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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus Christ’

Verses 22-24: “So the commander let the young man depart, and commanded him, “Tell no one that you have revealed these things to me.” And he called for two centurions, saying, “Prepare two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at the third hour of the night; and provide mounts to set Paul on, and bring him safely to Felix the governor.””

The official last regular episode of the TV show Little House on the Prairie was subtitled The Last Farewell. To sum up the plot (to the best of my recollection…this was some years ago!), a land/railroad baron had obtained legal ownership of the land of Walnut Grove. The townsfolk were distraught to find out that all they had worked for and built up would soon belong to this land/railroad baron. Though some were ready to fight, most didn’t want to see bloodshed, but the baron was bringing the local cavalry to evict them. In a meeting on Easter weekend, the townsfolk fought back the only way they knew. One of the recent new citizens had a wagonload of dynamite, and they all decided to blow up the buildings, which they still owned. In a bitter ending to the episode, you saw the residents blow up their buildings, from Laura and Almanzo’s house to the Olesens’ mercantile store. Only the Little House and the school/church still stood, because Reverend Alden couldn’t bring himself to destroy God’s house (and the townsfolk understood). When the weekend ended, the cavalry, the baron, and leaders from other communities (that the baron was in the process of trying to get their land too) rode back into town to see it demolished. The baron was furious, demanding the commander to arrest them, but Charles Ingalls was quick to point out that the baron owned the land, not the buildings…he was free to rebuild. Of course, the baron was upset that he would have to fork over a lot of cost to use the land with wrecked buildings on it. More so, the leaders from the other towns threatened that he would find their towns in the same shape if he bought their land with his schemes. Reverend Alden tearfully prayed that “thank the Lord, Walnut Grove’s sacrifice wasn’t in vain”. The show ended with all the citizens travelling out of the destroyed town, filing past the Little House on their way.

Somehow this scene came to mind when reading how Claudius Lysias, the Roman commander, decided to deal with the murder-minded Jews. He had had enough, so after dismissing Paul’s nephew cordially, he had two centurions assemble one huge military force to handle any battle…all to make sure that Paul was escorted to the Roman governor Felix. He knew that the Jews wouldn’t be foolish enough to try any shenanigans on the governor’s grounds. Plus, Felix could hear for himself what the charges were by having Paul AND his accusers lay out their cases. Finally, it also relieved him of the headache of having to deal with this dilemma, I believe. This was how Lysias “fought back” in the only way he could; he ensured the Roman law was followed but steered clear of Jewish politics. Amazing how God works, isn’t it?

Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the “gray areas” in our society. Lots of folks on both sides argue back and forth, stating their cases and making their schemes. What we should do as Christians is do as Jesus instructs us. God’s Word has all the answers; we use them and calling on our “governor”, or should I say our High Priest, Jesus Christ, for His power and His wisdom in navigating murky waters.

Something to think about.

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Verse 6: “But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!””

In French Rarebit, Bugs Bunny is in Paris and walked right between two French cafés, whose chefs, Francois and Louis, were both determined to make Bugs the main entrée that day. Bugs pulled a typical maneuver and got both chefs arguing with each other over who owned the rabbit. This led to physical insults (nose tweaking, beard pulling) and, of course, led to cartoon violence with frying pans and the like. Bugs just calmly watched, noting the “terrible display of temper”.

You might say Paul pulled the same maneuver. He knew about the simmering rivalry between Sadducees and Pharisees, especially when it came to religious doctrine. All he had to do was claim honestly that he was a Pharisee and what he stood for (resurrection of the dead). Non-cooperative minds and partisan defenses did the rest. Soon, the council wasn’t even debating why Paul was brought before them, but back to common infighting. The Pharisee scribes, not fans of Paul, nevertheless claimed in council that they could find no fault with this man.

I find it remarkable that God blessed Paul to use the gifts and training he had to not only stand for Christ, but to also point out the hypocrisy of religious leaders of the day…much like Jesus did.

Something to think about.

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Verses 29-31: “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.”

“The concept behind Airwolf was a supersonic armed helicopter that could be disguised as a civilian vehicle — “a wolf in sheep’s clothing”. Andrew Probert designed the Airwolf uniform insignia patch worn by the flight crew members, a snarling bat-winged wolf’s head wearing a sheepskin.” This statement is taken from the Wikipedia page on the TV series Airwolf (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airwolf). On the TV show, the Airwolf super-copter looked like civilian aircraft, but it was nothing of the sort. Armed with offensive and defensive weaponry, incredible speed and maneuverability, Airwolf was more than a match for anything in the air. Part of its attack capability was the look of it; it didn’t look threatening (well, not with its weapons systems housed), thus it could blend in and attack with devastating effectiveness.

Paul spoke of equal ferocity of attack against the church, both within and without. He spoke of those who would attack the church like “savage wolves” trying to tear down what the Lord had built up through the apostle. He also spoke of men from within “will rise up, speaking perverse things”. You would have to be an isolated hermit not to see how pervasive perversion has infiltrated our media and communications nowadays in this century. You can’t even turn on any telecommunications device without being almost bombarded by it.

The apostle gave two commands: watch and remember. The church’s work on earth is not done; I’d almost scarce say it’s only begun, and time grows short.

Something to think about.

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Verse 7: “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.”

A good many years back, I received word from my old college friends that our beloved campus minister, who I befriended during my time with the Baptist Student Union, was dying of cancer. His wife and kids put together a “reunion” of sorts, so that all the kids whom Clete had mentored and ministered to, could come and visit with him…probably for the last time. My wife and I came and were one of the first in line to speak with Clete. This man had helped guide me a lot when I was in college, and it was bittersweet to see him, and yet see him in pain. He still smiled and listened as I proudly introduced my wife to him and told him about our family and life since college. I could’ve spent hours talking to him…however, there was a mile-long line of old friends wanting to have the same time with Clete! He touched a lot of students’ lives in college. Sheepishly, we stepped back to let the next folks visit with him, as we took time to talk to Nelda and their kids. He went on to Heaven not too long after that visit.

Acts is starting to draw to a close here. Paul is spending time with the disciples. Whether they asked him to preach long, or he chose to, or both, Paul taught and spoke with the gathered disciples well into the night (and to think, we complain nowadays when the pastor goes past noon in his preaching!) Later on in this chapter, we’ll see where he gathers the Ephesian elders to speak with them in person one last time…knowing that he may not see them again. He knows he must go to Rome, and is unafraid that his life may be forfeit in this endeavor.

The memory of campus minister Clete and the parallel to Paul speaking with some folks for the last time struck a chord in my head to make me stop and think. Don’t assume that you are guaranteed tomorrow. Get to work today in the work of Jesus Christ in your life. Reach out to others: family, friends, those you see every day, or those you haven’t seen in a while. God may use you to deliver a timely message to someone who needs to hear it…and might not hear it tomorrow.

Have a blessed day in the Lord!

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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 26: “So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.”

My family recently upgraded to using smartphones. Now, when you get through laughing or rolling your eyes at how long it took me and my family to “join the 21st century” 🙂 let me explain why I mention this. I know a little about smartphones from having to deal with them via my workplace’s oncall phones. However, as my wife and I fumble through learning all the new stuff, sometimes my sons have to show “dad” how something is done (or a quicker way to do something.) A good friend at work, who also is my manager, is my new “Master Yoda” when it comes to answering questions or telling me the whys and wherefores of how apps work on my new phone. Sometimes, too, he just completes my understanding on what I thought I knew well.

Today’s verse refers to Apollos, “an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures”. The passage tells us that he was “instructed in the way of the Lord” and he was “fervent in spirit”. Sounds like a missionary just like Paul, eh? Well…not quite. You see, Apollos only knew of the baptism of John; he didn’t know about post-Pentecostal knowledge and being filled with the Holy Spirit in Jesus Christ. He was still “new” to all this. Aquila and Priscilla, being Christians more mature and experienced in the faith, took Apollos “under their wing” to teach and to instruct him in the complete knowledge of Jesus Christ. They helped to complete his understanding; now fully equipped, Apollos was on fire even more for Jesus! He went to Corinth and “greatly helped those who had believed through grace”.

Even modern evangelists don’t quit studying God’s Word, even if they have read the Bible through several times. They don’t quit praying. They keep listening to God and His Word through the Holy Spirit. So don’t be afraid, young Christian, of listening to wise counsel of older, more experienced Christians. Sometimes, how will you ever know unless you ask? Or to put it Biblically: Matthew 7:7.

Something to think about.

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Verse 15: “[“]But if it is a question of words and names and your own law, look to it yourselves; for I do not want to be a judge of such matters.””

This past Sunday, I heard a wonderful testimony from a young family in our church, regarding tithing. As most young families are, when they are starting out, they have had struggles to make ends meet. Add 2 children to the mix, and family needs become greater in priority. Through it all, they testified, they have remained faithful to tithe on their income; no matter the ups and downs, especially with them both feeling God’s leading for the wife/mother to stay at home with the children. It hasn’t been easy, but they cited God’s promised provision; they backed this up with Malachi 3:10. The husband shared how they’ve seen God work in opening heretofore unknown resources to bless them with the income they need to support their family; circumstances that one could clearly see the hand of God in, as they relayed instance after instance. God promised to protect and to provide for them, and He did, even doing it in EXACT ways that they had prayed about needing.

In the previous passage, God had promised the same for Paul: protection and provision to allow Paul to continue God’s work in Corinth. Not long after, here came the familiar mob of Jews, attempting to get Paul in trouble with the law. Verse 14 states that, even as Paul was about to open his mouth to give his defense, God used the proconsul, Gallio, to literally suck the fire out of their accusations; he figuratively told them, “Look, this is your world and your laws…handle it yourself. Now get out of my office!”

Paul didn’t have to do anything…God had him covered! So when God tells you, O Christian, that He has your back…why do you keep looking over your shoulder?

Something to think about.

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