Often the beast of burden in the Middle East was, and still is, the camel. In regards to the camel being a beast of burden there is an old Arabian idiom about the man who kept adding straw to his camel's back because he was not satisfied with the load the camel was already carrying. Finally, one last piece of straw was added and it broke the camel's back. Thus, the camel became useless under the weight of one more thing to bear.
This is what would accurately be called an orientialism. A custom, or idiom, of the East or Middle East that requires an explanation for the Western mind to understand it. However, this particular orientialism is understood in the Western world, or the Occident, because it has been carried over into our culture in the phrase, "the last straw."
When we refer to the last straw in the West we are speaking about coming to the climax or the end of the line, as in our patience, or our temper, or our endurance. Circumstances have led to a series of setbacks, irritations, things going wrong, and we have had all we can handle and we can, or will, take no more.
2 Peter 2:8
(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)
The adversary has designed the system of the world to vex, or irritate, the life of anyone who chooses to believe God or who endeavors to walk with God. This is the way of the world, acknowledge it and move ahead or ignore it and become overwhelmed.
This brings me to a question that begins our look at Acts chapter 28. How many things can the adversary throw at your life before you quit? How much pressure is too much pressure for you? What will it take for you to give up, or to admit defeat, and "throw in the towel"?
We will revisit this question later, so hold your answer until that time.
It has been three years since Paul left the city of Corinth and approximately thirteen hundred miles since Paul sailed from the city of Caesarea under armed Roman guard. Jerusalem and Rome were supposed to be simple stopovers on a missionary trip to Spain. Both stops were viewed as an anticipated blessing. However, circumstances unfold that are intended to break Paul's commitment to God or to kill him. The adversary would be pleased with either result.
Consider some of the events revealed to us in the book of Acts and put yourself in the place of Paul. How would you have handled these events mentally and emotionally? What toll would they have taken on your mind, and your heart, and your body?
Paul met with the leadership in Ephesus, the city where the mystery was revealed and lived to the point that the Word of God prevailed, only to see that some of its leaders were going to walk away to form their own groups. A concept in direct contradiction to the One Body of Christ.
These were leaders Paul had raised up. The people they would deceive were people Paul had taught. In an earlier teaching I said, "Jesus Christ, the ultimate leader, disciplined his life to walk and live by "It is Written." That was also Paul's heart, as it must be the heart of every leader in the Body of Christ. To discipline your heart to live any other way is to do harm to the Body of Christ." Some of the leaders in Ephesus were about to do harm to the Body of Christ.
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, 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: And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house,
These weren't unknown people in a far off congregation that some distant Bishop or Archbishop was addressing. These were men, women, and children that Paul had developed a relationship with, people he lived with and worked with day and night. They knew one another intimately, they were family and some were about to start hurting Paul's spiritual family. What would this do to your heart?
1 Thessalonians 2:7-8
But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.
Vine's Expository Dictionary of the Bible says of this verse, "denotes a nursing mother, as is clear from the statement 'cherisheth her own children;' this is also confirmed by the word epios, 'gentle' which was commonly used of the kindness of parents towards children."
It is God, who says of the Apostle Paul in Corinthians, that he is our father in the Word.
Those who received the Word of God taught by the Apostle Paul became his spiritual family. He cared for them as his children. The more intimate the relationship, the more intense the pain when another is hurt. Paul could teach the believers to separate Truth from error, he could teach the believers to walk in fellowship with God, but he could not stop them from being deceived by the eulogia, translated "fair speeches" in Romans, of others. Concerning what was going to take place in Ephesus the word eulogia would be understood as, "language artfully adapted to captivate the hearer."
What happens emotionally to a parent, and within the heart of a parent, when he sees someone hurt his child? It is a heavy and frustrating burden to bear.
Later, Paul realized, too late, that he had missed the Will of God by traveling to Jerusalem. In Jerusalem he is asked by the leadership to compromise on the sound doctrine of the Administration of Grace. His agreement to this compromise leads to false accusations that almost result in him losing his life to an angry mob.
Then he is threatened with a beating by the Roman soldiers who saved him from the mob before they learn of his citizenship as a Roman. Later, while being held under arrest by the Romans, Paul meets with the ruling council of the Jews but once again finds his life in jeopardy as these pious religious leaders move to physically attack Paul and tare him apart.
Would your mind be filled with condemnation or regret because you failed to realize the will of God? How would you handle the realization that you messed up and it almost cost you your life? Twice!
In another teaching I said, "The children of God look at the things which are unseen, we don't focus on the temporal. Our mistakes are temporal! Stop looking at your mistakes and stay focused on God!"
After meeting with the council some forty men take a vow to neither eat nor drink until they have killed Paul. To this end they come to an agreement with the ruling council to ambush Paul. But when the conspiracy is uncovered Paul is transferred by the Romans from Jerusalem to Caesarea. How would you respond when confronted with such distain and hatred? Everyone, to some degree, wants to be loved, and accepted, and appreciated. Are you rooted and grounded in your spiritual knowledge so that your heart can be guarded from the effects of such venomous hatred?
In order to keep Paul safe from the religious leaders and those who have taken a vow to kill Paul he is sent to Caesarea under an armed guard of some four hundred and seventy soldiers. To further protect Paul this column of soldiers and Paul leave Jerusalem at nine in the evening, under the cover of darkness.
Paul had to escape from Damascus through a window, in a basket, and also under the cover of darkness. In Thessalonica Paul had to leave town in a hurry, also under the cover of darkness. How many towns or cities did Paul have to get out of in a hurry? How many times did he need the cover of darkness to hide him from his enemies? When do you start to question your life's work and the effectiveness of your ministry?
Paul is teaching things no one has ever heard before he spoke them, things no one taught before they came out of the mouth of the Apostle Paul. If Paul losses his confidence and trust in his relationship with God then his ministry will come to an inglorious end. The adversary is working on Paul's mind. He wants to get Paul's mind unsettled. He wants Paul to focus on the circumstances and the problems. He wants Paul to look to himself as the source of the issues and the solution to the issues. The spiritual competition takes place in the mind. Is your mind holding to the Word or the world?
Along with this convoy of soldiers and their prisoner, the chief captain sent a letter to the governor.
And he wrote a letter after this manner: Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting. This man was taken of the Jews, and should have been killed of them: then came I with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman. And when I would have known the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him forth into their council: Whom I perceived to be accused of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds. And when it was told me how that the Jews laid wait for the man, I sent straightway to thee, and gave commandment to his accusers also to say before thee what they had against him. Farewell.
The chief captain found no fault in Paul concerning Roman law but the Jews were a people known for their ability to riot and cause Rome many issues. Therefore, Claudius Lysias, the chief captain placed the decision of what should be done with Paul in the hands of governor Felix.
Even those who worshipped a vast array of pagan idols saw no wrong in the actions of Paul. Yet, the leaders of God's Chosen people could see no good thing in the life of Paul, even desiring to take his life. How would it weigh on your heart if the leader of the denomination you were raised in declared you to be straight from the pit of hell? Would it bother you that your "protectors" and those who saw no harm in your actions were the ones who had utterly no relationship with the One True God? Would you begin to question who you stood with spiritually?
It was the Philistines, the enemies of Israel, that protected David from Saul. It was Egypt's Pharaoh that raised up Joseph when his brothers meant him only harm. It was a Gentile woman that cared for Elijah when the king of Israel wanted him dead. Does your mind hold the Word or the world? What is the image you hold of yourself?
Five days after arriving in Caesarea Felix met with the religious leaders and Paul to hear the accusations against Paul, and Paul's answer to those accusations. Through slander and lies the religious leaders presented their case that Paul was not only a trouble maker in Jerusalem but also throughout the entire Roman Empire. Now, you're not only the source of problems within your own nation and within your own denomination, you are the source of troubles throughout the entire world! Would you begin to identify these lying leaders as the source of your problems? Would you consider getting a pound of flesh for all the trouble they are causing you? Does your mind call for a pity party or revenge?
And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. Who, when they had examined me, would have let me go, because there was no cause of death in me. But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Caesar; not that I had ought to accuse my nation of. For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain. And they said unto him, We neither received letters out of Judaea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came shewed or spake any harm of thee.
Look at Paul's attitude toward these Jewish leaders in Rome. Look at Paul's attitude toward the entire nation of Jews, even those who have refused God's Word and rejected God's son. Paul did not fight against people, he saw the spiritual reality of who was moving the system of the world and like Jesus Christ moved with compassion for those who sat in darkness. Paul understood that his enemy was not made of flesh and blood.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
The spiritual competition that is set before us is not against people. A person may move the thoughts and schemes of the adversary, a person may walk with the adversary but that person will be no more than a thorn in the flesh. You may have to contend with a pawn, but victory in chess deals with overcoming the king.
Felix found no fault in Paul though he left him bound in order to please the Jews, while hoping Paul would offer him a bribe to be released. For two years Felix left Paul under house arrest while looking for his bribe. Two years under house arrest; for two years chained to a Roman soldier every day; for two years another person holds the power over your movements; and all during this time that person knows you have done nothing wrong.
Would you sacrifice your integrity and pay the bribe? Would you look to your wallet and forget about looking to God to deliver you? It would be a small compromise and one that would obtain for you the freedom you needed in order to move God's Word. It's easy to rationalize and may sound perfectly logical but Hagar wasn't the solution and her child was not the seed.
There are many who have declared that the great tragedy of this final section of the book of Acts is that during this time the Apostle Paul brought no one to the point of believing God's Word. Many will then quote Acts 26.
Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
They quote this verse and say "almost" is as close as Paul got to winning a soul to the Lord. The real tragedy is that they failed to see the fullness of all that God has revealed to us about these years Paul was under arrest. It is always a tragedy when a child of God fails to see the fullness of what God is declaring to us in His Word. It is a tragedy because it is an aspect of our own spiritual reality that we will fail to claim and exercise.
Each member of the Body of Christ needs every other member of the Body of Christ, just like our physical body needs all parts of the physical body to function perfectly. If I am the thumb I become useless if I never realize there are also fingers. If the thumb and fingers never realize there is a wrist, an arm, an elbow, a shoulder and so on, it will never become all that it was intended to be.
Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
All of us need the Word of God that is in the heart of every other member of the Body of Christ because none of us see the entire picture clearly and accurately on our own.
When considering those who Paul brought to God's Word during this section of the book of Acts first, we need to consider the island of Melita, off the coast of Dalmatia, where Paul had the privilege of ministering healing to many. Healing does not come without a person first believing the promise God has given in His Word. Next, at the end of his life, Paul sends Titus to Dalmatia to continue the work he started there one winter after he was shipwrecked.
Then there is the account of Onesimus who met Paul while he was under arrest in Rome.
I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds:
Remember, Philemon was a letter Paul wrote to his friend while he was under arrest in Rome, in Acts 28. Onesimus was "begotten" or converted during Paul's imprisonment in Rome.
Finally, three days after Paul arrived in Rome he met with the Jewish religious leaders of that city. After a brief discussion the leaders decided they wanted to hear more about the things Paul taught, for they had heard of this "sect" but they wanted to know what Paul thought.
And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.
The Apostle Paul and those who came to him did a day in the Word of God, from morning till evening. When the day was concluded the results were, as always, mixed.
And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not.
Some did believe. Dalmatia, Onesimus, and of those who came unto Paul, some believed. These accounts take us beyond the word "almost" with King Agrippa. But honestly this last section of Acts is not about the movement of God's Word to new believers.
We see the movement of God's Word in the sections that precede the last section of Acts. It is in the seventh section of the book of Acts that "so mightily grew the Word of God and prevailed." There is no place to go in the movement of God's Word beyond the point of prevailing. This last section in the book of Acts is about God's unwavering and loving stand with one of His children. This last section in the book of Acts will demonstrate to every believer that God is in you and with you in every situation. It makes no difference to God if it is an attack by the world upon your life, or if it is a problem of your own making, a problem due to your own unbelief, God wants you to see and know that He is with you and that He is in you by way of His gift of holy spirit. This eighth section is not about outreach, it is about a Father's stand with His children.
The adversary is attacking Paul from a multitude of angles. Add to the attacks from without the mistakes from within. Paul has made his own mistakes when he misses God's revelation not to go to Jerusalem and compromising on right doctrine once he arrives in Jerusalem. Yet God has not moved from Paul's presence. God has not stopped protecting or directing the steps of Paul. This eighth section of the book of Acts is about God's faithful stand with every one of His beloved children.
After two years Felix was replaced by Festus, who while in Jerusalem, was confronted by the Jewish leaders to get Festus to send Paul back to Jerusalem, so that they could once again endeavor to kill him. This is a hatred that is not going away, not abating. The world will not suddenly love you next year. The god of this world hates your Father and thus, he will always hate a child of God.
Everyone has encountered another person who is mad at them. Maybe someone who is so mad at you that they refuse to even speak to you ever again. But have you ever been truly hated by another person? Not an anger that fades over time, or the foolishness of anger that is realized and then put aside. But someone who literally hates you, someone who despises your very existence. Someone who would lay awake at night dreaming of taking your life. Someone who for years held you in such distain that they were still working any angle they could find to take your life. This is what the adversary puts in the hearts of those who choose to follow him and his ways.
Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended from Caesarea to Jerusalem. Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought him, And desired favour against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him. But Festus answered, that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself would depart shortly thither. Let them therefore, said he, which among you are able, go down with me, and accuse this man, if there be any wickedness in him. And when he had tarried among them more than ten days, he went down unto Caesarea; and the next day sitting on the judgment seat commanded Paul to be brought. And when he was come, the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove.
Have we reached your last straw yet? Would you continue to stand on the integrity of God's Word that tells you to "heap coals of fire upon your enemies head"? An orientialism that refers to you warming those who hate you and persecute you. Paul has been attacked twice with the intent of the attackers being to kill Paul. Conspiracies have been formed against him, slander, lies, false accusations have been laid at his feet. Even though the Roman leaders know he is innocent they are looking for bribes before they would release him.
Are you close to your last straw at this point? If Paul looks at the circumstances, if he simply considers his five senses information, why should he keep going? What's the point? What's the profit?
Now add to all of these things that not one leader who has believed in Christ, not James or any of the other leaders from Jerusalem, have come to see him, to stand with him, or to inquire if he has any needs while under house arrest. Where are those who have believed? You would think that two years under arrest in Caesarea gave believers in Jerusalem more than enough time to mosey on over to Caesarea to see how Paul was doing. Where are the other believers?
How much can one man's heart endure? Much more than you could ever imagine if your heart is filled with and focused on the words of God.
Modern Christianity has filled believers heads with myths and fables that have no resemblance to the actual Word and Will of God. Remember Ignatius when we looked at "The Martyr Complex", looking forward to his coming "martyrdom" as a glorious event and his real birth into death? But Paul is still standing upon the words of God and looking for the deliverance of God. Paul isn't expecting to die, he expects to live and freely walk with God. Paul expects to see the power of God in manifestation.
And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
How much power did it take to raise Christ from the dead? This is the same power God has for each and every one of His children. This is the power that works within every believer in the Administration of Grace. If all of the things that have happened to Paul came upon your life, would you still be looking to the power of God to deliver you?
As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished (bebaioo - to make firm, to confirm, make sure, establish) in the faith (pistis - the right way of believing), as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
Colossians was written by Paul while under arrest in Rome during Acts 28. The spiritual competition takes place in your mind. Are you rooted and built up in Christ, rooted and built up in your identification in Christ? Are you established in the right way of believing? The mind that is established in the right way of believing can withstand anything the adversary throws at it because that mind knows that the power and presence of God is in you and with you in every situation.
Colossians declares to not only be rooted and built up in Christ, not only to be established in the right way of believing, but also to abound, or to have an abundance of thankfulness. After all these years under arrest, after all of the slander, hatred, and attacks would you still be thankful?
God doesn't say be thankful for the attacks or the attackers. God doesn't say be thankful for the pressure or the persecution.
And above all these things put on charity (agape - the love of God), which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
We put the Word of God in our minds. We are thankful to God for what He has done for us, what He is doing for us, and what He will do for us. You cannot know what God has done, is doing, or will do, if you do not have sound doctrine.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
Philippians is the another epistle written by the Apostle Paul while under arrest in Rome. Look at his mind-set! Look at his focus! Is the Word of God rooted and grounded and built up in your heart so that no matter what the adversary throws in your direction you will stand?
What would you be thinking after all of this time and all of these events? Would you have reached that last straw? Would you be willing to question where God has been or what God was doing to help you? Would you be willing to compromise your continued stand upon the Word of God just to have a few peaceful days, a few days of freedom? Are you willing to allow the adversary to win the spiritual competition taking place in your life?
And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
The parable we are about to take a brief look at concerns the Administration of the Kingdom of Heaven and therefore is addressed to the Nation of Israel. Although it is not doctrine addressed to those who believe in the Administration of Grace, there is learning that applies in our administration.
And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
The parable of the sower and the seed, something almost everyone has at least heard, if they have not read for themselves.
Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
In this parable we see that the one who steals God's Word is the "wicked one" otherwise known as the adversary. We also see the two methods by which the adversary acts to steal God's Word from the lives of those who have believed; those being pressure and pleasure.
And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:
He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
One of the two methods used by the adversary to trick believers off of God's Word is to bribe them with the deceitfulness of riches, the glitter and gold of the world. Consider Demas who was a leader and stood with Paul but fell to the sparkle of the world.
2 Timothy 4:10a
For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world,…
Demas was pleasured away from the Word of God. This is one method the adversary will use to get those who have believed to turn again to the world, forgetting their walk with God. The deceitfulness of riches and the cares of this world choke, or suffocate, God's Word.
1 John 2:15-17
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
The other method, pressure, is the method we are most concerned with in light of how the adversary is attacking Paul.
Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.
But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
Many will teach that this is not a person who has had genuine believing and with that logic they will blow off the principles that can be learned and applied. Others will take this parable as doctrine for our current administration and thus consign those who have believed to the pit of hell as unbelievers. Until we get the administrations in God's Word correct we cannot rightly divide what God has spoken. If I read a note my mother has left for my sister concerning what to wear to the first day of school and then apply it directly to my life, I will look a little foolish wearing my sisters dress when I show up to school.
Actually most of the teaching about genuine believing for salvation is no more than a denomination's private interpretation of God's Word. In essence what many of these teachers are saying is that you don't believe exactly what I believe and you're not doing exactly what I'm doing, therefore your believing isn't genuine. Some forget that their denomination and their personal belief is not the standard of what they refer to as genuine believing.
The word "heareth" is the Greek word akouo which is a verb and means to comprehend or to understand. Being a verb it means you have acted upon what you have heard. The feminine noun associated with this verb is akoe and is used in Romans chapter 10.
So then faith (pistis - the right way of believing) cometh by hearing (akoe), and hearing (akoe) by the word of God.
The right way of believing for salvation comes from hearing, comprehending or understanding, the Word of God. Since the verb is used in the parable of the sower and the seed the Word of God is not only understood but it is acted upon, it is believed. This is further substantiated by the use of the words joy and receive in Matthew 13:20.
The word "receive" is the Greek word lambano defined by Blue Letter Bible Lexicon as, "to take to one's self, lay hold upon, take possession of, i.e. to appropriate to one's self." Lambano is also a verb and that means an action is being taken or has already been taken. Thayer's Greek Lexicon speaks of lambano as something to take with the hand or to lay hold of in order to use it. Strong's Greek definitions says lambano is to literally take.
The use of the word joy points directly to something spiritual. Happiness is what a man can have from things in the world, something based on circumstances. Happiness is something the adversary uses to bribe people by the lust of their eyes and of their mind. The adversary uses happiness as a counterfeit of joy. Yet "to make happy" is also one way of translating the Greek word eulogeo. God also moves to make His children happy. Happiness is not in and of itself wrong, but it is based upon the temporal world. However, joy is only something that a person can have from God or in God and is irrespective of circumstances or situations.
The point being made in the parable of the sower and the seed isn't whether or not a person has believed. It is obvious in this parable that Jesus is speaking of someone who has believed the words he heard. The point being made is what that person does with the Word of God after he has believed it.
This person has believed the Word of God that he has heard, but when the adversary brings pressure and persecution to bear he falls, he quits, he receives the last straw that breaks his stand for and with God. To break your relationship with God is the adversary's purpose in bringing pressure to bear upon the life of a believer.
Which again brings me back to my question for you earlier in this teaching, How many things can the adversary throw at your life before you quit? What will it take for you to give up or to admit defeat and "throw in the towel"?
Will you run with the world's concept of the martyr complex, "Woe is me" or "Why is this happening to me?" Will you run with the lie, propounded by the adversary, that your suffering is the will of God? Or will you continue to claim being a super-conqueror from Romans chapter 8? Looking for and expecting God's deliverance in each and every situation. Will you focus on the things which are true, and honest, and just, and pure, and lovely, and of good report as the Apostle Paul declared in his epistle to the Philippians?
But withal prepare me also a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you.
Again, while under arrest in Rome, Paul writes a letter to Philemon, a believer in Colosse, saying to prepare a place for him because he expects to come for a visit. Paul's under arrest, he's been under arrest for years now! What is Paul holding in his mind? Certainly not a view of his own death.
In the teaching "I Am What I Am…" it was written, "The world will paint a picture of you that looks something like a Picasso. God will paint a picture of you that looks more like a Rembrandt, only better." Do you see yourself as Picasso painted people?
Look at the life of the Apostle Paul. Consider all the adversary threw at him to stop him, to trip him up, to try and kill him. This entire eighth section of the book of Acts has been about the life of the Apostle Paul. This section of Acts is about how Paul has remained locked into the words of God rather than the words and actions of men. Even his own words and actions, that were not according to the will of God, he has left behind.
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
Forgetting those things which are behind you, whether they are worthy of praise or condemnation. Our identification is in Christ and not in ourselves.
Paul was in a storm that lasted fourteen days, some of the soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners before they abandon ship so they could not escape; the ship he was on was destroyed and they were cast into the sea; he was bitten by a venomous snake and through all of this he is still a prisoner when he had done nothing wrong. Could the adversary break you if he had thrown all of these things at your life? Will you judge your walk with God by the things of the world, by the attacks of the adversary?
What pressures has the adversary brought to bear upon your life? Is money tight when it comes to food, mortgage, or other monthly bills? Are you stuck in a job that has one or more people that are outright devilish in thought and deed? Is your job laying people off and you look like you could be on the short list? Does your husband take you for granted, or your wife fail to treat you with the respect you feel you earned? Are your children acting as if God and spirituality is a Sunday morning thing, as long as Saturday night wasn't too exciting? Have you been called a bigot, closed minded, a hater because you have chosen to stand upon the words of God? Is your car held together with super glue and band-aids? Is your body acting like you have already lived eighty years before your thirtieth birthday? Are you concerned about the attitudes and darkness that seems to have overcome your country, your state, even your own neighborhood?
The adversary has a multitude of ways to pressure each and every child of God. It is his world, he is the god of this world. The world runs on his system and anyone who doesn't comply with his system is attacked and pressured by his system. His goal is to steal away the Word of God that lives in the heart of a believer. Whether or not he succeeds is entirely up to each individual believer.
For Paul, his decision was to stand firm, to remain faithful to the Word of God he held in his heart. This section of the book of Acts is about the life of the man known as Paul and his relationship with his Heavenly Father. This section of the book of Acts is about you, about your relationship with your Heavenly Father. Will you stand with God as He stands with you?
1 Timothy 1:15-16
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.
The word "chief" should be translated first. Paul was the first believer in the Administration of Grace, for it was to him that the revelation of the Administration of Grace was revealed. It was in the life of Paul we first see the longsuffering of Jesus Christ. Remember temperance is about self control, and patience is about enduring situations and circumstances, while longsuffering is about enduring, or having patience, with people and the foolish things they do.
The life of Paul is a "pattern" for all those who would follow in his steps and believe the words of God unto eternal life. Will God have an answer for you when the adversary applies pressure to your life? Will God still stand with you even when you make mistakes or fail to stand upon His Word? Can you stay focused on God and His Word even when the adversary hits you with an avalanche of negatives and the hatred of the world?
God shows us the answers to these questions in the eighth section of the book of Acts.
Remember what we have seen in previous teachings; Where was God when His son was hanging on the cross? Where was God when His son was in a sinking ship? Where is God when all has gone wrong in your life? He is in you and with you.
Right believing is knowing that the power and presence of God is in you and with you in every situation.
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.