Passage for Study: Acts 13: 6 - 12 6 Now when they had gone through the island[a] to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus, 7 who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9 Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? 11 And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.”
And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand. 12 Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord.
My Journal for Today: We’re in a war, my friends! Can I get a witness? I hope I’m sensing an emotionally loud “AMEN!” from you. And today, Swindoll uses this passage about Saul, becoming the Apostle Paul, who had to confront evil head-on, … face-to-face. And he did so, immediately, forthrightly, and without hesitation.
Now, some may say that going to battle for what he believed in was part of Saul’s confrontational M.O.; and you’d be right. However, though it may have been more like a Saul of Tarsus (from his past) to step out and go to battle, Paul still had to do this by trusting in the Holy Spirit to back him. Note that in this scenario he’s witnessing his faith and taking action in the presence of the local Proconsul, a man who had the power to represent Rome and the Emperor. This man, hearing the incantations of a local false-prophet and sorcerer, could have had Saul and Barnabas crucified; but Paul stood for Christ and preached the Gospel none-the-less. And then when he needed to, he confronted the sorcerer and God was there to pour His power into Saul as he stood for truth.
When it comes to standing and fighting in this everyday spiritual warfare we’re living in, how’re we doing? Unfortunately, today we may be losing ground to the so-called “tolerance” culture, which espouses a message of relativism … tolerance at all costs. If you believe something which openly defies Godliness, the culture would say that I’m supposed to stand back and let you have your way. However, as you no doubt have seen, about the only thing this “tolerance culture” is totally intolerant of is Christianity. And this world is doing all it can to eradicate “CHRIST” or “GOD” from the public arena under the guise of “tolerance.” So, we find ourselves in a battle much like that of Paul and Barnabas when they came to Cyprus.
This is why the teaching of Ephesians 6: 10 – 18, which I hold to so often in these days of spiritual warfare, means so much to me. I won’t teach on them here today; but you know this passage as teaching the “full armor of God” and our need – at times – to stand and fight in Christ’s Name, for what is right and righteous in our world. Today, Swindoll ends his devotional with a truth statement which we all must stand by. He writes, ”When you stand FOR God, you stand WITH God!”
And my dear one, that is powerful and pertinent truth in today’s world. So, the question becomes, what are we doing to step up and be heard in the face of so much ungodliness today? When was the last time you wrote or called your representatives when pro-abortion or pro-gay marriage legislation was being voted on by Congress? When did we witness for Christ when we know of someone in our lives, like the Proconsul in today’s passage, who needed to hear of the Gospel? My friends, we’re under the command of the Great Commission (see Matt. 28: 19-20). So, are we acting under its admonition? Or, are we cowering and backing off from the war which rages around us?
Yes, I know how scary it can be to stand for God in the midst of so much evil. My wife and I have been called to the front lines of this warfare, taking on Satan’s XXX weapons, like internet porn and Christians falling prey to sexual sin; and it can be a lonely battle at times with Christian churches wanting to keep this type of battle muffled and quiet. So, I know these battles … first hand.
But stand we must, dear ones! And we simply have to do what Saul did in today’s passage. Knowing that our power is that of the living God; and realizing the truth of 1st John 4: 4 (you look it up!), we can know and believe what Swindoll teaches today. And I repeat that statement for emphasis to close out my devotional entry for today: ”When you stand FOR God, you stand WITH God!”
My Prayer for Today: Lord, stand with me as I stand for You. Amen