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Acts 22:3, 23:12-35, Acts 24

Many people have heard of Paul and how he suffered while spreading the Gospel.  His Christian mission is spelled out in the letters he wrote in the Bible.  He became a famous traveling missionary because of Jesus.

What do we know about Paul’s personal life?  In Acts 22:3, he said he was “born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city.”  He was raised in Jerusalem and had a sister (Acts 23:16).  His sister had a son, giving Paul a nephew.

I believe the Lord sent Paul’s nephew to help him.  Paul’s nephew was in the right place at the right time to hear the bad plot that over 40 enemies made an oath to not drink or eat “until they had killed Paul.”  Paul’s nephew was able to tell him what he heard, which led to Paul’s rescue.  The nephew’s actions showed he loved Uncle Paul.

I wonder what happened to the 40+ men that didn’t love Paul, the men that made the oath not to drink or eat until they murdered Paul.  I lost track of the time that passed after they made that oath, but it would have been at least two years and eight days.  My husband and I think they gave up.

 

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Acts 18:18

Before school started last week, I wanted my son, Ethan, to get a haircut.  After waiting awhile for a hairstylist, one was finally ready and now that’s done.

In Acts 18:18, it sounds like Paul got a haircut ahead of sailing to Syria.  The haircut was done because of a vow.

The NIV Study Bible says, “Grammatically this could refer to Aquila, but the emphasis on Paul and his activity makes Paul more probable.  It was probably a temporary Nazirite vow (see Nu 6:1-21).  Different vows were frequently taken to express thanks for deliverance from grave dangers.  Shaving the head marked the end of a vow.”

Luke 22:49-59, John 18:10-11, 25-27

In Luke and John, we read about a man named Malchus.  Who’s Malchus?  Well, before Jesus was arrested, Peter wielded his sword and chopped off Malchus’ ear.  Jesus then healed him.  Malchus was a servant of the high priest.  Later, one of Malchus’ relatives asked Peter if he was with Jesus in the garden.  And as you probably remember, others questioned Peter as well.

Regarding those who questioned Peter, Luke mentioned, “a servant girl,” a man, and “another.”  John gave the significant detail of Malchus’ relative to this account.

The Reformation Study Bible says about Malchus’ relative, “A question by this man endangered Peter more than the previous ones, since he might have wanted to avenge Malchus.”  And the NIV Study Bible says, “a relative.  Another piece of information we owe to John.  A relative would have a deeper interest in the swordsman than other people had.  But the light in the garden would have been dim, as in the courtyard (a charcoal fire glows, but does not have flames.)”

This chapter in Peter’s life included Malchus and a relative of his.  What feelings would Malchus have had?  Malchus probably screamed when his ear was cut off.  I don’t know if Malchus had time to be angry at Peter since Jesus healed him so fast.  If Malchus’ relative tried to rile Malchus later about Peter, Malchus might have instead secretly told him about the loving, healing touch of Jesus.  After all, Jesus has a way of stealing the show.

 

John 18:1-9

One of the most interesting parts in the Bible is Jesus’ words right before He’s arrested and what followed.  Soldiers and Pharisees were coming after Jesus, but “they drew back and fell to the ground” after Jesus said, “I am he…”

Liberty Bible Commentary says about verse 6, “The crowd was caught off guard by the unusual behavior of Christ.  He calmly faced the crowd, identified Himself, and made no effort to escape.”

I wanted a visual for the action in John 18:4-6 and found a 2003 movie called, The Gospel of John.  With eager anticipation, I watched the scene where the actor for Jesus said, “I am he” and watched closely as Roman soldiers looked slightly fearful and walked backward a few steps.  Someone behind them seemed to have fallen since they looked down behind them.  Seriously?  If I could have directed that scene, I would want at least 10 falling Pharisees and soldiers.  Bummer.

 

Genesis 1

When I read the first chapter of Genesis recently, I tried to visualize God creating, but my imagination was interrupted as I remembered that my NIV Bible is in English, and the language of the Old Testament was written in Biblical Hebrew.  And since I’m reading the Bible for the third time, I want my reading to be beefed up with details to deepen my relationship with God.  An online search lead me to biblehub.com where I found English to Biblical Hebrew translations.  I found that day=yom, night=layil (lah’-yil), sky=shamayim (shaw-mah’yim), earth/land=erets (eh’-rets), and sea=yam (yawm).  After I write in the Biblical Hebrew translations to my Bible and re-read Genesis 1:1-10, it’ll probably give me chills with the added effect.  Maybe I’ll even read it aloud to my family with ocean wave sounds in the background.  Yeah.

Genesis 2:9, 3:22-24, Revelation 22:12-16

Last Wednesday, I finished reading the Bible.  It was just the second time I’ve read it.  Since Revelation is the last book of the Bible, it was fresh in my mind when I read the news about Billy Graham passing on to Heaven.  There are wonderful details about Heaven in Revelation, but as I read this time, I found the tree of life to be particularly fascinating.  As I read, this time I was reminded that the tree of life is also mentioned in the first book of the Bible, Genesis.

In Genesis 2:9, I read that God created beautiful trees that were “good for food.”  God is perfect, so just know that if He says the food is good, it’s perfectly tasty.  Also, the tree of life was in the middle of the Garden of Eden.  In Genesis 3:22-24, I read that if they (Adam and Eve) would have taken and eaten from the tree of life they would have lived forever.  Because of that, God guarded the tree of life with a flaming sword and cherubim.

In Revelation, Jesus spoke the words,”…right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.”  Putting all of the verses together, it sounds to me like those that are saved get to enter the city gates and take and eat from the tree of life leading to eternal life.  I like to picture Billy Graham and loved ones that have gone to Heaven, walking awestruck through the city gates, picking fruit from the lovely tree of life, eating the delicious fruit and then living happily ever after.

Luke 22:39-46

Revelation 21:4

When Jesus prayed on the Mount of Olives, He was distressed.  He hoped that He wouldn’t have to become a sacrifice, but He was willing to be obedient to God’s will.  The Bible reads like He was in such anguish, that He sweat blood that fell on the Mount of Olives.

If you do an online search for sweating blood, one link that pulls up is from Wikipedia. “Hematidrosis is a condition in which capillary blood vessels that feed the sweat glands rupture, causing them to exude blood, occurring under conditions of extreme physical or emotional stress…The episodes may be preceded by intense headache and abdominal pain…(and the) effect on the body is… mild to moderate dehydration from…both blood and sweat loss.[9]

The New Testament indicates that Jesus underwent hematidrosis before the Crucifixion, during the Agony in the Garden (Luke 22:44).[5][12] These claims are plausible, given that the modern day dermatological research notes the presence of hematidrosis in people awaiting execution…[5] Leonardo da Vinci described a soldier who sweated blood before battle. [13]”

We don’t know if Jesus had a massive headache with abdominal pain before sweating blood, or if He had any dehydration from the loss of the blood/sweat combination.  We do know that even before Jesus was arrested, cruelly beaten and killed, He was already suffering.

Since Jesus was in Heaven before coming to Earth, He was in a perfect place with no pain.  We’re the reason why Jesus felt immense pain.  We are all sinners and our sin is why Jesus became the sacrifice for sin for all time. Whatever sin you may be holding onto, give it up!  Show Jesus respect for what He did.  Jesus didn’t die for nothing.

Matthew 2:1-12

One morning earlier this month, sunlight came through our kitchen window and shined like a spotlight on our Nativity scene.  That light reminded me of the star we associate with Jesus’ birth.

What do we know about the star?  In Matthew 2:1-2 we read that Eastern Magi saw “his star” and they desired “to worship him.”  Also, the star “went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.”

The NIV Study Bible says about the star, “Probably not an ordinary star, planet or comet, though some scholars have identified it with the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn.”  And R. C. Sproul, who is now with our Lord, had said in The Reformation Study Bible about the star, “This may have been a planetary conjunction, a supernova, or something purely supernatural.”

It really sounds like the Magi got a show.  The star was like a spotlight on Jesus, the real star.

 

Ephesians 6:20, Philippians 1:13, Colossians 4:3, Philemon 1:13, 2 Timothy 1:16

Do you find it a chore to write a letter?  Paul wrote 13 letters and five of them were from prison.  He wrote even though he was in chains.  I think that the weight of the chains would have made writing difficult for Paul.

If you do a quick online search regarding letters Paul wrote from prison, you’ll soon see that only Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon are mentioned, not 2 Timothy.  But according to my NIV Bible under, “Title and Background,” when 2 Timothy was written, “…he was again imprisoned in Rome under Emperor Nero about 66-67.  He was languishing in a cold dungeon, chained like a common criminal.  Paul knew that his work was done and that his life was nearly at an end.”

Chances are you’re not in chains.  Is there some Christian good you can do by sending off some handwritten snail mail to someone soon?

 

Acts 27:1-26

I have been following news on Hurricane Harvey hitting Texas.  My Aunt Alice lives in Houston, so I became concerned when I got an update on my phone today.  I called my mom who let me know that the flooding is about a mile away from Aunt Alice and that her area is also in a tornado warning.

There is one mention of a hurricane in my NIV Bible.  It’s the account in Acts of Paul sailing to Rome.  In that adventure, there was, “a wind of hurricane force, called the ‘northeaster.'”

God knew about that hurricane long ago in Paul’s time and he knows about Hurricane Harvey.  God is in control.

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