You may recall from my previous post that I was very ill a little while back. While I was recovering from that horrible sickness, I was also planning Broadcast‘s annual Christmas Party. This party is one of the most important events we do all year because parents are invited to attend. This year, I felt that the Lord had laid a special message on my heart to preach to the parents and students. To His glory, we wound up having the biggest crowd I have ever seen in the Studio for the party! However, I was still feeling pretty weak and was debating whether or not to preach. I was advised by some older and wiser people that I should not preach, so as not to push my limits or infect the congregation with my mystery illness.
As I weighed the decision throughout the day, I kept coming back to the ministry of the apostle Paul. In Acts 14, we find Paul preaching the gospel in Lystra. The Jews in Antioch and Iconium (still miffed from his prior stops in their cities) came after Paul in Lystra and stirred up the crowd to riot. They proceeded to stone Paul and leave him for dead.
But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. – Acts 14:19.
But Paul wasn’t dead. The disciples in the city “gathered around him” and helped him gather his strength. Now, if anyone had cause to take a day off from preaching, it was Paul. I imagine that if an entire city supposes that you are dead after violently persecuting you, you might not have the strength to preach. But that’s not Paul’s attitude.
But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of heaven. – Acts 14:20-22.
So, to recap, Paul was stoned and left for dead outside of Lystra. As soon as he could stand, he went charging back into the city! Then, he continued to travel with Barnabas, preaching in Derbe. And then, he came back to the city where he was stoned (Lystra) and to the cities of those that had stoned him (Iconium and Antioch) and encouraged the believers in all three places!
Paul said elsewhere in Scripture, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” He encouraged his young apprentice, Timothy, in 1 Timothy 5:17 to “labor in preaching.” It is clear throughout Paul’s writings that preaching the gospel was the most important task in his life, and he was heaven-bent on never missing that opportunity.
Now, I was pretty sick last week. But I had not been stoned nearly to death. I had not been persecuted. I had not gone through a fraction of Paul’s sufferings. And still, I was contemplating giving up an opportunity to preach to the biggest crowd Broadcast has seen in the last two years. Woe to me.
So, I preached (praught) the gospel to that crowd. I did it because the Holy Spirit spurred me on to preach. I did it because the Lord gave me the physical strength I needed. I did it because I have experienced the power of the gospel and, like Paul, I never want to miss the opportunity to share that good news with others through preaching. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! Satan is going to have to do a lot better than a stomach bug to keep me down.