2 Corinthians 11:24-27 (KJB) Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
A devotion concerning trials and troubles in the new spiritual life of the Apostle Paul
The Apostle Paul elaborates in these verses intimate details about many dark dangers and perils he faced in his journey of faith and witnessing for God. It is important that you keep in mind in these situations, Paul is sharing with us, are his adventures after his heart was quickened alive heart and he was walking with Christ. These distressing events took place after God’s work of salvation of his soul.
Paul walked around the block a few times as he sojourned in this world.
Sometimes it is hard for a person to understand that facing darkness, demise, and dangers in his lost state, and to comprehend that these things will certainly also be a part of a new identity in Christ. Inside a personal relationship with God darkness of the devil will take on a new element of threat, harassment, and intimidation with the presence of Christ at work in his heart. A personal relationship with God does not protect a man from facing his real spiritual enemy, rather it invites God to operate in divine control at the helm of his life.
It is true, most people think that choosing to walk with Christ is more like taking a vacation, or a pampered and pleasant walk leisurely through this dark world, rather than taking several trips around a dark block. While joy and pleasure can and will be a big part of walking with Christ, no Christian is ever isolated from experiencing unfriendly events, dark alleys, and adverse circumstances from happening in his or her life.
Often, in fact, quite the opposite is true. Knowing Christ will open a life to be subject to continual opportunities for the harassment and chiding of the devil (John16:33) because of a spiritual association in agreement with Christ.
In fact, one look at the life of Job can place expected suffering and adversity into a proper spiritual perspective.
The first thing a new professing Christian will learn is that danger and risks will certainly be a continual part of his life. A godly life is not always filled with relaxation, fun, and games. Nor will his life be comprised of attempting to cover oneself from unforeseen liability or dangers he person may encounter in this life.
There is no insurance coverage available to purchase in this world to protect oneself from harm caused by the devil.
In fact, the truth is that a life of living and witnessing for Christ it is often lived by the “skin of our teeth.”
A desperate man will try to use a logical mindset with an icing of delicate faith balanced quite precariously in his finite mind. He preplans and places events according to his understanding of accepted standards and ideas born of this world. However, for a saved man of God, the essence of danger and the unknown is where the supernatural nature and power of God and the exercise of his faith can and will come into play.
Perceived danger and unknowns make room for the supernatural work of God and will placate fear with the working of sincere faith in the power and presence of God. It is also true that if a saved man tries to close himself off from facing harm and troubles he also places barriers to the will and way of God to work.
The Bible tells us that Paul, prior to his salvation, lived a privileged Jewish life, even sitting under the teaching of Gamaliel. However, instruction of the law was all of man, having nothing to do with things of God. Having advantages in this life, knowing logical information, and learning laws certainly expanded his earthly viewpoint and exercised his finite mind, but it did nothing to change his natural heart condition toward God. It did not work for Paul and it will not work for us!
Acts 22:3 (KJB) I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.
The truth is just because a person chooses to learn and accumulate knowledge, of this world or about things of God, does not mean that he has any saving knowledge of God. The Bible, specifically in the book of Proverbs, tells us there is a difference between worldly wisdom as ascertained in schools and universities, and a working mind and heart knowledge of God. Much logic, understanding, heritage, or pedigree a man proudly wears as a badge today often has roots in this world and is far removed from instruction and information rooted in things of God.
This point proves why a man can stuff himself with much book knowledge and even a coveted college degree, but never understand a spiritual thing about God.
Secondly, Paul’s life can both prove God can and will save anyone. A man who comes to God as a perfectly molded vessel is not ready or willing to do the work of God. Trying to pretend to be a Christian or practicing godliness without the presence and power of God leads to nowhere other than in making a false and powerless profession of faith.
Paul also understood that the practice of isolating oneself or others from experiencing necessary spiritual events in his or her life is like attempting close off the power and presence of God. It is necessary for humbling events to take place in a person’s life before he or she is willing to recognize and agree with the nature of God.
Acts 20:18-20 (KJB) And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, 19 Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: 20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house.
Paul is speaking to men in the church who were very familiar with him from an early age prior to his spiritual conversion. God places other people amongst us we have been long time acquainted with perhaps for an opportunity to share the same gospel that has changed our own life. Paul willingly and openly placed his personal witness “on the bottom shelf” for a better understanding among these men. Paul adds his own own human frailty and eyewitness accounts about unexpected and harrowing events that took place in his life.
Paul never balked at sharing his heart with a great godly boldness in perhaps bringing others near to him to personally know Christ. He openly shared tears and trials with them so that God could use him to sow seeds.
Philippians 4:11-13 (KJB) Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
I too have been around the block, facing danger, demise, and darkness a time or two.
My husband and I were confronted with the possibility of threat and harm while vacationing in a major city, we found ourselves right smack in the middle of gang territory, not just once but on two separate occasions. The first circumstance put me face to face with a young man who was attempting to hide in a blind spot as we stepped out of our rental car. Seeing him beforehand, my husband and I prayed together and found an abundance of inner strength and determination.
Just as David did, when he faced off with a giant or met the lion.
Walking right towards this young man, was not possible in our own power, but was made possible according to the power and presence of God at work in us. This young man sensed that we were not intimidated by his position or presence and he backed off heading towards others who were waiting for him. Together they followed us into a mall but left us and our car alone.
The second experience began as we were surrounded by a group of mostly Mexican speaking gang members, being the only white people present. We had our hearts set on re-visiting this area which was frequented by other tourists the last time we visited, but it was clear this beautiful spot on top of a mountain, had now become a haven for illicit gatherings and gang activity. We were friendly with obligatory chatter, tried to be unobtrusive, never looking them straight in the eye, not challenging them in any way, and quickly went about the business of taking a few obligatory scenic pictures. Then, with knees shaking, we headed back to our car. We drove to a safer area before we could breathe properly again. We spiraled down and away from this danger on the mountain and into the safety of the valley as this potential danger was supernaturally avoided, because of the presence of God that evening.
These experiences sucked any thought of relying upon our own limited and failing strength and stamina replacing it with the certainty of the supernatural power and presence of God at work in my life. Just like many calamities threatened to overtake Paul, the sea could not stop Moses and the Israelites from escaping the enemy closing in behind him, a wall could not keep Joshua from invading the city, the loss of his personal possessions and his family could not stop Job from praising and praying with a trusting heart to God.
Leading us to the most important example of faith and safety found in a personal relationship with God was the willingness of His Only Son Jesus Christ who faced a cruel and harrowing death but could not stop Him from following the will of His Father.
Paul’s hardships brought opportunities.
You too can stand spiritually tall when facing giants when living a sold-out Galatians 2:20 life with God in ultimate control.
A man or woman of God has a new determination, mindset, and state of heart. He or she can be filled with a purpose, patience, and steadfast trust by leaning upon the supernatural power and presence of God rather than being fixed on the state of their circumstances, natural limitations, and physical weakness. Set your heart and mind upon the unfailing and unfaltering character found in personally identifying with God and nothing will hamper your perpetual pathway, even as you sojourn in this world.