Posts Tagged ‘Rome’

Verse 24: “And some were persuaded by the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved.”

Here we are, at the end of 2017. Tomorrow is January 1, 2018. Like most folks, I look back on this year reflectively. There are good memories and accomplishments; there are also some memories and incidents that I’d rather forget (and hope are not repeated in the new year!) Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, a French critic, journalist, and novelist, once stated that “the more things change, the more they stay the same” (this is a loose translation; I referenced this from the Wikipedia entry on Karr: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Baptiste_Alphonse_Karr). Sometimes you think things will be different, only to see that they still turn out the same way.

Paul must have felt some sense of this. After ministering on the isle of Malta, he finally makes it Rome. Granted some freedom to stay in a house while awaiting trial, he calls the local Jewish leaders to him and updates them on recent events as well as telling them the Good News. If you or I were Paul, we might be tempted to think, “well, this time will be different. This isn’t the local mob of Jews I’ve had to deal with. I’m in Rome now; the outcome will be much better.”

But what happened? The same result as before: some were persuaded and believed, but some disbelieved. It can be disheartening to keep trying over and over and yet feel rejected, but this didn’t stop Paul. He kept preaching the Gospel wherever he was and with whoever he was with. We should have this same attitude as well. God didn’t call us to save people to Him; only Jesus Christ can save people’s souls. God commands us, as Christians, to tell the Good News to as many as we can. We’re just messengers; we can’t make people accept Christ…but God takes the seeds that are sown in His name, and takes it from there.

So as we conclude this study of Acts, remember to be faithful messengers in Jesus’s name…telling the Good News of Jesus Christ. We’ll resume the studying in a few weeks with a series called “Jesus: I Am the (fill-in-the-blank)” It’s a study of some of the analogies that Jesus taught His disciples to better explain Who He is. These analogies are just as important to us years later, as well.

May God bless you this coming new year!


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Verses 23-24: “For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.'”

Whenever I do not drive myself on Carpenters for Christ mission trips, most of the other times I travel with my father in his truck. Since he is driving, I’ll chart our progress on a map to see how close we are to state lines and such (in most cases to take some snapshots). There have been times he has asked me where we are on the map and how close we are to certain landmarks or towns. He has even asked before how many miles we are to a certain area (good thing I took land navigation in high school!) I thought of this when reading all the detail that Luke put into the account of Paul travelling to Rome aboard the ship and his trials during the storm. Most of the account is filled with this navigational detail, but there were three things that drew my attention while reading this account.

In verse 3, Luke writes that Julius (the centurion in charge of the prisoners) treated Paul kindly. I’m reminded that God “clears the way” when we need His help, and sometimes that help comes in unexpected people that He sends our way.

The second item is in verses 23-24: that God reminded Paul that he was to make it to Rome alive to be brought before Caesar. Worry is one of the devil’s favorite weapons…with that weapon, he can rob us of the energy and focus that we need in ministering for God. Paul was probably emboldened and strengthened to be reminded of this by God’s angel. The weight of concern about their survival was lifted from him with this reminder, allowing him to focus on the task at hand.

The third item is in verse 36; Paul encouraged the men, who hadn’t eaten anything in the last 14 days, to take nourishment for their survival. The angel had told Paul that they would survive, but the ship would be run aground, so they would need strength to make it shore (go without food for 2 weeks, and see how strong you are!) This verse is a reminder that God gave us physical bodies that we need to take care of in order to better serve Him. That means making sure we take the nourishment we need to keep our bodies running as they should.

Sounds like common sense, right? But as I’m often reminded in this old world, common sense ain’t as common as it used to be. It’s better to let God do the driving and we “ride shotgun” with Him!

Something to think about.

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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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