Warning From the Town of Ephesus {Acts 19}

11:30 PM

By Sue Desmarais

From all we’ve read in Acts 19, we can see that the Christians in Ephesus were a mighty force for Christ Jesus.  They were spiritually alive and making an amazing impact on their community. Here in this chapter we can clearly see the forces of good and evil at odds to put it mildly and good eventually winning out over evil. I did a bit of research on the town of Ephesus to help us to better understand what was taking place in chapter 19:
"Ephesus was a large city with an excellent harbor, and it was known at this time as the marketplace of Asia. It was also a banking center because of its great vault in the Temple of Diana, which was considered the safest place in Asian Minor. "Ephesus was also an important religious city. The Temple of Diana (or Artemus, as the Greeks called her) was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The goddess Diana was the patron of all the prostitutes and, with her many-bosomed image, represented fertility and sexuality. Many writers in ancient times described the immorality of the city.
"One pillar in the Ephesian economy was the production of silver images of Diana by the many silversmiths who plied their trade there. Devotees of this goddess brought much gain to the city (Acts 19:23-27). Black magic was also widely practiced in Ephesus."
(There's A New World Coming, Hal Lindsey)

Knowing all of this, we can better understand Paul’s praise to the church in his letter to the church of Ephesus later; “...ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people,  I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.” -Ephesians 1:15-16

Yet, just thirty years later, Christ will write to the church of Ephesus in The Book of Revelation, “You have left your first love . . . I am coming to you, and will remove your lampstand out of its place – unless you repent” (Rev. 2:4, 5).  It took only thirty years for the church at Ephesus to become cold and indifferent towards Christ.  

What happened? How can a whole body of believers do a complete “180” in just thirty years? And if a whole body of believers can, what about our individual walks? One thing I did find in reading the events in chapter 19 is that, things haven’t changed much over the years. People and places can change, but the enemy continues to use the same tactics he did then. We need to be on guard? We need to guard ourselves against leaving our first love lest we become a target for God's discipline. But how?

Leaving our first love is better displayed in how we treat others. You’ll remember Jesus gave His disciples two new commandments in Matthew 22:37-39, “And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

We can claim to love the Lord. We can attend church, read our Bibles, etc, but our love or lack of love will be more evident in how we love others. So, let me ask you, how are you doing?  Are you busy winning others to Christ?  Do you find it easy to forgive another’s offence against you? Are you embracing fellowship with others, or shying away from it? Are you actively challenging our culture or conforming to it?
I’ll be honest. I’ve been walking with Jesus for almost 35 years and it grieves me to admit that some ...a good number of those who once walked beside me are no longer journeying with Jesus and I.
  • Some were hurt by another and rather than going to the offender to make it right, their pride prevented them and they allowed that hurt to turn to anger, bitterness and even indifference.
  • Some grew angry with God and couldn’t forgive Him for hurts they experienced..
  • Some were enticed by the sins of the world. We all know the grass can look greener…
  • Some just stopped hungering and thirsting after God and found others and other things to fill their void.
  • Others couldn’t accept some of the harsh words found in Scripture, and chose to follow their own ways and ideas.
Not one of them woke up one morning and decided instantly to turn back to their old ways and lifestyle. No, it was more something that happened over a period of time. Which leads me to my next question; what about us?

How can we keep our hearts on fire for God and lead others to do the same, so that Jesus will never place this charge against us? I’ve come up with a few ways, but I’m confident you can think of others and you’re free to add them in the comments!

  1. Beware of anything that competes with loyalty to Jesus Christ. (The greatest competitor of devotion to Jesus is service for him.)
  2. Spend time worshipping and ministering to the Lord through singing, fasting, prayer.
  3. Allow time for Him to minister to you! (I think of the verse in Song of Solomon 2:10 that says, ‘My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away.” When this verse pops into my head, I’m all about getting away to listen to Him.)
  4. Choose your friends wisely. Find people who are on fire for God and get with them so that they can inspire you and rub off on you. AND Don’t allow negative people to pull you down.
  5. Keep your appointments with Jesus. Keep Him first and don’t allow the busyness of the day to keep you from spending time together.
  6. Give your time and desires to spend time with The Lord up to Him and let Him keep you faithful! I did and He makes sure we have our time together each day.
  7. Turn off distractions! Radios, TV, Internet, Phones, etc.

But what if you sense you’ve already left your first love, or know someone who has; what should you do then? Jesus made it very clear what needs to happen next in Revelations 2;

First Remember: Jesus says,Therefore remember from where you have fallen.” The church in Ephesus fell out of a deep love for the Lord. They fell out of fellowship with Him. The Greek word translated fallen means that they were in a state of spiritual decline.
Second Repent.The Greek word for “repent”  is much more than sorrow, or feeling sorrowful. It’s a complete change of thought and behavior. “Repent” means to change one’s thinking and behavior as seen in the following phrase and do the deeds you did at first.” Repent means “to turn around”.
Third Redo, or start again. Jesus urges the Ephesians to do the deeds you did at first.” I always think of the verse in James 4:8, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” You turn back and He’ll meet you right where you are.

After all, He has always been the God of second chances as long as there is still breath in us! Just look at the promise He has left to all those who will turn back to Him, “...To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.” The one who overcomes by returning to his/her first love is able to eat of the tree of life. Eating with someone implies fellowship and the one who overcomes, will enjoy fellowship with his/her Savior.
In other words Jesus is saying, those who overcome the spiritual battles in this life and remain intimate with Christ through it all, WILL experience the joys and rewards in heaven. The same joys that Adam once enjoyed in the garden in his unfallen state. The same joys God has always longed to share with you!


So, what’s the plan? {Acts 18}

11:30 PM

By Lisa Thayer

Has your life changed since you began trusting and following Jesus?

If it hasn’t, why not?

Chapter 18 shows us how God accomplishes His plan through every day people.  How do you know you are living out God’s plan for your life?

I’ve been praying for discernment recently because I’ve felt like I wasn’t following God’s plan.  It is so easy to have desires and look at them and see how they look like they would increase God’s Kingdom, but God seems to be blocking your way.  Like perhaps you want to start up a bible study at your house or church.  Or perhaps you believe you are in the wrong job.  Perhaps you feel led to go into ministry work.

I’m going to share three ways to know you are living your life according to God’s plan.

1.       Are you investing your life into others?

Paul moves in with these two refugees, Aquilla and Priscilla and develops a very good friendship.  He takes them to Ephesus where he leaves them (v. 18).  By the time he writes his first letter to the Corinthians, Aquilla and Priscilla are leading a house church.

Aquilla and Priscilla in turn meet Apollos and invest their life into him.  Apollos was preaching about Jesus, but didn’t quite know the whole story.  So Aquilla and Priscilla left their tent making business and invested their time in Apollos. 

Have you given up your life to teach others who will pass along the faith?  Are you willing to live God’s plan in your life and then pass along what He does in your life to others?

2.      Do you find security in Christ and not in your plan? (vs. 9-10)

God gives Paul two promises
-         Presence and Security
-         I am with you
-         No one will harm you

Jesus promised in Matthew 28 to be with us always.  In Ephesians 1:3, Paul reminds us that we are blessed with Christ Jesus with every spiritual blessings.  And again in Romans 8:38-39 Paul reminds us that nothing can separate us from the love of God.

Are you running from God’s presence?  Does life have you scared of something and you are running away from the one person who can save you from it?  You need to come to Him who is greater than all our fears.  Charles Spurgeon said, “the fear of God kills all other fears in our hearts.”  The security you need is in Christ.  But the problem is you are running – your problem is your sin and you keep running from God.  You need to rest in His salvation for you.  Jesus separated Himself from God the Father so you could never be separated from Him again!  (Just let that sink in)

God always calls His people to circumstances that require them to Trust in Him!

3.      Are you risking enough? (vs. 9-10)

Most of us only want these two promises – God with us and His protection.  We want to hear ‘I am with you and not harm will come your way.’  But God never gives His presence without calling us into action!  He told Paul to go on speaking!  Paul was afraid!  Just like you and I are. 

Is your commitment to the gospel causing you to risk anything?

Are you climbing a ladder to accomplish your desires?  Your career?  Your dream home?  Your next vacation?  Your personal relationships?  Just to elevate yourself? 

Or is your life wrapped up in a cross that you are willing to give yourself away for?  Are your arms out-stretched to serve?  Or are you keeping your hands on that next rung of the ladder? 

Maybe you’re living your life with a religious candy coating – a lot of people are.

The testimony of the Church is that God saved us.  I think everyone of us who understand the gospel would say, ‘I am a miracle of God’s grace.  God saved me and sometimes I just cannot believe it!’  But here’s the thing – God didn’t save you FROM something.  He saved you FOR something.  And that’s His plan.  To make disciples all around.

So what’s your next step?  Maybe it’s simply trusting Him for your salvation and you’ve never done that.  Maybe it’s investing your life into other believers in your home church or someplace else.  Maybe it’s stepping out in a conversation with a co-worker, a friend, or a family member, trusting that God’s plan is more important than your plan with them.  Maybe it’s opening your bible and reading it alongside us and beginning a new step of faith.

God accomplishes His plan through every day people who give up their plan for His.


The Boldness of Paul {Acts 17}

11:30 PM

by Lisa Moore

Following along the line of thinking that, "Every boy should have a dog", when my son was six my husband and I agreed to let him have a puppy.  He picked out a little chihuahua mix that he fell in love with at first sight and named Biscuit.  That little dog has the heart of a lion.  You'll never convince him that he's not a 60 pound pit bull.  Whenever I see him standing his ground against another animal twice his size I can't help but admire his boldness.  That's the kind of boldness God wants us to have; especially when spreading the gospel.  And that's the same kind of boldness Paul had when preaching Christ to a Christ less culture.  

After leaving Philippi, Paul, Silas, and Timothy traveled to Thessalonica where Paul spent three Sabbaths preaching in the Jewish synagogue.  The Bible tells us that "some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of the God-fearing Greeks and a large number of the leading women."  (v. 4)  But some of the unbelieving Jews became jealous and incited a mob against the disciples causing Paul and Silas to have to slip away in the night to Berea.  There they were better received for these Jews "were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so." (v. 11)  And once again, many believed.  But upon hearing about the disciples continued preaching in Berea, the Jews in Thessalonica came there as well to stir up the crowds.  This time Paul was sent out alone to find safety in Athens.  And there he found himself in a city full of idols, facing a culture of people who worshiped at an altar with the inscription ,"TO AN UNKNOWN GOD", (v. 23)

Paul in his usual manner, began by "reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and God-fearing Gentiles and in the market place everyday with those who happened to be present.", (v.17).  While doing so, he encountered some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers who wanted to hear more about these "strange things" Paul was bringing to their ears, so they invited him to speak at the Areopagus.  The Areopagus, also known as Mars Hill, was a meeting place for the Areopagus Court; the highest court in Greece.  It was also where the Athenians and foreign visitors used to "spend  their time in nothing more than telling or hearing something new.", (v. 21)  

The Athenians were known for their endless debates, and more than likely wanted Paul to speak just so they had something new to discuss and over analyze.  They considered his message amusing but nonsense.  They were idol worshippers who probably saw Paul as beneath them.  And in spite of all of this Paul, as his "spirit was being provoked within him", (v.16) used the opportunity to teach them about the one true God, and salvation through Christ Jesus. 

I admire the boldness of Paul.  Instead of focusing on the differences between them, he first found some common ground.  He appealed to the fact that like himself the Athenians were searching for truth, and were "very religious in all respects.", (v. 22).  He knew the truth they needed was God's truth and let nothing dissuade him from sharing the Good News.  He used persuasion and reason to persuade people of the truth of the Gospel, and was able to answer any questions they might throw his way because of his knowledge of God's Word and his complete submission to the Spirit.  He did nothing for his glory.  He didn't worry about his reputation or even his physically safety.  Paul was all about winning souls for Jesus.  In my own life there have been times when instead of sharing the Gospel, I remained silent.  Instead of standing in God's strength, I gave in to fear.  Fear of being ridiculed, rejected, or challenged.  Other times I've shared the Gospel too aggressively or pompously, looking down my nose at those who didn't agree with my beliefs or immediately want to reconcile themselves to God.   2 Timothy 2:15 tells us, "Be diligent to present yourselves approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth."  Paul was beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked, stoned, and even left for dead.  Through it all he never lost his faith, or his desire to please God in all he did.  I want that boldness.  I want the heart of a lion.  I want to be fearless in responding to God's calling in my life regardless of the circumstances.  I want to share the Gospel in a confident, loving, respectful way, with my focus far from my myself.  And on today of all days, I am so thankful for all of those that have sacrificed so that I have the freedom to do just that!  

Sandra Wyatt

Believe in the Lord Jesus - Scripture Saturday

11:00 PM

By Sandra Wyatt

Welcome to Scripture Saturday!  Today we continue our memorization of verses found in Acts with verses 16:30,31…

Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Here is the amplified version:  “And he brought them out of the dungeon and said, ‘Men, what is it necessary for me to do that I may be saved?’ And they answered, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, give yourself to Him, take yourself out of your own keeping, and you will be saved, and this applies both to you and your household as well.’”

The first part of this verse reads like a command: “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ…” Give your self to Him…deny your self, and place your self in His hands, in His keeping. This is what we are required to DO. One must believe He is who He claims to be…

“but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31)

Believe in what He did for us on the Cross.

The second part of this verse says, “and you will be saved…”  This is Grace…the gift of God that we are righteous in His sight.  Salvation is by Grace alone, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph 2:8,9) Salvation has never been attained by being a good person, by going to church, or by being baptized.  Salvation comes only through the belief in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Have a blessed and precious day everyone!


Walking in Joyful Obedience {Acts 16}

11:00 PM

By Mari Sandoval

Today we continue to see the Missionary work of Paul and some of the disciples: “So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they continually increased in number day after day.” These people were faithful to their calling, (Acts 1:8) and nothing was going to stop them! The Holy Spirit continually encouraged and empowered them as they continued to spread the Word of Salvation!
As we read today’s chapter we find Paul trying to take the Gospel to certain locations, but we find our God in His sovereignty forbidding them to go there (16:6-10).  I mean, hasn’t God chosen to use His people to help lost learn the way of salvation? Why wouldn’t He allow them to go? But, they waited… their EARS were always eager to HEAR His voice for directions!

Then Paul had a vision, he saw this man from Macedonia appealing to him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us” (16:9). When we walk in obedience to Christ’s Commission, whether it is to talk with a lost neighbor or to a stranger we happen to meet here in town, or to cross cultural or national borders, we experience great joy as God is pleased to save some from their sins and bring them to His Saving Grace.  There is joy in when we walk in obedience to God’s sovereign call to proclaim the gospel, even if we don’t understand the circumstances at the moment! He ALWAYS has a Perfect Plan and Purpose!

When Paul got to Philippi (a city in eastern Macedonia), all he had to start with was a small group of women who had gathered to pray : “ and on the Sabbath day we went outside the city gate to the bank of the [Gangites] river, where we thought there would be a [c]place of prayer, and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had come there.14 A woman named [d]Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a dealer in [e]purple fabrics who was [already] a worshiper of God, listened to us; …” (Acts 6:13-15)
How can you start a church with just a few women? Where were the men? But Paul faithfully spoke to them, God opened the heart of Lydia and of the rest of her family, and that is probably how the first church in Europe began!

Satan could not tolerate this happening here, so all of a sudden the disciples found opposition. In this case, it was a demon-possessed slave-girl who brought her owners much income through her ability to tell fortunes. This demon recognized Paul and his companions and cried out, “These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation” (16:17). This went on for many days, but finally Paul grew annoyed and cast the demon out of the girl. Now the girl’s owners had lost their source of income and they were furious, so they dragged Paul and Silas before the authorities, had them beaten and thrown into jail, where their feet were fastened into the stocks.

 "These stocks had more than two holes for legs, which could thus be forced apart in a such a way as to cause the utmost discomfort and cramping pain." (Bruce) But even in their pain, God was not far from Paul and Silas! "The legs feel nothing in the stocks when the heart is in heaven." (Tertullian) “But about midnight when Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them;26 suddenly there was a great earthquake, so [powerful] that the very foundations of the prison were shaken and at once all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened.”(16:25-26)

Some people have the false idea that if we obey God we will be exempt from trials. But such an idea is never taught in the Bible. In these few chapters in the book of Acts we’ve seen how God’s obedient messengers suffered as they proclaimed the gospel. But Paul had joy in the midst of these circumstances. His joy came from a total surrender of loving-obedience and faith to our God! After all these painful circumstances our Father showed HE was still in charge! God used the earthquake and the testimony of these faithful disciples, to bring the jailer and his family to His Saving Grace!

When the jailer and all in his household believed, they all “rejoiced greatly” (16:34-36). This is the same joy our Father wants each and every one of us to experience with our families! So let us be of testimony as we witness to their lives in love and obedience to our God and He will one day “open their hearts to pay attention and to respond to the Gospel”. Amen to that!! 

After the jailer ministered to Paul and Silas, they returned to the prison, and were set free by the magistrates the next day. “40 So they left the prison and went to Lydia’s house; and when they had seen the brothers and sisters, they encouraged and comforted them, and left”.

 “Whenever people are genuinely saved, there is demonstrable evidence in their changed lives. Lydia and her household members who believed were baptized and then showed hospitality to Paul and his companions (16:14, 15). If the slave girl was converted, you can be sure that she abandoned her occult practices and joined with the other Christians in following the Lord. The jailer was delivered from suicide, washed the wounds of Paul and Silas, was baptized, and joyfully showed them hospitality (16:31-34). The gospel is the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16).” (Bible Org. Steven J. Cole)   Imagine all these people gathering in the days to come as a Church, sharing their testimonies with joy and praise!

But, what about you? Do you still remember the first day of your conversion to Christ and the joy you experimented? Are you still sharing that testimony to others so that they too, will know the joy that comes from being reconciled to God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?  Some of us might have gone astray in our Walk with Jesus, instead of walking in obedience… but you know something? Our God is a God of Grace, and if you have lost your way and are willing to return to His paths… He is always willing to start over again! Isn’t that awesome?

Before I close: Remember, there is joy that comes from walking in obedience to His Great Commission!



Growing Pains {Acts 15}

1:37 AM

By Becky Bramlett Austin

The church is growing and the numbers of Gentiles being added are growing too.  There are some communities that Paul and Barnabas visit where new believers include Jews and Gentiles communing together.  A group of Jewish believers known as "Judaizers" began to teach that the Gentiles must first observe Jewish Law to be eligible for salvation, with particular emphasis on circumcision. In essence, they were declaring that a mixture of grace and law (or works) was necessary for God's acceptance.  Paul and Barnabas disagree, teaching salvation is by grace alone.  What an important matter for that time and for our time as well because this is no casual differing of opinion about religious beliefs but a disagreement about what determines the salvation of our souls. 

The matter is deemed so important that the church sends Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem for discussion with the apostles and elders. When they reach Jerusalem debate continues among the elders because some of them were Pharisees who held similar beliefs to the Judaizers. But Peter, who had been shown by God that the Gentiles were to receive salvation through faith in Christ gave a powerful account for giving the Gentiles equality based on God's saving grace alone.

“Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”” (7-11)

Peter bears witness to the simplicity and the all inclusive acceptance in God's plan of salvation based on faith in Christ and amazingly the people embrace and respect this view. 
“And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles." (12) And then James provides further reassurance by quoting Scripture of old that foreshadowed God's acceptance of the Gentiles.  And then he proposed only asking the Gentiles to abstain from “what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality." He was not trying to place conditions for salvation on them but trying to improve relations in these mixed communities of Jewish and Gentile believers.  All 4 of these things were part of the Gentile culture of pagan idolatry.  These practices were very offensive to Jews.  By abstaining from these things, it would help the Gentiles make a clean break from pagan practices and improve relations with their fellow Jewish believers.

And then a decision was made to send 2 men back to Antioch with a letter. “So when they were sent off, they went down to Antioch, and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. And when they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement. And Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, encouraged and strengthened the brothers with many words." (30-32)

What a beautiful display of the Holy Spirit working within a divided church body to bring about unity, encouragement and most importantly, glory to God. Satan longs to use the growing pains of a church to foster disagreement, to place ungodly restrictions, and to confuse and discourage its believers. But clearly, God can help those who sincerely seek answers and truth to come together in purpose and mindset. 


The Secret to an Amazing Ministry- Revealed!! {Acts 14}

1:16 AM

By Sue Desmarais

I ended last week's post on leaving a legacy by sharing my desire to one day hear the Lord say, Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master” (Matt25:21) and since, I’ve been reading each chapter with interests, trying to discover the qualities needed to have an effectual ministry in this day and age. After all, I know times have changed, but our Lord hasn’t, and neither has His call to all of us found in Matthew 28:18-20!

Paul was hands-down the greatest missionary in all of the New Testament church and I was determined to see if I could learn his secret, and O goodness girls, I’ve found it!! It’s hidden within the chapter, but before the big reveal, I want to share a bit of how I found it!!

You see, I’m not always good at being, “intentional about my good intentions”. What I mean by that is, I may tell you I have this tremendous desire to hear the Lord say, “Well done…”, but when obstacles and opposition arise, I’ll be the first to rethink my goals, but not Paul! After he and Barnabas were run out of Antioch of Pisidia,they simply, “shook the dust from their feet as a sign of rejection and went to the town of Iconium.” - 13:51

Now I know, one could argue that they had seen and experienced great success in that city and that, “the Lord’s message spread throughout that region!” which only spurred them on. BUT, once more here in chapter 14, Paul and Barnabas see that with success comes great opposition and once more, “they fled to the region of Lycaonia—to the towns of Lystra and Derbe and the surrounding area.”- Acts 14:6

There seems to be a pattern forming: Arrive -> Preach -> Witness Conversions -> Oppositions arises -> Move on to the next town…

That is until 14:19-20,

“Then some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowds to their side. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of town, thinking he was dead. But as the believers gathered around him, he got up and went back into the town. The next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.”

Did you catch it? I reached this point in the chapter and had to stop reading, and admit to myself and to the Lord that I think, had this been me at this point, The Lord and I would have had to have a talk, for I’m not certain I could have taken much more of the fierce persecution Paul and Barnabas were experiencing! And this was when the Lord showed me something I’ve never noticed before! - Paul Got Up!
Paul was
  • Stoned
  • Dragged out of town
  • Believed to be dead
  • BUT he got up!
  • AND walked back into the same town!
  • AND then started on a 60 mile journey the next morning!!

How can a person stoned and believed dead, get up and go on a sixty mile journey the next day!?

That’s when Paul’s own words came flooding into my mind…

“I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Phil 4:13
Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.”
1 Thessalonians 5:24
For it is God who works in you to will and to act on behalf of His good pleasure.” Phil 2:13

I can see now Paul knew exactly what he was talking about. No man can get up and keep going after being stoned and left for dead without God’s help, but Jesus has promised us that, “with God ALL things are possible”. Matthew 19:26 (emphasis mine)

I also understand now why Paul often referred to himself as the Lord’s “doulos” or bond-servant. A “doulos” is often defined as a slave, but it’s much more than that, in that the person volunteers to serve wholeheartedly, claiming to have no rights of their own. I looked up the definition once more in the Stong’s Greek dictionary and here’s some of what I found: A Doulos is
  • one who worships God and submits to him
  • the true worshippers of Christ are those whose agency God employs in executing his purposes
  • So devoted to another to the disregard of one's own interests,
  • strenuously laboring for another's salvation,

I can clearly see Paul fitting this description, what I wonder most is, do I? Do you?