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Posts Tagged ‘Rome’

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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