Monday, October 22, 2012

Stoned And Left For Dead, But Ready To Rise Back Up

(In going through my draft files this afternoon I found this document. Not much has fact, if anything, I'd say things have heated up and intensified here and in the world at large...since I first drafted it in April of 2011, so I believe I'll go ahead and just share it as is...unedited, unfinished and all...)

How often does it happen? The Lord lays a message on the heart, the message is delivered, and, immediately, a stone is cast…then another…and another. My husband, John, and I have been in ministry for nearly 16 years now and early on we learned just how hard, how fast, and how far those stones could be, were, and are thrown, and how quickly people can turn against you when they don’t like the message.

As those of you who know me best know the past six years have been extremely difficult for me. For those of you who don’t know me at all, I’ll just say that 2005 brought life-changing situations that shook my world to its foundation and it has, literally, taken the whole of the past six years for me to find my footing, but praise the Lord! I am finally finding it! Hallelujah!

This morning I was praying about some things and I asked the Lord how I should proceed in a certain area. Did He really want me to step back into the arena? Wasn’t I supposed to just shake the dust off and move on like I’ve been trying desperately to do?

Here is where He took me in His precious Holy Word…

Acts 14:18-22 – “And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people that they had not done sacrifice unto them. And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch. Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”

Wow! Okay…so…what did that have to do with anything?

Well, the first thing I needed to find out is what ‘sayings’ had scarce restrained the people? Where were they being said? And why?

In backing up, just a bit (Acts 14:8-17), I discovered that Paul and Barnabas were preaching in the city of Lystra and, after witnessing the healing of a man who had been crippled and unable to walk since birth, the people lifted up their voices professing Paul and Barnabas to be gods. They called Barnabas, Jupiter, and Paul, Mercurius, and the priest of Jupiter brought provision into the city where they were planning to do sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas with the people. When Paul and Barnabas heard of it, they rent their clothes and ran in among the people crying out and asking why they would do such a thing. They explained to them that they were just men like themselves. They pleaded with them to turn away from their pagan beliefs and turn, instead, unto the living God which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all things in them…and they proceeded to share the love of God for them with them.

THESE were the sayings that had scarce restrained the people from doing sacrifice and they had no more been said when in come these Jews from Antioch and Iconium and they were the ones that persuaded the people of Lystra to stone Paul, carry him out of the city, and leave him for dead.

So, what happened next? Did Paul just lie there and die? No! Verse 20 says, “…as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up…” (This verse reminded me of the handful of friends and family members who have remained faithful and supportive of us through all our crazy ups and downs. We are so very thankful for them!)

Okay…so…what did Paul do next? Did he get up and get as far away from the people who had treated him so badly? People who had stoned him and left him for dead?  No! Verse 20 also tells us that he “…came back into the city: and the next day he departed…”

Paul not only went back into Lystra, but he spent the night there! The next day he and Barnabas left and went to Derbe. When they were done preaching in Derbe they went back to Lystra AGAINand to Iconium and to Antioch…the two cities where the Jews that persuaded the people to stone them in the first place came from!!!

Ohmygoodness! After six years of floundering does God really want me to get back up and step back into the arena? Yes, I believe He does. If I do, will He protect me? Maybe. Maybe not!

In New Testament times God did not always protect His servants from harm, nor does He promise to always protect His servants from harm today. The kingdom of God often
advances at great cost to God’s servants and, as Acts 14:22 reminds us, “…we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”

We are living in a hostile world and, if you watch the evening news, you are aware of the fact that it’s getting more and more hostile by the day. As Christians, we must stand firm and engage in spiritual warfare against sin and satanic power. In doing so we can expect trouble. Only the lukewarm and compromising “believer” will find peace and comfort from the world, and the present evil world and false believers will remain adversaries to the gospel of Christ until the Lord Himself overthrows the world’s evil system and Jesus reigns supreme.

Do we carry on? Of course we do! But as we do so I pray, “Maranantha! Come quickly, Lord Jesus! Until then, give us the strength and endurance needed to carry forth the work that You’ve given us to do…whatever arena You have called us to!”

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