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Posts Tagged ‘Gospel of Jesus Christ’

Verse 11: “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”

In the climax of the Star Trek episode “The Omega Glory”, Kirk was battling a starship captain marooned on a planet (he was violating the Prime Directive by interfering in the conflict of two tribes of people populating the planet). With both parties captured by the “Yangs”, the leader of the “Yangs” began reciting a pledge to a torn flag; Kirk (a student of Earth history) completed what he recognized as the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance. Cloud William was shocked that a stranger knew the “holy words” (the Yangs were at war with the “Kohms” and Kirk was trying to prove that his party was “the good guys”). Cloud William tested Kirk by reciting the beginning words of their most holy document, and challenging Kirk to complete the words; Kirk couldn’t because he at first had trouble recognizing it. After a fight of “good over evil” over the renegade Captain Tracey, Cloud William (who now thought Kirk was a god until Kirk told him otherwise) confessed that Kirk was good, but doubted because Kirk didn’t recognize the ‘E Plebneesta’; Kirk, now recognizing what it was, stated, “that’s because you pronounced it so badly”. When Kirk surveys the ancient manuscript, he correctly reads the Preamble of the United States Constitution (“we the people”), and instructs the Yangs that those words “must apply to everyone or they mean nothing”. William, still confused, promises to Kirk that the “holy words” would be obeyed. Kirk and company separate from the Yangs, who now stare intently at the document, being educated on its true meaning. (the full episode plot can be read at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Omega_Glory ).

Paul, in his next stop at Berea, found a much more willing-to-learn group. The Scriptures state that not only did they receive the word “with all readiness” but also “searched the Scriptures daily” to explore and to understand what they were taught. I think of the scene from Star Trek, when the Yangs now were educated on what they studied, and now knew its true meaning. Paul did the same thing here; he pointed out the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Berean disciples plunged into the Word, discovering themselves that what Paul had taught them was true…and had been there all along. There is a sense of excitement and wonderment, when you finally understand the true purpose of something that you have studied for so long. Like a Good Book…you just can’t put it down…you’ve got to read more!

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 19-20: “Then the Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.”

Years ago, there appeared on television a reunion movie of the old series, The Wild Wild West. It was called The Wild Wild West Revisited. The central plot concerned agents Jim West and Artemus Gordon (played by Robert Conrad and Ross Martin); they were called out of retirement to combat the threat of the son of their greatest arch-enemy, Dr. Miguelito Loveless (played originally by the brilliant Michael Dunn). Dr. Miguelito Loveless Jr. (played wonderfully by Paul Williams) was trying to replace the world’s leaders with robot duplicates that he would control; he had even created the first “atomic bomb” as part of his arsenal.

During the pursuit of the main plot, there always appeared the same young gunslinger, who was trying to challenge the shooting talents of West. This guy was more comic villainy than real threat: West threw his guns away once, then on another occasion, Gordon tripped him up and subdued him. Towards the very end of the movie, as Jim and Artie were making their way towards their famous train to leave, here he came again (“go for your guns, Mr. West!”) Artie was so tired of this he actually said, “Oh no, not again! Look, I’ve had enough, you take care of this!” as he sat down on a bench. Jim walked deliberately toward him, sternly saying “give me your gun!” The gunslinger bewilderedly replied, “You’re not going to throw them away again, are you?” “No, I’m not”, Jim said. Taking the gun, he pointed it at a saloon’s sign across the street; never taking his eye off the gunslinger, he said, “Now, watch.” West then fanned the gun at high speed, striking every light atop the saloon sign, without taking his eyes off the young man. Stupefied, the young gunslinger took the gun back as West handed it to him; West calmly said, “Now…do you REALLY want to draw on me???” “Uh…no sir, no sir!” said the gunslinger. “Good.” West replied; “now, why don’t you find yourself a nice girl and settle down.” Looking at him wearily he added, “and leave me alone.” With that West and Gordon walked off to their train and the end of the movie.

The relentless pursuit of the young gun after West was done for comic relief, but there was nothing comical about the relentless pursuit of the Jews after Paul and Barnabas. They actually travelled all the way from Antioch and Iconium just to stick their noses in the missionaries’ ministry in Lystra! They got the crowd riled up enough to stone Paul; thinking him dead, they dragged him outside of the city. Paul, though, was not dead (although you’d be unconscious too from a bunch of rocks being beaned off of you!). He went back into the city, and left with Barnabas the next day to go to Derbe.

Christianity is still opposed today; sometimes just as violently (if not more so) then back then. There will always be those who oppose the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Christ Himself even told the disciples as much when He walked on this planet. But like the disciples of long ago, we can’t give up; we have our hope and faith in Jesus Christ as Savior, and we know in the end, He wins! In the meantime, keep on keeping on, with the Good News.

Something to think about.

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Verse 2: “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.””

When I was a little boy, I used to love to go to my grandmother’s house. She and my mother were great cooks. When my grandmother would make her homemade cinnamon rolls, I used to love to watch how she made them. She’d roll and cut the dough, and they’d come out of the oven as these perfect circles. Sometimes though, she’d call me into the kitchen and ask me to eat one or two rolls that didn’t come out perfectly circular. Now, they didn’t taste any different, but my grandmother always set aside her best-looking cinnamon rolls as the ones to serve family and guests. She knew though that we grandkids would eat them, no matter what they looked like! We didn’t eat the ones that were set apart, until we got through “disposing” of the less-than-perfect rolls. As a matter of fact, I used to try and pull a fast one on her; I’d insist that some of the best rolls didn’t “look right, so I better eat those too.” She’d look at me, smile, and loving say, “Oh, get out of my kitchen.” :-)

The church was focused on worshipping God and fasting. The Holman Concordance on Acts, page 209, even states something more eye-catching: “Notice the climate in the congregation – worship and fasting. Not frantic activity with programs burning out everybody in the congregation. In an attitude of worship and fasting they understood the Spirit to select missionaries for God’s work.” God calls us to be holy. The definition of “holy” means “set apart”. The Holy Spirit had called Barnabas and Saul to be separated, set apart “for the work to which I have called them.”

We are called today to that same work: to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and make disciple-makers.

Something to think about.

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Ephesians 6:15 – “and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE;”

Let’s break down the words of this verse for a few seconds:

  • shod – to put on. Growing up in the country, I was a tenderfoot (unlike my sister or my brother); I wouldn’t go running around outside barefoot. I would always put on my socks and shoes for protection.
  • feet – the main mode of travel in Biblical times. Yes, there were donkeys and oxen and horses. However, the main mode of travel for those early missionaries especially….was walking.
  • preparation – does a football player run out into the game without first having studied the playbook? Does he go out automatically knowing his assignments? No. Neither should the Christian warrior.
  • the Gospel – the Good News of Jesus Christ. Plain and simple, this is what we are to share with a lost world!
  • peace – as a minister friend of mine put this yesterday in the Sunday sermon, this isn’t a peace you negotiate through a treaty…this is the peace our world is crying for. The peace that you and I yearn for. The peace that can be found only in faith through Jesus Christ.
  • As I share this last part of the feet of the gospel of peace, I want to wish everyone a very blessed Christmas! I pray that these devotions are a blessing to you. I’m taking the week off for Christmas; please join me next week as we move into studying the shield of faith!

    Merry Christmas!

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