In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers.…
— 2 Corinthians 11:26
When you live and preach the Gospel in volatile regions of the world, you deal with issues that believers in more civilized nations never have to think about. Some of these challenges simply go with the territory of working on the front lines of the Gospel, and there is nothing that can be done to change it. This is why God gives special grace to people whom He sends to difficult parts of the world. His grace empowers them to successfully live, preach, and minister in environments that others would consider chaotic and even bordering on the insane.
On occasion, representatives of other very large ministries have come to the other side of the world to look at our work. After seeing what we have accomplished and obtaining a better understanding of the many problems we face in fulfilling our divine assignment, they leave amazed that we are able to do what we do. But we are able to do it only because we’re recipients of God’s grace and anointing. Without these two factors, it would be impossible to make such a major impact. All the glory goes to Jesus!
One of the issues we have faced is the criminal element that exists in the vast expanse of the former Soviet Union. Because the region is so huge, it is very difficult for the government to control the “mafia” that works in every area. Thus, many parts of this precious nation where God has called us is controlled by hoodlums and bandits. These criminals try to invade every sphere of life and get their hands into everyone’s pockets.
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Several times these very dangerous criminals have attempted to beset our own organization. But as we listened to the voice of the Holy Spirit and carefully obeyed His promptings, God enabled us to circumvent meticulously laid plans that the devil was inspiring these thieves to execute against us. Had these plans worked, it would have robbed us of ministry finances and seriously affected our ministry. But thanks be to God, we successfully survived each of these planned attempts to destroy our ministry!
The situation I just related to you is not something you probably have to think about in your city or town. You live in a civilized system where police are available to help and where the mafia doesn’t hide in the shadows, devising sinister plans to take advantage of you. But for people who live in other, less civilized parts of the earth, such criminal activity is part of the norm of life that must be dealt with, considered, and taken into account when making plans.
When the apostle Paul wrote to us about the things he endured as he traveled to take the Gospel to new places, he let us know that thieves and bandits were also a constant concern to him and to his fellow travelers. He wrote that they were “…in perils of robbers….”
In Perils of Robbers
I want you to notice that the apostle Paul uses the Greek word kindunos for the second time in this text. As noted in yesterday’s Sparkling Gem, it is the Greek word for extremely dangerous.
Paul faced many dangers as he went about fulfilling his ministry, but one danger he constantly faced as he traveled was the threat of robbers. The word “robbers” is the Greek word lestes. It refers to a plunderer, robber, highwayman, or bandit. This was a bad breed of bandits who were very cunning in their thievery of others and who used weapons and violence to achieve their wicked ends.
In the ancient world, robbers and thieves hid in the ditches and caves along roads that led from city to city — particularly along main routes of travel. This is why some Greek expositors translate the word “robbers” as “highwaymen.” This term especially applied to bandits who ambushed those who traveled by roads. Considering how frequently Paul and his companions walked, we can easily see why Paul faced “perils of robbers.” This gives a whole new idea to the phrase “highway robbery”!
Just imagine for a moment that you are traveling to the farthest ends of the earth by foot. You are physically carrying everything you need for that journey. The luggage piled on your back is filled with the clothing and cash you need for your journey. You know that pillaging, predatory plunderers are hidden in the ditches and caves along the roadside as you pass by, just waiting for the right prey to come by. You also know that these bandits are famous not only for stealing, but for wounding and killing their victims. Yet there is no other road for you to take if you are going to get where you need to go.
We can be sure that Paul and his traveling companions were alert the whole time they traveled on those roads. They most certainly took authority in the Spirit and bound the evil forces influencing the bandits who lay in the ditches and caves, waiting for them to come along. But because Paul uses the word kindunos (“perils”), we know this was an extremely dangerous predicament.
Yet even this danger was not strong enough to stop Paul from doing the will of God. He and his companions exercised authority in the Spirit and courageously walked on, traveling through regions so dangerous that others dared not even venture there.
You may not live in regions of the world where you have to think about highway robbers, members of the mafia, and other criminal elements, but God might be calling you to venture into new areas of ministry or business that seem to entail risks and dangers. You may feel like there are hidden dangers awaiting you at every turn. In these cases, don’t allow yourself to retreat in fear! You must do your best to faithfully follow God’s call. Use the common sense God has given you; gird yourself with the power of the Holy Spirit; and head in the direction where God is calling you.
It doesn’t matter how difficult the task is that lies before you — if God is the One leading you, you can do it. God isn’t going to give you an assignment you can’t do. Remember, many others have had to fight the same fight of faith before you. They have faced the same questions you face. They have walked the same road you are walking. They followed the call of God, and they victoriously accomplished God’s plan. If those believers could do it, so can you!
So put fear aside, and get ready for a journey of faith. Think soberly and stay alert as you let the Holy Spirit lead you down the path toward your destination, allowing nothing to deter you from your goal. As you do these things, the day will come when you produce more fruit for the Kingdom than ever before!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, I ask You to help me put aside fear and to believe that You will protect me as I follow Your call on my life. I know that You would never give me an assignment that You didn’t think I could do. The fact that You’ve asked me to take this path means You are confident that I am capable of succeeding. Naturally speaking, I would feel fear at the prospect of taking such a step of faith. So please help me to permanently put away that fear and to trust that the Holy Spirit will carefully lead me past every danger and risk that lies along the way.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that I am fear-free and ready to follow the Lord wherever He calls me. Even though there are dangers and risks along the way, the Holy Spirit will carefully lead me so I can circumvent every area of danger and move forward safely toward my goal. The Holy Spirit sees everything; He knows everything; and He has my best in mind. Therefore, He supernaturally leads me down the right path, alerting me along the way when there is something that could hurt or hinder me. Because I am led by Him, I dodge every attack the enemy has planned for my life.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. Have you ever sensed the Lord leading you to take a step of faith that was risky?
2. When you knew that God was asking you to do something that moved you out of your comfort zone, were you excited to follow the Lord’s leading, or were you fearful?
3. Did the Holy Spirit guide you past dangers that were secretly lying in wait for you? How did He safely lead you past those dangers so that you remained uninjured?