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Posts Tagged ‘Paul’

“For Demas hath forsaken me …” (2 Timothy 4:10)

How must that have felt to this old warrior who had struggled and fought to establish this Gospel that he knew was the only answer to saving the world from Hell. He had fought with demons and deacons, priests and princes. He had endured beatings, mockery and the threat of prison and death for this cause. He could have been wealthy and powerful, one of the ruling class in Jerusalem, but he turned it all away because he had met the Nazarene on the road to Damascus.

Paul knew what was at stake – Heaven for those who accepted this new revolutionary doctrine, or Hell for those who did not. Jew and Gentile alike faced the stark reality of a judgment that he must have known the utter devastating reality of. While Peter was given the ministry to the Jews, he was handed the enormous task of the rest of the Gentile world. And with that commission was the understanding that salvation would come to the Jews through the Gentiles as they fulfilled their dispensation. He had to succeed; he could not stumble and fail. Too much was hanging in the balance.

And then Demas forsook him.

I don’t suppose Paul was a soft-spoken kind of guy. Maybe he was a little too tough on Demas, or maybe he was too intense for him. He had a sharply divided sense of right and wrong, and he did not mince words to comfort hurt feelings. Rather, he made his points clear and blazingly lucid.

“Reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (2 Timothy 4:2)

In other words, tell them truth! Quit pussy-footing around. Do it in love, but stay true to the doctrine. Why?

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine: but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned unto fables.” (2Timothy 4:3,4)

I wonder if Paul self-examined himself first when Demas left. “Was I too hard on him? Did I not consider his feelings? Do I have a bad attitude?” All questions we ask of ourselves when a good friend abandons us.

But at some point, his prophetic spirit had to take back control and say no. Even if his attitude was not socially gracious, the truth is that we are engaged in an insanely ferocious war of eternity. The destiny for billions of souls is at stake.

True love, then, is not the creamy smooth gospel that most people find so alluring. It is the stark and sometimes sharp declaration of truth that cuts away the shrouds of death to liberate the soul to walk in true righteousness in the fear of God – a doctrine that is often not the favored choice of many.

Somebody has to take that stand. Paul did. Demas did not.

 

Brother Dale

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Fire in the Hole

“And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.

And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.” Acts 16:22-25

How would you feel if you came into a strange city, excited with a new message of hope for the people there, but just as things are beginning to go well, everything goes wrong? You know that it is the Lord who has brought you here, and you’ve done exactly what He has told you to do, and yet it seems that, instead of leading to success, it has lead to disaster. What happened?

All of a sudden, the city has exploded, screaming and yelling all sorts of unfounded accusations against you, none of which are even remotely true. What on earth did you do that was so wrong? You simply shared the Gospel with some of the folks in town when this demon-possessed woman starts following you everywhere, mocking you and causing all kinds of trouble. So when your patience came to an end, you turned and pointed at her, casting out the devils that were in her.

And now all this trouble has fallen upon you, not because you were causing trouble, but merely because this woman’s masters weren’t able to make a buck from her fortune telling any more. Excuse me, but did it not occur to them that it was God that cast out that demon, and not Paul? Of course, I don’t suppose that matters much when there’s money on the line.

So here’s Paul and Silas, not only getting tossed in jail, but beaten to a bloody pulp. Then, to make things worse, they are thrown into the deepest, nastiest part of the dungeon with their feet clamped into wooden stocks.

Did they wonder why God allowed this to happen to them? After all, they had been following what God had told them to do. Was this the price for their obedience? Did God abandon them? Was He busy somewhere else and forgot that they were stuck in prison? Why did God allow this to happen to them?

It was midnight. It had been a long day for these men, and it promised to be a long night. They had no promise of tomorrow and no hope for deliverance. They weren’t just tired – they were wasted, beaten, and done in – but they didn’t surrender to the exhaustion of their flesh or the cloud of discouragement that Satan tried to blanket them with. No, they grabbed hold of victory by faith, and regardless of what the outcome would be, they lifted their voices to the Heavens and praised the living God.

Can you imagine how tough that must have been? How easy it would have been to succumb to their exhaustion and just roll over and go to sleep. Worry about it in the morning. But they didn’t. In the darkness of that dank cell, they held up a light; smothered by a cloud of despair, they held up hope; and in the face of all adversity, they claimed victory. They didn’t just pray – they sang! They sang!

And guess what? The prisoners heard them.

When I stop and think about that verse, “…and the prisoners heard them”, I am encouraged that God sees through all darkness, past the circumstances of our lives, and into the consequences of a faith that reaches far beyond ourselves and places our destiny firmly into the hands of an Almighty God who not only watches over us, but has given us the grace to allow Him to use us for His glory.

They sang … and the prisoners heard them. I wonder if I could have had that same faith to let the joy of the Holy Ghost flow through me to sing in such a time as that.

But they sang, and an earthquake shook the foundations of that prison and loosed the bands of every prisoner that heard them.

That kind of faith in times of severe adversity, to not only trust God for whatever He has for you, but to sing a song of victory so that all the world can hear that there is nothing that can shake your trust in God, is the kind of faith that makes the earth to shake, that opens prison doors, and that looses the bands of those who are imprisoned by sin.

Brother Dale
dale@revivalfire.org

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    It is morning in Nigeria as we make our way through the early traffic. There is a pungent scent that is heavy in the air that is distinctly African. Hundreds of motorbikes swarm all around us, buzzing their tortuous way through the traffic like a swarm of bees. All the sounds of this awakening city add up to a feeling of ordered confusion. It almost makes you feel like you are lost in a forest of humanity and traffic, wending your way on a mission that has no clear path in front of you. You know where you are trying to go; you just don’t know how you are going to get there.
     Sometimes this mission I am on in Africa feels the same way. While there are things that I do know absolutely, there is so much that I do not understand and the way sometimes seems cluttered with traffic like this busy African city in the morning. I know I was sent with a message of revival. There are times when I wonder how I got here or why I was the one who was sent, but I do know I was sent here with a message and I know the message works.
     But when I look at the map, it is hard to suppress a sigh. Here I am, going to all these out-of-the-way places, some of which don’t even show on the map, to backwater cities and unknown villages, but the map is so huge! How will the little things that I am doing make any serious dent in this enormous continent?
    I wonder if that is how Paul felt when he launched off into the darkness of the Gentile world with a single companion. Walking into cities where he had never been to bring a message that no one had ever heard. He never once wavered. The experience on the road to Damascus was enough to light a fire in his soul that the uncertainties of a lost and idolatrous Gentile world could never extinguish.
    The Jews of Thessalonica cried that Paul and Silas had turned the world upside down in proclaiming that Jesus was king. Imagine that! Two men armed with a vision and an unshakeable faith in God – no phones, no TV, no newspapers, no cars, and no money – and the foundations of Hell were shaken to their very core. The forces of darkness were set against these two pioneers like a storm from Hell to keep them from fulfilling their call from God.

But even in the midst of Euroclydon, I can hear Paul declare, “I believe God”.

Brother Dale,    dale@revivalfire.org

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