Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
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12:00pm Fellowship
Pastor Rev. Brooke Newell
Secretary Donna McDonald
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Rome

November 16:

Call:       Acts 28: 11-16
Read:   Acts 24: 10-17;  26: 19-21
Text:       Acts 28: 17-28
Closing:    Acts 28: 30-31

                Rome

"After three months [on Malta] we put out to sea"
"We landed in Syracuse where we stayed three days"
"From there we sailed to Rhegium"
"After one day a south wind came up,
    and we arrived on the second day in Puteoli."
        [a community perhaps 75 miles south of Rome]
"There we found brothers and sisters who urged us to stay with them for a week."

"In this way    we came to Rome."
In this way, Paul, and Luke, and others     came to Rome

Paul had wanted to visit Rome.

In fact, he had expressed that
in his letter to the church and believers at Rome.
Where he wrote in verse 10 of chapter one
    "I am always asking [in my prayers] that somehow, by God's will, I might succeed in visiting you at last."

And now he is there.
He is in what we sometimes call "The Eternal City."
    The seat of the Roman Empire
    The home of the Roman Emperor.

However,        Paul arrived as a prisoner
    And I am willing to bet that he did not anticipate
That this was how God would answer his prayers
    But     He had finally succeeded in visiting the Romans.

It is with his time in Rome
    That the story of Acts
        Which began for us eleven weeks ago
            With Christ's ascension
            And with his commissioning his followers
    Comes to an end.

Now, if you have been paying attention to the chapters we have covered in our journey through the book
    You will recall that last week we concluded with Chapter 17
        While Paul was still in Athens
        On his second missionary journey.

Today - with the exception of the brief reference in our reading -
    We find that we have skipped all the way to chapter 28

In order to put his time in Rome in perspective
    We will sprint through the chapters we have skipped
        Which tell of
            Paul's third missionary journey
            His arrest and trials
            His troubled trip to Rome

We will look at them in less detail than we have other chapters
Not because they are unimportant
But to bring our look at Acts to a close in time for Advent
    And to  next week on Christ The King Sunday
        Use the entirety of Acts to reflect on our roles
as the King's sheep or subjects

Paul finished his second journey
    By leaving Athens and heading to the wild city of Corinth
    And then proceeding to Ephesus
        Which was in the province of Asia
            Which God had blocked him from visiting earlier
    And he returned home to Antioch
 through Caesarea and Jerusalem

But he was sent out a third time as well
    This trip featured two years in Ephesus
Ending when his presence caused some riots
    and forced him to flee to Greece and Macedonia

Returning home, hoping to reach Jerusalem by Pentecost
    He landed at Tyre
    Which enabled him to stop in Caesarea to spend some time with Philip, one of the seven deacons
        The one who converted the Ethiopian Eunuch
    While there,    Paul was warned to not go to Jerusalem

But Paul would have none of that
    "I am ready not only to be arrested but even to die in Jerusalem for the sake of the name of the Lord Jesus.    [21: 13]

and so he headed directly to that city
    meeting first with James and the elders
    then undergoing a purification ritual.          [21:26]

At the temple, Jews from Asia grabbed him, claiming:
    "He teaches against our people"
    "He brought Greeks into temple"

Their actions caused such confusion
    That the Roman commander came

He stopped the Jews from beating Paul
    But then arrested him

The soldiers were about to whip and question Paul
when he revealed that he was a Roman citizen

The commander decided to take him to the Jewish council
    This degenerated into a dispute between the Pharisees and the Sadducees

To save Paul from a murder plot the commander took him to Caesarea
    And trial before the Roman Governor Felix
    Felix,  fearful     and also hoping for a bribe
Directed Paul to go away
        And promised, "I'll send for you"

But for two years Feliex did not send for Paul

Then he was replaced as governor by Festus
    Who in turn sought the advice of King Agrippa
    Festus summarized the situation to the king

"...they didn't charge him with any of the crimes I expected.  Instead they quibbled with him about their own religion and some dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive      [25: 18-19]

When Festus introduce Agrippa, Paul explained,
    "Today I am standing trial because of the hope in the promise God gave our ancestors."  [26:6]

But while Festus could find nothing wrong,
    He was happy that Paul,     as a Roman citizen,
 Appealed to be sent to Caesar

And so, under the supervision of a centurion named Julius
    Paul and other prisoners set sail for Rome

They got caught in a storm with hurricane like winds
    The ship tossed and turned
    The passengers and crew were frightened

The storm lasted for two full weeks
    Then, as they approached land
        They came aground on a sandbar somewhere off shore

The ship couldn't move  The stern broke into pieces
The people swam or floated ashore
To discover that they were on the island of Malta
    And that is where they spent the winter
And where Paul spread the word of Christ
By healing a great many.

And then,       after three months  they put out to sea
They landed in Syracuse where they stayed three days"
From there they sailed to Rhegium"
After one day a south wind came up,
    and they arrived on the second day in Puteoli.
where brothers and sisters urged them to stay"

As noted earlier        in this way     Paul finally     came to Rome.

And what do you suppose that Paul did while in Rome?

Luke tells us:  [Acts 28: 17-28]

What Paul did
    Was what Peter and John and the other apostles had done
What Paul did
    Was what Stephen had done
What Paul did
Was what Philip had done
What Paul did
    Was what Barnabas, Timothy, and Silas, had done
    And yes,    what John Mark had done
        For in Paul's letters
to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to Timothy
he pointed out that John Mark was with him
    and that the man
whom he refused to take on his second journey
    had become a help and a comfort to him
    most likely     while he was in Rome

What Paul did was preach the good news of Jesus the Christ.
What Paul did
    Was to witness for Christ
    And to use all his energy in making disciples for Christ

What Paul did was not let anything -
    A shipwrecked journey, murder plots, imprisonment
    Or even his numerous rejections by Jewish leaders -
Interfere with his fulfilling the Great Commission

He wasn't always successful
As Luke wrote,
"Some were persuaded by what he said
but others refused to believe."
But he always tried.

What Paul did was just what we are expected to do.
    And we have known that since the very first chapter of the book with which we have now spent one quarter of a year.

And so we close Acts by asking ourselves:   "Are we even trying?"