what if” story, the FF does accept Spider-Man, and the story unfolds following the new Fantastic Five. The ending is not a happy one, as history takes a different path for the participants. Serving as the narrator of these alternate reality stories was Uatu, a member of the alien race of Watchers, who monitor and observe reality…but are not supposed to interfere. Uatu framed the storyline by using a device in his home on the moon that allowed him to see alternate realities, and how certain actions had different consequences.

Having just read about Apollos in the previous chapter, and how Aquila and Priscilla mentored him in understanding the full Gospel message, we are reminded that, up to then, Apollos taught about Jesus, but only understood the baptism taught by John the Baptist. We don’t know if the disciples that Paul encounters were taught by Apollos or by someone else. The actions of Apollos in the previous chapter frame the consequences that these men were under in this chapter. Nevertheless, Paul instructs them and completes their understanding of the Holy Spirit and baptism in the name of Jesus Christ. Now, the men, after this action, faced better consequences, since they received the Holy Spirit and were truly complete in their salvation.

Actions and consequences. God has given us a sacred mission; to tell the world the Good News of Jesus Christ. We can’t trust the world to tell them; Christians need to share the knowledge of this gift so that all may come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Something to think about.

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Verse 3: “Paul wanted to have him go with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek.”

In the Saturday morning series Star Trek: The Animated Series, there was an episode entitled “Yesteryear”, in which we learn more about Mr. Spock’s childhood. As a child, he would soon have to undergo the maturity test known as the kahs-wan, in which he chooses his life’s path during a survival test. Because Spock’s father was Vulcan and his mother was a human Terran, Spock had a harder struggle with this than most Vulcan boys. Part of this episode had the grown Spock, playing the time-tossed role of a cousin named Selek, rescuing young Spock in the desert, as well as counseling him (young Spock undertook his own personal test before the kahs-wan, to see if he could succeed). Young Spock emerged from his personal test successfully; furthermore, he determined to choose the Vulcan way of life, which set him on the path his future self already knew of.

In today’s passage, Paul has met young Timothy and wishes to take the young man with him on his second missionary journey. Before they leave, Paul, who served as mentor to the young Timothy, had him circumcised in accordance with Jewish custom. Wait, you might say…didn’t Paul just lead a quest in the recent Jerusalem council to ensure that Gentile converts didn’t have to be circumcised like Jews? Yes, he did; but remember here, Timothy was raised a Jew. His mother was Jewish, although his father was Greek. To avoid giving any Jewish opposition any foothold against their mission, he advised Timothy to be circumcised. Paul was first and foremost a Christian, but he did follow Jewish tradition. You might see this parallel as when parents who go to a certain church, rear their children to attend the same church as well, instructing them in its customs and traditions. The children eventually will have to make their own choices, of course.

In today’s world, like that of the New Testament, people had a choice to make regarding their future. For those who have heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ, you have a choice. You can reject it and choose the world, or you can accept Jesus as Lord and Savior and live this life on Earth for Him…and spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

What choice will you make?

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Verses 18-21: “And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.””

Luke Skywalker attempted to use the Force to lift his half-sunken X-wing fighter from the swamp on Dagobah. Master Yoda had told him the same Force which he used to levitate a rock was the same Force that could lift the heavy star-craft. Luke’s attempt failed and he turned away discouraged, believing the attempt to still be impossible. With a small look of disappointment on his face, Yoda concentrated, pointed, and not only raised the X-wing fighter out of the swamp, but levitated it over to the dry ground. As Luke looked on incredulously, all he could say to Yoda was, “I don’t believe it!”

Yoda’s classic reply? “That…is why you fail.”

This scene from The Empire Strikes Back came to mind when I read the below section of Acts 8. Simon the sorcerer had seemingly became a Christian convert, but in his heart, he didn’t believe. He still thought that the giving of the Holy Spirit through Peter and John to be some sort of magician’s trick that he could simply buy and then capitalize on. Peter tore into him, giving him a verbal rebuke that got Simon’s attention. He goes on in the next verse to encourage him to truly repent; Simon’s weak reply is to ask them to pray for him. You see, Simon wasn’t repentant…he just was sorry he got caught in his lie.

So for those considering becoming a Christian…remember in the ABC’s of becoming one, the ‘B’…stands for ‘believe’. Without that, you will fail.

Something to think about.

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Proverbs 13:9-12

verse 9: “The light of the righteous rejoices, But the lamp of the wicked goes out.”

Ever had a light go out on you? Especially if it’s your flashlight during a power outage…one moment you’re secure in the fact that you can see even in the darkness, and the next….you freeze, trying to remember where everything was as you slowly try to move forward, bumping into stuff…and hoping that the fuzzy object you feel with your bare feet IS the pet cat! 🙂

We take light for granted. The light of the righteous is one that burns brightly (merrily as the Holman concordance makes reference to it). But the lamp of the wicked will eventually go out…leaving them in darkness that is far from secure.

So, Christian….are you letting your light burn brightly today?

Have a blessed day!

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