For I Am With You

Monday, June 17, 2013, 7:30 a.m. – the Lord Jesus woke me with the song “In Faithfulness He Leads Me” playing in my mind. Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. Yesterday I read Acts 18:1-17. I felt the Lord leading me back to that passage today.

Keep on Speaking

After Paul left Athens, he went to Corinth. There he met Aquila and his wife Priscilla. They were fellow tentmakers, so Paul stayed and worked with them. “Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.” Yet, when Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia and joined him, Paul was then able to devote himself exclusively to preaching, “testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah.”

Yet, not all was rosy. The Jews in Corinth strongly opposed Paul, and they became abusive, so he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” So, he “left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus,” a Gentile, and a worshiper of God.” And, then the passage reads that “Crispus, the synagogue leader, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul believed and were baptized.” Amen!

Acts 18:9-11 (NIV): One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.

These are such encouraging words! Yet we can’t all claim the last part of this encouragement to Paul, i.e. the Lord’s promise that Paul would not be attacked and that no harm would come to him, for it was for him specifically, and it was temporary, i.e. for a specific period of time in Paul’s ministry. Yet, these words – Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent – should encourage us all, for truly our Lord is with us, and he will lead and guide us every step of the way. He will comfort and encourage us, and he will protect us from giving in to the evil one, and from discouragement and defeat if we will allow him. He knows everything that is happening to us even before it happens. He has a plan and a purpose for it, and he will bring us through it if we will but put our trust in him.

Scene Change

That specific time of protection from attacks and harm had now passed, apparently, because during the time that Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, “the Jews of Corinth made a united attack on Paul and brought him to the place of judgment. ‘This man,’ they charged, ‘is persuading the people to worship God in ways contrary to the law.’” Yet, Gallio dismissed Paul’s accusers, stating that their issue with Paul was a matter of their Jewish law, so they should settle the matter for themselves.

As we read through the book of Acts, we realize that there were many times when the message of the gospel was received with joy, and numerous people believed and were saved. Yet, we also know that Paul faced many obstacles, persecutions, troubles, hardships, beatings, etc. for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and because of his testimony for his Lord. Yet, he still was not to be afraid, he was to keep on speaking and not be silent, for whether in good times or bad, the Lord was still with him giving comfort, direction, counsel, encouragement, strength, hope and healing, etc. And, that is a promise we can all count on!

But This Happened

2 Co. 1:8-11 (NIV): We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

There is always a purpose for our suffering, though. God does not just arbitrarily decide to pour out persecution and suffering upon us for no reason at all. Sometimes, when things are going well in our lives, it is easy to become self-reliant, complacent or even to drift away from our pure devotion to our Lord Jesus. When we go through times of difficulty, we realize more our need for our Lord, we depend on him more, if we respond correctly to suffering, and we are less likely to feel as though we can run our own lives or that we can just live how we want and it doesn’t matter. Suffering also has the potential to humble us, to make us more Christ-like, to make us more sensitive to the needs and hurts of others, and to make us more God and others conscious, and less self-conscious or self-absorbed.

Ph. 1:12-14 (NIV): Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.

When we go through times of great hardship, persecution, opposition, trouble, and/or affliction, if we respond correctly to these times, and we do rely on God and not ourselves, and we grow in our faith and our determination to follow our Lord in obedience, and to share with the others the gospel of Jesus Christ, persecution can actually serve to advance the gospel as it did in the times of the early church and throughout history all over the globe. When all is well and the church is not suffering any kind of persecution, there is a great danger of complacency setting in and the church becoming lukewarm. I believe that is where the church, for the most part, is presently in these United States of America.

More than Conquerors!

Ro. 8:31-39 (NIV): What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

These, too, are such awesome words of encouragement which we, who have chosen to follow our Lord Jesus Christ in obedience, can all claim. There is not anyone or anything or any circumstance, trouble, hardship or persecution that our Lord can’t handle, that he did not allow in our lives for a purpose, and for which he will not give us the strength and wisdom to go through it, to grow from it, and to become more Christ-like because of it. No matter what we are going through, his love will always be there for those who love him, and who have made him Lord of their lives (see all of Ro. 8).

In Faithfulness He Leads Me / An Original Work / March 20, 2013

Based off Various Scriptures
(Ps. 26:3; 86:11; 91:4-5; 111:7-8; 119:73-76;
Is. 25:1,4&9; 42:6-7; Hos. 2:16-20)

Teach me Your ways, Lord, and I’ll walk in them.
Give me a pure heart. I’ll fear Your name.
Your love is always, ever before me.
Continually I’ll walk in Your truth.
You will cover me with feathers.
Under Your wings I’ll find refuge.
My Lord’s faithfulness will be my
Comfort and my shield.
The works of His hands are faithful and just.
Trustworthy are all of His precepts.

Your hands have made me, and they have formed me.
Give understanding of Your commands.
I have put my hope, O Lord, in Your word.
Your teachings, O Lord, are righteousness.
Lord, in faithfulness You have
Afflicted me so I may learn of
Your unfailing love and comfort
And Your truthfulness.
You are my husband; You have betrothed me
In love, compassion and faithfulness.

O Lord, You are my God, I’ll exalt You.
In faithfulness You’ve done wondrous things.
You’ve been a refuge for those who’re needy;
A shelter in storms; shade from the heat.
This is the Lord, we trusted in Him,
Let us be glad and rejoice
In His salvation which He
Provided through the Lamb.
Open the blind eyes; free all the captives.
Tell them of Jesus: “Be born again!”