2585.) Acts 24

March 29, 2019

In the Walk Thu the New Testament seminar, we remember Felix the ruler by twisting the whiskers of Felix the cat!

Acts 24 (NLT)

Paul Appears before Felix

Five days later Ananias, the high priest, arrived with some of the Jewish elders and the lawyer Tertullus, to present their case against Paul to the governor. 2 When Paul was called in, Tertullus presented the charges against Paul in the following address to the governor:

The high priest, some of the Jewish elders, and a top-notch lawyer — these folks are serious about getting Paul out of their hair!

“Your Excellency,

Felix! Born a slave, the emperor Claudius made him a freedman. Felix went on to marry the granddaughter of Mark Antony and Cleopatra and became the first slave in Roman history to be appointed a provincial governor. The ancient historian Tacitus says that he ruled as “a master of cruelty and lust who exercised the powers of a king with the spirit of a slave.” As we read on, we will see Felix’s propensity to try to turn any situation to his personal advantage.

you have provided a long period of peace for us Jews and with foresight have enacted reforms for us. 3 For all of this we are very grateful to you. 4 But I don’t want to bore you, so please give me your attention for only a moment. 5 We have found this man to be a troublemaker who is constantly stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the cult known as the Nazarenes. 6 Furthermore, he was trying to desecrate the Temple when we arrested him. 8 You can find out the truth of our accusations by examining him yourself.” 9 Then the other Jews chimed in, declaring that everything Tertullus said was true.

Plenty of accusations. But where is the supporting evidence?

10 The governor then motioned for Paul to speak. Paul said, “I know, sir, that you have been a judge of Jewish affairs for many years, so I gladly present my defense before you. 11 You can quickly discover that I arrived in Jerusalem no more than twelve days ago to worship at the Temple. 12 My accusers never found me arguing with anyone in the Temple, nor stirring up a riot in any synagogue or on the streets of the city. 13 These men cannot prove the things they accuse me of doing.

14 “But I admit that I follow the Way, which they call a cult. I worship the God of our ancestors, and I firmly believe the Jewish law and everything written in the prophets. 15 I have the same hope in God that these men have, that he will raise both the righteous and the unrighteous. 16 Because of this, I always try to maintain a clear conscience before God and all people.

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Music:

One of my favorite hymns, because it is so full of truth and so singable. “In Christ Alone” was written in 2002 by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty.  HERE is Adrienne Liesching, Geoff Moore & The Distance.

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17 “After several years away, I returned to Jerusalem with money to aid my people and to offer sacrifices to God. 18 My accusers saw me in the Temple as I was completing a purification ceremony. There was no crowd around me and no rioting. 19 But some Jews from the province of Asia were there—and they ought to be here to bring charges if they have anything against me! 20 Ask these men here what crime the Jewish high council found me guilty of, 21 except for the one time I shouted out, ‘I am on trial before you today because I believe in the resurrection of the dead!’”

22 At that point Felix, who was quite familiar with the Way, adjourned the hearing and said, “Wait until Lysias, the garrison commander, arrives. Then I will decide the case.” 23 He ordered an officer to keep Paul in custody but to give him some freedom and allow his friends to visit him and take care of his needs.

Felix tried to walk a middle ground. He knew Paul was innocent, yet he did not want to identify himself with Paul’s gospel and the Christians. So he made no decision and kept Paul in custody.

–David Guzik

24 A few days later Felix came back with his wife, Drusilla, who was Jewish. Sending for Paul, they listened as he told them about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 As he reasoned with them about righteousness and self-control and the coming day of judgment, Felix became frightened. “Go away for now,” he replied. “When it is more convenient, I’ll call for you again.” 26 He also hoped that Paul would bribe him, so he sent for him quite often and talked with him.

“St. John the Baptist Rebuking Herod” by Giovanni Fattori (1825-1908) Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence, Italy

This brings to mind Herod Antipas’ interest with John the Baptist. Herod “was greatly disturbed whenever he talked with John, but even so, he liked to listen to him” (Mark 6:20). The difference is that Felix’s end motive was simple greed.

27 After two years went by in this way, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And because Felix wanted to gain favor with the Jewish people, he left Paul in prison.

Pilate condemns Jesus, from the movie “The Passion of Christ”

Felix keeps Paul in prison, even while knowing his innocence. This brings to mind Pontius Pilate, who condemned Jesus even while knowing Christ’s innocence. The leaders do what is expedient rather than what is right.

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Paul’s hometown, Tarsus, was the capital city of Cilicia. The picture above is of Cleopatra’s Gate, built in 41 BCE to welcome her to the city.

from Peculiar Treasures,
by Frederick Buechner

FELIX

Felix was the Roman governor of Cilicia. When Paul got into a knock-down drag-out with the Jerusalem Jews, Felix was the one that the Roman brass took him to in hopes of getting the matter settled once and for all. Paul’s Roman passport entitled him to a Roman hearing, and Felix gave it to him He seems to have listened sympathetically enough and to have had a fairly good understanding of both sides of the issue since on the one hand he already knew about the Christian movement and, on the other, he had a Jewish wife. Under the pretext of awaiting further evidence, he then placed Paul under custody but went out of the way to see to it that he was well taken care of. He could do what he wanted within reason, and his friends were allowed to supplement his rations from a kosher delicatessen.

The trouble came during a second interview a couple of days later. Felix had summoned him to find out how much his release was worth to him in hard cash, but with his usual tact Paul insisted on discussing justice, self-control, and future judgment instead. “Don’t call me, I’ll call you,” Felix said and sent him back to the pokey. He dropped in on him there from time to time to pursue his original line of inquiry, but Paul never seemed to zero in on what he was after.

With three squares a day, a roof over his head, and plenty of time to write letters, Paul had no major complaints apparently, and as long as Felix didn’t spring him, the Jews had no major complaints either. As for Felix himself, after two years he retired on a handsome government pension, leaving the problem of what to do with Paul for his successor to worry about. Felix, of course, means “the happy one” in Latin, and if happiness consists of having your cake and eating it too, he was well named.

_________________________

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Felix the cat.   http://www.retrokimmer.com/2014/09/felix-cat-still-coolest-cat.html
Fattori.  http://imagecache6.allposters.com/LRG/15/1507/7M3BD00Z.jpg
Pilate and Jesus.  http://ourfaithinaction.net/wp-content/uploads/2004/02/pilate_condemns_jesus.jpg
Tarsus city gate. https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/tarsus.jpg
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2584.) Acts 23:23-35

March 28, 2019

Ancient Roman aqueduct in Caesarea

Acts 23:23-35   (NLT)

Paul Is Sent to Caesarea

23 Then the commander called two of his officers and ordered, “Get 200 soldiers ready to leave for Caesarea at nine o’clock tonight. Also take 200 spearmen and 70 mounted troops. 24 Provide horses for Paul to ride, and get him safely to Governor Felix.”

Amazing! 470 trained Roman soldiers would escort Paul out of Jerusalem! It was as if God wanted to exaggerate His faithfulness to him, and show him beyond any doubt that the promise of Jesus was true. Paul would be safe in Caesarea. Located about 60 miles northwest of Jerusalem, it was the official residence of the Roman governors of Palestine.

25 Then he wrote this letter to the governor:

26 “From Claudius Lysias, to his Excellency, Governor Felix: Greetings!
27 “This man was seized by some Jews, and they were about to kill him when I arrived with the troops. When I learned that he was a Roman citizen, I removed him to safety. 28 Then I took him to their high council to try to learn the basis of the accusations against him. 29 I soon discovered the charge was something regarding their religious law—certainly nothing worthy of imprisonment or death. 30 But when I was informed of a plot to kill him, I immediately sent him on to you. I have told his accusers to bring their charges before you.”

31 So that night, as ordered, the soldiers took Paul as far as Antipatris. 32 They returned to the fortress the next morning, while the mounted troops took him on to Caesarea.

“Up to Antipatris [about 25 miles] the country was dangerous and inhabited by Jews; after that the country was open and flat, quite unsuited for any ambush and largely inhabited by Gentiles.”
–William Barclay

33 When they arrived in Caesarea, they presented Paul and the letter to Governor Felix. 34 He read it and then asked Paul what province he was from. “Cilicia,” Paul answered.

35 “I will hear your case myself when your accusers arrive,” the governor told him. Then the governor ordered him kept in the prison at Herod’s headquarters.

This would be Paul’s first opportunity to speak to someone at this level of authority (the governor). This was the beginning of the fulfillment of the promise made to Paul some 20 years earlier: that he would bear the name of Jesus to kings (Acts 9:15).

And this also began a two-year period of confinement for Paul in Caesarea. After that he spent at least two years in Rome. Taken together with travel time, the next five years of Paul’s life were lived in Roman custody. This was a striking contrast to his previous years of wide and spontaneous travel.

–David Guzik

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Music:

HERE  is “God Will Take Care of You,” sung a capella by the Antrim Mennonite Choir. Even though Paul did not know this particular song, I am sure he knew the truth of the lyrics.

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Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
aqueduct at Caesarea.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/caesarea-aduct.jpg
map.   http://lakesideministries.com/2ndCovenant/Acts/Acts_Images/ActsMap_3rd_Missionary_Journey_Paul%20Imprisoned%20in%20Caesarea.htm

2583.) Acts 23:1-22

March 27, 2019

“Which in his times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” — 1 Timothy 6:15.  “VerseVisions” are digital mixed media by Georgia artist Mark Lawrence. This King of kings and Lord of lords is the One whom Paul is following; he is willing to suffer for the sake of Christ’s name.

Acts 23:1-22 (NLT)

Paul before the High Council

30 The next day the commander ordered the leading priests into session with the Jewish high council. He wanted to find out what the trouble was all about, so he released Paul to have him stand before them.

1 Gazing intently at the high council, Paul began: “Brothers, I have always lived before God with a clear conscience!”

The previous day Paul saw a great opportunity go unfulfilled when the crowd at the temple mount did not allow him to finish his message to them, but started rioting again. Now Paul had another opportunity to win Israel to Jesus, and perhaps a better opportunity. Here he spoke to the council, the Sanhedrin, with the opportunity to preach Jesus to these influential men.

According to William Barclay, this address, “Brothers,” meant that Paul was bold in speaking to the council, setting himself on an equal footing with them. The normal style of address was to say, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel.”

–David Guzik

2 Instantly Ananias the high priest commanded those close to Paul to slap him on the mouth. 3 But Paul said to him, “God will slap you, you corrupt hypocrite! What kind of judge are you to break the law yourself by ordering me struck like that?”

The English Standard Version has the more literal translation of this verse:

Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?”

“Whitewashed wall”!  According to Josephus, the high priest Ananias was unworthy of the office. He was well-known for his greed:  stealing tithes from the common priests, giving lavish bribes to Romans, and using violence and assassination as tools to achieve his ends. He reaped what he had sown, however, and was brutally killed by Jewish nationalists.

4 Those standing near Paul said to him, “Do you dare to insult God’s high priest?”

5 “I’m sorry, brothers. I didn’t realize he was the high priest,” Paul replied, “for the Scriptures say, ‘You must not speak evil of any of your rulers.’”

6 Paul realized that some members of the high council were Sadducees and some were Pharisees, so he shouted, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, as were my ancestors! And I am on trial because my hope is in the resurrection of the dead!”

When Paul realized that they were not willing to listen to him, he divided the council. Paul plays one group against the other, since the Pharisees believed in the resurrection and the Sadducees denied it.

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Music:

I am often struck, as I read the sermons preached by Peter and Paul, by how often they rest their hopes on the resurrection of Christ. And yet I hear many sermons that never mention Christ’s great victory over sin, death, and the devil! Let us join the apostles now in praising God for raising Jesus from the grave! For no matter what may be wrong in your life, no matter what unhappiness or worry you may be carrying, this is most certainly true:  Christ is still risen!

HERE  the choir of King’s College, Cambridge sing the rousing Easter hymn  “This Joyful Eastertide”  with words by George R Woodford. The tune is a Dutch melody from David’s Psalmen, Amsterdam, 1685, arranged by Charles Wood.

This joyful Easter-tide, away with care and sorrow!
My Love, the Crucified, hath sprung to life this morrow.
Had Christ, that once was slain,
Ne’er burst His three day prison,
Our faith had been in vain;
But now hath Christ arisen,
Arisen, arisen, arisen!

My flesh in hope shall rest, and for a season slumber;
Till trump from east to west shall wake the dead in number.
Had Christ, that once was slain,
Ne’er burst His three day prison,
Our faith had been in vain;
But now hath Christ arisen,
Arisen, arisen, arisen!

Death’s flood hath lost his chill since Jesus crossed the river:
Lover of souls, from ill my passing soul deliver.
Had Christ, that once was slain,
Ne’er burst His three day prison,
Our faith had been in vain;
But now hath Christ arisen,
Arisen, arisen, arisen!

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7 This divided the council—the Pharisees against the Sadducees—8 for the Sadducees say there is no resurrection or angels or spirits, but the Pharisees believe in all of these. 9 So there was a great uproar. Some of the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees jumped up and began to argue forcefully. “We see nothing wrong with him,” they shouted. “Perhaps a spirit or an angel spoke to him.” 10 As the conflict grew more violent, the commander was afraid they would tear Paul apart. So he ordered his soldiers to go and rescue him by force and take him back to the fortress.

The Roman commander must wonder. First, the Jewish crowd went crazy yesterday when Paul said “Gentiles.” Now today the Sanhedrin breaks apart when Paul says “resurrection.”

11 That night the Lord appeared to Paul and said, “Be encouraged, Paul. Just as you have been a witness to me here in Jerusalem, you must preach the Good News in Rome as well.”

This must have been a difficult night for Paul. His heart longed for the salvation of his fellow Jews (Romans 9:1-4), and two great opportunities came to nothing. It would be no surprise if Paul blamed himself for the missed opportunity before the Sanhedrin.

So the kindly Lord Jesus comes and tells him, “Be of good cheer.” Be of good cheer is only one word in the ancient Greek, and is used five times in the New Testament – each time by Jesus.

· Jesus told the bedridden paralytic, Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you (Matthew 9:2). 

· Jesus told the woman with the 12-year bleeding problem, Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well (Matthew 9:22).

· Jesus told His frightened disciples on the Sea of Galilee, Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid (Matthew 14:27).

· Jesus told His disciples the night before His crucifixion, In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

· And here, in Acts 23:11 – Jesus told Paul, be of good cheer.

But others are up and plotting . . .

The Plan to Kill Paul

Proverbs 6:16-19 (NIV)

There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

12 The next morning a group of Jews got together and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. 13 There were more than forty of them in the conspiracy. 14 They went to the leading priests and elders and told them, “We have bound ourselves with an oath to eat nothing until we have killed Paul. 15 So you and the high council should ask the commander to bring Paul back to the council again. Pretend you want to examine his case more fully. We will kill him on the way.”

16 But Paul’s nephew—his sister’s son—heard of their plan and went to the fortress and told Paul.

We know very little of Paul’s immediate family, but here is one indication of the love they had for him. Later Paul will indirectly praise this nephew: “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” –1 Timothy 5:8

17 Paul called for one of the Roman officers and said, “Take this young man to the commander. He has something important to tell him.”

18 So the officer did, explaining, “Paul, the prisoner, called me over and asked me to bring this young man to you because he has something to tell you.”

19 The commander took his hand, led him aside, and asked, “What is it you want to tell me?”

20 Paul’s nephew told him, “Some Jews are going to ask you to bring Paul before the high council tomorrow, pretending they want to get some more information. 21 But don’t do it! There are more than forty men hiding along the way ready to ambush him. They have vowed not to eat or drink anything until they have killed him. They are ready now, just waiting for your consent.”

22 “Don’t let anyone know you told me this,” the commander warned the young man.

_________________________

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Lawrence.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/lawrence-verse-visions.jpg
St. John’s Point Lighthouse and Whitewashed Wall, Killybegs, Ireland.   Photo by Richard Cummins.     http://imagecache5.art.com/p/LRG/34/3431/S5DHF00Z/richard-cummins-st-johns-point-lighthouse-and-whitewashed-wall-killybegs-ireland.jpg
my uncle rocks.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/my-uncle-rocks.jpg

2582.) Acts 22

March 26, 2019

Acts 22 (NLT)

Paul Speaks to the Crowd

Someone asked a famous preacher, “What’s the secret of your success?”

“It’s simple,” replied the preacher. “I read myself full. I think myself clear. I pray myself hot. And I let myself go.”

_________________________

If you have never heard Dr. S. M. Lockridge preach about Jesus, you are in for a six minute treat,  HERE!

Dr. Shadrach Meshach Lockridge, 1913 – 2000, was the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, a prominent African-American congregation located in San Diego, California, for forty years. He was known around the world for his preaching.

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“Brothers and esteemed fathers,” Paul said, “listen to me as I offer my defense.” 2 When they heard him speaking in their own language, the silence was even greater.

3 Then Paul said, “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, and I was brought up and educated here in Jerusalem under Gamaliel. As his student, I was carefully trained in our Jewish laws and customs. I became very zealous to honor God in everything I did, just like all of you today. 4 And I persecuted the followers of the Way, hounding some to death, arresting both men and women and throwing them in prison. 5 The high priest and the whole council of elders can testify that this is so. For I received letters from them to our Jewish brothers in Damascus, authorizing me to bring the Christians from there to Jerusalem, in chains, to be punished.

6 “As I was on the road, approaching Damascus about noon, a very bright light from heaven suddenly shone down around me.

Michelangelo’s “Conversion of St. Paul”

Here is the second account in Acts of Paul’s conversion
(see also chapters 9 and 26).

7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’

8 “‘Who are you, lord?’ I asked.

“And the voice replied, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, the one you are persecuting.’ 9 The people with me saw the light but didn’t understand the voice speaking to me.

10 “I asked, ‘What should I do, Lord?’

“And the Lord told me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told everything you are to do.’

11 “I was blinded by the intense light and had to be led by the hand to Damascus by my companions. 12 A man named Ananias lived there. He was a godly man, deeply devoted to the law, and well regarded by all the Jews of Damascus. 13 He came and stood beside me and said, ‘Brother Saul, regain your sight.’ And that very moment I could see him!

14 “Then he told me, ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and hear him speak. 15 For you are to be his witness, telling everyone what you have seen and heard. 16 What are you waiting for? Get up and be baptized. Have your sins washed away by calling on the name of the Lord.’

17 “After I returned to Jerusalem, I was praying in the Temple and fell into a trance. 18 I saw a vision of Jesus saying to me, ‘Hurry! Leave Jerusalem, for the people here won’t accept your testimony about me.’

19 “‘But Lord,’ I argued, ‘they certainly know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. 20 And I was in complete agreement when your witness Stephen was killed. I stood by and kept the coats they took off when they stoned him.’

21 “But the Lord said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles!’”

22 The crowd listened until Paul said that word. Then they all began to shout, “Away with such a fellow! He isn’t fit to live!” 23 They yelled, threw off their coats, and tossed handfuls of dust into the air.

Paul Reveals His Roman Citizenship

A Roman citizen enjoyed a wide range of privileges and protections defined in detail by the Roman state. He (women were not considered full citizens) had the right to vote, the right to run for public office, the right to make legal contracts and hold property. Only Roman citizens were allowed to wear a toga. A Roman citizen could not be whipped or tortured, nor could he be condemned to death, except in the case of treason. Even then, he could not be sentenced to die on a cross.

24 The commander brought Paul inside and ordered him lashed with whips to make him confess his crime. He wanted to find out why the crowd had become so furious. 25 When they tied Paul down to lash him, Paul said to the officer standing there, “Is it legal for you to whip a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been tried?”

26 When the officer heard this, he went to the commander and asked, “What are you doing? This man is a Roman citizen!”

27 So the commander went over and asked Paul, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?”

“Yes, I certainly am,” Paul replied.

28 “I am, too,” the commander muttered, “and it cost me plenty!”

Paul answered, “But I am a citizen by birth!”

_________________________

Music:

Paul answered, “But I was born free.”

Yet I am sure that Paul would agree with this song —  HERE  is “I Am Free”  by the Newsboys.

_________________________

29 The soldiers who were about to interrogate Paul quickly withdrew when they heard he was a Roman citizen, and the commander was frightened because he had ordered him bound and whipped.

Once again, Paul benefits from his Roman citizenship. How wise of God to choose a man with such excellent credentials.

Paul before the High Council

30 The next day the commander ordered the leading priests into session with the Jewish high council. He wanted to find out what the trouble was all about, so he released Paul to have him stand before them.

_________________________

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
preaching.    http://risbible.org/biblical-expository-preaching/
That’s my king.   https://revpacman.wordpress.com/2017/01/21/my-king-dr-s-m-lockridge/
Michelangelo.   http://www.mystudios.com/art/italian/michelangelo/michelangelo-st-paul.html
Roman citizen in a toga.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/roman-citizen.jpg

2581.) Acts 21:15-40

March 25, 2019

On to Jerusalem in Jesus’ Name! The Jerusalem Cross is a design that appeared with the nobles during the First Crusade and was supposed to provide them with divine protection in the Holy Land. It features five crosses, one large and four small, that are said to represent Jesus and the four evangelists. It also symbolizes the four corners of the world in which Christianity is to be spread.

Acts 21:15-40   (NLT)

Paul Arrives at Jerusalem

15 After this we packed our things and left for Jerusalem. 16 Some believers from Caesarea accompanied us, and they took us to the home of Mnason, a man originally from Cyprus and one of the early believers. 17 When we arrived, the brothers and sisters in Jerusalem welcomed us warmly.

18 The next day Paul went with us to meet with James, and all the elders of the Jerusalem church were present. 19 After greeting them, Paul gave a detailed account of the things God had accomplished among the Gentiles through his ministry.

told in detail: “The Greek has the sense of recounting every single thing.” Paul told these Christians from a Jewish background everything God had done in his missionary efforts.

–David Guzik

Over the years, and particularly recently, I have been able to listen to several different people tell me about wonderful things that the Lord is doing around the world, works of redemption and reconciliation! Our God is so powerful; He is stirring up His people in every nation. We are seeing events happening that sound impossible:

  • vast numbers of Muslims coming to Jesus because He appears to them in dreams and says, “I love you”;
  • terrorists in Nigeria laying down their arms because they are following Jesus now;
  • Bible classes being taught by former murderers and kidnappers in one of Colombia’s most dangerous prisons;
  • Orthodox Jews, including even rabbis, receiving revelation that Yeshua is their Messiah.

I have sat with my mouth open in amazement and my eyes filled with tears of wonder as I have heard these detailed accounts of the things God is accomplishing among the people of the world.

I hope that in Heaven we will be able to hear many more “detailed accounts!”

__________________________

Music:

HERE is Matt Redman singing, “One Day (When We All Get To Heaven).”  What a day of rejoicing that will be!

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20 After hearing this, they praised God. And then they said, “You know, dear brother, how many thousands of Jews have also believed, and they all follow the law of Moses very seriously. 21 But the Jewish believers here in Jerusalem have been told that you are teaching all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn their backs on the laws of Moses. They’ve heard that you teach them not to circumcise their children or follow other Jewish customs. 22 What should we do? They will certainly hear that you have come.

23 “Here’s what we want you to do. We have four men here who have completed their vow. 24 Go with them to the Temple and join them in the purification ceremony, paying for them to have their heads ritually shaved. Then everyone will know that the rumors are all false and that you yourself observe the Jewish laws.

25 “As for the Gentile believers, they should do what we already told them in a letter: They should abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality.”

The Jewish believers in Jerusalem had heard that Paul had become essentially anti-Jewish and told Jewish Christians that it was wrong for them to continue in Jewish laws and customs. This was not the case, of course; based on Romans 14:4-6, it seems that Paul didn’t have a problem with Jewish Christians who wanted to continue to observe old customs and laws. So to quell these rumors, the elders proposed that Paul sponsor some Jewish believers in their Jewish rites. Paul agreed to do this, to demonstrate that he never taught Christian Jews to forsake Moses and not to circumcise their children and that they were required to ignore Jewish customs, as he had been false accused by some among the Jerusalem Christians.

But as per verse 25 — The Jerusalem elders understood that this had nothing to do with Gentiles who believe in Jesus. It didn’t mean that they had to perform any Jewish rituals to be right with God. Paul would rightly refuse to compromise on this important point.

–David Guzik

Paul Is Arrested

26 So Paul went to the Temple the next day with the other men. They had already started the purification ritual, so he publicly announced the date when their vows would end and sacrifices would be offered for each of them.

27 The seven days were almost ended when some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul in the Temple and roused a mob against him. They grabbed him, 28 yelling, “Men of Israel, help us! This is the man who preaches against our people everywhere and tells everybody to disobey the Jewish laws. He speaks against the Temple—and even defiles this holy place by bringing in Gentiles.”

They claimed that Paul was against the people [Israel],the law, and this place [the temple], but these accusations were unfounded. Paul simply rejected trust in any of these as a basis for righteousness before God, which comes only through Jesus Christ.

Interestingly, the charges against Paul here are an echo of the charges Stephen was executed for (Acts 6:13). Paul helped preside over that execution; now he is accused in a similar way.

29 (For earlier that day they had seen him in the city with Trophimus, a Gentile from Ephesus, and they assumed Paul had taken him into the Temple.)

It was absolutely prohibited for Gentiles to go beyond the designated “Court of the Gentiles” in the temple grounds. Signs were posted which read (in both Greek and Latin): “No foreigner may enter within the barricade which surrounds the temple and enclosure. Any one who is caught trespassing will bear personal responsibility for his ensuing death.” The Romans were so sensitive to this that they authorized the Jews to execute anyone who offended in this way, even if the offender was a Roman citizen.

30 The whole city was rocked by these accusations, and a great riot followed. Paul was grabbed and dragged out of the Temple, and immediately the gates were closed behind him. 31 As they were trying to kill him, word reached the commander of the Roman regiment that all Jerusalem was in an uproar.

From the Tower of Antonia, at the northwest corner of the temple mount, more than 500 Roman soldiers were stationed only two flights of stairs from the Court of the Gentiles.

32 He immediately called out his soldiers and officers and ran down among the crowd. When the mob saw the commander and the troops coming, they stopped beating Paul.

33 Then the commander arrested him and ordered him bound with two chains.

That is to say, handcuffed to a soldier on either side. Did he think of the prophecy of Agabus (Acts 21:11)?

He asked the crowd who he was and what he had done. 34 Some shouted one thing and some another. Since he couldn’t find out the truth in all the uproar and confusion, he ordered that Paul be taken to the fortress. 35 As Paul reached the stairs, the mob grew so violent the soldiers had to lift him to their shoulders to protect him. 36 And the crowd followed behind, shouting, “Kill him, kill him!”

Paul Speaks to the Crowd

37 As Paul was about to be taken inside, he said to the commander, “May I have a word with you?”

“Do you know Greek?” the commander asked, surprised. 38 “Aren’t you the Egyptian who led a rebellion some time ago and took 4,000 members of the Assassins out into the desert?”

39 “No,” Paul replied, “I am a Jew and a citizen of Tarsus in Cilicia, which is an important city. Please, let me talk to these people.”

At this moment, when his life was in danger from an angry mob and he was suspected of being a dangerous criminal, Paul had one thing on his mind: “Let me preach the gospel!”

40 The commander agreed,

Once again Paul benefits from his Roman citizenship.

so Paul stood on the stairs and motioned to the people to be quiet. Soon a deep silence enveloped the crowd, and he addressed them in their own language, Aramaic.

This is the Lord’s Prayer written in Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke.

_________________________

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Jerusalem cross.   https://www.amazon.com/Jerusalem-Cross-Crusaders-Vinyl-Sticker/dp/B00OM6RN44
Jesus looking at the earth.    http://churchofchrist-cg-az.com/sitebuilder/images/JesusLookingAtWorld-975×1005.png
Do Not Enter.    https://www.amazon.com/Enter-Sign-Street-Traffic-Signal/dp/B0040R1I78
The Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic.    http://www.catholic-convert.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/07/Aramaic.jpg

2580.) Psalm 149

March 22, 2019

Ps149 dance

Psalm 149 (ESV)

Sing to the Lord a New Song

Praise the Lord!
Sing to the Lord a new song,
    his praise in the assembly of the godly!

“He is ever new in his manifestations; his mercies are new every morning; his deliverances are new in every night of sorrow; let your gratitude and thanksgivings be new also.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

2 Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
    let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!
3 Let them praise his name with dancing,
    making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!

Ps149 water dance

For the Lord takes pleasure in his people;
    he adorns the humble with salvation.

“It is the constant teaching of Scripture that we may please God. This was the testimony borne of Enoch before his translation, and the apostle exhorts us to walk worthily of the Lord, unto all pleasing.”

–F. B. Meyer, English evangelist and friend of D. L. Moody

Let the godly exult in glory;
    let them sing for joy on their beds.

The hours that we are awake do not give us enough time to praise God as we ought, so we must continue praising God even in our beds!

6 Let the high praises of God be in their throats
    and two-edged swords in their hands,
to execute vengeance on the nations
    and punishments on the peoples,

(something like, Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!)

8 to bind their kings with chains
    and their nobles with fetters of iron,
to execute on them the judgment written!
    This is honor for all his godly ones.
Praise the Lord!

Ps149 God be praised_________________________

Music:

HERE  is some sacred dance on a beach.  Only in heaven will I have any chance of being so graceful in movement!

_________________________

English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
Let them praise His name in a dance.    http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/e4/f6/c5/e4f6c55fa49c89a39252480afb9abde9.jpg
Children dancing in the water.    http://ih1.redbubble.net/image.12398342.5366/flat,550×550,075,f.jpg
bedtime prayers.   https://i.pinimg.com/originals/91/77/85/9177858df372e3766a67efb85f76c68b.jpg
God be praised.   https://www.pinterest.com/pin/165999936236785435/?autologin=true

2579.) Malachi 4

March 21, 2019

Mala4 flowers sky

Malachi 4  (ESV)

The Great Day of the Lord

“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble.

God promised a fire for His people (Malachi 2:2-3) and here He promised a fire for the wicked. But there is a big difference between the refining fire applied to God’s people and the burning fire against the ungodly.

–David Guzik

The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings.

Mala4 healing wings
Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris’n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die.
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

–Charles Wesley, 1739

You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the Lord of hosts.

“Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel.

The last few words of the Old Testament are a call back to the Law, because under the Old Covenant people related with God on the basis of Law. Thank God for the New Covenant — for the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17).

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.

It is significant that in these closing words of the Old Testament, God makes reference to both Moses and Elijah. They both met God at Mount Sinai (Exodus 3:1; 1 Kings 19:8-18). They also both met Jesus at the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-5).

And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers,

Mala4 fathers children

. . . to their earthly fathers and, more importantly, to their Heavenly Father . . .

lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

The last verse in Malachi goes like this in the King James Version — “Lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” So the Old Testament ends with a curse.

But the New Testament ends with the fulfillment of the promise of the coming of the Sun of Righteousness — “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!” (Revelation 22:21).

The End of the Book of Malachi
and
The End of the Old Testament

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is Judy Jacobs and “Days of Elijah.”

This song mentions Christ “shining like the sun,” as in Malachi 4:2 above. The song also talks about the voice in the desert crying “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” This is an obvious reference to John The Baptist, who is prophesied of in Malachi 4:5 — “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:”

_________________________

English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
Malachi 4:2.    http://i805.photobucket.com/albums/yy331/tdhack99/christian_malachi_4_2_1.jpg
the sun of righteousness.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/mala4-healing-wings.jpg
fathers and children.    http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/236x/fe/3d/ff/fe3dff58d6389281d8e7ed068b3a11f7.jpg