Behind Enemy Lines: This World is Not My Home

         The apostle Paul was told his fate. After appearing before the man Nero left as a representative, Paul was told he lost his case. He knew what that meant. But he had already known anyway, because the Lord revealed it to him beforehand in the spirit. He was happy that his day had come to see the Lord…

         But he was also greatly saddened because he wanted to keep working. He wanted to minister to others, and to continue revealing the light of the Gospel message and blessing whoever he might. He wanted to continue being used as a vessel for God’s glory regardless of the sacrifice and pain.

         He was a scrapper!

         And so are so many believers the world over who continue smiling as they face great discomfort, neglect, and rejection for knowing and loving their Creator and Savior. And this is their great victory—they can smile! They want to smile, and they cannot help but smile and express their joy, even though at times it may be in their spirit and not visible to others.

         The great hero’s of the faith are those who soldier on regardless of the cost. Like Paul, they are determined to finish their course. Imagine what Paul was thinking as he laid his head down for the last time on this side of eternity. He must have thought about how blessed he was, how he gave it his all, and how he was so fortunate to love and be loved by so many people…

         Then, in his final seconds, he probably thought about how blessed he was in that he was also given the awesome opportunity to present his body as a living sacrifice one final time to honor and glorify his King. He had been doing just that during his entire ministry, and he had the many scars to prove it.

         The reality is that Paul would have never stopped living and working for God. He would have continued until his body simply quit functioning, even though he was most likely racked with pain every day due to all of his injuries and suffering. He knew at the end how short life really is and how much more he wanted to do, but also that his time of departure was not his decision.

         Unless the Lord reveals it, no one knows his or her future. Some who thought they would live long did not. And some who thought their passing was eminent lived on for many more years. We’ll all be checking out at some point, either young or old. We know that. But let it be in God’s timing. And in the meantime, we will do our work for God with courage and dedication, with a heart of love and gratitude, continuing to be thankful for our many blessings.

         Paul gave everything he had in life, and in the end gave everything he had in death, always in surrender and obedience. With nothing more to do or give, his very last thought was probably associated with the following:

         “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” [2 Timothy 4:6-8]   

         “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” [Philippians 1:21]

         There is no sense in arguing with a man with an experience. Paul not only walked with the Lord on a daily basis, the Lord actually made it a tad easier at times by circumventing the usual convention and showing up in 3D:

         And there occurred a great uproar; and some of the scribes of the Pharisaic party stood up and began to argue heatedly, saying, “We find nothing wrong with this man; suppose a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” And as a great dissension was developing, the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them and ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force, and bring him into the barracks.

         But on the night immediately following, the Lord stood at his side and said, “Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also.” [Acts 23:9-11] [1]

         Paul understood the stark reality of life on this planet. He knew there was a God. He knew God by name. He knew this world was a temporary place. He knew there was a constant battle going on, and he knew the more he witnessed for the Lord the more the battle would break out around him and upon him. For “Christians” who experience no battle of this kind, it is obvious they are doing little or nothing for God.

         Real Christians understand this is a fallen world and that the human inhabitants of this world are spiritually blind until a legitimate spiritual new birth takes place. When that happens the blind think the unblind are nuts, simply because the ones who see claim the reality of the spiritual world.

         And they reveal truth.

         And they expose the devil.

        And as a result they experience a backlash from evil forces otherwise known as persecution.

         For some, Christianity is only cultural. For others it is merely a ritualistic religion. But for Paul, it was life and death. It was warfare. Due to the nature of his calling and anointing, trouble seemed to follow him wherever he went. He was a wanted man. The devil hated him and repeatedly tried to take his life. But as it was with the Lord, the devil failed on each and every occasion. When the time came for Paul’s retirement, though, it was the Lord Jesus who made the decision. And it must be noted that real retirement for the real Christian is physical death.

         Paul died the same way John the Immerser died. It was relatively quick and painless. And the next thing he knew he was at his retirement party in heaven welcomed with applause and hugs all around. They probably all sported miniature funny hats and had a big cake. And at one end of the group was the Lord, with a big smile.

         Good job, Paul.

         © 2013 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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Posted on November 8, 2013, in Real Christianity and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Good Job Bob… Paul was truly a SCRAPPER. Like Christ, his sacrifice was his life, given freely. We must know that it was and is God who is in charge. We can have the courage and persistence to do the same as Paul, but not through our own strength.

    …for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. (Phil. 2:13)

    Loved the Carter’s “This World is Not My Home.” We used to sing the song in our family and church gatherings.

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  2. RJ, God did it again through you! This world indeed is not our home, and God indeed leads us through its minefields, for it surely is a battle to be here. And yet, as you have eloquently shared, we are blessed with unimaginable joy at being and doing what he has for us to be and do.

    I serve on a very hostile q&a site witnessing what it means to follow Jesus and live His way. What you say about the blind thinking I am nuts rings true. I get called insane, deluded and other nastier things. And yet there I minister daily because God has things to do through me.

    Many don’t realize just how persecuted believers and the church can be. And, I really think, God gives us that peace that passes understanding along with that joy unspeakable to empower us to survive such hostility. That’s vital to grasp because of the prophesied time yet to come when it will literally be illegal to be God’s. All need to be assured that God will equip them to handle and face whatever circumstances challenge them.

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    • Thank you, Sharon. On the one hand it’s a drag you’re catching flak, but on the other hand you are proving your place in God. Let’s see, the Lord was called crazy, a glutton, a drunk, demon-possessed, and illegitimate. Yeah, okay. We’re on the right track. Haven’t been called illegitimate. I am very legitimate. Can’t pin that one on me.

      Keep up the patient counseling. Though some people might break your heart, others will make your day, and those make the heartache go away.

      The Lord is forever trying to make us stronger, to be more effective, and more like Him. Sometimes the training’s a little rough but the benefits, as they say, are out of this world.

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      • Thanks for the encouragement RJ. Some do indeed make my day. Sometimes it takes years, but some have gotten back to me saying what a positive spiritual difference I made in their lives. And then there are those who are part of the persecuted church in other countries that are so strongly for Him. And then there are those God sends across my path to guide the spiritual birth process.

        Indeed, God helps me transcend the disrespect and abuse and uses me as part of His promise to make all things work for others’ good because they love Him. I know you love Him, too, and you very well know I do.

        Christ told each of us to take up our crosses and follow Him. In this sense, we share in His suffering. May we also share in His joy.

        Blessings to you, friend.

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        • And blessings to you too. You have stated well the Christian walk. We must crucify our flesh because the flesh will otherwise take too much offense from the certain disrespect and abuse that goes with the territory. We must bear the brunt of hand to hand battle, close up and personal, to push through to do the good, and not be stopped by vile attacks from dirty fighters. Loving our enemies keeps us from doing to them what they do to us in hope that they may do for us what we do for them, and as the Lord does for us both. Hard to understand or imagine, but the Lord actually loved the guys who tortured Him, and those who set Him up. And because of His love and prayers I believe some of those guys are with Him today. That’s pretty cool. The miracle of salvation.

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  3. We all need to remember that this world is not our home. The song brought back memories. Blessings, Tom

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    • Thanks Tom. Me too. As an interesting anecdote, I was a member of a church several years ago at the forefront of the Kingdom Now movement, which had slipped in somewhat imperceptibly in many churches at that time. One of its major proponents was later outed for having been involved in a very major scandal. This person had a very high profile at the time and was a great influence on the leader of the church I attended. Long story somewhat short, I remember hearing from the pulpit derogatory comments about the message in this song, though it had been around since at least the 1930’s, and had always been very well accepted.

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  4. I was prompted to go to Eph. 5:1-21. Thank you Jesus for the enlightenment.

    1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. 3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them. 8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.” 15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God. (NKJV)

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  5. Paul is a hero of mine. I think you’ve captured his heart in this article. Think of it–being poured out as an offering to God. Whew.

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    • Hey, thanks Linda! I appreciate you reading an older post. I hope all is well. Paul is certainly a hero to many, me included, but I hope not so much that we think his life far beyond our own. I am currently reading about those early believers who accomplished so much in a relatively short time. They continued on despite growing persecution. Many are currently pouring themselves out as an offering, as we both well know, and many more will have the opportunity soon in the good old USA. Onward, and be blessed.

      Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered, and let those who hate Him flee before Him. [Psalm 68:1]

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