“Now when there arose a great dissension, the commander, fearing lest Paul might be pulled to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and bring him into the barracks. But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.””
Acts 23:10-11 NKJV
There are movies that have left an impression on me to the degree that I have trouble watching them again. One such movie is Glory. It is the story of Robert Gould Shaw who led a regiment of black infantrymen into the American Civil War.
At the end of the movie Shaw and his men volunteered to raid an enemy stronghold. It was a suicide mission. At one point Shaw rode his horse on the beach, looking off onto the horizon. I could feel the inner struggle as he knew that he as going to give his life that day. He dismounted his horse, slapped its rear and sent it on its way. He knew he would no longer need it.
He readied for battle, knowing what was to come.
I try and imagine the apostle Paul, waking each day to do ministry, knowing that each day was one closer to his ultimate sacrifice. From the beginning he was aware of what was to come.
“But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.””
Acts 9:15-16 NKJV
Paul knew that he was to suffer in the work that Jesus Himself commissioned him to do. In Acts chapter 23, he finds himself confronted by the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Understanding the group dynamics, he proclaimed that he was a Pharisee and believed in the hope of the resurrection, causing an uproar with the Sadducees, or the “progressives” of the day, who did not believe in the supernatural things of God.
In ensuing melee, he had to be rescued by Roman soldiers. By this time, I am sure he was struggling, as years of beatings and turmoil must have weighed heavily upon him.
In that moment, Jesus appeared to him and reminded him of his destiny, that he would take the Gospel to Rome.
“Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.”
II Timothy 2:10-13 NKJV
As believers, we are like Paul, going into each day to serve the Lord even as the society in which we life grows increasingly hostile to word of God. We also know the rest of the story, in that we have been given the Holy Scripture to guide us.
We also know that we will face persecution, as many of our brothers and sisters around the world are right now. It can be a scary prospect, considering the possibility that we may experience torture, beatings, death, rape, and that we could see our loved ones go through the same.
It is a time to rest in the assurance of our salvation. I know that my last tortured breath on this side, will be followed by my next in glory.
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:31, 35-39 NKJV
Shaw and his men went into battle sparing nothing, they charged the cannons and the guns, caring little for what may come. In the end nearly all died, but they were United. Meaning disrespect, the confederates buried Shaw, a white man, with his black troops. What they meant for dishonor, was the greatest honor they could have given him.
We are in the climactic battle, fighting over the souls of the lost. We are taking the word of God into the hostile world, intolerant toward the people of God.
We must raid the strongholds, charging the gates of hell. Let us charge the cannons and the guns. Some of us will pay with our lives, perhaps even most of us, but the grave is not our final home, because we know that we have an eternal place with Jesus in Heaven. Let us focus on that destiny and be about the Father’s business.
“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.””
Revelation 21:1-4 NKJV
THE PRAYER CHAIR IS OPEN! Send me your requests!