Are You Done Being Selfish With Your Struggles?

Today’ selected reading continues in the New Testament epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Philippi. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses twelve through thirty of the first chapter and concludes the chapter. If there is one thing we must recognize when reading the epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto these saints, it’s that this particular epistle was one of the epistles which the apostle Paul wrote while sitting in prison. As I have already discussed in a previous writing concerning the epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Ephesian congregation we discovered that this particular epistle was also written while the apostle Paul was sitting in a prison. It’s interesting and worth noting that when you read the writings of the apostle Paul found within the New Testament of Scripture you will find that the prison epistles of Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians are placed in sequential order within the New Testament. After we finished reading the first prison epistle which the apostle Paul wrote in the New Testament we come to the second epistle which the apostle Paul would write from prison. While it is not evident or obvious when first reading this epistle that the apostle Paul was sitting in a prison it is quickly made manifest and clear when you come to the seventh verse of the first chapter. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the seventh verse of the first chapter of this particular epistle: “Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace” (Philippians 1:7). After just writing and declaring unto the Philippians that he was confident that He who began a good work in them would perform it until the day of Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul then goes on to not only declare his thoughts toward them, but also how he has them in his heart. What’s more, is that the apostle Paul would go on to write that both in his bonds, as well as in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, they were all partakers of his grace. I have to admit that the more I read the prison epistles found within he New Testament, the more I am captivated and gripped by the tremendous love, affection, compassion, care and concern the apostle had for the churches which he helped establish in the faith and in the gospel concerning Jesus Christ.

What I find so incredibly powerful when reading these particular epistles from the apostle Paul is the amount of grace and strength he had while enduring what were probably harsh circumstances. We read in the sixteenth chapter of the. New Testament book of Acts how Paul and Silas were imprisoned, and how at midnight they were singing praises unto the Lord their God who is in heaven. The beloved physician Luke records how as a result of their singing and praises before and unto the living God there was an earthquake which shook the entire prison. Luke goes on to record how not only were the prison doors opened, but every mans bonds were loosed. The account goes on to reveal how the jailor would have made to strike himself through with the sword believing the prisoners to have escaped, and were it not for the intervention of the apostle Paul, he would have gone through with it. As a result of Paul’s intervention this jailor asked Paul and Silas what he needed to do in order to be saved. We go on to read how this jailor and his entire household were converted to the faith, and how they all believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. Furthermore, we go on to read how Paul and Silas were ultimately released from that prison, and how they were free to carry on the ministry unto which the Lord had called them. The truth of the matter, however, is that the Lord didn’t always provide such miraculous and supernatural intervention on behalf of His saints who were in prison. There were times when the Lord allowed His servants and saints to remain in prison and would not cause the foundation of the prison to shake, or the prison doors to be opened, or every man’s bonds to be removed. We would like to think that each and every time the servants of the Lord were imprisoned for preaching the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ, and for performing signs, wonders and miracles among men. In fact, this is precisely what caused Paul and Silas to be imprisoned on this particular occasion, for the account goes how there was a young girl who followed Paul and Silas declaring that they were servants of the most High God, which showed unto the people salvation. Eventually and ultimately the apostle Paul became grieved, and as a result of his being grieved, he turned and commanded the evil spirit that was present within this girl to come out of her in the name of Jesus. Luke records how at that very hour the evil spirit which was found to be within this young damsel came out of her, and caused anger to come over her masters because they saw the hope of their gains were gone. All the apostle Paul did was command an evil spirit to come out of this young damsel, and because it interrupted the ability for these masters to make money, they seized Paul and Silas, accused them before men, and ultimately had them thrown in prison.

There are two other accounts found within the New Testament book of Acts that describe the apostles of Jesus Christ being cast into prison. In the fifth chapter of this New Testament book we find the high priest, along with those who were with him rising up with indignation in their hearts toward the apostles, and putting them in the common prison. Consider if you will the account of the apostles on this particular occasion when they were seized and cast into prison by the high priest and religious community of that day. Beginning with the twelfth verse of the fifth chapter we find the following words concerning the activity of the apostles: “And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch. And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women,) insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one. Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, and laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison. But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and Called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned, and told, saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within. Now when the high priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto this would grow. Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people. Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned. And then they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? And, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to bey God rather than men” (Acts 5:12-29).

In the fifth chapter of the New Testament book of the Acts of the apostles we read how the apostles were seized in Jerusalem, and how they were all cast into prison. Luke, however, records, how the angel of the Lord came by night and not only opened the prison doors, but also led them out and commanded them to once more go into the temple and proclaim the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ. When we come to the twelfth chapter of the same New Testament book we don’t find the apostles as a whole being cast into prison, but rather, we find only the apostle Peter being cast into prison. If you begin reading with and from the first verse of the twelfth chapter of the book of Acts you will find that Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. Luke goes on to record how Herod the king killed James the brother of John with the sword. What’s more, Luke also records that because Herod saw that it pleased the Jews to put James the brother of John to death with the sword, he proceeded further to take Peter also and put him in prison. Beginning with the third verse of this particular passage we find the following words describing Peter’s being cast into prison within the city of Jerusalem: “And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. Then were the days of unleavened bread.) And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And he went out, and followed him; and wrist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him. And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent His angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of. Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews. And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying” (Acts 12:3-12).

DELIVERING THE PRISONERS TO THE HOUSE OF THE LORD! DELIVERING THE PRISONER TO THE HOUSE OF PRAYER! If you study each of these accounts you will quickly be struck by the reality that when reading the first account of the apostles being cast into prison, the angel of the Lord opened the prison doors, brought them out, and instructed them to continue preaching the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ. WHEN PRISONERS ARE BROUGHT FROM THE PRISON HOUSE TO THE HOUSE OF THE LORD! It is absolutely wonderful and fantastic when reading the account of the apostles being cast into prison, for the Lord sent an angel who delivered them up out of the prison, and caused them to once more proclaim the gospel concerning Jesus Christ in the courts of the Temple. When considering the account of the apostle Peter, it’s absolutely fascinating to read and consider the fact that the angel of the Lord not only opened the prison door for Peter, not only caused his chains to fall from his body, and not only led him out of the prison, but also caused him to pass through a gate which opened of its own accord. Luke records how once Peter had come to himself and realized that the Lord sent His angel to deliver him out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark. Luke goes on to record how when Peter came to this particular house, the church and body of Christ were gathered together and prayed unto the Lord. Essentially, the apostle Peter was delivered from the prison house and came to the house where they were praying. What is interesting is what you read concerning the events which took place after the angel of the Lord had brought him out of the prison. IN verses eighteen and nineteen of this chapter we read of the response of the soldiers, as well as the response of Herod the king concerning Peter’s departure from the prison: “Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter. And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he [Peter] went down from Judaea to Caesarea, and there abode” (Acts 12:18-19). Having realized that the apostle Peter had somehow miraculously escaped from the prison Herod examined the keepers of the prison and then ordered and commanded that they should be put to death.

When you come to the sixteenth chapter of the same New Testament book you will find the account of Paul and Silas as they were cast into prison after Paul commanded the evil spirit to come out from the young damsel. Beginning with the nineteenth verse of this particular chapter you will find the following words written and recorded by Luke the beloved physician: “And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, and brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, and teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. And when it was day, the magistrates sent the sergeants, saying, Let those men god. And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace” (Acts 16:19-26).

If you read these three accounts found within the New Testament book of Acts you will discover that they all have one thing in common—those individuals who were represented within each account were cast into prison, but with each occurrence the Lord divinely intervened on behalf of His servants and caused them to come forth from the prison. In the case of the apostles in the fifth chapter of the book of Acts we find the angel of the Lord opening the prison doors and bringing the apostles out of the prison and commanding them to continue preaching and teaching in the court of the Temple. In the twelfth chapter of the book of Acts we find an angel of the Lord awakened Peter out of his sleep, caused his chains to fall off from him, caused the prison door to be opened, led him out of the prison, caused him to pass through a gate which opened of its own accord, and led him a little further before disappearing in the night. In the sixteenth chapter we find a great earthquake shaking the foundations of the prisons, the prison doors being opened, and each man’s chains and bonds being loosed from their bodies. On this particular occasion, however, it was not an angel of the Lord who led Paul and Silas out of the prison, but rather the jailor who led them forth, washed their stripes, gave them meat to eat, and he and his entire household were saved and believed in God and were baptized. Now, while we would read such accounts and be completely and totally amazed by what we read, for the Lord supernaturally, miraculously and divinely intervened on behalf of His servants, this isn’t always, and wasn’t always the case. In fact, the more I read the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the epistle to the Ephesians, as well as the epistle which he wrote unto the Philippians, we find that the Lord didn’t always supernaturally and miraculously intervene and bring His servants out of their prison. There were times when the servants of the Lord were cast into prison, and when they would not immediately be released and brought forth. There were times when there would be no bright light shining in the prison, no angel of the Lord causing prison doors to be opened, no shackles, chains or bonds falling off, no iron gates opening of their own accord, and the like. What happens when you are cast into prison and there is no divine intervention after you have been cast into prison? What happens when you are cast into prison and you are caused to remain in that prison without ever being brought out of that prison? We would like to think that the Lord always delivers His servants and saints from the prisons they have been cast in, but that simply is not the case. We would be incredibly naïve to believe the lie and the deception that the Lord always causes His servants to come forth from the prison they have been cast in the very same day, or the very same night they were cast into it in the first place.

There is perhaps no greater example of this reality—the reality that the Lord doesn’t always deliver His servants from the prison they have been cast into—than in the life of John the Baptist. The first recorded mention of John the Baptist being cast into prison is found in the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew. Beginning with the twelfth verse of the fourth chapter we read the following words concerning Jesus after He returned from His temptation in the wilderness: “Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaium, which is upon the seat coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; the people which sat in darkness saw a great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up” (Matthew 4:12-16). In the fourth chapter of the gospel concerning Jesus Christ which was written by Matthew we find that John the Baptist had been cast into prison. What’s interesting to note is that when we come to the eleventh chapter of the gospel which Matthew wrote we find John the Baptist still in prison having not been released by Herod. In fact, what we find and what we read in the eleventh chapter of Matthew’s gospel is actually quite remarkable and astounding, for there appears to be a dark cloud and a dark shadow looming over John the Baptist within that prison. Beginning with the first verse of the eleventh chapter we find the following words written concerning John the Baptist in prison: “And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding His twelve disciples, He departed to teach and to preach in their cities. Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of His disciples, and said unto him, Art thou He that should come, or do we look for another? Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me” (Matthew 11:1-6). What we learn and what we discover within this passage is not only that John the Baptist was still in prison after he had been cast there, but we also learn that there was an apparent discouragement, an apparent doubting, an apparent offense, and an apparent darkness that was beginning to come over John while in prison. The question I am inclined to ask myself is whether or not John the Baptist thought that he would be released from prison and would be permitted to return and preach the gospel concerning the kingdom of heaven. Scripture is unclear what the expectations of John the Baptist were when he was cast into prison, or even what his expectations were when he sent two of His disciples unto Jesus, but Jesus’ words concerning offense seem to suggest that John was struggling while sitting there in that cold and dark prison.

In the eleventh chapter of Matthew’s gospel we find what appears to be John the Baptist struggling and wrestling with doubt, confusion, and perhaps even bitterness within his heart concerning his cousin Jesus who was the Christ and the Son of the living God. Here John was sitting in prison, and while he was sitting there in prison he was hearing about the works of Christ which were being performed all around him in Jerusalem, in Judaea, and in the surrounding regions, towns and villages. There was John the Baptist sitting in a prison cell hearing about the works of Christ and the power of God taking place all around him, and yet he remained stuck there in that prison. What happens when you hear of the works of Christ taking place all around you, and yet those works and that power have absolutely no effect on your present situation and circumstance? What happens when you are hearing of the works of Christ taking place all around you, and yet your present situation and circumstance doesn’t change? We read in the New Testament book of Acts how the angel of the Lord led the apostles out of prison, and we read how the angel of the led delivered Peter out of the hand of Herod, and out of the hand of the Jews, and brought him forth from the prison, and we even read how Paul and Silas were delivered—not only from their chains and shackles, but also from the prison cell they had been secured within. When we come to the account of John the Baptist, however—this one whom Jesus declared that there had arisen no one greater than him in the earth—we find him remaining in a prison without any hope or promise of escape. John the Baptist was cast into prison, and while sitting there in that dark and cold prison cell he kept hearing about the works which his cousin Jesus was performing among men all around him. Is it possible that John thought that surely his cousin would have come and visited him in prison? Is it possible that John thought that he would be released from that prison cell at some point? The more I read and the more I consider the account of John the Baptist in prison, the more I can’t help but be confronted with the expectations we have with the Lord our God. I can’t help but wonder if John the Baptist expected and perhaps even thought that his cousin Jesus would at least come and visit him in prison, and yet day after day, night after night would come and yet there would be no visit from Jesus. I can’t help but wonder if John the Baptist sent two of his disciples unto Jesus asking if He was the Christ or they should look for another, I can’t help but wonder if John was experiencing doubt within his heart—perhaps partly because of his situation and circumstances, and partly because of expectations he had within his heart. Is it possible that John the Baptist had grown entirely discontent and discouraged with his present situation and circumstances, and directly related to that discontentment he also had expectations regarding Christ which went unmet and unfulfilled?

As you continue reading the New Testament gospel which Matthew wrote, you will find that not only was John the Baptist cast into prison, and not only would he not be released from that prison, but he would also die in that prison. If you begin reading with and from the first verse of the fourteenth chapter of Matthew’s gospel concerning Jesus Christ you will find Herod the tetrarch hearing of the fame of Jesus, and perceiving within himself that he might be John the Baptist risen from the dead. Consider if you will the words which Matthew wrote and recorded concerning John the Baptist in this particular passage of Scripture: “At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus, and said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife. For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. But when Herod’s birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John the Baptist’s head in a charger. And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath’s sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus. When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities” (Matthew 14:1-13). When you read this passage of Scripture, not only do you discover the reason John the Baptist was cast into prison—his open denunciation and condemnation of Herod going in unto his brother Philip’s wife—but we also find that John would ultimately never escape or be released from that prison, and would instead die and perish in the midst of it. Within this passage of Scripture we find that as a direct result of an oath Herod promised unto the daughter of Herodias, Herod sent and had John beheaded in the prison. Please don’t miss or lose sight of this reality, for it might very well be said that John died with his expectations concerning Jesus going unmet and unfulfilled. It might very well be said that John spent countless days and countless nights sitting in that prison wondering, waiting, hoping that Jesus would come and visit him, or that by some chance he would be released from the prison, and yet not only would Jesus never come and visit him, not only would he never be released from that prison, but he would be beheaded in that prison, and would die a prisoner. What happens when you die a prisoner and when your expectations of Jesus and you’re hope, your trust, your confidence in Jesus goes largely unmet and unfulfilled? How do you respond, and how do you react when you find yourself in a similar position and place within your life?

Now, you might be wondering why I took so long in describing the three prison breaks which took place within the book of the Acts, as well as John the Baptist’s experience in the prison, but when you read the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the latter portion of this first chapter you will understand the tremendous significance and importance of such accounts. The apostle Paul writes in verses twelve through fourteen the following words concerning his bonds: “But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; so that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; and many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear” (Philippians 1:12-14). If you read these words written by the apostle Paul you will discover an absolutely unprecedented outlook on his present situation and circumstance, for he understood and believed that the things which happened to him have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel, in order that his bonds in Christ are manifest in both the palace and in all other places. What’s more, is that the apostle Paul goes on to write concerning his bonds that as a direct result of his bonds, many of the brethren waxed confident and were much more bold to speak the word without fear. Upon reading these words written by the apostle Paul you are brought face to face with the tremendous reality that his present circumstance(s) were accomplishing so much more beyond that prison cell which he was in. It would be incredibly wise of us to pay close attention to this, for more often than not we look at our circumstances and situations and see them only as they pertain, relate to, and touch our own lives. Did you know that it is possible that you can be selfish over your situations? Did you know that you can be selfish with your circumstances? Did you know that you can be self-centered when it comes to your afflictions and trials? You might ask the question how I can make such statements, but each and every time you view your situation and circumstance as only affecting you, and only being about you, you short those around you who are impacted and affected by what you are going through.

The apostle Paul embraced his chains, and he boasted in his weaknesses and infirmities—not only because He knew that the power might be of God rather than Himself, but also because his circumstances were working a far greater reward in the lives of the saints and brethren. Remember the words which the apostle Peter wrote when he declared that the same afflictions are being accomplished in our brethren which are in the world. No situation, no circumstance, no trial, no struggle, no conflict, no suffering we endure and face ever takes place in a vacuum, and it has an impact and affect on those we interact with on a consistent and daily basis. One of the greatest challenges we face when we go through those things we experience is being selfish and self-centered with and about them. There is a growing tendency within our hearts and minds to make what we go through all about us, as though everything is about us and the world somehow revolves around us. We grow discouraged, discontented, and perhaps even disheartened when we endure that struggles, the conflicts, and the troubles we experience, and yet we fail to recognize and understand the far reaching impact and affect it has on those around us. Did you know that people around you are watching how you handle conflict? Did you know that people around you are watching how you handle the struggles life throws at you? Did you know that those around you are watching how you handle pain, and heartache, and affliction, and wounds, and scars, and the like? Whether you want to believe and/or accept it or not those around you are watching and listening to how you handle the trails and troubles you go through. I have previous written how the apostle Peter instructed us to not be surprised or think it strange when we encounter fiery trials, and how we are to in all reality expect and even anticipate struggles and conflict within our lives. I am reminded of a scene from the Passion of the Christ when Jesus is portrayed as embracing the cross He was forced to carry, and how those who watched and witnessed this actually mocked such an act. While Scripture doesn’t exactly reveal Jesus embracing the physical cross He was forced to carry, it does convey how He embraced the joy that was set before Him, and how He was looking forward to the reward of His suffering. I would leave you with the words which the author of the epistle to the Hebrews wrote concerning this Jesus whom we worship and serve as a challenge unto you who would read these words: ”Wherefore seeing we also are composed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sis set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds” (Hebrews 12:1-3).

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