Patrick: Servant of Jesus Christ

(I wrote this article a few years ago, but it’s worth featuring again today.)

ST.PATRICK2. - EXTRA BRIGHT - creditsSo why make a fuss over some guy named Patrick, who was a minister in Ireland 16 centuries ago? What’s the big deal?

Well, the “big deal” has absolutely nothing to do with shamrocks, green beer, and leprechauns. It does have to do with the fact that this one man, with a heart full of love for Jesus Christ and His creation, led at least 70,000 people into a saving faith in Jesus Christ during his brief 30 years of ministry. And he did so using no tools of communication other than the spoken and written word. That fact, my friends, is WORTH celebrating.

When March 17th dawns again this year, millions of people will be wearing green and celebrating in honor of St. Patrick, but I hope that those of us who have a genuine relationship with Jesus will focus our attention – not on the scores of legends that have grown up around that name – but on the truly miraculous, anointed life of the REAL St. Patrick of Ireland.

The Word of God says, “Whom the Son sets free is free indeed.” When a man who was taken into slavery by heathen tribes manages to find the living God, escape to freedom, and return years later, at the risk of his own life, to spiritually set his former captors free by the power of the Gospel, we see the truth of that scripture. In a work written around 450 A.D. and called simply Confession, the man honored by most of the world as the patron saint of Ireland tells his own story of his intimate encounter with God and his evangelism of an entire nation. What I’m sharing in this article comes from that work written by his own hand.

Born in England in the late fourth century, Patrick was the son of a British nobleman, who also served as the deacon of the village church. In spite of that fact, Patrick did not grow up knowing God. At the age of sixteen, he was captured by pirates who frequently roamed the coastal areas and captured large numbers of young people in order to sell them as slaves. He says of that experience: “I was at that time about sixteen years of age. I did not, indeed, know the true God, and I was taken into captivity in Ireland with many thousands of people . . . . There the Lord opened my mind to an awareness of my unbelief, in order that, even so late, I might remember my transgressions and turn with all my heart to the Lord my God. And he watched over me before I knew him . . . and he protected me and consoled me as a father would his son.”

IRISH PASTURES

IN THE STEPS OF KING DAVID

Patrick was sold to a pagan chieftan-king in Ireland. Most of the Irish tribes at that time were so pagan that they sacrificed their children to idols, and many were cannibalistic. They had never heard of Jesus Christ. Patrick was cruelly mistreated during the six years he was held prisoner and forced to serve as the king’s herdsman. But like his spiritual ancestor, another young herdsman who came to know God intimately while spending days and nights in the fields and on the mountain caring for the family’s livestock, so it was with Patrick. He describes the experience in these words:

“But after I reached Ireland I used to pasture the flock each day, and I used to pray many times a day. More and more did the love of God, and my fear of him and faith increase, and my spirit was moved so that in a day [I said] . . . up to a hundred prayers, and in the night a like number. Besides I used to stay out in the forests and on the mountain, and I would wake up before daylight to pray in the snow, in icy coldness, in rain, and I used to feel neither ill nor any slothfulness, because, as I now see, the Spirit was burning in me at that time.”

After six years, while sleeping one night, Patrick heard the voice of God tell him that it was time for him to escape, and the Lord proceeded to give him directions to a ship harbored almost 200 miles away. “I turned about and fled . . . and I came, by the power of God, who directed my route to advantage, until I reached that ship.” Patrick tried to bargain with the captain to take him on board with the promise to see that he was paid at the end of the voyage, but the captain adamantly refused. Patrick turned away, and as he walked back toward the hut where he had been staying, he prayed, confessing his confidence in God’s faithfulness. Before he had gone many more steps, one of the men called him back to the ship and told him the captain had changed his mind. Patrick recorded, “I . . . hoped that they would come to faith in Jesus Christ, because they were barbarians.”

After reaching land, on the coast of France, the ship’s crew journeyed for twenty-eight days through uninhabited country, running out of food and suffering from extreme hunger. One of the shipmen began to taunt Patrick about his message that his God was “great and all-powerful,” asking why he couldn’t pray for them so that they wouldn’t have to perish from hunger. St. Patrick described his response in these words: “I said to them confidently ‘Be converted by faith with all your heart to my Lord God, because nothing is impossible for him, so that today he will send food for you on your road, until you be sated, because everywhere he abounds.’” He goes on to add, “Behold, a herd of swine appeared on the road before our eyes, and [the men] slew many of them and remained there for two nights, full of their meat and well restored. After this they gave the utmost thanks to God, and I was esteemed in their eyes, and from that day they had food abundantly.”

ROCK OF CASHEL

IN THE PATTERN OF ST. PAUL

A few years later, he managed to return to Britain, and recognizing all he’d been through, his family begged him not to leave them again. But God had other plans. Like the Macedonian call that came to Paul in the night, so the lost souls of the Irish people called out to Patrick. “There, in a vision of the night, I saw a man coming as if from Ireland with innumerable letters, and he gave me one of them. I read the beginning of the letter: ‘The Voice of the Irish,’ and as I was reading . . . I seemed at that moment to hear the voice of those who were beside the forest of Foclut which is near the western sea, and they were crying as if with one voice: ‘We beg you, holy youth, that you shall come and shall walk again among us.’ And I was stung intensely in my heart so that I could read no more, and thus I awoke.”

Patrick then relates two different occasions when he was aware of speech and prayer going on inside of him while he was sleeping. Both of these experiences convinced him even more that he was being called by God to go back to Ireland. Describing one event, he records the following:

“I saw Him praying within me, and I was, as it were, inside my own body, and I heard Him above me – that is above my inner self. He was praying powerfully with sighs. And in the course of this I was astonished and wondering, and I pondered who it could be who was praying within me. But at the end of the prayer it was revealed to me that it was the Spirit.” Another time he said, “ . . . I heard and could not understand, except at the end of the speech it was represented thus: ‘He who gave his life for you, he it is who speaks within you.’ . . . I remembered the Apostle’s words: ‘Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we know not how to pray as we ought. But the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for utterance.’”

Patrick made the decision to go before the church authorities and ask them to send him to Ireland. Some of his elders brought up the sins of his past, before he had known the Lord personally. Others reminded him that he would surely lose his life if he went back among the cannibalistic pagans, and thus would be going as a martyr. But none of those arguments discouraged him, and he finally won their blessing to go as a missionary to the people who had enslaved him and treated him so inhumanely.

His actual work there began around 430 A.D. At that time the Druid priests regularly performed animal and human sacrifices to idols, and numerous forms of black magic and occult rituals were a part of the normal life of the people. Patrick was literally walking into a haven of deep-seated witchcraft and demonic strongholds. He had intended to go first to the king who had enslaved him, purchase his own freedom from that king, and then tell him of Jesus and His love. However, when the king heard that Patrick was coming to try to convert him, he gathered all of his goods within his house and set fire to everything, including himself, so that he would not be tempted to believe in Patrick’s God. Patrick arrived at the home in time to see the smoke still rising from the self-created funeral pyre, and he was shattered at the power of the devil to bring a man to do such a thing in order to keep him from knowing the true God.

Patrick relates a number of episodes of attack on his person by demonic spirits, as well as by the pagan kings and Druid priests. He prayed daily against these forces of darkness and used every spiritual weapon at his command to break them. But he was never afraid of them. “I fear none of these things” he wrote at one time, “because of the promises of heaven. I have cast myself into the hands of God Almighty who rules everywhere.”

GREEN MOUNTAIN

IN THE SHADOW OF ELIJAH

The major turning point in this confrontation between the powers of hell and the powers of heaven came when Patrick decided to confront the most powerful king and his evil priests at the king’s own stronghold – Tara. The place was full of kings, nobles, soldiers and Druid priests, who were celebrating an important pagan feast which happened to coincide with Easter that year. On the eve of the feast, the high king was supposed to light the first bonfire — before any other fire was lit anywhere in the land. However, Patrick had camped out on a plain in full view of the castle on the hill at Tara, and he lit a huge fire in honor of Jesus Christ and His resurrection, before the king could light the ceremonial fire to worship his idol.

The king was enraged, and he armed twenty-seven chariots with his soldiers, priests and a crowd of other guests, and drove to Patrick’s camp. As one of the two most powerful Druid priests began to insult Patrick and His God, Patrick called on God audibly to cause the evil priest to be brought to death immediately. Before everyone present, an unseen force lifted the priest off the ground and then sent him crashing back down, shattering his skull. The king then called for his soldiers to seize Patrick, but that godly man stood and spoke a word from the Psalms, “May God arise and His enemies be scattered!” Immediately, darkness covered the area, and confusion set in. Soldiers attacked one another, horses ran away, and chariots were smashed. The following morning, Easter Sunday, Patrick and five of his companions entered the king’s castle. The king’s personal priest still tried to hold out against Patrick, but the confrontation ended in the fiery death of that priest, as a result of which, the king finally admitted his defeat and knelt before the man of God.

This auspicious beginning to Patrick’s ministry gained him an enormous reputation. But because the land was divided among numerous small, warring kingdoms, Patrick found that each realm had to be won over individually and taken for the kingdom of God. He often approached the kings bearing valuable gifts and money in order to gain an audience with them. Then he would tell them about Jesus and his salvation. If a king gave his blessing, Patrick was permitted to preach throughout that realm. The Druid priests and unsaved kings continued to fight him fiercely, but the Lord blessed Patrick’s faith and obedience.

Records show that during the thirty years of his ministry, St. Patrick led at least 70,000 people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. He established hundreds of churches, and in less than a hundred years from the beginning of his work, the nation of Ireland had become predominantly Christian and was sending out its own missionaries to other lands. Patrick went to be with his Lord on March 17, most likely in the year 460 A.D.

IRISH CHURCH.JPG - ed

FROM GENERATION TO GENERATION

As we approach the day that marks the yearly celebration of St. Patrick and his life, perhaps it would be good to consider this truth: In every generation, God has his David’s, His Elijah’s, His St. Paul’s, and His St. Patrick’s. All He requires to be able to raise them up in our generation is for each of us to do two things: get close enough to Him to hear His voice clearly and then obey Him instantly, regardless of the cost. St. Patrick has said it well:

“Therefore be amazed, you great and small who fear God . . . . Who was it summoned me, a fool, from the midst of those who appear wise and learned in the law and powerful in rhetoric and in all things? Me, truly wretched in this world, He inspired before others that I could be – if I would – such a one who, with fear and reverence . . . faithfully, without complaint, would come to the people to whom the love of Christ brought me and gave me in my lifetime. . . . Accordingly, therefore, to the measure of one’s faith in the Trinity, one should proceed without holding back from danger to make known the gift of God and everlasting consolation, to spread God’s name everywhere with confidence and without fear . . . .”

(Photos of Pastures, Ben Bulben and Rock of Cashel: Jon at pdphoto.com)

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St. Patrick’s Daily Prayer

ST.PATRICK WINDOW BRIGHTENED CURVEDFor the past three years on St. Patrick’s Day, I have posted an article I wrote a few years ago about the “real” St. Patrick. The article, based on information taken from Patrick’s own personal writings, has nothing to do with the legends and fairy tales about him — or with leprechauns, shamrocks, or green beer. I’m not going to re-post that article today, but if you did not have an opportunity to read it and would like to read the true story of the miraculous life of this man of God, you can find it here — or at one of the ‘Related Posts’ listed below.

However,  today I’d like to share a prayer that St. Patrick prayed daily. He knew the power of prayer, and he understood, from the Word of God, what spiritual warfare involved. His prayers reflect that knowledge and his strong, uncompromising faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word. This prayer is an excellent example of St. Patrick’s faithful prayer life and is an inspiration to anyone who calls Jesus Lord and lives a life of service to Him.

PRAYIN HANDS CLIPART - flippedSt. Patrick’s Daily Prayer

I arise today through a mighty strength: Through the invocation of the Trinity – through belief in the threeness – through confession of the oneness of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim
Obedience of angels in the service of archangels
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward
In prayers of patriarchs
In predictions of prophets
In preaching of apostles
In faith of confessors
In innocence of holy virgins
In deeds of righteous men

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven
Light of sun
Radiance of moon
Splendor of fire
Speed of lightening
Swiftness of wind
Depth of sea
Stability of earth
Firmness of rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me
God’s might to uphold me
God’s wisdom to guide me
God’s eye to look before me
God’s ear to hear me
God’s Word to speak for me.–
God’s hand to guard me
God’s way to lie before me
God’s shield to protect me
God’s hosts to save me from snares of devils
From temptation of vices
From everyone who shall wish me ill – afar and near – alone and in multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel, merciless power that may oppose my body and soul.
Against incantations of false prophets
Against black laws of pagandom
Against false laws of heretics
Against craft of idolatry
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards
Against every knowledge that corrupts men’s souls.

Christ to shield me today against poison, against burning, against drowning, against wounding, so that there may come to me abundance of reward.

Christ with me; Christ before me; Christ behind me; Christ in me; Christ beneath me; Christ above me; Christ on my right; Christ on my left;

Christ when I sit down; Christ when I lie down; Christ when I arise.
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me
Christ in every one who speaks of me
Christ in every eye that sees me
Christ in every ear that hears me

I arise today through a mighty strength: Through the invocation of the Trinity – through belief in the threeness – through confession of the oneness of the Creator of creation.

CELTIC CROSS GREEN

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Priceless Heritage

Most of our nation is celebrating the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. today. And that celebration is honorable. But I’d like to focus today on celebrating the life and work of another great African-American who allowed the Lord to use him to begin a work that changed the lives of millions of individuals and changed the world as a whole for all the rest of time.

William J. Seymour had a hunger for God, and at the turn of the 20th century, because he was a black man, he was refused admittance into the meetings of the handful of white people who were beginning to understand the baptism in the Holy Spirit and to move in the power of God’s ministry gifts to the Body of Christ. But his personal hunger for more of Jesus and His power caused Seymour to willingly sit alone for days in a hallway outside a meeting room and listen to the teaching so that he could learn the truth about the Holy Spirit and God’s will to pour that Spirit out on all people who would believe.

From that more than humble beginning, Seymour rose up a giant of faith and obedience to the Spirit of God and traveled to Los Angeles to share the truths he’d learned and made his own. After considerable persecution at the hands of many in that city, he eventually moved his teaching to a little wooden building on Azuza Street, and the rest, as we say, is history.

But it’s not just any kind of history. It is the history of Almighty God pouring out His love and power on the human race, in the 20th century, in a manner that changed the entire world forever. We who believe have a part yet to play in that history. Thank You, Lord, for such a priceless heritage.

 

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Happy Hanukkah!

Hanukkah began at sunset yesterday.  As a Christian, I celebrate this holiday because the roots of my own faith are in Judaism.  Below, I’ve shared an article my dad wrote a few years ago concerning Hanukkah and how the Christian faith and Christmas exist because of the Jewish faith and the events that brought about the celebration of Hanukkah.  May you enjoy the blessings of God’s love and provision during this season of celebration. 

WITHOUT HANUKKAH, THERE WOULD BE NO CHRISTMAS
(by Ted Pavloff)

MENORAH -- BY CHESDOVI, DEC. 2006 - EDITED 2
I do not hesitate to say, or apologize for saying, that our Christian heritage is in Judaism. If you dig down into our foundations deeply enough, you discover the Jew. That is not only a spiritual truth, but also a historical fact. Jesus was a Jew—100%, full-blooded, full-fledged Hebrew. This was in God’s plan. That is why He called Abraham and, through him and his wife Sarah, established the Jewish nation. Through this Jewish bloodline would come the promised Messiah. No other nation or ethnic people on earth at that time were worthy of that honor. It had to be a brand new people living and worshiping under the law of Jehovah God.

From that point, everything should have run smoothly, but it didn’t. Israel had her problems with sin and idolatry; plus she had her national enemies who also were responsible in part for her sins. You see, Satan did not retire when God cast him out of Heaven. He knew something big lay up ahead, all of which would be to the glory of God. So he never missed an opportunity to try sidetracking every move he thought was God’s. And, without question, his special target throughout the Old Testament era was the Jewish people — the children of Israel. He didn’t want to merely harass them or make them suffer. He wanted desperately to annihilate them—wipe them off the face of the earth. He is still trying to do that today.

And that brings us to a special time in history when Satan almost succeeded. It was in the period between the Testaments, specifically 168 BC. Something happened that culminated into a celebration known as Hanukkah, an 8-day long holiday celebrated by the Jews to this day. And because of Hanukkah we have Christmas. And if there had never been a Hanukkah, there would be no Christmas!

In the period I referred to between the Testaments, the children of Israel were under the iron rule of the Syrian king named Antiochus. Not only did Antiochus subject the Jews to a life of suffering, but he was also openly determined to destroy the very foundation and unique identity of Judaism. He prevented the Jews from ever using the Temple, but he didn’t stop there. He forced them to abandon every phase of their religion. He banned Sabbath, circumcisions, all worship of Jehovah God, and all traditions that dated back to Moses. He destroyed all of the writings of the scribes that he could locate. He erected idols all over the Temple, including in the Holy of Holies. Then as the ultimate act of desecration of God’s temple, he sacrificed a pig on the altar of God.

The Jews were totally defeated and demoralized. This was one unique time in Jewish history when the enemy came within a fraction of destroying all traces of a recognizable Jewish culture. And any chance for a promised Messiah to be born into Judaism would have vanished.

But in 168 BC, at the height of the reign of Antiochus, there was an aged Jewish priest named Mattathias who one day struck down and killed one of Antiochus’ commissioners and an apostate Jew, who were in the process of offering up heathen sacrifices in the temple. Then he leveled the altar and escaped with his five sons into the wilderness. He organized a guerrilla band to oppose Antiochus. Two of his sons were killed in the process, and Mattathias died shortly thereafter.

But the eldest son, Judas, took over. Judas and his guerrilla band defeated every military unit Antiochus sent against them. During this time Judas won the name “Macabbee,” which means “the hammerer.” Within three years, Judas Maccabee and his band of Jewish guerrillas miraculously recaptured the city of Jerusalem and the temple.

They promptly set about destroying every semblance of heathen presence. They thoroughly cleansed the temple and rededicated it to Jehovah God and to the worship of Him alone.

The temple was rededicated on the 25th day of the Jewish month of “Kislev,” which corresponds exactly to our month of December. The name Hanukkah means “dedication.” The celebration is also referred to as “The Feast of Dedication,” and the “Festival of Lights.” The common Hebrew phrase connected with Hanukkah is “Nes Gadoy Haya Sham,” which means: “A great miracle happened here.” Truly, it was a great miracle: Judaism was saved from oblivion.

In actual fact, there are two miracles that link Hanukkah and Christmas, and understanding them will raise your joyful appreciation of both. First, there was the preservation of the Jewish people. Had Antiochus been successful, the Jews and Judaism would have gone the route of all the other nations that are today nothing more than archeological history. (e.g. Philistines, Amalakites, etc.) There would not have been a chosen nation for Christ to be born into. So whenever you are tempted to doubt God’s saving power, remember Hanukkah and His loving power for the Maccabees: all odds against them, yet they miraculously prevailed. He is the same God, who today delivers His people, Jew and Gentile.

The second miracle of Hanukkah is the miracle of lights. Antiochus and his thugs had extinguished the Seven-branch Menorah that was to burn in the temple continuously. The victorious Jews searched for oil to rekindle this sacred flame. They found only enough for one day, and it would take eight days to get more. In their excitement to rekindle the flame, they didn’t wait. They lit it with only one day’s supply of oil. Miraculously it burned continually for eight days. This is why Hanukkah is celebrated for eight full days, and why a nine branch candelabra is used in the celebration. The “Shamash,” or servant candle is lit first; then it lights all the other candles one at a time each night for the eight nights. On the eighth night the full candelabra is brilliantly aglow.

John 10 tells us that Jesus went up to the temple at the Feast of Dedication. Isn’t it appropriate that He would choose that moment to declare, “I am the light of the world. He that follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”? (John 8:12.)

Like the “Shamash,” the Servant Candle (Jesus) lights our way and sends His Holy Spirit to ignite us, to fire us up, so we can shine His light into a dark world.

So the miracle of preservation made Christmas possible, and the miracle of light reminds us of the prophet’s voice: “He shall be a light unto the Gentiles … and His salvation will reach to the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6).

Finally, there is the common theme that links Hanukkah and Christmas, and it is that of “God with us – Immanuel.” There is a traditional Hanukkah hymn that reads like this: “Rock of ages, let our song praise thy saving power; thou amidst the raging foe, were our sheltering tower; furious they assailed us; by thy arm you availed us; and thy word broke their sword when our own strength failed us!”

God has promised to be with us, His people, in every endeavor of our lives, and this promise was forever sealed in the Name the prophets chose to call Messiah. “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and you shall call His name Immanuel.”  (Isaiah 7:14).

Jesus was born to die and then rise up victoriously. Born to light our way and make us lights. Born to be worshiped and adored by Jews and Gentiles alike. He is the Hope of Hanukkah and the Christ of Christmas.

These two holidays share their significance in the person of Y’shua, Jesus, our Rock of Ages.

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