Thursday, March 21, 2013

Gets Knocked Down, But I Get Up ...AGAIN

I get knocked down, but I get up again…I have no clue how the rest of that song goes, but just those eight words should be Paul’s theme song. When I think of Paul, I hear Rocky’s theme song playing. That man got knocked down more times than I can count. He was open for discussion and debate, but when the scholars couldn’t win they resorted to riots, schemes and even stoned Paul. They chased him from town to town. They trumped up charges. Struggle after struggle after struggle, and yet he survived. He was shipwrecked and bitten by a viper, and survived. He endured prison for years without a trial. How much can one person take? How much does God expect one person to take? Have you ever asked that question of God – How much more do you expect me to take? Been there. Said that. Sometimes I think God has a higher opinion of me than he ought, know what I mean?

And not only that but there’s this prophet who doesn’t exactly have encouraging news for Paul. Ever feel like you are just waiting for the other shoe or sandal or flip flop to drop?

I have.

So, I looked at Paul, and his perspective.

1. Paul was no drama queen or king. When he gave his testimony, he gave it factually. He didn’t give a blow by blow about how badly he had been treated in every town that ran him out. He didn’t call the names of those who had done him wrong. When he testified, it was about what God had done since the creation, when he testified; it was about how God had changed his life on the road to Damascus.

2. He let things go. He dusted himself off. Shook off his sandals and walked on. He did not hold onto the bad things that had happened. He didn’t see the bad things as having happened to him even though he most definitely lived through them. He saw the people rejecting God. He didn’t take it personally. He invested in the believers and cried over them and prayed over them, but for those who didn’t believe, he didn’t allow the dirt they threw to stick. He let it go for God to handle.

3. He was always looking for the opportunity to share the Word of God. So often we get distracted by our surroundings and hardship that we take our focus off of God. Been there. Done that too. He looked for opportunities to teach, to speak, to preach, to minister, and as a result, he couldn’t keep score of how many times he got knocked down.

4. He got back up. You don’t fail because you get knocked down. You fail because you don’t get back up. Paul knew what was coming. The Holy Spirit had warned him. A prophet had warned him, and yet he didn’t stop. He kept going…just like that little pink bunny in the commercial.

5. He realizes who the enemy really is and maintains his witness to those who are responsible for his care. Sometimes people have to do as instructed – like letting someone go because of cut backs. For Paul, he knew the centurion that was on the ship with him wasn’t a bad guy. He treated people with respect. What better way to have doors open for you? You treat someone with respect who is expecting so much less and when they receive so much more, they open the door for you. Because of the way Paul treated the centurion, the centurion made sure he was safe and gave him liberties.

6. Paul stayed focused. God told him he was going to be going to Rome to speak to the Gentiles. Paul knew that he wasn’t going to die in the storm…he hadn’t made it to Rome yet. He took God at his word and believed God would stay true to his word, and God did.

I could go on, but if you are in a struggle, remember stay focused on God, what he’s leading you to and through. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. And one more thing about Paul, he made friends everywhere he went. When he was in need, his relied on his friends to provide, to take messages, and to encourage him. It is okay to rely on your Christian brothers and sisters. It’s Scriptural.

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