Where are you today, as you “walk the walk” and “talk the talk” and act accordingly…living the life of one who has given themselves to The Lord?
Where are your thoughts while you take heed to the Holy Ghost…following His guidance….playing out the role decided for you by The Lord….which was determined before the world was even created?
Do you feel physically alone as you study the scriptures….doing the bidding of God as you observe your friends, family, “church” affiliates dropping like flies in their haste to get away from you? (Often with hateful words accompanying their departure from your life…)
Are you living in an area where there is not one Christian with whom you can meet face to face…maybe understanding how Elijah felt when sitting in his cave, fearing that he was the only one left on earth who trusted in God? **1Kings 19**
Consider our Apostle, Paul. Think about his life after the fateful moment on the road to Damascus, when he ….saw The Light. Up close and personal.
He was known as Saul, and was a masterful, zealous, driven prosecutor of the Christians, as well as a hater of Christ Jesus. He was well supported by the Sanhedrin, well funded in his activities, well thought of for his mental capabilities because his education was received at the feet of the best Rabbi known at that time…he was honored for his dedication to his goal of wiping out the Christians and caused many to perish in that he testified against them. He held the coats of those who stoned Phillip to death. He was a man who was moving ahead in the world of Jewish Orthodoxy…a mover and a shaker. A driven man.
Then, he met the living Savior whom he had been persecuting with such a passion. Who asked him point blank just “why” was he doing this? Saul responded by finally recognizing Him and calling him “my Lord”….his life as he knew it was gone. His name as he knew it was gone.
He was now Paul. His powerful friends as he knew them…were gone, and were now his avowed enemies, once he began preaching the gospel to anyone who would listen.
They tried to kill him. They no longer trusted him. The Christian flock did not trust him….after all, he had been their sworn enemy. The Christian leaders did not know him, for he did not go to them in order to learn about his new Master. He instead, went off into the desert wilderness for three years where he was personally taught by The Lord Himself. Not only learning…but “un-learning” what he thought he knew about the bible. (Am wondering if his tale of visiting the third heaven **2 Corinthians 12** doesn’t describe that time, or part of that three year period….when he absorbed the truth…studying The Word….with The Word, who is Jesus Christ.) **John 1:1**
Paul was set apart. He was anointed. He had been selected for his “job” before the foundation of the earth. He received the gospel message after he left Judaism. Of all the Apostles, his title was given him AFTER Jesus’ death and resurrection. Where there were 12 original Apostles reaching out to the Jews…working together and comparing notes, so to speak….Paul was alone as he reached out to the heathen. To us. To those who were far away from God, and to whom God was reaching out through Paul. (We did not find Him…He found us.)
Consider his afflictions. Having to watch over his shoulder in order to avoid the latest attempt on his life. (Often orchestrated by his fellow Jews, who followed him everywhere in order to stir up the people and have them turn on him.)
“Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 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; 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; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Besides those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?” **2 Corinthians 11**
He was stoned and carried out of the city, considered dead. He was flayed and beaten often. He was without food; without water, without rest. He was in “the deep” for a night and a day. His “flesh had no rest” being troubled on all sides …”without were fightings, within were fears.” **2 Corinthians 7:5**
This man Paul was alone when he was appointed as our Apostle. Our guide in this age. The man who wrote a Spirit -breathed manual for us in his Epistles…often in prison, shackled to a guard….yet never giving up no matter how isolated and separated from any other believer he was. (How many of those guards also become part of the Church as they spent their days, chained to the Apostle…hearing his every word. Four different men each day…)
He teaches us that The Lord is always with us. To never let our hope slip away. To study and be wise with God’s wisdom as we learn and grow and fit into the place in which we are destined to function along with every single other member of the August Body…whose Head is the Living Son of God; our Saviour…Christ Jesus.
Just as was Paul….we too, are neither here nor there. Strangers in a strange land; already positioned spiritually in our home above. Bound to earth by our mortal bodies. Supernaturally surviving in an alien and often hostile place.
Consider Paul. His circumstances, endured with thanksgiving and joy as he so zealously carried out God’s plan for his life. We are commanded to follow Paul’s example, even as he himself followed Christ. It is not merely a suggestion, for we will be judged at the Bema seat by how well we followed our command. How well we read our manual, as set down in Paul’s inspired Epistles. God’s words by way of the Holy Spirit, through Paul’s pen.
Know that you…that we….are never alone. Every face surrounding us may be against us, but The Lord is with us. Of whom should we be afraid? We must exhort each other. Provide support for each other. Our fellows in Christ might never be seen by us until the day we are called up. They may be miles away from us. Reached by email and prayers and invisible to us, yet joined together because we have the same calling. From the same Father.
Keep the faith. Keep the inner joy and love for one another. Keep studying and growing as you become more like our Savior every day. Never alone…already a part of the real church. “The Church, the Body of Christ.” The one that isn’t visible. The one mandated before the world was created. The one that you and I were singled out to be part of in HIM. (Through no merit of our own.)
Stand firm. Rest in His strength and the hope of His soon arrival for us in the clouds. Our armor is defensive armor. To protect us as we battle the spiritual fight…standing in place. Holding fast. No retreating. The Word….is our strength and our singular offense when the adversary strikes. Our…weapon of choice. Sharpened by the Holy Spirit. Honed by The Lord Himself, who is waiting for the “all clear” from His Father…the moment when He steps into the clouds and claims His own.
(When the hope of our salvation is realized…I wonder if we will hear our names called out, or if we will hear just…”Come up here!”)
Either way, am waiting, eager and ready for the big fly-up. Hope that you are too; I think we will know each other, just as we will know Him…for we will see Him as He is.
“Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evildoer, even unto bonds; but the Word of God is not bound. Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sake ; that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” **2 Timothy 9, 10**