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Posts Tagged ‘good news’

Verse 27: “For it seems to me unreasonable to send a prisoner and not to specify the charges against him.”

Some time back, I recall reading an interesting tidbit of an article in Uncle John’s Biggest Ever Bathroom Reader, on page 402 of the “Odd Elvis Quiz” regarding Elvis Presley. It seems that Elvis was once approached about performing at a party at the White House hosted by President Richard Nixon. It is considered quite an honor to perform at the White House. However, when Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis’s manager, heard that Elvis wouldn’t be paid for performing (that is the caveat; performers enjoy the honor and prestige, but no monetary pay), he reportedly growled, “Elvis doesn’t play for free.” Thus the deal fell through, and Elvis was never invited back. Thus Elvis missed his chance of performing for the President of the United States.

Some time back, I mentioned how Paul, in his captivity, would have extraordinary opportunities to share the Gospel with individuals he might not otherwise have had the chance to (God works in mysterious ways). Already he had spoken with 2 governors, and now he had the chance to address King Agrippa, who came to visit Governor Festus. Festus had to send some official charge of Paul’s offense when he sent him to Rome, but was having trouble expressing just what the charge was. Part of the ceremony of hosting King Agrippa was for Festus to have Paul lay his case out before the king as well. Agrippa expressed that he would like to hear the case.

Opportunity knocks through the divine Hand of God on the door. And in this case, Paul wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass without preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ! Today, as you go about your way through life, Christian, pray that God would show you those “open doors” that He wants you to knock upon.

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 32: “And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on the matter.””

Between high school and moving out on my own, I lived with my grandmother; this allowed me to stay “at home”, and at the same time, gave me some “freedom”, since I was in college. I was still living with my grandmother when I got my first job in the Information Technology department of a textile company. I would come home from work that first year of employment, and my grandmother would ask, “How was your day?” “Oh, it was fine.” “Good! So…what did you do?” Now, my grandmother was not technical in any sense; she was one of those people that couldn’t program the clock on her VCR. At first, I was in a quandary; how do I explain to my grandmother that I dealt with mainframe jobs, using procedure modules, COBOL code, and job control language (JCL)? Well, I resorted to what I like to use in such cases: analogies. My grandmother was one of the best cooks in the world, and she knew recipes! Therefore, I described what I did in a way that sounded like I was following a recipe and cooking in the kitchen. She understood perfectly.

We find Paul here with the rare opportunity to speak to the men of Athens at the Areopagus. He wanted to make the most of this chance to witness to these people, but this was not his usual audience. He had to reach them in a way that would hold their attention. I marvel at how he seized on their very idol worship, to explain that the unknown god whom he saw an altar set up for, was the One he spoke of. He then proceeded to explain the Good News in a manner that focused on God as the Creator and eventually led to the saving grace of Jesus. Paul had to explain this to them in a manner that they could understand.

Some did understand Paul; others mocked him. Still others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.” According to some text I’ve read in my Holman commentaries, this merely indicated curiosity, or even polite acknowledgment. While Paul’s stay in Athens didn’t result in a crusade-like coming to salvation, there were those who did hear and believe, such as Damaris and Dionysius. Remember, even if you tell masses of people about Jesus Christ, don’t be discouraged if the number of responses don’t tally up to what we think is successful. To the Lord, every soul is precious, and all need to hear the Good News!

Have a blessed day in the Lord!

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Verses 45-47: “But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.'””

Isn’t it kind of special when you are privy to news before it’s “officially” announced? Such as when expectant parents tell you of the baby they are going to have, or someone gets a very nice promotion at work? It can be equally disheartening when you are the last one to find out anything! When news of a change is announced, and your close confidants tell you “yes, I already knew”, you feel left out.

Paul and Barnabas had just spoken of the Good News at Antioch. Some who heard the news encouraged them to speak again of it. Word spread quickly about these men and their message. But when the Jews, who God had appointed as His chosen people in the Old Testament, saw that Gentiles were present to hear the second preaching of the Good News…they got offended. Paul and Barnabas were quick to point out that, although the Jews got to hear it first, the Good News of Jesus Christ was for ALL people. No one would be able to say, “nobody told me!”

Something to think about.

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Verse 13: “Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.”

When I was younger, I used to enjoy watching pro wrestling on TV with my father and with my brother. Now, of course, being an impressionable youth (read: naïve!), I thought the action was real, as well as all the bouts were unscripted. I’d follow along with the “story” that a bad guy had turned into a good guy, had teamed up with the good guy to take on opponents, only for the former bad guy to treacherously revert to being bad again in a match, bushwhacking the “unsuspecting” good guy. I thought that the bad guy had really repented of his “evil” ways and had become good. After all, his coming over to the good side seemed so “genuine”. Yes, I was naïve as a boy. 🙂

Here we have Philip in Samaria, preaching and spreading the Gospel. A magician of some renown named Simon began to see the miracles that Philip was performing in the name of Jesus Christ; what’s more, he heard the Good News that Philip preached. He too, “believed” and supposedly became a convert and “continued with Philip”. I was reminded of something that is best stated in my New Testament commentary: quoting the Holman New Testament Commentary on Acts, page 122: “Remember that the word believe does not always mean saving faith in the New Testament (John 2:23-25; Jas. 2:19).” The verse in James is just what came to my mind, when James speaks of some believing in God…James reminds them “good for you! The demons believe in God, too…and they tremble!” We’ll see Simon’s true colors when Peter and John come to town in the next verses.

Make sure you’re not a “bandwagon” fan, jumping to the side of the winning team just because all seams popular and happy. Make sure your belief…is genuine and for the right reasons. Remember…others are watching, so let others see Jesus in you!

Have a blessed day in the Lord!

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Verse 29: “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word,”

We just recently came back from a Carpenters for Christ mission trip to Salina, KS. We helped a church erect a new sanctuary building since they have outgrown the space they are now using (a donated trailer). As I interviewed church members for our documentary video, I was struck by their passion for the lost in the area where they are building their new sanctuary. God has been removing barriers that the devil has thrown up, and the fields are ripe with harvest. These folk seem always ready to take action, whether it’s to visit someone in need or even just pray over someone. I had a gout flare-up one morning during the mission; no sooner had I told one of the ladies who was serving us refreshments about it, that she stopped what she was doing and prayed over me. I was moved, touched, and humbled.

Peter, John, and the followers were praying for that same boldness. They, too, were in a field ripe for harvest. Despite the run-in with the religious authorities and the prospect of more trouble from them, they prayed to God for deliverance and for the boldness they knew they would need to spread the Good News. We should all read that passage in Acts; we should all be moved, touched, and humbled.

Something to think about today.

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2 Corinthians 4:11: “For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”

One of the stranger heroes in the DC comics universe was a character named Deadman. Deadman was the stage name of a talented circus acrobat named Boston Brand; the name came from the garish white skull makeup and red leotard suit he wore, always teasing the crowds that his next performance might be his last. One night, it was; a sniper with a hook for one hand shot him while he was performing the act. He didn’t pass on though; his ghostly spirit roamed the earth with the power to “possess” other people’s bodies, all done in search of his own killer. While Deadman possessed someone, they had no knowledge of the time he was in control of their body; to all outward appearances, the person looked and talked the same, but Deadman was in control of their bodies, “living” through them temporarily while righting wrongs and looking for his killer. He actually possessed Batman on one caper, convincing the Darknight Detective of his existence so he could enlist his help.

Paul speaks here of what he and other disciples were going through, enduring hardship and physical punishment all in the name of Jesus and the mission He charged us with: to spread the Good News through all the earth. We need to let Jesus live through us, so that others may see Him. Not in the way Deadman does above, but to let Jesus direct our thoughts and actions, so that this world will truly know that we are Christians: by our walk and by our talk.

For your information, are you familiar with the phrase, “you might be the only Jesus some people see today”? Well…are you living for Jesus?

Something to think about today.

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