“And when it was day, the magistrates sent the sergeants, saying ‘Let those men go.’ And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, ‘The magistrates have sent to let you go; now, therefore, depart, and go in peace.’ But Paul said unto them, ‘They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison—and now do they trust us out privily? Nay, verily, but let them come themselves and fetch us out’.”
May we never forget “The wicked flee when no man pursues; but, the righteous are as bold as a lion” (Prov. 28:1).
What an amazing change we notice in Jesus’ followers after the Spirit came upon them in power at Pentecost! Instead of running for the hills like they did in the Garden when the soldiers arrested Jesus (Mk. 14:45-50), they now boldly and unashamedly proclaimed the Gospel, not fearing what might happen to them.
Again, what was the difference?
The Holy Spirit’s Presence and Anointing in their lives.
No longer were they operating in their fickle flesh; neither were they dependent upon their feeble, fleeting faith. Instead, they were empowered by the Holy Spirit to boldly proclaim the wondrous truths of Jesus’ Life, Death and Resurrection as they called others to repentance (Acts 2:14-40).
And, dear Pilgrim, the same can be true with us if we, like them, are surrendered to the Holy Spirit and say “Have Thine own way, Lord. Have Thine own way. Thou are the Potter; I am the clay. Mold me and make me after Thy Will. While I am waiting, yielded and still.”
What was it that enabled Noah to build the ark and preach for 120 years without a single convert? What was it that helped Joseph to remain loyal to the God of Abraham after having been sold into slavery by his brothers (Gen. 37:1-36), falsely accused of attempted rape by Potiphar’s wife (Gen. 39:1-23) and “forgotten a full two years” by the chief butler after he’d promised to put in a good word for him to Pharaoh (Gen. 39:12-41:1)?
It was his assurance that “the Lord was with him and made all that he did to prosper” (Gen. 39:2-3, 5, 21-23).
Oh, dear Pilgrim, the Way of the Cross is the Way of Suffering. Christ has not called us to some primrose path where everything’s coming up roses. A thousand times no! He’s called us to “deny ourselves, die to ourselves and dedicate ourselves to Him” (Lk. 9:23-26).
That’s why we shouldn’t “think it strange (Grk. ‘xenizo’—‘to be a host to, entertain, etc.’) when a fiery trial (Grk. ‘purosis’—‘ignition, smelting, testing, be inflamed by, etc.’) tries us, as though some strange thing had happened to us” (I Pet. 4:12). Instead, we should “rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, that, when His Glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy” (v.13).
And, this will require spiritual tenacity—a remembrance of Who God is and what He has promised (Heb. 11:6) and a rejoicing in the assurance of His Presence and Power in your life (Ps. 46:10; Heb. 13:5b; Rom. 8:28; Phil. 4:13). So, be strong, Pilgrim—and press on.
August 15, 2011