Today’s selected reading continues in the second New Testament epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first fourteen verses of the second chapter. When you come to this particular portion of scripture you will find the apostle Paul once more appealing to Timothy as a son the way a father would appeal to his son. As this chapter opens it does so with the apostle Paul speaking to and addressing Timothy as a son, which is something that was not uncommon in the letters he wrote unto this young disciple turned bishop of the church in Ephesus. Undoubtedly when the apostle wrote this second epistle Timothy was still located within the city of Ephesus and was faithfully serving the Lord in the work of the ministry of the kingdom of God. What gives the way Paul addresses Timothy in this passage of scripture so much weight is what you find and read in the opening verses of the epistle itself. If you turn back to the opening of the epistle which Paul wrote unto Timothy you will find the apostle Paul speaking to and addressing him as his beloved son—language which was similar to that which was used by the Father within the life of Jesus Christ. You will recall that as Jesus emerged from the waters of baptism within the Jordan River the heavens were opened, the Spirit descended like a dove upon Jesus, and the Father spoke from heaven declaring concerning Jesus that this was His beloved Som in whom He was well pleased. What’s more, is that this was the first of two occasions when the Father made such a declaration concerning Jesus, for you will recall the account of Jesus taking the disciples with Him atop a mountain where He was transfigured in front of them. On this second occasion the voice of the Father spoke from heaven and declared Jesus to be His believed Son. In addition to the declaration of Jesus being His believed Son, the Father also instructed the disciples to hear and listen to Him. What we find in the opening verses of this second epistle written unto Timothy is essentially a second appeal to Timothy as a son—much like the Father spoke to and addressed His own Som at His baptism and at His transfiguration.
This second epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy is actually quite remarkable and astonishing when you consider that it was the second epistle the apostle Paul felt compelled to to write unto young Timothy. I haven’t yet researched how much time has elapsed between the writing of the first epistle unto Timothy and this second epistle, but suffice it to say the apostle Paul felt compelled and perhaps even burdened to write a second time unto Timothy. There seems to be an indication that Timothy was becoming moved and gripped with fear, for in the opening chapter of this epistle you will find the apostle Paul declaring unto him that God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. This reality seems to be further confined when you read in the third verse of the years which Timothy has shed within and during his tenure as a minister of the gospel concerning Jesus Christ in Ephesus. Within the first chapter of this epistle we are not only confronted with the fact that Timothy appeared to be struggling, but also that he was perhaps wrestling with the burdens and the pressures that were directly connected to and associated with being a faithful minister of the gospel. If there is one thing the epistles the apostle Paul writes reveals unto us who would read them, it’s that it is perfectly okay to struggle. Through the writings of the apostle Paul we come face to face with the reality that we don’t have to have it all together, and that there are times within our lives when we feel weak and heavy laden under the burdens and pressures of what is before us. If you read the words which the apostle Paul writes unto the saints of Corinth you will find his own struggle with weaknesses and infirmities, and his declaration that he would most happily boast of his weaknesses and his struggles. For the apostle Paul it was okay to struggle, and it was okay to wrestle with burdens and pressures which are continually before us. The apostle Paul himself was no stranger to the struggles which were associated with ministry and wrote unto the Corinthian saints concerning those struggles.
As we read the words which the apostle Paul writes unto Timothy in this second epistle there seems to be every indication that young Timothy was wrestling and struggling with this I spirit of fear. There is not a doubt in my mind that this is not so, and if it wasn’t so, the apostle Paul would not have written unto Timothy concerning God not giving us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. There is not a doubt in my mind that the apostle Paul was keenly award of the tremendous struggle which Timothy has—a struggle which was evidenced and manifested in the tears he cried. Within the opening verses of this second epistle we not only come face to face with the fact that young Timothy was struggling and wrestling with the spirit of fear, but also that this struggle was taking a heavy toll on his emotional state and well being. When writing unto this young servant of the Lord Jesus Christ the apostle Paul spoke to and addressed him as a father would a son, for Timothy needed the voice of a father a second time within his ministry. There is not a doubt in my mind that Jesus Himself needed to hear the voice of the Father a second time while on the mountain of transfiguration, for He knew full well that He was on a direct path and collision course with the cross and with His own death. Even when Christ is found in the garden of Gethsemane you will find him wrestling with the concept and reality of what he was about to face and endure as He would be nailed to a cruel Roman tree. Consider if you will the account of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane as it is recorded by the beloved physician Luke in the twenty-second chapter of his gospel account of Jesus’ life and ministry:
“And He came out,a nd went, as He was wont, to the mount of Olives; and His disciples also followed Him. And when He was at the place, He said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine be done. And there appeared an angel unto Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony He prayed more earnestly: and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when He rose up from prayer, and was come to His disciples, He found them sleeping for sorrow, and said unto them, Why sleep ye? Rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation” (Luke 22:39-46).
The account of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane was not only recorded in the New Testament gospel according to Luke, for if you turn and direct your attention to the New Testament gospel of Matthew you will find another account of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. In the twenty-sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew you will find the following words describing Jesus’ time in the garden of Gethsemane where He not only prayed before and unto His Father who was in heaven, but also where He wrestled with that which was before Him. Consider if you will the account of Jesus in the garden as it was recorded by Matthew beginning with the thirty-sixth verse of the twenty-sixth chapter:
“Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, sit ye hear, while I go and pray yonder. And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith He unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And He went a little further, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then cometh He to His disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me” (Matthew 26:36-46).
In the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew we find Jesus taking Peter, James and John with Him atop a high mountain where He was transfigured before them and speaking unto Moses and Elijah there on the mountain. This encounter and experience has often fascinated me, for not only do we find Jesus transfigured before the disciples there with Him, but we also find Him speaking with Moses and Elijah—essentially speaking with the Law and the prophets. While there atop the mountain the voice of the Father broke through that encounter and not only declared concerning Jesus that He was His beloved Son, but also instructed them to hear and listen unto Him. There is not a doubt in my mind that there was a great need for Jesus to hear the voice of His Father knowing full well that which lie before Him as His path not only led to, but also through the cross. Lest you think and consider for one moment that this isn’t the case, I would ask you to consider that while Jesus was hanging there naked and bleeding upon the cross there was a moment when He cried out to His Father, saying, “My God, my God, Why hast thou forsaken me?” There upon the cross Jesus could feel and sense the absence of the Father, and perhaps even felt forsaken and abandoned by His own Father—that Father who not only once, but also twice declared unto Him that He was His beloved Son. This actually brings me to an incredibly powerful truth—one that for many would be difficult to hear and understand. The truth that is therein contained within this passage of Scripture is that it is possible there will be times within our lives when we will experience a tremendous amount of suffering, and perhaps even the greatest trial and struggle of our lives, and it feels as though the Father is not only absent, but also is not speaking. There is not a doubt in my mind that there on the cross Jesus Christ felt completely alone, completely isolated, completely forsaken, and perhaps even completely abandoned—and not merely by His disciples, but even by His own Father who was in heaven. There on the cross Jesus Christ felt completely and utterly alone and forsaken—and not by His disciples, although we are well aware of the fact that when He was betrayed in the garden and seized by those who accompanied Judas, His disciples fled and abandoned Him. More than His disciples forsaking and abandoning Him during that moment of His greatest struggle and greatest need, nothing compared to the feeling of being forsaken and abandoned by His own Father who was in heaven. This is actually an incredibly astonishing reality within our lives when we think about and consider it, for it reveals something absolutely incredible about feeling forsaken by the Father during those moments of our greatest need.
I can’t help but be reminded of the account of Elijah after he had not only called down fire from heaven atop mount Carmel, but also after he had just prayed for rain to fall from heaven. If you turn and direct your attention to the eighteenth and nineteenth chapters of the Old Testament book of First Kings you will find the account of Elijah atop mount Carmel, as well as Elijah’s flight after he had engaged the prophets of Baal atop the mountain. What is actually quite interesting and astounding about the account of Elijah in these two chapters is that almost immediately after the greatest fight and struggle within his life, he was immediately faced with flight as his heart was seized and gripped with fear. IN order to truly recognize and understand the weight and significance of what is taking place within the life of Elijah, it is necessary that we first consider his time atop mount Carmel, and the event(s) which immediately ensued thereafter. Consider if you will the account of Elijah atop mount Carmel as it is recorded for us in the Old Testament book of First Kings:
“And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down. And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the Lord came, saying, Israel shall be thy name: and with the stones he built and altar in the name of the Lord: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed. And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood. And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time. And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water. And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let is be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, He is the God; the Lord, He is the God. And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishinev, and slew them there. And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain. So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees, and said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not. And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great Frani. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel. And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel” (1 Kings 18: 30-=46).
What we find and what we read in this particular passage of Scripture is the account of Elijah and the prophets atop mount Carmel in a showdown of the gods versus the God of heaven and earth. After giving the prophets of Baal an opportunity to pray unto their gods to send fire down upon the sacrifice on the earth, Elijah called the people unto him in order that he might prepare the altar and the sacrifice upon the altar. Within this particular passage of Scripture—not only do we find Elijah calling on the Lord of heaven and earth to send fire down from heaven, but we also find Elijah praying for rain to fall upon the earth once more. You will recall that earlier on in the prophetic ministry of Elijah he declared unto Ahab that it would not rain except by the word of his mouth. What’s more, is that we find in this passage of Scripture Elijah confronting the prophets of Baal, as well as the false gods which were present within and upon the earth. Within this chapter is perhaps the single greatest conflict and struggle within the life of the prophet Elijah, for not only did he directly confront and take the prophets of Baal head on, but he called down both fire and rain from heaven. Now, you would expect after this tremendous fight and after this tremendous conflict a season of rest and peace for the prophet Elijah. What happens after you have just taken on and confronted—not only the false prophets of Baal, but also the false god of Baal as well? What happens after you pray unto the God of heaven and earth to send fire from heaven, and He does so? What happens after you pray unto the God of heaven and earth to send rain upon the earth, and He does so? If you begin reading with and from the nineteenth chapter of this same Old Testament book you will find the powerful account of Elijah in a showdown—not with the false god of Baal, or even with the false prophets of Baal, but with Jezebel herself. Consider if you will the account of Elijah and Jezebel in the nineteenth chapter beginning with the first verse:
“And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto E Lijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beer-Sheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. And as he lay and sleep under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baked on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God. And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou hear Elijah? And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. And the Lord said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus” (1 Kings 19:1-15).
What we find in the nineteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Kings is actually quite a powerful presentation of that which faces the servants of the Lord during certain seasons and points during their lives. In the eighteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Kings we find Elijah engaging in a tremendous conflict with the false god Baal, as well as with the false prophets of Baal. What’s more, is that immediately after this tremendous fight and conflict in atop mount Carmel we find the prophet Elijah calling down rain from heaven after a drought had consumed the land for the space of three and a half years. What marks the nineteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Kings so incredibly interesting is that within it find something that we wouldn’t think follows a tremendous conflict and fight such as what we witnessed atop mount Carmel. What we find in the nineteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Kings is not rest and peace after having just confronted the false prophets of Baal and Baal himself, but the exact opposite. What we find in the nineteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Kings is fear and flight, after Jezebel had just breathed out a murderous threat against Elijah. Instead of the prophet finding peace and rest after being zealous for the glory and honor of the Lord in the midst of His people, and in the midst of Israel, we instead find fear and flight, as the prophet’s heart was consumed with fear because of the murderous threat of Jezebel against his life. It was that fear for his life, and that fear of Jezebel’s murderous threat that thrust Elijah to flee for his life—and not only flee for his life, but also to ask the Lord to take his life. It wasn’t enough that Elijah simply fled from the murderous threat of Jezebel, but Elijah also sought of the Lord that He might take his life. Please pay close attention to this, for it thus reveals something absolutely tremendous within our lives—namely, that there are times when we experience a tremendous victory and triumph within our lives, that we aren’t immediately met with peace and rest, but are met with fear and flight. There are times within our lives when we are met with an even greater conflict than that which we experienced prior to the initial conflict. Elijah had called down fire from heaven, and even prayed for rain after a drought for three and a half years, and yet immediately thereafter the prophet was seized with fear and ultimately fled for his life from the murderous threats and presence of Jezebel.
When I consider the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy in this second epistle—particularly and especially when I consider it in light of what we read in the book of First Kings—I can’t help but be absolutely and completely gripped by the apostle’s words concerning God not giving him the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. What’s more, is that when I read these words in light of what the apostle goes on to write in the second chapter, it becomes quite clear that Timothy was in a place where he needed some serious encouragement. If you begin reading the second chapter of this second epistle you will find the apostle Paul once more speaking to and addressing him as son, but also providing him with an incredible and overwhelming amount of encouragement. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul writes unto Timothy in the second chapter of this second epistle beginning with the first verse: “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that Warren entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath c hoses him to be a soldier. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully” (2 Timothy 2:1-5). As I read the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy I am not only gripped with the fact that he instructed and encouraged him to be strong, but also to be strong in the grace of the Lord. This brings me face to face with the tremendous reality that not only do we come boldly unto the throne of grace to obtain mercy, and to find grace to help in time of need, but we also need to be strong in the grace in which we have received. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the twelfth chapter of the second epistle which was written unto the saints which were at Corinth. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the twelfth chapter of this second epistle beginning with the first verse of the chapter:
“it is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I k new such a man (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing” (2 Corinthians 12:1-11).
When I read the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy in the second chapter of this second epistle I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the author of the epistle to the Hebrews wrote, as well as the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto Corinthian congregation. In the fourth chapter of the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews the author emphatically writes and declares that we are to come boldly unto the throne of grace to obtain mercy, and to find grace to help in time of need. When writing unto the saints which were at Corinth for the second time, the apostle Paul writes how Jesus Christ declared unto him that His grace was sufficient for him, and that His strength was made perfect in his weakness. Thus, not only are we confronted with the reality of finding grace to help in time of need at the very throne of grace, but also the grace of Jesus Christ is sufficient for us. What’s more, is that there is a direct connection between the grace of Jesus Christ—that grace which is found at the very throne of Grace—and the strength of Christ, for not only is His grace sufficient for us, but that grace is found when we come boldly before the throne of grace. I absolutely love how the apostle Paul instructed and encouraged Timothy to be strong in the grace of God, for not only was the apostle Paul instructing young Timothy to come boldly unto the throne of grace, but the apostle Paul was also declaring unto Timothy that the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ was sufficient for him. I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and captivated with and by the reality that it is one thing to be strong in the Lord, but it is another thing altogether to be strong in the grace of the Lord. In other words—not only is the grace of Jesus Christ sufficient for us, and not only is that grace made available to us at the throne of grace, but we are also to be strong in that grace. Once more within the writings of the apostle Paul we find a direct connection between the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and strength which we are called to have. I can’t help but be reminded of specific instances in which we are instructed to be strong—the first of which is found in the sixth chapter of the New Testament epistle which was written unto the saints which were at Ephesus. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote in this epistle beginning with the tenth verse:
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:10-19).
I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the Lord Himself spoke unto Joshua immediately after Moses His servant had died, and Joshua was now faced with the tremendous task of leading the children of Israel—a people who had not only spent forty years wandering in the wilderness, but also watched an entire generation die and perish in the wilderness. In the opening chapter of the Old Testament book of Joshua we find the following words which were spoken unto Joshua by the Lord Himself—words which were meant to encourage this new leader, as well as a new generation to boldly face that which was before them:
“Moses. My servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that you mayest observe to do according to all the law, which. Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that you mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest” (Joshua 1:2-9).
What I so love about the words which the apostle Paul writes unto Timothy is that not only does he speak to him as a son, but he encourages him to be be strong in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, it wasn’t enough merely to be strong, or even to experience His strength, but he actually needed to be strong in that grace. Similarly, when writing to the Ephesian congregation the apostle Paul instructed them to be strong in the Lord, as well as in the power of His night. This would seemingly suggest that it’s not enough simply to be strong, but to the strong in both the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, as well as the power of His might. It’s worth noting that when Joshua was to lead an entire generation into the inheritance promised unto both themselves and their fathers, the Lord encouraged and instructed Joshua—the younger generation—to be strong and very courageous. When the time came for Solomon to build the Temple and to lead as king of Israel, he too was encouraged and instructed to be strong in the Lord, and to continue the work which his father wanted to begin. I am utterly convinced that there is a number of those who are either preparing to lead others into their inheritance, or are preparing to enter into the inheritance themselves who need to hear the voice of the Father encouraging them to be strong and to fear not. There is an entire generation of individuals who are planning and preparing to build the Temple of the Holy Spirit in their lives whom the Lord is encouraging to be strong. There are countless Timothy’s who right now are in a dark place and who desperately need to hear the voice of a father encouraging them to be strong in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and to endure hardship as a good soldier. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Peter wrote in his first epistle when he in no uncertain terms suggested to his audience that they should anticipate hardship, and struggles, and suffering, and conflict within their lives, knowing that their brethren around the world are experiencing the very same thing. The question is not whether or not we will experience hardship, but whether or not we will endure hardship. There are a number of men and women who might very well be experiencing hardships and trials and struggles, yet the question is whether or not they can actually endure them—and endure them as a good soldier. Jesus Christ Himself declares that in this world we will have many trials, however, we are to be of good cheer, for He has overcome the world. It is because He overcame the world, and because He was in all ways tempted as we are that we can endure hardship and that we can come out in the other side.