Our Daily Devotional book, 'Streams in the Desert', had a good article on Dec. 19th.
The Scripture was Luke 21:13:
"It shall turn to you for a testimony.
Life is a steep climb and it does the heart good to have somebody 'call back'.....
and cheerily beckon us on up the high hill.
We're all climbers together and we must help one another.
If anyone among us has found anything or anyone worthwhile, we ought to 'call back'."
(Especially in the Spiritual realm that has Eternal values)
I first thought about this subject when Dr. Richard Hopper preached at a Senior Citizens' Conference years ago. Since then, both he and his wife have gone on to Heaven.
His message was 'What Paul Did While Waiting'.
He emphasized that even in prison, Paul made the most of a 'waiting ministry'.
The 4 Prison Epistles continue with other of Paul's writings to 'call us back' to fruitful ministries as long as God gives us life. This is what La Moyne and I hope to do.
I've received so much help from the Paul's Prison Epistles:
Paul 'calls back to us' words of Victory even in the midst of his extreme persecution...
and ultimate death.
1) PAUL WAS AN ENCOURAGER:
Even though he was in prison, he continued to communicate and encourage through what we call "The Prison Epistles".
In GALATIANS, Paul emphasizes:
'Justification by faith' and warns us not to revert to the old way prior to salvation.
The key verse is 5:1: "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherein Christ has made us free and do not be entangled with the yoke of bondage. I long to see you that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith, both of you and me."
Someone has well said, "A spark of encouragement can rekindle warmth in the heart. The power in words can build up or tear down, create a big smile or produce a sad frown. So in all of your contacts with people each day, be sure to encourage in all that you say".
In EPHESIANS, Paul's main emphases is the unity of the church.
He uses the words 'together' and 'one' to underline this theme.
Most important in this is the Plan of Salvation in Chapter 2:8-10:
"For by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast, for we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works."
2) PAUL WAS A RECONCILER:
John Mark had left Paul on the first missionary journey...
but Paul was not only an Encourager, but a Reconciler.
II Timothy 2:4-11 tells us that Paul carried no grudge and following Christ's example, forgave John Mark and he became profitable in the ministry.
Sometimes individuals in churches are like 'squeaky wagons' who only need the grease of God's Grace/Spirit.
It can make you better and not bitter....a reconciler and an encourager.
In PHILIPPIANS, Paul (still in prison) wrote to his favorite church in Philippi.
In a time of deep need, that church took up an offering to help Paul with his missionary journey.
So now he emphasizes that they 'make the main thing the main thing' in the church.
That is, 'Faith in Jesus as the Person and Source of Spiritual Fruits and Holy Spirit Power'.
In COLOSSIANS, Paul wrote to the church at Colosse (a city in Asia Minor).
He emphasizes 4 themes:
Jesus is the HEART of Christianity (Colossians 1:14-15)
Jesus is the HEAD of the Church (Col. 1:18)
Jesus is the HUB of the Christian Life (1:17)
Jesus is the HOPE of the Cosmos/Universe (1:26)
'Streams' ends with a poem about 'Call Back' whose author is unknown, but hopefully what is written will minister to you and become a part of your 'Call Back Experiences'.
"If you have gone a little way ahead of me, 'Call back'~
'Twill cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track;
And if, perchance, Faith's light is dim, because the oil is low,
Your call will guide my lagging course as wearily I go.
Call back and tell me that He went with you into the storm;
Call back and say He kept you when the forest's roots were torn,
That when the Heavens thunder and the earthquake shook the hill,
He bore you up and held you where the very air was still.
Oh friend, call back..and tell me for I cannot see your face.
They say it glows with triumph and your feet bound in the race.
But there are mists between us and my spirit eyes are dim,
And I cannot see the glory, though I long for word of Him.
But if you'll say He heard you when your prayer was but a cry,
And if you'll say He saw you through the night's sin-darkened sky...
If you have gone a little way ahead, oh friend, call back.
'Twill cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track."
The Bible uses the word 'Come' over 1,900 times.
My favorite of those Scriptures is Matthew 11:28-30:
"Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart...
and you shall find rest unto your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light".
Paul was a 'Comer to God'
Paul was a 'Be-Comer like Christ'
Paul was an 'Over-Comer' with the Holy Spirit.