And You Think You had a Bad Day?
Apostle Paul was a man who went from persecuting Christians relentlessly to himself being persecuted "relentlessly."
Paul was born “Saul” in Tarsus to parents who held Roman Citizenship. He received his training from the well respected Rabbi Gameliel, and was a strict Pharisee.
He was present at the stoning of Stephen, Acts 7:58. (Actually, he watched over their coats for them as Stephen was stoned to death.)
Acts 9:1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples.
He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.
His conversion was on the Damascus Road.
God struck him blind and knocked him off his horse.
That got his attention!
He immediately suspected who did it.
Terrified, he called him, “ Lord,”
People who are persecuting others know intuitively that they are wrong, but continue anyway.
What a terrible person! Persecutor, liar, murderer-So Jesus calls him into the ministry!
Jesus talked to Paul about his actions against His people. In verse 9:5 of Acts He explained that it was hard for him to “kick against the pricks.”
What on earth does that mean? This was a stick or goad sharpened on one end used to stick an Ox to make him work harder.
Sometimes the Xx kicked at the stick, but when this happened he was pricked or stuck even harder! (There were no animal protection leagues in those days.)
Paul with his traditions, was kicking against God but there was no way he was going to win. The new covenant was here bought and paid for by Jesus’ blood.
So Paul is taken blind into the city after his conversion. Annais is chosen to pray for him but is doubtful, for he knew Paul’s reputation.
The Lord tells Annais that "Paul is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel and to suffer greatly for my name", Acts 9:15,16.
People who have been called to share the gospel have a million stories of how God knocked them off their horses too, so to speak.
Some are funny. Some are hilarious and some are poignant. But however he knocks you off, you usually hit the ground running and preaching.
Some ministers wouldn't dare tell how Jesus knocked them off their high horse. Its too painful to remember.
Here are some ways that Apostle Paul, the former persecutor, was persecuted himself in order to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 11:24-28
He received thirty nine lashes on his back for the sake of the gospel.
He was beaten with rods three times for the sake of the gospel.
He was stoned one time for the sake of the gospel (He was not HIGH on rocks. He was HIT with rocks! This usually was done in the old days by a group!)
He was shipwrecked three times in travels for the sake of the gospel.
He was thrown in the belly of a ship for a day and a night, (the deep), for the sake of the gospel.
He had many dangerous trips, (among highwaymen and robbers), for the sake of the gospel.
He had to travel through dangerous rivers for the sake of the gospel.
He was often in danger from his own people for the sake of the gospel.
He was in danger from Gentiles for the sake of the gospel.
He was in dangers in the city for the sake of the gospel.
He was in dangers in the wilderness for the sake of the gospel.
He was in danger from false Christians for the sake of the gospel.
He suffered toil and hardship for the sake of the gospel.
He spent sleepless nights for the sake of the gospel.
He was hungry and thirsty for the sake of the gospel.
He was in fastings often for the sake of the gospel.
He was in cold and nakedness for the sake of the gospel.
In addition to all of the above, as an Apostle, he had the worry of all of the churches daily on him for the sake of the gospel!
What persecution he faced!
I rejoice today when I think of those who went before us and paved the so way that we can sit in comfort at our computers and just write for God's glory! Aren’t we blessed?
Rejoice! Be thankful! Jesus paid it all!
Reference Acts Chapter 1, 7 and 9
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