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Rome | Paul’s Valentine Message

It may seem like an odd title for the meeting between The Apostle Paul and the Jewish leadership at Rome.  However, we find that by the end of the day (and the Bible says “from morning till evening”) Paul testifies with all of the love in his heart that Jesus is the One who fulfills both the Law of Moses and the Prophets.  In other words, Jesus is indeed the long-awaited Messiah!

Yet some believe and some doubt.  As they prepare to leave his house, Paul delivers a tender message straight from the Holy Spirit through the prophet Isaiah:

26saying,

‘Go to this people and say:

“Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand;

And seeing you will see, and not perceive;

27For the hearts of this people have grown dull.

Their ears are hard of hearing,

And their eyes they have closed,

Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,

Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,

So that I should heal them.’  ~Acts 28:26-27 NKJV

Notice that not Paul, but The Holy Spirit, mentions that the people’s hearts have turned away from God.  Praise God that some of the Jews receive Jesus that day; while the remainder depart to argue the matter.

28”Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!” 29And when he had said these words, the Jews departed and had a great dispute among themselves. ~ Acts 28:28-29 NKJV

Paul continues to preach about the Lord Jesus Christ from his own rental house for two more years.  No one forbids Paul, and we have no idea how many lives are brought into God’s kingdom through Paul at Rome.  Whatever the number, PRAISE THE LORD! – for each and every heart that softens, brightens, and turns to Jesus.

Long, Long ago the Lord said His love is everlasting, unfailing, and His heart is drawn toward His people.  God’s Valentine’s Day message to you is Turn, TURN your heart to Jesus. Repent and receive salvation today.

Firstly, God bless you for reading and following Jesus!

Secondly, thank you for following

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Walking in the Holy Spirit

²²But the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, JOY, PEACE, LONGSUFFERING, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, ²³GENTLENESS, SELF-CONTROL. Against such there is no law. . . 25If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.~Galatians 5:22,23,25 NKJV

7Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap . . . 8bbut he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. . . . 16And as many as walk according to this rule, PEACE and MERCY be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.~Galatians 6:7,8b,9,16 NKJV (emphasis added)

Brethren, keep God’s law – love one another.  Share each others’ burdens.  Keep sowing to the Spirit and reap everlasting life.  Don’t lose heart!

Voyage to Rome | Departure

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Paul’s Journey to Rome / © Can Stock Photo / Portokalis

So after waiting out the winter storms at the island of Malta, it’s time for departure.  The Apostle Paul and two hundred seventy-five other prisoners, Roman soldiers, and crew begin the last leg of the journey to Rome.

And landing at Syracuse, we stayed three days. ~ Acts 28:12 NKJV

Syracuse is only 80 miles or so from Malta, so this is only a day trip out.  Being a trading vessel, The Twin Brothers puts into Syracuse, the ancient capital of the island of Sicily.  Cargo is offloaded, and new merchandise is brought aboard.  Then the captain of the ship awaits a favorable south wind for immediate departure to the next port …

Not happening …

My heart says that if Paul can manage permission to go ashore, he is anxious to evangelize at Sicily.  Indeed, modern Sicilians claim that their present day church was founded by the Apostle Paul.  On the surface, that may sound like a walk in the park, but not necessarily.  Ancient Syracuse is a city of great commerce, wealth, beauty, and splendor.  The city is full of grand marble structures, statues and fountains.  Temples to Jupiter, Fortune, Diana, and Minerva evidence the idolatry at Syracuse.  There must be resistance to Paul’s Gospel if the centurion, Julius, allows Paul shore leave.

Finally after three days the winds turn around, the captain barks departure orders, and the crew casts off.

13From there we circled round and reached Rhegium.  And after one day the south wind blew; and the next day we came to Puteoli, 14where we found brethren, and were invited to stay with them seven days. And so we went toward Rome.  ~Acts 28:13-14 NKJV

How encouraging to meet up with brethren! The week is certainly full of mystery about who these believers are.  There has long been a Jewish colony at Puteoli, but nothing is said here about the history of this group of believers.  Imagine how warm the greetings are at Paul’s arrival!  Perhaps they host the entire ship of people with food and celebration while Paul makes new disciples and teaches about Jesus.

Then everyone aboard The Twin Brothers disembarks at Puteoli, as the remaining journey to Rome is overland.  Julius organizes his soldiers and prisoners for the 129-mile march to Rome.

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View of Naples Gulf from Pozzuoli – Modern-day Puteoli ©Can Stock Photo Inc. / PerseoMedusa

Excited believers in Rome hear that Paul is getting close.  They rush out to meet the group of travelers as they arrive forty miles outside of Rome.    Luke states that Paul is very encouraged by this gesture and thanks God for the love shown to him by the believers of Rome.

Now when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard; but Paul was permitted to dwell by himself with the soldier who guarded him. ~Acts 28:16 NKJV

Ah, that Julius!  He surely cares for Paul’s well-being.  And the Lord provides for Paul’s needs through Julius!

So what is to be gleaned from retelling this story of Paul’s Voyage to Rome?  I see God’s divine guidance upon this journey.  The Lord mapped out the route and the timing; mastered the weather, and selected kindly authority – namely the centurion, Julius.  God placed Luke there as physician and recorder of the events.  Nothing happens by chance with Almighty God.  He let it be known to all people on and off both ships of His Supreme Power juxtaposed to the impotency of pagan idols encountered on the voyage.

And God is just getting started!  Paul remains at Rome for two more years while God prepares Roman authority to hear Paul’s legal case.  Roman and Jewish leadership is moved around by God as on a chessboard.  Paul meets with the Jewish leadership in Rome right away in order to explain about his reason for being there and about Jesus, Who fulfills both the Law of Moses and the Prophets.  Paul preaches from his rented house to any and all who come to hear the Gospel of Christ.  During that time God’s powerful plans for the spreading of the Gospel press forward, with Paul standing up for Jesus as the Messiah against powerful worldly opposition.

The best thing about Paul is that he is willing to do God’s work.  He focuses on the prize, and not his surroundings.  He trusts the Lord.  Isn’t that exactly what our Lord expects from Jesus’ followers today?

“Father God, today I trust that Your will be done as it was for Paul; that Your hand will direct the route, the timing, the means, weather, and favorable authority over my steps.  Forgive me for passing up opportunities to share Your Gospel in favor of my own vain materialistic pursuits.  Give me the heart of a servant, so I may grow by Your Holy Spirit to become more like Jesus; and increasingly share Your Word in the time remaining.  In the Blessed Name Above All Names, Yeshua (Jesus) Messiah, Amen.”

We may have to check in on that meeting between Paul and the Jewish leadership at Rome.  In the meantime, thank you for following

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Voyage to Rome | Malta

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White Cliffs of Malta

Just as God promised, all two hundred seventy-six persons aboard the doomed ship are saved!  The natives are friendly, and help the soggy sailors build a fire on the beach, as it is cold and rainy.  They let Paul’s party know that the island is called Malta!

Luke records that the natives are UNUSUALLY friendly.  I wonder why?  Perhaps some of the foodstuffs and boat gear has been washing up on the beach during Euroclydon and they are in a happy mood.  They may think their gods are favoring them with more surprises from the sea for their entertainment … or exploitation.

No sooner does Paul gather wood for the fire than he is bitten by a viper, which scares the locals.  Paul just shakes the snake into the fire, and the Maltese immediately expect Paul to succumb to the venomous attack.  They suspect the prisoner Paul of being a murderer or something.  He must be deserving of such horrid judgement.  But Paul is not harmed.

So now he must be a god!

This is so true of humans even today.  Idol worship still makes no common sense.

Anyway, the mayor of the area, a man named Plubius, courteously invites the shipwrecked crew into his home for three days.  Plubius’s father is sick with fever and dysentery, so Paul prays and lays hands on the man.  The man is healed, and the good news spreads across Malta.  If there are any lingering suspicions of the foreigners in their midst, all doubt is now erased.  Is this further proof that Paul is indeed a visiting god?  Here come the island’s sick and diseased.  Their sicknesses are healed, too.

Of course, Paul does not allow the Maltese to worship him as a god.  He ministers to the entire island about Jesus and many become believers.

Why do I believe that there were many saved at Malta because of the witness of Paul?

Because that is what Apostles are instructed to do by the Master, Jesus (Yeshua).   And throughout the Book of Acts Prayer for the sick and Laying on of Hands leads to Healing and that leads to Belief in Jesus and Salvation in Him – it’s a heavenly formula!

12And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people … 13Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly. 14And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them. 16Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed. ~ (Peter) in Acts 5:12-15 NKJV

God even uses resurrection of the dead to reach people for salvation in Jesus.  Take the instance of Jesus raising Lazarus; or the Apostle Peter at Joppa:

Tabitha (Dorcas), who was a Christian disciple,  took sick and died.  Other disciples knew that Peter was staying at Lydda, which was not far from Joppa.  Two men went to Peter and asked him to help.

39Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them. 40But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord. ~ Acts 9:39-42 NKJV

There are  many other scriptural examples of what I think happened on Malta.  Enjoy your Bible study and research!  God makes sure that His Gospel is going out to every people, nation and tribe.  Paul is an obedient servant of Our Lord.  He knows that his destiny is Rome and time is short …

I want to talk about today.  The Gospel message is still going out and it is as strongly received by lost people as it was in the day of the apostles.  People all over the world are still lost in sin.  They still worship idols, are sick and tormented by devils.  They still need hope and salvation.  The same formula still works: Pray for the sick, Lay on hands, let people experience the raw Power of the Holy Spirit Heal folks, Cast out demons, or Raise the dead.  The darkness of Africa is being lifted in this same way and Belief in Christ is working over the whole continent. HALLELUHAH!!!

“Praise and thank you Jesus, for lighting that fire in Africa and across the world! Amen! Amen!!”

In the meantime, Julius finds another Alexandrian ship that has wintered over on Malta, whose figurehead is the twins, Castor and Pollux.  In three months it will bear them to Rome.  Until then they must suffer the honor and island entertainment of Malta.  What a nice break after all they had just survived!

Stay tuned if you are feeling the spark of the Holy Spirit and where it is taking us on this Voyage to Rome.  There are plenty of twists and turns to this story left to be told.  God bless and thank you for following

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Don’t Die This Semester!

My college economics professor let it be known on the first day that there would be no excused absences in his class.   He stated that being absent was an automatic course drop and therefore an incomplete grade – a horror in 1969.

Of course there are always the exceptions …

“I have heard every phony excuse there is for missing my class.  Don’t do it!  There are only two legitimate reasons for missing my class per semester:”

  1. “You got married”
  2. “You died”

Naturally, about two weeks later I missed class.  As I approached him timidly about it, he said, “WELL, I SEE YOU AREN’T DEAD, SO BRING ME YOUR MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE.”

I felt like saluting as I said, “YES SIR!” and hurriedly escaped to obey his command (Yes, I was just married).

Strike One!

Over the coming months all went well, even though it soon became painfully obvious that econ was not my forte.  However, one fateful day I missed class again. I was terrified to approach his desk.  Did I mention that I was diligently striving for at least a 3.5 GPA; and this problem was not supposed to be part of the picture?

As I opened my mouth to blurt my excuse he cut me off with, “I SEE YOU ARE NOT DEAD AND YOU ARE ONLY ALLOWED TO GET MARRIED ONCE PER SEMESTER.  YOU ARE NOT EXCUSED!!!”

I instantly teared up and flushed beet red.  I backed up and headed for the open doorway …

“ER … HOWEVER, I HAVE HEARD IT ALL, BUT TELL ME.  IF I’VE NEVER HEARD YOURS, IT MAY EARN YOU AN EXCUSED ABSENCE.”

Did I hear him right?  I could possibly get a reprieve?  I blew my nose and tried to talk, but nothing came out.  I cleared my throat and managed, “My clothes were stolen.”

“WHAT?” he roared.  He was glaring, and then his eyes widened in disbelief.

“TELL ME ABOUT IT RIGHT NOW!”

Jesus, help me!  I was about to collapse from fear or heat stroke on the linoleum floor.  Remember the old kind with square linoleum tiles the janitors used to mop with chlorine bleach-water and then wax and buff with that big machine every night?  Yes, that floor.  I was hot and tired from an hour of gym class; running downhill to go home to change; and running back uphill in temperature of 100+F.

He had kindled hope, so I rallied with the truth.

“I have gym class before econ and when I went back to my locker after showering my clothes were gone – stolen.  I had to run home in my gym shorts; change; and by the time I got back, class was over.  So here I am – dressed but missed class,” I stammered.

“I am so sorry,” I trailed off as I realized I was not that sorry.  Had he heard this before?   Locker thieves were evidently on the loose.  Had this happened to anyone else yet?  I was thirsty.  I searched his face … no reaction.  Nothing.  His face was frozen in a peculiar questioning grimace.  I hung my head.

All of a sudden he belly-laughed.  He roared out, “I CAN’T BELIEVE IT!  THAT’S A FIRST.”

“ABSENCE IS EXCUSED!”Sherron College Photo

Strike two!

I was about to faint from thirst and relief.

“SHERRON!”

“Yes?”

“DON’T DIE THIS SEMESTER!”

Seriously?  So now you know why I couldn’t die that semester.

Over time I realize that our Heavenly Father doesn’t appreciate excuses for not showing up for class either.  He has generously given life, clothing, and our beautiful earth to sustain us.  We can repent from sin; marry Jesus once this semester; and escape the everlasting death part.

“So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.” ~ Romans 14:12 NKJV

Enjoy the holidays and remember:  DON’T DIE THIS SEMESTER!

Thank you for following

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