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Posts Tagged ‘Rome’

Verses 31-32: “and when they had gone aside, they talked among themselves, saying, “This man is doing nothing deserving of death or chains.” Then Agrippa said to Festus, “This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.””

“How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” – Sherlock Holmes, Chapter 6, p.111, The Sign of the Four (got this from https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Sherlock_Holmes).

As Sherlock Holmes so wryly explained, when you take off all other factors of something (prejudices, societal designations, stigmas, labels, opinions, etc.), the only thing left is the truth. That is just what Agrippa and Festus conclude once they bring Paul’s presentation to an end by standing up and leaving the room. After some side discussion with Festus, Agrippa gives Festus his opinion (which Festus had asked for). The verdict: not guilty. No other decision could be reached; they said it plainly: “This man is doing nothing deserving of death or chains.” Agrippa further states ironically, “This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”

Remember, Paul had his travel plans arranged already…not by Festus, who you might say was the conductor in this case…but by the Lord, the One who is taking Paul on the Holy Express to witness in Rome. As the narrator of the animated cartoon The Hobbit once sang, “The greatest adventure is what lies ahead.”

More to come!

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Verse 27: “For it seems to me unreasonable to send a prisoner and not to specify the charges against him.”

Some time back, I recall reading an interesting tidbit of an article in Uncle John’s Biggest Ever Bathroom Reader, on page 402 of the “Odd Elvis Quiz” regarding Elvis Presley. It seems that Elvis was once approached about performing at a party at the White House hosted by President Richard Nixon. It is considered quite an honor to perform at the White House. However, when Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis’s manager, heard that Elvis wouldn’t be paid for performing (that is the caveat; performers enjoy the honor and prestige, but no monetary pay), he reportedly growled, “Elvis doesn’t play for free.” Thus the deal fell through, and Elvis was never invited back. Thus Elvis missed his chance of performing for the President of the United States.

Some time back, I mentioned how Paul, in his captivity, would have extraordinary opportunities to share the Gospel with individuals he might not otherwise have had the chance to (God works in mysterious ways). Already he had spoken with 2 governors, and now he had the chance to address King Agrippa, who came to visit Governor Festus. Festus had to send some official charge of Paul’s offense when he sent him to Rome, but was having trouble expressing just what the charge was. Part of the ceremony of hosting King Agrippa was for Festus to have Paul lay his case out before the king as well. Agrippa expressed that he would like to hear the case.

Opportunity knocks through the divine Hand of God on the door. And in this case, Paul wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass without preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ! Today, as you go about your way through life, Christian, pray that God would show you those “open doors” that He wants you to knock upon.

Something to think about.

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Verse 11: “For if I am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying; but if there is nothing in these things of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar.”

Enough is enough.

In 2009, Barack Obama was inaugurated as President of the United States of America. After many years of white politicians being elected to the country’s highest office, Mr. Obama became the first African-American elected to serve as our country’s leader. Many voters had decided that enough was enough and that change was due.

In 2017, in response to an undercurrent of “politics and deadlock as usual”, Donald Trump was inaugurated as President of the United States of America. After many years of politicians serving in our nation’s highest office, many voters had decided to elect a businessman, a political “outsider”, in the form of Mr. Trump to bring in a fresh perspective. Many voters had decided that enough was enough and that change was due.

Enough is enough.

Paul had seen this song and dance in the court before. Here was Governor Festus, asking if he would be willing to face his accusers in court, but back in Jerusalem. Paul knew full well the Jewish mob would be waiting in ambush if he were transported back to Jerusalem. Paul knew that God wanted him in Rome. Invoking his right as a Roman citizen, Paul made his appeal to be judged by Caesar! This effectively was an “end run” around Festus, and thus the governor had no choice but to send Paul to Rome. Paul had had enough of the merry-go-round of local politics. Enough was enough.

How about you? Have you had enough of the consequences of sin in your life; have you had enough of not having hope? Have you had enough, and desire a change for the better? Then say, “enough is enough”, and give your life to Jesus Christ today. If you have already done so, you know that no matter what the devil throws at you today, you can remind Satan that “enough is enough”. Jesus already paid it all, so get underway to living for Him!

Have a blessed day in the Lord!

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Verse 27: “But after two years Porcius Festus succeeded Felix; and Felix, wanting to do the Jews a favor, left Paul bound.”

For want of a nail the shoe was lost,
for want of a shoe the horse was lost,
for want of a horse the knight was lost,
for want of a knight the battle was lost.
So it was a kingdom was lost – all for want of a nail.
JLA: The Nail

In the DC comic book special, JLA: The Nail, an alternate tale of the beginning of the Justice League is told. Most everyone who has ever heard of Superman knows his origin: rocketed from the dying planet, Krypton, his spaceship nearly crashes into the travelling truck of Jonathan and Martha Kent. The Kents adopt the baby, and their parenting guidance paves the way for Superman’s moral code. In this story, (the background of which can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JLA:_The_Nail_series ), a nail causes Jonathan Kent to have a flat tire, delaying their fated rendezvous with Kal-El’s spaceship. Instead, an Amish couple find and raise Kal-El in the isolation of their community, thus altering the familiar storyline of Superman and the Justice League.

In the passage today, it would seem Paul has hit a nail. Even though he has conversations with Governor Felix several times, reasoning and witnessing to him, Felix is afraid and keeps sending Paul away. The passage evens states that he hopes Paul would bribe him to let him go. So after all the trial and testimony, trying to do the Jews a political favor on his way out the door…Felix leaves Paul in custody.

Some might see this as a nail altering the story and mission of Paul; here he is, stalled in house arrest at Caesarea. Not so; remember, God had promised Paul he would see Rome as His missionary. What may seem like a delay, simply was God’s plan for Paul to tell the Good News to even more officials. Enter the new Governor Festus and later King Agrippa. The Kingdom here is not lost for want of a nail…it is held in place by divine direction of Jesus Christ.

Something to think about.

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Verses 10-11, 16: “Now when there arose a great dissension, the commander, fearing lest Paul might be pulled to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and bring him into the barracks. But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.”…so when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their ambush, he went and entered the barracks and told Paul.”

The following is a fictitious conversation:

Soldier: Sir?
Commander: What is it, soldier?
Soldier: Sir, there’s another disturbance amongst the Jews.
Commander: (sigh) Now what? Let their ruling council handle it.
Soldier: Sir, that is the problem; the disturbance is coming from within their council’s chambers.
Commander: I simply do not understand these Jews! I sent Paul down there this morning for clarification…
Soldier: Sir, that’s just it…their fighting over Paul, and he’s in danger!
Commander: Not a prisoner on my watch, he won’t be! Take soldiers and get him out of there, by force if necessary!
Soldier: At once, sir!
Commander: (to himself) I just don’t see what the uproar is about. Who IS this man?

I often remember that line being used by Major Hochstetter of the SS on the TV comedy, Hogan’s Heroes. He was one of the antagonists that Colonel Hogan would have to outwit. Often, Hogan would just waltz right into Colonel Klink’s office, with Hochstetter stridently demanding “WHO IS THIS MAN?”

Once again, God uses the Romans to rescue Paul. I did some background reading in the Holman New Testament Commentary on Acts (pg. 388-389); now, of course, the conversation probably didn’t occur like I typed it, but it was indicative of what the Romans thought of the Jews. They detested them. And yet, the commander, Claudius Lysias, found nothing against the law that Paul had done. He couldn’t see what the fuss was about; but it was his job to keep the peace and the law (and protect his Roman prisoner!) So, when word of the plot by the forty Jews to kill Paul came to the attention of Paul’s nephew, he came to Paul. Paul sent him straight to the commander. This leads to a most interesting turn of events.

You or I would probably worry about what’s next. But when God Himself “stood by [Paul]” and guaranteed that he would live to witness in Rome…well, what better reassurance can you have?

More to come!

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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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Verses 3-4: “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy,”

It’s a wonderful thing to hear from friends, especially when you haven’t seen them in ages. I was at a band festival recently taping the performance of my son’s band for the band director. My old university band was the feature exhibition and I saw some old friends who were in band with me from our college days at the event. I even saw an old friend from band who started the same time I did; I hadn’t seen this friend, literally, in years. They were as happy to see me as I was them, as old memories flooded back of fond days.

Sometimes, it can be just the message sent by a friend, whether a phone call or an email or a letter (some of you folks my age will remember what a “letter” is. :-)) Whatever the communique, it fills your heart with gladness to be remembered by an old friend; gladder still if they mention they have been praying for you.

Here is Paul, in prison in Rome, under arrest and awaiting trial by Nero, and yet he starts off this letter to his Philippian friends with this message. When you pray to God for someone, God hears our prayers. People who are prayed for, can feel the results of those prayers lifted in His name on their behalf. Though I may not do it every day, I try to remember to thank God for those who pray for me, and to ask Him to doubly-bless them in return. One of the best gifts you can give someone is to pray to God for them; have you done that today?

Something to think about.

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