“The Lord stood near Paul and said, ‘Take
courage! As you have testified about me in
A man who loved to hunt purchased two Irish setters that he trained to be world-class bird dogs. One morning, the dog’s owner saw an ornery little bulldog shuffling and snorting down the alley beside his house. With drool hanging off his gums, the bulldog crawled under the fence into the man’s backyard and started to pick a fight with his two Irish setters. Well, those setters chewed that bulldog up one side and down the other. The intruder crawled back under the fence and went on his way, and the man figured that would be the end of it.
But the next day, around the same time, up the alley came the same bulldog, shuffling and snorting just as he had the day before. And, once again, he crawled under the fence, picked a fight with the two Irish setters and got the stuffing beaten out of him. So, the bulldog crawled back under the fence and went home. And the next day? Same time. Same dog. Same result.
The next day the man left for a business trip. When he returned a week later, he asked his wife for an update on the dogs. She said, “Honey, every morning at the same time, that little bulldog crawled under our fence and fought with our two setters. He didn’t miss a day! And now, every time our setters hear that bulldog snorting down the alley and see him squeezing under the fence, they start whining and run into the house. Now that little bulldog struts around our backyard like he owns the place.”
I got to
thinking: That scrappy little bulldog – THAT’S THE APOSTLE PAUL! Paul took a
lickin’ and kept on tickin’. Paul was chased out of Pisidian Antioch, stoned in
Lystra, flogged in Philippi, arrested in
In Acts 22
and 23, Paul was rescued from an angry mob by a Roman commander, Commander
Lysias, three times in a 24-hour period. When Paul got back to the safety of
the barracks after his third rescue, he must have wondered if the NEXT mob
would be the one that would take him out. But then Jesus spoke to Paul with
this promise: “Take courage! As you have testified about me in
But the mob had other ideas. The morning after Jesus’ promise to Paul, more than 40 men hatched a fresh plot to murder him. They asked the chief priests and elders to have the commander send for Paul “on the pretext of wanting more accurate information about his case. We are ready to kill him before he gets here” (v.15). However, Paul’s nephew—a young man we’ve never heard of before and won’t hear of again in Scripture—learned about the plot. He went to Commander Lysias and urged him not to send Paul into the conspirators’ trap. So, late that night, when most of the conspirators were home in their PJs, the commander had Paul escorted out of the city. Just to be safe, he sent along some company: 200 armed foot soldiers, 70 horsemen and 200 spearmen. Even if the 40-plus conspirators had realized Paul was being escorted out of the city, they wouldn’t have stood a chance against 470 armed soldiers. They were outnumbered 11 to one.
So the Apostle Paul, our determined bulldog, lived to fight another day. Here are three Life Lessons we can draw from this passage.
Life Lesson #1: When God makes you a promise, you can afford to be bold in carrying out His marching orders. I like to remind people: There is no safer place to be than in the center of God’s will. When you are right where He wants you to be, doing exactly what He wants you to do, you can afford to be bold and courageous for Him. Why? Because He’s made you some promises. He’s promised that He will be with you. He’s promised to never leave you nor forsake you. He's promised that the Holy Spirit will give you the words to say when you’re under attack. Since God’s promises are as good as gold, allow His promises to embolden you to say what He leads you to say and do what He calls you to do.
Life Lesson #2: Most of the time God
doesn’t use extraordinary means to accomplish His purposes. He uses ordinary
people and circumstances to carry out His will. For every time that God does the
extraordinary, He works thousands of times through ordinary people and everyday
circumstances. Occasionally God will part the
Life Lesson #3: Somewhere inside you there’s a bold, scrappy bulldog. So, let him loose. Be a bulldog for Jesus. As long as we allow Jesus to hold our leash, you and I need to be more bulldog-like. Jesus doesn’t want us to be like the two Irish setters who start whining and running into the house at the first sign of an attack. We need to be like the bulldog: standing strong in our faith, holding firm in our convictions, and speaking boldly for Jesus. And when we take some lumps for our Lord, we need to lick our wounds and do it all over again the next day.
Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. Join us at Impact for Sunday services: in person at 9 a.m., or online at 10 a.m. on YouTube or Facebook. Dane’s latest book, “Called to Persevere: One Man’s Journey to Overcome Pain, Disease and Disappointment with God,” is scheduled for release on Amazon in October.