GOD ANSWERS PRAYER

On the road to Damascus: Saul on the road to becoming Paul.

On the road to Damascus: Saul, on the road to becoming Paul.

By Dr. Foster H. Shannon

One of the most impressive people in the New Testament is the Apostle Paul. We encounter him as a fiery Jew willing to attack anyone who diverted from the faith of the Hebrew religion in that day. Of course, we know that the doctrine of that religion included the promise of a Messiah who would save his people and the world. Jesus was the fulfillment of those Messianic promises which are embedded in the Old Testament. Paul (Saul of Tarsus) did not recognize Jesus and Christianity as being that fulfillment. He became a persecutor of Christianity, holding the clothes of those who stoned the Deacon Stephen, because of his Christian faith and witness for Christ. Paul went from Jerusalem to Damascus to destroy the Christian community there. On the outskirts of Damascus he was confronted by a vision of Jesus:  “as he was going along and approaching Damascus suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice from heaven saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He asked, “Who are you Lord?”

The reply came, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city and you will be told what you are to do.” (Acts 9:3-6)

From that he became one of the greatest Christians who have ever lived, giving his life fully in the service of the Christ; he never married.

Along with many other faithful people, Paul proclaimed Christ, and was a key in establishing the Church in the Roman world. He was inspired by God to give us thirteen of the books in the New Testament. He was a man of prayer and prayed for the healing of many people. Yet he encountered a time when his prayer was answered with a No! We read about this in II Corinthians, chapter 12. Speaking in the second person he tells us that he was caught up to heaven:

“And I know that such a person—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows. And I know that such a person…was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat….But if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will be speaking the truth.”

Paul then speaks of a thorn in the flesh that Satan gave to torment him–to keep him from being too elated. [we do not know what it was, but it is obvious that it was a serious matter] Three times he pleaded to the Lord that it would leave him.

The Lord said,

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”

So his prayer was answered, but not in the way he hoped. At times God does not answer our prayer as we have wished, because he always seeks what is best for us.

“Those whom I love, I reprove and chasten; so be zealous and repent.” (Revelation 3:19) God teaches us to pray; to be assured that God hears our prayers and answers them.

“You do not have because you do not ask.” (James 4:2)

“Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete,” (John 16:24)

Let us have a personal prayerful relationship with our Savior every day!

Foster H. Shannon
More about Foster…
Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences.
The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com.
He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.
THIS BLOG IS CHANGED EVERY OTHER WEDNESDAY.
Please ‘LIKE’ our FACEBOOK PAGE!




 

STRENGTHENING THE CHRISTIAN

paul-and-timothy

 

By Dr. Foster H. Shannon

We have family Bible study almost every Sunday evening after dinner. This coming Sunday, we are beginning with II Timothy, chapter 1. A passage in that chapter stands out for me:

Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control. Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, nor of me his prisoner but take your share of suffering for the gospel in the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling,… (II Timothy 1:8,9)

What was it that struck me about this passage? It was Timothy’s position in the leadership of the church. He was Paul’s #2 man. He was a leader above many in the growing church. Here are some of them: Apollos, Archippus, Artemas, Barnabas, Epaphroditus, Luke, Onesimos, Priscilla & Aquila, Silas, Titus, Tychicus, and Zenas. There were others. Yet Timothy needed to be refreshed. He needed to be encouraged. We may find ourselves saying, Amen, recognizing that we need to be refreshed in the Lord. We should give priority to our Bible study and our prayer time.

Let us look at what Paul said to this valuable Christian leader:

  • “Rekindle the gift of God that is within you.” Is this not a clear teaching here that believers can have times when they grow discouraged, and need to be invigorated?
  • “Do not be ashamed of testifying to our Lord.” There are people who will put us down at any sign of our personal faith in Jesus Christ. Now, we do not have to shout or be irritating. Rather than being ashamed, we should be encouraged and devoted to our Savior. Explaining carefully, what Jesus means to you.
  • “Take your share of suffering for the gospel.” It seems to me that we prefer to have things go well. We do not like difficulties. We want to avoid suffering, if we are able. I am not suggesting that we be ready to go out and suffer! Nonetheless, the Bible makes it clear that suffering will come our way, and do not be surprised, but it may turn out to be valuable.

Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. (James 1:2)

What may seem to be unwelcome to us, may turn out to make us better people. Again, we read, Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12) Difficult times will come to all of us. Especially, when the difficulty arises to challenge our faithfulness to our Savior—by a clear and kind response, we can be an encouragement to others, and strengthened in our own faith. Unwelcome difficulties come into our lives, we can either cry or praise God. If we are moved to prayer we are thereby strengthened in our faith. One thing we know for sure. God will uphold us.

Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

Foster

Dr. Foster H. Shannon, Green Leaf Press

Green Leaf Press, Inc.
P.O. Box 880 Alhambra
CA 91802-0880
(626) 281-7221
More about Foster…
Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences.
The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com.
He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.
MY BLOG IS CHANGED EVERY OTHER WEDNESDAY.
Please ‘LIKE’ our FACEBOOK PAGE!