What Paul Suffered so I Can Read the Last Will…(an Incomplete, but Compelling List)

  • Saint_Paul,_Rembrandt_van_Rijn_(and_Workshop?),_c._1657Tonight is the Digging Deep Podcast. Join us at 7 CST here: http://livestream.com/whcoc/for-women . It’ll be a discussion of the persecutor-turned-persecuted hero, Paul—the apostle, the missionary, the servant, the writer, the prisoner, the teacher, the mentor, the one with the thorn in the flesh. Surely you find yourself somewhere in those characterizations of this great man. He is relevant to me in so many ways. Of course, the chief relevance is that He was the great mind   and pen through which the Holy Spirit revealed a large portion of the last will and testament of Jesus Christ. That testament is the key to my inheritance in heaven. The study tonight is relevant!

So here is the list from Acts of the persecutions he faced. I’ve added his immediate reaction or response where applicable. Take a look at these days in the life of the spiritually rich and famous. Realize with me that you and I can be elite in the palace of the King of Kings, if we are willing to suffer for His name. He that is the greatest is servant of all. I read that in a Book somewhere. So here is the Acts account of Paul’s persecutions:

  1. Elymas, the sorcerer, withstood Paul and tried to “undo” his work (13:8).  Paul, full of the Spirit, rebuked him and blinded him,
  2. The Jews stirred up the people to persecute Paul and they expelled him and his companions from their coasts (13:50). They “shook the dust from their feet” and traveled on.
  3. The unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles to think evil things about Paul and his companions (14:2). They just kept speaking boldly and performing signs in the name of Jesus.
  4. Both Jews and Gentiles assaulted and attempted to stone them (14:5). They became aware of it and fled.
  5. Took time for and endured dissension and disputing about circumcision (15:2). Went to the elders in Jerusalem to seek counsel and a solution to the dispute. 
  6. Because Paul healed a girl who had a spirit of divination, those who were making money off of her affliction were angered. They took Paul and Silas to the magistrates where, as a multitude rose up against them, they were beaten with many stripes and placed in stocks in the inner prison (16:19-24). Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises to God in this jail. 
  7. Lewd fellows in Thessalonica assaulted the house where Paul was staying and demanded that Paul surrender to them (17:5). The brethren, protecting Paul and company, sent them away secretly.
  8. Thessalonians followed them and stirred up the people in Berea, the town to which they had escaped (17:13). The brethren sent Paul away again. 
  9. Philosophers in Athens mocked him and took him to authorities (17:18). Paul preached the great sermon on Mars Hill.
  10. That sermon resulted in more mocking (17:32). Paul left Athens.
  11. The Jews rejected his teaching in Corinth, blaspheming (18:6). Paul shook his clothes and told them that their blood would be on their heads. He said “I am clean” and determined to go to the Gentiles with the gospel.
  12. The Jews made insurrection against Paul in Achaia and brought him before the deputy, Gallio (18:12). Paul was ready to answer, but Gallio, frustrated with the Jews, would not hear the case.
  13. The Jews in the synagogue at Ephesus spoke evil of His teachings and “the Way” in front of the crowd (19:9). Paul separated the disciples and reasoned with them in the school of Tyrannus for two years.
  14. Demetrius, a silversmith in Ephesus, angry that Paul was hurting the Diana silver-image business, called together a craftsmen’s union and incited them to anger against Paul. Paul was ready to enter the chaotic arena and speak, but the Ephesian Christians, as well as some chief officers, persuaded him to stay out of that theatre. 
  15. The people of Ephesus cried out for two hours “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” to directly oppose and endanger Paul (19:34). When the rioting was over, Paul embraced the Christians and left for Macedonia.
  16. The Jews in Greece “laid wait” for Paul, obviously purposing his harm (20:3). Paul changed plans, avoiding their trap.
  17. Tears, temptations, and trials were involved in all of this service (20:19). Paul did not shrink from speaking the whole truth.
  18. Paul was told by the prophet that he would be bound and delivered to the Gentiles in Jerusalem (21:11). Paul responded that he was ready to be bound and die for the name of Jesus.
  19. Jews of Asia stirred up the people in the temple of Jerusalem who were listening to Paul to rioting so that the people were beating him. The chief captain took him and bound him with two chains (fulfilling the prophecy in #18). The soldiers carried him into the Roman castle for questioning because the crowd was violent against him (21:27-38). Paul gave a lengthy defense in which he told of his Jewish heritage and his conversion to Christianity. 
  20. At the close of this defense, the Jews cried out for him to be put to death. The chief captain commanded his scourging (23:22-25). Paul responded, by revealing to the centurion, who was about to beat him, that he, himself, was a Roman.
  21. Paul was brought to give his defense before Jews and Romans in Jerusalem (22:30). 
  22. Ananias, the high priest commanded that they hit him on the mouth (23:2). Paul, not aware that Ananias was the hight priest,  called Ananias a “whited wall”, accusing him of breaking the very law he was commissioned to uphold. 
  23. There was a great dissension and the chief captain was afraid the crowd would tear Paul in pieces, so he brought him, again, into the castle (23:10). The Lord stood by Paul, telling him that he would survive to teach in Rome.
  24. A group of Jews took a hunger vow, saying they would not eat till Paul was killed (23:12). Paul’s sister’s son revealed this plot to him and Paul got this word to the chief captain, who sent 200 soldiers with Paul to deliver him to Felix, the Roman governor in Caesarea.
  25. Paul stood before Felix and Tertullias, an orator, who painted Paul to be a leader of revolt among the Jews (24:1-9). Paul answered with the gospel and was committed to the keeping of a centurion.
  26. Felix left Paul in bonds till his term as governor was over and the Jews besought the new governor, Festus, to send Paul to Jerusalem, so that they could kill him on the way (24:27-25:3).
  27. Festus brought Paul before him for questioning as the Jews from Jerusalem accused  him (25:6,7). Paul appealed to Caesar.
  28. Festus mocked Paul, calling him a mad man (26:24). Paul defended the gospel saying “These things were not done in a corner.”
  29. Paul was sent in chains to Rome where he remained bound (28:20). Paul, from his Roman lodging (imprisonment in a house), taught many people the gospel (28:24-31). 

Sister to Sister: In Sticky Situations

happy students people group portrait at university indoor building

It’s amazing how quickly human resolve against sin can erode when we find ourselves in sticky situations with the enemies of Christianity. Sometimes I see people who have formerly stood with the Word and against immorality of some form or another until their children become involved in that particular sin. Then the resolve may tend to soften. Issues that once seemed black and white suddenly seem a bit grey. Another quick erosion force is the company of scoffers. When I find myself in the middle of a heathen crowd—a crowd that’s making fun of Scripture-based morality—it’s easy for me to first become quiet, then tolerant, then accepting and finally, a participator in sin.

Think about Peter. He was the one who said “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). He said, “Even if I must die with thee, yet will I not deny thee” (Matthew 26:35, Mark 14:31). Yet, when the hour around the fire with the enemies of Christ came, he denied Jesus three times. 

I’m so glad, though, that we serve a God of second chances. Peter got a second and third and fourth chance to prove His willingness to die for the Lord. Before he did  finally give his life in loyalty to the Lord, he was given some amazing opportunities, in front of some staunch enemies of Christianity, to loudly proclaim his dedication to the Christ. He did so at great risk. 

I love studying Acts 2-5 in a character study of Peter. Look at the following forms of persecution that he faced and the bold statements he made in response. I believe Peter decided when the cock crew on that night of the Passover during the interrogation of Christ, that he was done with denial. He was arguably the boldest apostle from that point in your New Testament. Let’s grow from the following responses of Peter as the New Testament church emerged in infancy. 

  1. Peter was mocked and ridiculed for his involvement in the plan of God (Acts 2:13). Have you ever experienced that? Peter responded in verses 14-24. This is how he responded to ridicule: First, Peter proudly upheld the Word. He explained that what he was involved in was not of His own doing; rather it was the Will of God. He quoted the Good Book in this explanation. Secondly, he  did not turn a blind eye to the sin of his accusers. He was willing to boldly tell them that they were guilty of the blood of the Lord. 
  2. In Acts 4, Peter and John were imprisoned for teaching and preaching Christ after the healing of the lame man. Upon interrogation the following day, Peter answered their question about how the lame  man was made whole. Hear his boldness in  responding:  “Let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well.” There was no mincing of words in Peter’s  declaration of the divine authority of Jesus or the guilt of those who had power over the life of Peter. 
  3. Then they were threatened (4:17). Peter and John were told in no uncertain terms not to preach any more in the name of Jesus. Again, the answer was decisive: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge,for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (verses 19,20).The threats intensified and the response was a corporate prayer to God for boldness: “And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness…” (verse 29).
  4. In Acts 5:18, Peter was among those imprisoned once more for effectively working for the cause of Christ. Once again, in defiance of the enemies of the cross,when they were miraculously released, they entered the temple and began to teach (verse 21). This brought on another interrogation which ended with this statement by Peter and the other apostles: “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him” (vs.29-32). 

I want to be more like Peter…the Peter after the resurrection.  There are three key ways I can be like Peter when I find myself in arenas where my resolve to stand for right is being attacked. First, I need to answer with the Word of God. Second, I need to be unashamed to stand against the sin of those who are in defiance of my God. Finally, I need to pray for boldness as I defend His cause.

Sister to Sister: Just a Minute for Apologetics Press

Banner-APEarlier this week the good folks at Apologetics Press (www.apologeticspress.org) were targeted by Facebook trolls who made it their goal to post many negative reviews and to, in the most vulgar terms imaginable, openly criticize the site and revile the good work it does. My husband took the opportunity to say some good things about the work at AP and, almost immediately,  a response appeared on his Facebook timeline that also spewed hate and vulgarity toward AP.

I cannot think of a tool that did more, as my children were growing up, to put faith in them, than the materials from Apologetics Press. I visit the site regularly, cite it often in writing and speaking and recommend it almost everywhere I go to talk to groups of women. My husband and I are indebted to the men at AP for the research and writing (and fundraising) that have produced volumes like “How Do We Know the Bible is from God?” and episodes of “Digger Doug”  and the various series of AP readers and many more volumes that developed faith in the hearts of Caleb Colley and Hannah Giselbach. Their materials were core to out homeschooling endeavors, our classroom teaching in the church and our Family Bible Times in our home. Currently our daughter is using one of the books to answer questions from little people in her class of nine-year-olds in Montgomery, AL. and as they find the real evidence to answer the question “How do we know the Bible is true?” They are making their own newspaper chronicling their discoveries to share with the congregation. When nine-year-olds are inquisitive about such an eternally important matter, the time to stop and answer is now. Apologetics Press has, through the years, made for parents and teachers, preachers and elders and, yes, our children seeking truth an indispensable resource.

It’s no wonder that forces of the devil regularly attack the work at AP and it is bound, as our country becomes more thoroughly secularized, to happen all the more often and with a greater vengeance. I hope every Christian mother and grandmother reading will go to the AP website (linked above) and give a brief positive review of the site. Further, I hope you will share this article in support of Apologetics Press on your Facebook wall. Two clicks and you’ve publicly stood for something great while standing against wickedness. Further, you’ve done it in a very public forum.

I know some of you may be thinking, “But I don’t want to share something that will draw the ire of wicked people and I surely don’t want vulgarity on my timeline.” That’s precisely the kind of thinking that’s silenced many people of God for way too long. Persecution like this is going to be more and more commonplace and, if we fail to stand together as the people of God, we let the devil have his way. On the other hand, when we are reviled and persecuted (and that’s exactly the intent of this attack on AP), we are blessed. I hope you will share (or write your own positive review about the work at AP).  You can do this on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ApologeticsPress/?fref=ts. Persecution is coming our way. Now is a good time to start reacting with meekness and boldness. (When you encounter those who post vile language on your wall, simply go to the right hand corner of their “comment”, click on the arrow and then click on “hide” and the comment will disappear. You can elect also to “block” this person from further commenting on your timeline.)

For an even more effective show of support, go to the site and do a little summer-reading-shopping for those children in your world who need to be prepared for the obstacles the devil has planned for them. (Here’s the store: http://www.apologeticspress.org/store/Store.aspx.

And most importantly, pray for the blessed men who continue the work at AP for the sake of our families and congregations. Know they are blessed because our Lord characterized them exactly that way.

“Blessed are ye when men shall revile and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake.”

 

By Request: 10-day Devotional Readings from Jeremiah

11896250_10152977036441384_3876974688294082380_nWhen you immerse yourself in a book of the Bible, you have separation anxiety when it’s time to move on to another. Here’s one more Jeremiah list from the Digging Deep study. But, truly, this list is good for God’s women whether you are in the book of Jeremiah or not. This is for your morning coffee break, the day you  realize you’ve broken God’s commands, the darkest night when you’ve just lost a loved one, and for the struggle in your marriage. This is gold from Jeremiah for your life. In fact, this list would be a great 10-day morning starter devotional series for busy women. (The original list, without scripture references, is taken from the article “The Marvelous Book of Jeremiah, by Wayne Jackson at https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/747-marvelous-book-of-jeremiah-) For your study, I’ve added some passages from the Jeremiah text and elsewhere. It will make you want to be better!

Practical Lessons from Jeremiah

  1. God’s omniscience–Jeremiah 1:5; Job 31:33; Job 39:31; Psalm 139:1-6
  2. God empowers the servant.–Jeremiah 1:7-10; II Kings 5; Exodus 2; Judges 6:15
  3. Remember your vows.–Jeremiah 2:20-37; Jeremiah 22: 8,9; Matthew 15:9
  4. God hates the superficial. –Jeremiah 5:2,3; Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:8; Mark 7:6
  5.  True repentance is costly.–Jeremiah 7:1-7; II Corinthians 7:10
  6. The price of sin is high.–Jeremiah 8:1-3; Jeremiah 9; Luke 15: 11-21; Romans 6:23; I Peter 1:18,19
  7. Jehovah will be victorious.–Jeremiah 23:1-8; I Peter 1:5-7
  8. Jesus is the only hope.–Jeremiah 33:9-16; John 14:6; I Peter 1:3; I Corinthians 15:13-19.
  9. Expect persecution.–Jeremiah 38:3-6; II Timothy 3:12
  10. Judgment day will come.–Jeremiah 46-51; Matthew 25:31-46; II Peter 2:9; II Peter 3:7; Hebrews 9:27

 

Digging Deep: Fearless Jeremiah

Jeremiah’s Persecution

Jeremiah_lamentingIn case you want to put this list with your Digging Deep notes for the month of March, here’s a list of Jeremiah’s persecutions and his reactions to the trials inflicted. This article by Wayne Jackson gave us the basic list: https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/747-marvelous-book-of-jeremiah-the….Then we searched for Jeremiah’s responses.) May we be modern-day ‘Jeremiah’s in the, thus far, relatively benign situations of persecution. Stay tuned, though. Our faith is putting us in some pretty vulnerable places. Our God is still ‘with us to deliver us’ (Jeremiah 1:8). 

  1. People desired his life (11: 18-20)….He took his case to God in prayer (vs. 20)
  2. His countrymen turned against him (12:6)
  3. False prophets contradicted him…. (15:10)….He begged for personal exemption from the punishments (15:15-18).
  4. He was hit, put in stocks and denounced (chapter20)….He HAD to keep on speaking (vs. 9).
  5. His heart was broken (23:9)….He reflected on God’s sovereignty (vs. 13-20).
  6. He was seized and threatened with death (26:8-24)….He spoke more boldly (vs. 12-15).
  7. His teachings were strongly and visibly opposed (ch. 28)….Jeremiah spoke all the more boldly and pointedly (vs. 12-17)
  8. He was imprisoned (32:2,3)….He listened to the words of the Lord (32:6).
  9. The king burned the roll of prophecy (36:23)
  10. He was chased (36:26)….God hid him and he made a new roll in place of the one burned by the king (vs. 26, 27)
  11. He was beaten and imprisoned (37:15)….After many days in prison, when he was called out, he spoke as boldly as ever (vs. 17).
  12. He was thrown in the dungeon without food and he sunk in the mire (38:6)….He came out speaking truth (vs. 17,18).
  13. He was bound in chains (40:1)….He went straight to the governor with God’s truth (40:7-16).
  14. He was falsely accused and taken, with the captives, to Egypt (43:2)…He continued to speak truth to the captives in Judah and to the Egyptian captors, as well. Fearless. (ch.44, 46).

Sister to Sister: Wall-builders, Nehemiah Style

nehemiah_rust_door-1024x682I hope you want to be one. Badly enough to pick up the Sword (of the Spirit) when the persecution comes. Badly enough to cry out to God and then pick up His tools and go at it again. Badly enough to multi-task for Him. Badly enough to face yours own Sanballots and Tobiahs (Nehemiah 2). I pray that my courage will not fail in the face of persecution. I want to build for my children and grandchildren. For those who are Digging Deep (https://www.facebook.com/groups/282349391779769/)  this month, Nehemiah is the man of the hour. He steps right out of the sacred pages and into the hearts of God’s people today…in their political views, in their sin-challenged families and in their weary congregations. Nehemiah is an affront to apathy and cowardice and an appeal to steadfastness and courage in a day when Christians are repelled as we view the moral and spiritual landscape about us. To be repelled is not enough, though. We have to repeal…. I mean, we have to do everything within our power to restore, one precious soul at a time, respect for the Word of God and sanctification for His purposes in whatever arenas of influence we have.

I challenge you to ingest Nehemiah in the remaining days of this month. Join us on the podcast (http://livestream.com/whcoc/for-women) next Tuesday night for some ideas about what we can personally do in a day when Christians are mocked, persecuted and are, more and more, finding themselves targets of litigation for the defense of religious freedoms and/or beliefs.

Appreciation goes to Polishing the Pulpit (http://polishingthepulpit.com) as I recommend today, for your listening, this lesson which finds its basis in the great book of Nehemiah. Specifically, thanks to Allen Webster and Grat Tucker for help in sharing this lesson and to my friend, Tennessee State Representative Sheila Butt, for her study and presentation.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/2siobcrh8ehv1px/075%20Butt%2C%20Sheila%20-%20Finding%20Peace%20in%20Anxious%20Times-auphonic.mp3?dl=0