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What Had happened at Grace this week.
The king wakes up and yells for his wisest men. They run in and see a distraught and angry king. He had a terrible dream and wants to know what it means or he will kill all of his wise men. Is this what true power looks like -- that it can wake up on the wrong side of the bead and end life in whomever it chooses? Perhaps Daniel’s description of the dream will bring comfort to the king, but maybe not.
Daniel and his 3 friends are the best of the best. They are all royal Hebrews: handsome and filled with wisdom. But when they are taken captive by Babylon, they are put in a place meant to demean them. They are given new names glorifying false gods and are given food sacrificed to those gods. How would you handle this situation? It’s interesting to see what Daniel does.
At the closing of the book of Acts, Luke beckons us to look back, not only looking at the successes and failures of the church but to look at them through the life of Paul. We see where challenges and struggles with eyes that will not see and ears that will not hear take place. Yet, Paul, in chains, still preaches without hindrance. He continues to say, “Here am I! Send me!” May we face the challenges with the same creed.
Paul has been passed from local official to local official. No one knows what to do with him; they think he is innocent, but he wants to stand before Caesar. This sends Paul into the chaos of the sea, riding a ship from the outskirts of the empire to the center of Rome. But along the way there are problems. Huge storms and a shipwreck show us God’s love and guiding grace among difficult times.
Paul wants to go to Jerusalem to visit the church there; however, on his way, folks keep talking about Paul in chains down in Jerusalem. When he arrives, a riot immediately ensues, forcing the rioters and the government to act in the only powers they know. Paul is showing them and us a different way, where we don't have to worry about what the opposition will do to us. Paul is showing us the way of the kingdom.
Paul walks into Ephesus, and he sees multiple displays of power. First he sees the Spirit of God when some are baptized and they begin speaking in tongues. Then he sees the Spirit when some begin to use the power for their own gain and are quickly humbled. Finally, there’s power of the crowd when they feel Paul’s message of Jesus threatens their city and their God.
Paul goes into a new city; first he goes to the Jews then he ends up with the Greeks. However, when he goes up to Athens, he does not go to the Jewish center but instead to the center of Greekness, Mars Hill, where the learned came and discussed the wisdom of the world. But sometimes gaps show up in the manufactured idols, and statues get made to unknown gods. Paul gives this unknown god a name and tells his story.