Monday, July 7, 2008

Reflections on Paul in Acts

As I continue my reflection on Paul in the Acts of the Apostles, I come to Chapter 26, where two things have given me pause . . .

In Verse 20, Paul tells us in no uncertain terms what he has been doing:

" . . . I preached the need to repent and turn to God, and to do works giving evidence of repentance."

How many of us follow Paul's words today? Do we take seriously our need to repent (to be sorry), to turn to God, and then to make reparation through our actions?

When you have gossiped, hurt or otherwise been uncharitable, have you renounced it and asked God for forgiveness? Have you then tried to fix the damage done, even if it makes you embarrassed 0r uncomfortable?

Another way to look at this passage is a personal call to responsibility. Do you, like Paul, express the need for repentance when it is called for, or do you dismiss or laugh off others' inappropriate jokes, racist or disparaging remarks?

Secondly, I was struck by Verse 26:

Paul says, "The king knows about these matters and to him I speak boldly, for I cannot believe that [any] of this has escaped his notice; this was not done in a corner."

That last part, stood out as I was reading this passage where Paul goes before King Agrippa to testify on his own behalf about the charges brought against him.

I learned that this is a Greek proverb and may express the understanding that Christianity has not been hidden; it has been carried out in public where all can see it.

A good reminder to us that the Good News of Jesus cannot be "done in a corner!"

As always, I welcome your comments.

God bless,

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Is Paul Speaking to You?

In Chapter 20 of Acts, Paul gives a speech as he is leaving the people of Miletus. He reminds them that he has never shirked his responsibility to them and has always proclaimed God's plan to them. Then, he tells them to watch over themselves and the whole flock, that they have been appointed by the Holy Spirit to oversee the church of God that was acquired by the blood of Christ.

He warns them that from among their own group "men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them." They must be vigilant.

We today, who have heard God's word proclaimed also must take to heart Paul's words. We have a responsibility to each other. We must be careful not to be misled by a twisted version of the truth--which we often encounter today.

If you have heard the Word of the Lord, you have a responsibility to carry it to others. How, you may ask, do I do that?

Maybe it is in your courage to acknowledge God where he is not normally mentioned, at work, or in your community or among your friends.

Maybe it is by your practice of faith that is outstanding in virtue. (God's grace makes that possible.)

Maybe you will bring the Word of God to your children, or in your relationship with your spouse.

Maybe you will study or join a religious order, or a lay order, and become knowledgeable about your faith.

However God leads you to carry His word to others, take this responsibility seriously and make it your life's vocation.

I welcome your comments about these reflections and God's work in your life.

God bless,

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

What was Paul doing?

In Acts Chapter 17, in a few places, such as verses 2 and 11, there is a reference to scripture.

Paul uses scripture in his discussions "expounding and demonstrating that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead", and that Jesus is the Messiah.

In Verse 11 we learn that the Jews of Beroea were willing to examine the scriptures daily. But what scriptures? Paul did not have the New Testament.

The Old Testament scriptures would have been available in Paul's time. He was pointing out to his listeners that the long-awaited Messiah from the Hebrew Scriptures was Jesus.

Paul had one clear message: Follow Jesus. He is our Messiah. He suffered, died and was resurrected. Paul traveled all over with this message.

Now, when you think about it, his transformation is amazing! Others had to study scripture and be convinced, but Paul, who just a moment ago had been persecuting the church, understood deeply through his conversion the truth that Jesus was the Messiah.

How many of us who have known something for a lifetime could so suddenly change our perspective? Paul knew the scriptures before, but now he saw them differently.

What a beautiful, magnificent display of the power of God to transform a life!

That is possible in your life as well. Perhaps you are beginning to see your life through a different lens. Perhaps now, you see some sort of connection to God and you are exploring what that is. Pray to God and ask him to open your eyes.

The possibilities are endless!