Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Jerusalem’

Verses 10-11: “And as we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. When he had come to us, he took Paul’s belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'””

Larry Trask was the son of Bolivar Trask, the man who created the mutant-hunting robots known as Sentinels. His guardian, Judge Chalmers, had sought to shield the boy from the nightmarish legacy his father had created. However, in an Avengers storyline which culminated in issue #104, the mutant speedster Quicksilver compelled Larry’s help in trying to rescue his sister Wanda, the Scarlet Witch, from a band of Sentinels that had returned from orbit around the sun. As we find out in the storyline, Larry himself is a mutant, with the ability to see snatches of the future: and his visions showed the Avengers suffering defeat in combat with the Sentinels, the Sentinels launching a solar flare to wipe out the human race, and finally darkness, which Larry assumed to be the end of Earth.

During the final fight, it was revealed that the Sentinel leader, Number 2, had evolved into a mutant being himself. It was his plan to sterilize the human race with the solar flare, thus eventually wiping them out. As the other Sentinels attacked Number 2 (for their programming was to capture or to destroy mutants), it resulted in the mutual destruction of all the Sentinels. In falling like giant tenpins, one of them fell on Trask, thus killing him. Thus, Larry’s last vision was not of Earth’s destruction, but the blackness of his own death.

Agabus was delivering a vision shown to him by the Holy Spirit. Paul’s friends were anxious for his safety, for he still was determined to go to Jerusalem. This prophetic declaration must have alarmed the crowd even more. Yet, Paul was undeterred. He told them, “look, I’m not only ready to be bound, but to die for Jesus if necessary.” His friends were genuinely concerned for them, but they knew this was the Lord’s will.

How would you feel if you knew your future? How would you feel if you saw danger for yourself? Do you face a test today which challenges your safety or your future? If the test and mission is from God, have no fear for He is with you. If you know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, then you need not fear, though fear is a natural feeling…Jesus knows what the future holds…He’s been there…and He’s waiting to lead you through it!

Something to think about.

Read Full Post »

Verses 4-5: “And finding disciples, we stayed there seven days. They told Paul through the Spirit not to go up to Jerusalem. When we had come to the end of those days, we departed and went on our way; and they all accompanied us, with wives and children, till we were out of the city. And we knelt down on the shore and prayed.”

Our previous pastor had been at our church for about 17 years; he was much beloved and respected. Once, he thought he felt God’s call to take a pastor position at another church way out of town. He wasn’t sure, so he coveted our prayers and he put some “fleeces” before God to answer. We didn’t want him to go, but we didn’t want him acting contrary to God’s will either. He was a man of God who wouldn’t ignore God’s calling. I personally wrote him a letter to read on the trip up that I tried to encourage him through. I also humorously asked in the letter “what side of the road do you want the burning bushes on, to tell you to come back?” 🙂 As it turned out, that wasn’t the move God wanted him to make, and he stayed with us a while longer. God eventually did call him back near his childhood home in north Georgia, and this time, there was no denying God’s signs. He is there now, leading that church in following the Lord.

Paul knew where he had to go; his road lead to Jerusalem. His friends and fellow believers didn’t want him to go; they feared for his life. As already mentioned previously, Paul would not be dissuaded. He answered God’s call, knowing whether he lived or died, he would be serving the cause of Jesus. He was a man of God who wouldn’t ignore God’s calling.

How about you, fellow believer? Are you listening for God’s call in your life today…no matter where it may lead?

Something to think about.

Read Full Post »

Verses 1-2: “And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.”

When I was growing up, one of my favorite Rankin-Bass Christmas specials was The Year Without a Santa Claus. Probably the most memorable characters in that special were the feuding Miser brothers: Snow Miser, the cheery, frozen master of all things cold (thus he ruled the polar areas) and Heat Miser, the hot-tempered, combustible king of heat (who ruled the warm regions). Mrs. Claus was trying to convince a sick, tired, and depressed Santa that he hadn’t been forgotten by people. Her plan was to get Snow Miser to make it snow in Southtown; if the citizens saw snow there (where it hadn’t ever fallen), they’d whip up a parade and celebration for Santa. Unfortunately, Mrs. Claus had to secure the permission of Heat Miser to let it snow in his territory…which he would, IF…there’s always an “if”…he could make it warm for one day at the North Pole. Of course, both boys couldn’t compromise and resumed their feuding!

Mrs. Claus had had enough…and threatened to go “all the way to the top”. This put the fear into both of the Miser brothers; she was going to go to their mother! (Mother Nature, to be exact). For all their power and bravado, Mother Nature only had to remind them that SHE was in charge, and that they would do whatever she commanded. She was the authority, no question about it.

Here we have the situation of some Pharisees who did believe in Jesus, and came down to where Paul and Barnabas had been teaching. They were in agreement about faith in Jesus…plus some extras. They were insisting, to be saved, the Gentiles had to be circumcised like the Jews! Oh, boy. Talk about an argument! When Paul and Barnabas found out, it was probably a war of words to put the Miser brothers to shame. And, in this case, the result was similar: Paul, Barnabas, and some others were sent to Jerusalem, still considered the center of the Christian church in the known world. Paul and Barnabas knew they had to get support to stop this heresy…and they did…in what you might call the church’s first big convention and business meeting!

More to come!

Read Full Post »

Verses 27-30: “And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.”

In Genesis 41, we are in the middle of Joseph’s incredible journey into Egypt, as God used him in a way no one could ever see coming. Pharaoh had a dream (a vision, you could say), sent by God, and no one could interpret it. God opened the door for Joseph to be the deliverer of the vision’s meaning; a period of great harvest in the land, followed by a period of great famine. After Joseph proposed a plan of action to Pharaoh, Pharaoh made Joseph the second-most powerful leader in Egypt to head up the program to save the populace from famine.

Flash forward to today’s verse: another vision, this one given to the prophet Agabus. Again, it’s a vision of a coming famine. The disciples (after prayer and discussion, I’m sure) determined to send relief; what we would call a “love offering” today. This gift would help the home church back in Jerusalem.

The story of Joseph came to mind when I read the above verses; here are some parallels from both stories that God revealed to me, that are true today:
1. God does give advance warning of future events, if we are listening. In both cases, God gave visions of the upcoming famines. To coin an old idiom, “forewarned is forearmed”. Like the recent tornado outbreaks we’ve had, the first thing we did was turn on the television, and get the information from the local weatherman as to where the storm may go…this allowed us to be ready. However, we had to listen and to pay attention to the signs (the forecast predictions). The messenger may be different, but God is in control.
2. God provides a way out of trouble. If anyone could echo this statement’s truth, it was Joseph! Seems our problem today is, we sometimes don’t want to use God’s “escape plan”, due to selfish reasons or stubborn pride. However, that doesn’t deny that the way out is there.
3. God uses His people to be part of the rescue. In Genesis, it was Joseph. In Acts here, it was a gift from Antioch to Jerusalem. Today, God uses those who are willing to be used by Him, to be part of the solution, not the problem.

Just as in the past, so it is in the present, and true even in the future. God is in control.

Something to think about.

Read Full Post »

Verses 17-18: “”If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”

What a crazy Presidential election year it has been thus far! I can’t ever recall such “drama” on both sides of the election from both parties. Outsiders, traditionalists, conservatives, liberals, socialists…I’ve never seen the like in a long time. One of the “plotlines” in this campaign has been from some of the entrenched establishment of one political party versus the popular contender for their party’s nomination (I’m not going to name names…I think you know whom I’m referring to…this blog is not about politics, nor is it about endorsements…just follow along with me here 🙂 ). The “entrenched” party members aren’t too happy with who could represent them, and I’m not sure how this is going to play out (God knows, though). Could be they don’t like how the candidate is coming across, or that he is not “one” of them. Either way…someone is not happy.

After Peter visited with Cornelius and his group, some of the Jews met him when he came to Jerusalem…and were asking, “What is going on? Do you realize who you met with?” Peter didn’t immediately fire back like he might have once…in anger and in indignation. Instead, he told the Jews all that happened to him with the vision, Cornelius’s messengers, and God’s revelation that salvation was available to EVERYONE. The NKJV translation says “who was I that I could withstand God?” The NIV reads a little more plainer here: “who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?” Peter was convinced by God’s vision of the New Covenant that He revealed here…salvation was accessible for Jew and Gentile alike! And once Peter explained it to the Jews…they had no reply (silence), but then glorified God that He was granting “repentance to life” to the Gentiles, too.

There is an old phrase that reads “if you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem.” So, fellow Christian… which are you today? Part of the problem…or part of the solution?

Something to think about.

Read Full Post »

Verse 28: “And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise.”

Folks, it’s been a whale of a game this afternoon. The hometown team was taking it on the chin from the cross-town Judaizers for some time, almost to the point where the Judaizers had them thinking they were the team to listen to! But ever since the return of that top ace pitcher, Paul, it’s looking like they’re fighting back! Paul has been on the mound for the team, striking out the Judaizers left and right. He’s been shredding their offense with all manner of attack from fastballs to sliders to curve balls…you name it! Now he’s retiring the side with another of his dazzling pitches…the beautiful, thought-provoking allegorical knuckleball!

The above didn’t really happen; there was no baseball in Paul’s day. But studying Galatians to this point has helped me appreciate the God-inspired display of intelligent argument Paul used to counter the Judaizers’ false teachings. Here in this passage, he uses an allegory of Abraham and his two sons: Ishmael, born through Hagar, and Isaac, born through Sarah. One represents the law, Mount Sinai, the old Jerusalem that the Judaizers know, one of legalism yet of bondage. The other represents salvation, the heavenly Jerusalem (the city of God), and the freedom it brings. One is man’s attempt to bring about the promise of God, while the other is God fulfilling His promise to man. When presented side by side here, there really is no choice. Man cannot save himself; only God, through salvation in Jesus, can.

So…which team are you playing for?

Something to think about.

Read Full Post »