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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

Verse 28: “Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian”.”

Have you seen the Snickers commercial where the stadium technician is painstakingly painting the end-zone with the logo of the team, while the team is practicing? He is drawing each letter with precision detail with spray nozzle, paintbrush, and powder cart; he finally stands up to admire his handiwork after several hours. A football player walks by and says “Hey, that’s great…the Chefs!” Then the realization dawns on him that the team is called the Chiefs. In that awkward moment that he realizes he has to tear down and re-do what took hours to do in the first place, you hear the narrator state, “Not going anywhere for a while? Grab a Snickers!”

King Agrippa is not going anywhere at the moment; he must give a reply. Paul continues his argument with the rhetorical question, “do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.” King Agrippa is a good Jew, but he is also a wise politician. I read several Holman sources (Bible and concordance) for background on this. When I was a child, I first read the above verse thinking Agrippa had accepted Paul’s witness and became a Christian. The background research seems to suggest that Agrippa was in a bind; he couldn’t disagree with Paul’s references to Jewish history and the prophets, but yet he didn’t want to appear that he was siding with Paul and possibly lose some political credibility. Thus, he answered in the non-committal reply in verse 28.

Paul continues that he wishes Agrippa and all others in earshot would become like him in this aspect: a follower of Christ…to become just like him, except for the chains.

Always be on the lookout for open door opportunities to witness for our Savior, fellow Christian, no matter how great or how small.

Something to think about.

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Verse 8: “Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?”

Way back when DC Comics had published the storyline “The Death of Superman”, in which Superman seemingly perished defending Metropolis from the alien monster known as Doomsday, the eventual return of Superman to life was depicted in the storyline “Reign of the Supermen”. As an epilogue to that story, Superman and Lois Lane were shown by the supernatural detective, Dr. Occult, just how Superman “came back from the dead”. Long story short, it was a series of factors and events that only occurred in a once-in-a-lifetime configuration; Superman was as close to death as he could be (for a Kryptonian). This fact was lost on a gathering of people who began to worship Superman, as he had “come back from the dead” in their eyes. Kal-El was horrified to see that these people flocked to him like he was a god, and he had to vocally reprimand them that, telling them that he was mortal (although he has “power and abilities far beyond mortal men”, to quote the old Adventures of Superman TV show). He could no more raise people from the dead or cure the sick supernaturally than they could. Thankfully, his words snapped them back to reality.

Paul begins his defense before King Agrippa by harkening back to his defense before the Sanhedrin: that he believes in the resurrection of the dead. He evens parlays it into the rhetorical question he puts before Agrippa: “Why should it be though incredible by you that God raises the dead?” If God is truly all-powerful, omniscient, and omnipresent, then why wouldn’t He be able to raise the dead? Paul is laying the foundational basis for his later arguments regarding Jesus.

I am reminded of the times when we have to be reminded of God’s power. Take Matthew 8: 23-27 and Matthew 14: 22-33. Both times, when out on the water, Jesus performs miracles over the power of the storm and of the sea in the face of his disciples’ fears. He then reminds them, “why did you doubt, o ye of little faith”. The disciples’ replies that marvel at His power are perfectly summed up in Matthew 14:33: “Truly You are the Son of God”.

Why should we think it incredible that God can’t do the impossible? He’s God!

More to come.

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Verse 21: “Then He said to me, ‘Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.’”

“God has sent me to minister and to witness to the Nazis!”

How would you feel if you heard a fellow American say that? Confused? Angry, upset? Fearful?

You could about fill in the blank of “to the ____” with a group or individuals you felt strongly against. I remember back after 9-11-01, our church had a prayer vigil. Our pastor asked deacons to pray for specific groups. And he wanted someone to pray for Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. I chose that one, because I knew it would be through only God’s love and His strength that I could pray for enemies who did such a heinous crime. God reminded me though…isn’t that what Paul was before his conversion? An enemy who killed Christians?

Here, his fellow Jews are in an uproar. “Minister to Gentiles? WHAT? Was he crazy? The Gentiles??? Away with him!” Needless to say, without God’s intervention, Paul probably would’ve been martyred that day. In this case, we see an interesting form of rescue. Whom did God use to save Paul? To paraphrase that great secret agent, Maxwell Smart: “wouldja believe…the Romans?”

More to come!

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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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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.

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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.

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Verse 24: “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

In the summer of 1980, a young man went abroad to Europe and to England as part of a 100 piece student ambassador orchestra. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and he thoroughly enjoyed the 3 week trip. However, the route home had some bumps in it; you see, that was about the time that the air traffic controllers union in the United States went on strike. This impacted air travel all across America, and for connecting flights coming to America. The student orchestra’s plane was delayed 8 hours returning from Europe. While in the skies over the Atlantic, he heard rumors of what flights were still on, and which ones were cancelled. He was nervous, because this trip had been his first time flying ever! Arriving back in New York, he and his travelling companions found their return flight to Atlanta cancelled, but made it on standby at a rival carrier. All the while, the young man prayed that they could make it back to the South, because he knew his parents could come get him, if he was stuck in Atlanta. To add to this drama, he literally had to race across Atlanta airport; he arrived within 5 minutes of his connecting flight being on-time to leave to Birmingham! Never was anyone so glad to finish this race to get home as this young man.

Well, that’s the best earthly analogy I can think of when reading Paul’s words here. The apostle is talking to the Ephesian church elders, possibly for last time, and is giving them instruction and teaching. Though the Holy Spirit has told Paul in stop after stop along his missionary journey that he will suffer earthly conflict and inflictions, Paul still strives in his mission to the Lord. He wants to be a good finisher in God’s eyes, striving to minister in Jesus’s name, even up to the point of death. Now, that’s commitment!

Fellow Christian, strive to finish strong today in your race for God.

Have a blessed day in the Lord!

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