Uncompromised And Courageous
The regrets come over things we have done because of the pressures of people, isn’t it true?
Alright, thank you very much, and hello friends, how are you? I’m so glad for the chance to greet you day by day by way of radio. It does my own heart good to realize that there are some friends, maybe some thousands of friends who are listening and fellowshipping with me around the Word of God. Look with me therefore at the 14th chapter of the Book of Acts. Paul and Barnabas have seen this tremendous miracle performed and the people of Lystra are so struck with the thrill of seeing this man heal that they were gonna worship Paul and Barnabas, they called Barnabas Jupiter and Paul Mercury. I read in one book recently as I was studying about all of this, that there was a legend in that particular region that Jupiter and Mercury wandered about seeking shelter and being rebuffed until they were finally received by some poor person whom they rewarded generously as a result, and this legend was in the back of the minds of people so that it took only a little suggestion by somebody to say, “Oh, these are the gods come down to men, let us welcome them.” Well, Paul and Barnabas said, “We’re just human beings, don’t worship us, we’re bringing you the good news about the living God, turn from these vanities, unto the living God.”
And now, what characterizes the living God? Verse 15, He’s the creator, the living God “which made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein.” Second, he is the patient God, “who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.” Third, he is the faithful God, “he left not himself without witness, in that he did good and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons filling our hearts with food and gladness.” He’s the God of creation, he’s the God of patience, he’s the God of providence.
Now, later on, Paul is talking to other audiences and we have him reported as mentioning, “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world, for God hath ordained a man by whom he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained whereof he hath given witness unto all men, in that he has raised him from the dead,” and so on. And God commands all men everywhere to repent, and–soon! The times of this ignorance God winked at or overlooked but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent because of the Lord Jesus, so that if you piece together the way Paul preached, what did he say? He’s starting with the living God, the God of creation, the God of patience, the God of providence, the God of redemption and the God of regeneration through repentance and faith. Over in chapter 20, he says, “I preached unto you repentance and faith through the Lord Jesus Christ.” Repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, this is the essence of the message that Paul and Barnabas gave everywhere they went, and they’d already given it here to some people because it says they preached the gospel there. So that some people knew the gospel, and others are… We’re going to hear it in different ways, okay? So here’s your layout, you’re talking about the living God, the God of creation, the God of patience, and love, the God of providence, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God of the new birth, and the God of coming judgment. All of these things, you see? Okay. Now, even with all of this, it says, “There came thither certain from Antioch and Iconium who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul.” Now, isn’t this something? Verse 18, “They scarce restrained the people that they had not done sacrifice unto them.” The very next verse, “Having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city supposing that he’d been dead.” How fickle human nature is, never depend upon popularity, and never evaluate your life and your ministry by the plaudits of people. Believe me, there are gonna be some folk on the front row in glory who didn’t have very much publicity here on earth.
You know that to be true, don’t you? There are some dear missionaries who are gonna be on the front row in the glory. You never heard of them, very few people heard of them, but God who keeps the books knows about them, and He knows they were faithful, He knows how hard they worked, and how they prayed, and how they wept, and how they believed God, and how they plowed their whole life into going for souls and God knows about them, and God is gonna reward them. Oh, yes. People are fickle, and popularity is fleeting, don’t ever make your decisions on the basis of popularity or the lack of it. Always ask rather, rather than asking what will make me popular, ask what is the right thing to do. What is the will of God? What will I wish I had done when I stand before almighty God?
I think it was from EE Shellhammer, they used to call him the pile driver, do any of you old time holiness people remember him, EE Shellhammer? A great old-time fire and brimstone revivalist and holiness preacher. But he used to say, as I recall, reading, “Live now as you will wish you had lived when you meet the Lord face-to-face.” Of course, there’s gonna be a lot of regrets at that point for some who are living for the present only, but if you’ll think about eternity. Paul says, “We look not at the things which are seen, but the things which are not seen, for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” Get your eyes on eternity, live now as you will wish you had lived when you meet the Lord face-to-face. Don’t depend upon popularity, because in one verse here, it went from people sacrificing to them or attempting to do so, to people stoning them, and taking or trying to take their life from them. Having stoned Paul drew him out of the city supposing he’d been dead. Interestingly enough, they stoned Paul, not Barnabas. There are some that I’m speaking to that have a little ambition. You’d like to be somebody. Just remember, the more you’re known as a speaker, the more stones get thrown at you.
That’s right. If you want leadership, be willing to be stoned, either figuratively or literally. And I don’t mean by stoned, I don’t mean, dead drunk. Let’s leave the slang out of it. Now, I mean if you want real leadership, you have to be willing for people to take what we call pot shots at you. Isn’t it true? Why? Because you’re more visible and because you represent the Lord Jesus Christ and therefore you represent what many people are against. So Paul got stoned. Why? Because he was the chief speaker, see. Now, if you’re in leadership expect people to take shots at you. And don’t feel sorry for yourself when this happens, because my tendency is to say, “Oh, well, why did they do this to me when I’m such a nice guy?” That’s purely a human nature reaction. But don’t be surprised when people oppose you for Jesus’ sake. Now, if you’re a disaster going somewhere to happen anyway, sort of a human accident on the way, well, then don’t blame God for that.
If you’re like a bulldozer in a chinaware factory, well then, don’t blame God for that, work at being a nicer person. That’s what you have to do. But if you have worked at being a nicer person, and with all, because you’re standing up for the Lord Jesus Christ, you get opposition and you get persecution and you get stones thrown at you, then don’t feel sorry for yourself, just say, “Dear Lord, this is what I was looking for, help me now,” and trust Him to see you through because, well, popularity doesn’t last. Don’t make your decisions on the basis of what people think, make your decisions on the basis of what does Jesus say. And you’ll have no regrets. The regrets come over things we have done, because of the pressures of people. Isn’t it true? You give in to the pressures of people around about you in a vain effort to be popular and you’re like poor old Chamberlain coming home, folding his umbrella and saying, “We’ve purchased peace in our time.” What he had just done was to sell out and make sure that World War II was going to come. And so friend, you don’t get anywhere by appeasement tactics, you don’t get anywhere by selling out, you don’t even buy the respect of your opponents, they have a contempt for you, if you sell out under pressure, sure they do.
So, be true to the Lord Jesus, will you? Stand true to the Lord Jesus and don’t sell out, don’t cave in and don’t crumple under the pressures of opposition. Expect if you’re vocal for the Lord Jesus, expect some opposition. When it comes, just look up and say, “Dear Lord, see me through. This is what I was waiting for.” And He will. Well, as I said in verse 18, people were trying to sacrifice to them in verse 19 of Acts 14. They were stoning them, and they dragged Paul out of the city, supposing he’d been dead. Now, I have never been dragged very far, have you? I have never been dragged very far. Oh, in college days, when we were rough housing, somebody would take hold of you by a foot and drag you for a certain short length of space but not very far. This man Paul was stoned. And what that means to be stoned I can’t imagine, I had some bricks thrown at us in Calcutta, I remember, one of them hit Hubert Mitchell’s accordion and put a man-size dent in it, I remember that. I didn’t get hit with anything except maybe a vegetable or two.
You can stand that. In Chicago in the old days, we got hit with eggs and I don’t know what all when we went out on street meetings. I remember one poor guy came back after having a particularly disastrous street meeting, he’d been egged and he just stood in the shower with his suit on. [laughter] There he was, poor, bedraggled, egg-covered, you know. They had really rotten egged him for his testimony for the Lord Jesus, and there he stood in the shower with his suit and everything on, just letting the eggs wash off. [chuckle] Poor guy.
But you know, I’ve never been hurt by being hit with a stone, but to have people stone you until you lose consciousness, now that is something. Can you imagine what that’s like? And then to drag him out of the city, this isn’t a tea party, this is murder. And they thought he was dead, so they just dumped him on the garbage heap and walked off. But as the disciples stood around him, he rose up and came into the city. Can you imagine that? Some people think that this is where the vision that he writes about in Corinthians, about being in or out of the body. He wasn’t sure. Some people think that this is where it may have happened, I don’t really know. I only know that this man had enough steel in him, after people tried to murder him to walk right back into town again. He stood up and came into the city, and he stayed there long enough to put affairs in place, and then he departed next day to the next town, Derbe.
He had a lot of steel in his nature. And so my dear friend, should you and I, don’t give up to opposition, don’t cave in under persecution, and even when the stones fly, either literally or figuratively, trust the Lord Jesus Christ to see you through, and He will. Well, time has gone, let’s pray.
Dear Lord Jesus, make us victorious today, not cowardly and cringing and compromising, but victorious. I ask in Thy dear name, amen. Amen, God bless you, dear friend, all the way, that’s all for now.
Until I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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