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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

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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Verse 15: “And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus, I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?””

In the movie Doctor Strange, we find this dialogue when Strange is learning the mystic arts (Wong and Baron Mordo are already accomplished masters helping in his training):

[Strange is experimenting with time manipulation using the Eye of Agamotto]
Karl Mordo: [bursting in] No! Tampering with continuum probability is forbidden!
Dr. Strange: I was just doing exactly what it said in the book!
Wong: And what did the book say about the dangers of performing that ritual?
Dr. Strange: I… don’t know, I hadn’t gotten to that part yet.
Mordo: Temporal manipulations can create branches in time. Unstable dimensional openings, spatial paradoxes, time loops! You want to get stuck experiencing the same moment over and over again forever, or never having existed at all?!
Dr. Strange: …They really should put the warnings before this stuff.

The preceding quotes can be found at https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Doctor_Strange_(film)

It never fails: trying to tamper with forces beyond man’s ability most always leads to disastrous results (or in Dr. Strange’s case, almost does!) Here, Strange was experimenting with magic spells that he didn’t fully grasp the consequences of. In today’s Scripture passage, verse 11 states that “Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul,”. Even items of clothing that had touched Paul’s body were being used to heal the sick. The current Jewish exorcists and other magicians of the day figured, “hey, let’s try to cash in on this Jesus in our work!” Would that they had had Han Solo there to quote his famous line: “I got a bad feeling about this!”

So when these exorcists tried to simply use Jesus name to remove an evil spirit, the spirit responds with verse 15. The demon knew Jesus, and knew of Paul, but he lets these would-be magicians find out that they didn’t know what they were doing. They were trying to literally use Jesus’s name like a magic word. It’s through faith in Jesus, that all-saving faith, that Paul could do these miracles. Jesus wasn’t a magic wand; He is the Messiah, the Savior, God the Son! These exorcists found out the hard way that you don’t call on Jesus’s name flippantly. This particular section ends appropriately with verse 20: “So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed”.

I wish that people today who call Jesus’s name flippantly would learn from this passage.

Something to think about.

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Verses 6-7: “But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who turned the world upside down have come here too. Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus.””

In the old Marvel Comics series Sub-Mariner, issue #22 was a momentous meeting between Prince Namor (the Sub-Mariner) and Dr. Strange (2 heroes who would later go on to found the super-group known as The Defenders). Dr. Strange, exiled in another dimension to escape detection on Earth, telepathically guides Namor to Boston to the house of an old friend; his mission is to find a cursed idol that would allow a demonic race known as the Undying Ones, led by the Nameless One, to enter Earth’s dimension. Once Namor finds the artifact, Dr. Strange reveals himself and defeats a disguised demon. Dr. Strange answers indignant Namor’s questions about what this is all about. In relating the history of the Undying Ones, Strange describes to Namor various groups that worshipped or allied themselves with the demons, and how there were fanatical groups dedicated to stopping them. In one panel, they showed some villagers storm a house, accusing the occupant of practicing witchcraft and being in league with the cult. Despite the homeowner’s protestations to the contrary, the mob leader simply states that “it is enough that you stand accused”. (that may not be the direct quote, but I’m having trouble finding that story in my comics collection 🙂 ).

I remember that line though: “it is enough that you stand accused”. In today’s passage, the mob is livid because they can’t find Paul and Silas, so they do the next best thing: they harassed their host, a man named Jason, and bring him along with their accusation that Paul and Silas are preaching worship to another king beside Caesar (remember, that was the similar charge Jesus Himself faced from Pilate in Luke 23:2, per the footnote in my Holman NKJV Study Bible). This way the mob could “use” the current legal system to present a “legitimate” charge against the two.

What’s interesting is that later in the verses, Jason is released after paying a security to help ensure that Paul and Silas “leave town”. In my Holman New Testament Commentary on Acts (pages 285-286), I found some background information. First, although the Jews, as a whole, despised Roman rule, they weren’t above “using the system” to get their way when it was convenient. Also, the security bond procured from Jason here was not a bond found in our current legal system (where you pay money to guarantee your presence at a legal proceeding), but instead was “insurance” that Jason would “assist” in getting Paul and Silas to leave. Though Paul and Silas would leave, the church in Thessalonica would grow and not be snuffed out.

There are days that will come when “guilt by association” might be a charge levelled at you. It makes me recall, even today, an old rhetorical question: if you were to be accused of being a Christian…would there be enough evidence to prove it?

Something to think about.

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Verses 22-24: “Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.”

The court of public opinion wasn’t just something that started in this century or even last century; it has been around for a long time. Here we have the people who brought charges against Paul and Silas joined by a worked-up mob. It doesn’t take long for word to spread, especially when it has to do with people that you don’t want around. The magistrates hastily had punishment laid out on Paul and Silas. No investigation of the charges was made; quick “justice” to appease the mob was done. But God wasn’t through with Paul and Silas yet.

Today, we see that mob mentality take place. Many times I have read online news articles, and then scanned the posts of commenters from vox populi, “the voice of the people”. Overwhelmingly, the opinions are uninformed and bigoted, lacking knowledge of what truly happened and making judgments only on what was reported on (where have you gone, Joe Friday?) In this day and age when information travels almost at the speed of lightning, we must be careful not to give in to the anger of the moment. Either an investigation turns up information that changes the story…or it confirms what was already assumed. However, at least, in this country, all citizens should get the benefit of due process. Justice may not always be served, but it should be striven for.

Remember though, the justice that we sinners deserve is the cross. Thank Jesus He gave out mercy instead.

Something to think about.

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