When Teaching & Preaching Fade: The Shallow Ministry of Teaching Absent Serving & Prayer

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as written and recorded by the apostle John. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first eleven verses of the seventeenth chapter. When you come to the words found within this passage of scripture you will find the words of teaching which were spoken on the night Jesus was betrayed coming to an end. As you draw near and approach the words found within this chapter you will notice that the teaching which took place on this night drawing to a close, and prayer and praying taking its place. It’s actually quite interesting to come to this particular chapter found within the gospel of John, for it brings us face to face with what took place when the teaching comes to an end and fades into the night. There was an old contemporary worship song that was entitled “The Heart of Worship,” and as this song begins and opens it does so with the words “When the music fades away and all is stripped away.” I would like to draw from the opening lines of this song and not necessarily speak to the reality of music fading, but rather speaking to the reality of teaching fading away. WHEN THE TEACHING FADES AWAY! WHEN THE TEACHING FADES INTO THE BACKGROUND! WHEN THE TEACHING FADES INTO THE NIGHT! As I stand here this morning I can’t help but be incredibly drawn to the reality and concept of teaching fading into the night and teaching fading into the background and what takes place when the teaching draws to a close. For nearly four full chapters we find Jesus doing nothing but speaking unto and teaching His disciples, and the only action which seemed to take place outside of supper itself is the washing of the disciples feet. Once the disciples’ feet had been washed and Jesus took up His garments once more He would begin a lengthy and tremendous teaching in the company and presence of the disciples. With the betrayer removed from the company of the disciples and from the presence of Jesus, He was now free to speak freely and plainly unto the disciples concerning the hour that had come upon Him—and not only upon Him, but also upon the earth itself. When the teaching began in this particular night it did so with Jesus speaking unto the disciples—not only concerning His departure and how in His departure there was the mystery of His return, but He also spoke unto them of the arrival and appearing of the Holy Spirit. On this night when Jesus spoke unto His disciples He spoke unto them concerning their need to love one another, their need to abide in Him, their need to bear and bring forth much fruit, and their need to keep His words and commandments. What’s more, is that on this night Jesus emphatically declared unto them that He no longer called them servants, for a servant does not know the heart and mind of their master. Rather than calling them servants Jesus called them friends and spoke unto them plainly and clearly as friends whom He loved, and friends whom He loved unto the end.

I stand here this morning and I can’t help but be absolutely and incredibly gripped and captivated by and with the awesome reality that on this particular night Jesus spent a considerable amount of time investing and pouring into the disciples, and yet how even in light of His investment into them, there cane a point when the teaching came to an end and drew to a close. There would come a point when the words which Jesus needed to speak unto and teach the disciples needed to come to an end, and something different needed to take place. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss and/or lose sight of what takes place on this particular night, for while it was true that Jesus did in fact invest into the disciples through teaching, and even through washing their feet and fellowship, there was something much deeper and something much greater that needed to take place. On a night when Jesus would wash the feet of the disciples—not only as an act of serving them, but also providing for them an example unto themselves—and on a night when Jesus spoke unto them plainly as friends and taught them as such, there was something much deeper and something much greater that needed to take place on this night. It is and it was true that Jesus needed to speak unto the disciples and teach them concerning the Holy Spirit and His departure, however, there was something else that I am convinced would transcend the words which He spoke unto and taught them. The words which Jesus spoke unto the disciples on this night would in fact prepare them for their remaining and abiding in the world without the physical person and presence of Jesus among them, and it would in fact be necessary, however, I am convinced that there was something else which must needs take place on this night. The more I think about and the more I consider the words which are found within this passage of scripture the more I am convinced that teaching only took the disciples so far. I would dare say that teaching was absolutely critical and necessary for the disciples to remain in this earth without the physical person and presence of Jesus the Christ, however, there would be something that might have been of greater importance to and for the disciples than teaching. There would come a point and place on this night when the teaching would come to a close, and when something else would need to emerge and take its place. As you read these five chapters you will notice that what began with the washing of the disciples and would continue with Jesus speaking unto and teaching the disciples would culminate with His praying for them.

WHEN TEACHING FADES…PRAYER. Perhaps one of the greatest realities I can’t help but come face to face with when reading the words found in this passage of scripture is that while teaching is necessary, and while teaching can in fact be a necessary investment within the hearts and lives of men and women, there must needs be something else that takes place alongside of teaching. What’s more, is that I would even state and declare that preaching only goes so far and that eventually there comes a point when preaching can no longer do what is necessary. I am convinced that both teaching and preaching are necessary to prepare and bring us to a certain and specific point, however, when the teaching and preaching have come to a close there must be something else that emerges in the wake of such realities. I won’t ever state that talk is cheap—particularly and especially when and as it persons to teaching and preaching—however, I will emphatically state that teaching and preaching can only go so far if and unless you’re willing to pray for others. I remember the old adage that states people don’t care how much you know until and unless they know how much you care. I would dare say that this adage has gray application when it comes to our modern generation and the plethora of teaching BF and preaching which takes place within our Christian circles and congregations. I am absolutely and completely convinced that while teaching and even preaching are absolutely critical and necessary for the investment into the hearts and lives of men and women, there comes a point when such realities must give way to something much deeper. It’s worth noting and pointing out that before Jesus even began speaking unto and teaching the disciples, He first knelt down and washed their feet, thus engaging in serving them. It’s almost as if the bookends of teaching were serving and prayer, and I can’t help but think and believe that what we have present in many of our Christian circles is much teaching—and even much preaching—however, what we truly lack is both serving and praying. I am convinced that anyone with the right charisma and the right personality can get up and stand behind the pulpit and preach—even preach the word of God. With that being said, I would dare state that it takes something absolutely and incredibly special for one to move beyond teaching and even preaching and engage themselves in serving and praying. I believe that anyone can engage in teaching and speaking unto others, however, there is something unique and special about actively engaging in prayer for and serving others. There is something about doing more than just teaching and preaching and actually getting down in the dirt and dust of men and women and actively serve them. There is something about being willing to bring the words which we speak and even teach to a close, and actually begin praying for those we have been called to serve. There must come a point when we recognize and realize that teaching and speaking unto others is in fact necessary, however, teaching and speaking must also be coupled together with prayer and serving.

WHERE TEACHING BEGINS AND WHERE TEACHING ENDS! As I sit here this morning and think about and consider the words which are found within chapters thirteen through seventeen of the New Testament gospel of John I can’t help but be drawn into and captivated by the fact that before the teaching ever began there was first serving and service in the company and presence of the disciples. What’s more, is that when the teaching actually drew to a close and had come to an end, it was immediately followed by prayer—and not just prayer in general, but a very specific prayer which Jesus prayed for the disciples. I have to admit that I am completely and utterly captivated and consumed with what we find within this series of chapters, for what we find within this series of chapters is actually a wonderful and powerful example of what true and authentic ministry should in fact look like in our generation today. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we read and what we find within these verses is a truly remarkable picture of what should take place in our Christian circles today, and what should take place within our churches and congregations, and yet something that in all reality doesn’t. Tell me you who are reading the words of this writing—when was the last time you entered into the assembly where you gathered together and worshipped together with fellow disciples and believers, and before the teaching and preaching even began, there was an act of serving as perhaps the minister engaged themselves in serving you, and/or there was in invitation to serve others? When was the last time you entered into the house of the Lord or the place where you gather together to worship the Lord to hear the preaching of the word of the Lord, and before the word was even brought forth there was a time given specifically to service and serving others? What’s more, is when was the last time you actually witnessed the preaching of the word of God and/or the preaching of the word of the Lord, and immediately following the preaching and delivering of such a word, it was immediately followed by prayer specifically for you, for your family, for your kids, for your job, for your relationships, and the like? I sit here this morning and I can’t help but be absolutely and incredibly drawn into and captivated by the fact that before Jesus ever spoke a single word of teaching on this particular night, He first laid aside His garments, took up the towel, filled a basin with water, and washed the feet of the disciples. Before Jesus ever spoke a single word on this night in order to prepare the disciples for His departure, and before Jesus spoke a single word concerning the arrival and appearance of the Holy Spirit, there was first an act of deliberate and intentional service and serving which took place. It’s almost as if Jesus was unwilling to engage Himself in speaking unto and teaching the disciples without first engaging Himself in actually taking the time to serve them.

If you study the events which took place on this particular night you will find that the entire night centered around fellowship between Jesus and the disciples, and even the disciples with each other. It would be in the context of fellowship and friendship both Jesus and His disciples would actively engage themselves in partaking of the Passover meal with each other, and would enjoy each other’s company. It would be in the context of fellowship and friendship that Jesus would lay aside His garments, take up the towel, and wash the feet of the disciples—even washing the feet of that one who would betray Him, the feet of that one who would deny Him, and the feet of those who would abandon and forsake Him. It’s worth noting that in the context of friendship and fellowship Jesus didn’t immediately begin teaching and speaking unto the disciples, but He first sought to provide them with an example for which they should follow and abide upon His departure from this earth and His subsequent return unto His Father in heaven. Before Jesus began teaching and speaking unto the disciples He would lay aside His own garments, fill a basin with water, and would wash the feet of the disciples. How absolutely wonderful and remarkable it is to think about and consider the fact that while it was necessary for Jesus to speak unto and teach the disciples, it was also necessary for Jesus to both serve them, as well as give them an example of how they should live in His absence, and in the age of the Holy Spirit who would abide with and within them forever. I sit here this morning and I can’t help but be wonderfully and powerfully consumed with the fact that Jesus didn’t immediately begin teaching the disciples concerning His departure, and even concerning the arrival of the Holy Spirit. Jesus didn’t immediately begin instructing the disciples to love one another, to abide in Him, to keep His commandments, and even to bear and bring forth much fruit, but chose instead to wash the feet of the disciples. Jesus sought to provide the disciples with a personal and intimate example of serving others in the context of fellowship and friendship before He would teach them concerning the Holy Spirit, before He would prepare them for the trials and struggles they would face in this world, and before He would instruct them on how they should live and how they should conduct themselves in the wake of His departure from this earth. In this personal and private setting of the upper room Jesus would lay aside His own garments, would take up a towel, and would fill a basin with water which He would use to wash the feet of the disciples one by one and one at a time. How absolutely wonderful and powerful it is to think about and consider the fact that while it was necessary that Jesus speak unto and teach the disciples concerning the Holy Spirit, and concerning the instructions which He needed to speak unto them, it was first necessary that Jesus wash their feet and demonstrate before and unto them true and genuine service and serving others.

I am convinced that in order for us to truly understand that which is taking place on this particular night between Jesus and His disciples in the context of fellowship and friendship, it is imperative that we recognize and understand the words which are found at the beginning of the thirteenth chapter, as well as the words which are found at the beginning of the seventeenth chapters. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we read and what we find in these particular portions of Scripture and verses is essentially a wonderful and powerful demonstration of the bookmarks of teaching and preaching, and what is absolutely critical and necessary when we think of true and authentic ministry in the company and presence of others. That which we find in the opening verses of the thirteenth chapter, and that which we find in the opening verses of the seventeenth chapter bring us face to face with the absolutely awesome and incredible reality that teaching and preaching simply isn’t enough, and that there must needs be more than just teaching and preaching. Please note and please understand that I am in no way against teaching and preaching, and I would never dare speak against teaching the word of God, nor even preaching the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ. I firmly believe that there is an absolute and tremendous need for both teaching and preaching in our Christian circles, and within our churches, however, in light of teaching and preaching there is an absolute and incredible need for men and women to be willing to not only serve others, but also pray for others. If the only thing that characterizes the ministry you are a part of is teaching and preaching, and there is absolutely context or room for serving others, or even serving those whom you have been entrusted with ministering unto, I would dare say that such a ministry is both shallow and fleeting. If the only thing that characterizes the ministry you have been engaged in is teaching—and even the preaching of the word—and there is absolutely no room for prayer and praying for others, I would dare say that the ministry you are engaged in is nothing more than a farce and is incredibly shallow. I do believe that preaching and teaching are absolutely critical and necessary within our Christian circles, and within our congregations, however, I do not believe that such realities are enough. I believe that there must be something more than just teaching and preaching in our Christian circles and in our congregations. I firmly believe that there must be something much greater, and something much deeper than simply bringing forth the preaching of the word of God—even if it is the word of the Lord. Consider the fact that this wasn’t just an apostle or early church father who was teaching in the upper room, but it was Jesus the Christ. Consider the fact that the very words which proceeded forth from His lips were directly from the Father, and were both spirit and life. Even though the words which Jesus spoke were both spirit and life, there was still a great and tremendous need for teaching and preaching to be accompanied by serving and praying. Jesus knew the words which He was speaking were spirit and life, and He knew the words which He would speak unto the disciples came straight from the Father, and yet in spite of and in light of that reality, there was still a great and tremendous need for both serving and praying. With that being said, consider if you will the words which are found at the beginning of both the thirteenth chapter, as well as the beginning of the seventeenth chapter:

“Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son to betray Him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside His garments; and took a towel, and girded Himself. After that He poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded” (John 13:1-5).

“These words spake Jesus, and lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said…I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine …Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are” (John 17:1, 9, 11).

The opening words of the thirteenth chapter specifically state that Jesus laid aside His garments, took up a towel, filled a basin with water, and began to wash the feet of the disciples, and to dry them with the towel wherewith He was girded. When you come to the seventeenth chapter, however, there is absolutely nothing that screams Jesus was praying for the disciples. Even Jesus Himself didn’t announce to the disciples that He was now going to pray, nor did He ask them to close their eyes and bow their heads. There is absolutely nothing in the opening verses of the seventeenth chapter that display and describe Jesus announcing unto the disciples that He was going to now pray for them. What we find in the opening verse of the seventeenth chapter is simply that the following words which the apostle John would write and record were spoken by Jesus as He lifted up His eyes to heaven. We of course know and understand from this that this is indeed the posture of prayer, and was typical behavior and action of Jesus, and thus recognize that Jesus was speaking unto the Father concerning the disciples. It’s worth noting that for nearly four and a half chapters Jesus spoke directly unto the disciples there in the upper room, and yet now He transitioned from speaking directly unto the disciples to speaking directly unto the Father concerning them. For nearly four and a half chapters Jesus would speak directly unto the disciples, and would speak plainly unto them, and yet speaking unto the disciples would in fact give way to Jesus now lifting His eyes toward heaven and speaking directly unto the Father. Everything we find and everything we read in the seventeenth chapter was Jesus speaking directly unto the Father who was in heaven, and Jesus praying for the disciples whom He would leave behind within and upon the earth. IN the opening verses of the thirteenth chapter we find the apostle John describing how after supper had ended, and the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot to betray the Son of man into the hands of His enemies and adversaries, Jesus laid aside His garments, girded Himself with a towel, filled a basin with water, and washed the feet of the disciples moving among them one by one until all their feet had been washed, and until that act of service had been completed. After three chapters which were filled with incredible words of life and vitality which were spoken by Jesus in the company and presence of the disciples, Jesus would now lift His eyes toward heaven, would shift His attention and focus from speaking directly to the disciples, to now speaking directly unto His Father who was in heaven. What’s more, is that not only did Jesus speak to the Father concerning His purpose and mission which took place upon the earth, but Jesus would pray for the disciples whom He would leave behind in the world while He Himself departed from the world and returned unto His Father who was in heaven.

In between serving and praying there was teaching and Jesus the Christ speaking intentionally and deliberately unto the disciples in the context of fellowship and friendship, and yet when you come to the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John you will find Jesus now turning His gaze and turning His attention to heaven and speaking directly unto the Father. What’s important for us to recognize concerning the words which Jesus spoke to the Father on this particular night was that Jesus began by emphatically declaring that the hour had come—the hour in which He would depart from this world and return unto His Father. Even in the opening verses of the thirteenth chapter we find this context of the hour having come, for the apostle John wrote how Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, and how He had loved His own which were in the world, and loved them unto the end. This particular reality is also emphasized in the twelfth chapter of this same New Testament gospel, for within this chapter the apostle John writes and records how Jesus declared unto the disciples, saying, “The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified” (John 12:23). In the twelfth chapter we find Jesus declaring unto the disciples that the hour had come for the Son of man to be glorified, and in the thirteenth chapter we find the apostle John declaring to his readers and audience that Jesus knew that His hour had come for Him to depart out of this world and to return unto His Father who was in heaven. In the seventeenth chapter of this New Testament gospel we find Jesus speaking directly unto the Father and declaring unto Him that the hour had come, and then immediately asking the Father to glorify the Son, that the Son might in fact glorify Him. These words would be echoed a second time within this chapter when Jesus would declare unto the Father, saying, “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (John 17:5). Within this prayer which Jesus prayed before and unto the Father who was in heaven, He was concerned with the glory of the Father, and with the Father not only being glorified within the earth, but that the Father would be glorified by and through Him. Pause for a moment and consider that reality—the reality that Jesus was concerned with one singular thought and one singular ambition and focus, which was the glory of the Father. Jesus spoke directly unto the Father and asked that He might glorify the Son that the Son might in turn glorify Him within and upon the earth. What marks these words and this request all the more wonderful and powerful is that Jesus would glorify the Father through suffering and through death, which is ultimately and incredibly difficult for us to understand. We would think that the Father would be glorified in the earth through life and through anything but suffering, and yet Jesus knew that in order for the Father to be glorified within the earth, He would be glorified in and through His own suffering and death. How absolutely wonderful it is to think about and consider that while Jesus knew that His hour had come, He was concerned about the glory of the Father, and that the Father would be glorified in and through His life, and would be glorified through His suffering and death.

As you continue reading the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you will find certain and specific statements which were made by Jesus unto the Father concerning the work and assignment which He had been given upon the earth. If you read the fourth, sixth, and eighth verse of this chapter you will find Jesus speaking unto the Father concerning the work and assignment which He had done upon the earth, and His own evaluation of what He had accomplished and performed upon the earth. In the fourth verse, we find Jesus declaring unto the Father, saying, “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do” (John 17:4). In the sixth verse of this chapter we find Jesus declaring and speaking unto the Father, saying, “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world” (John 17:6). Finally, in the eighth verse of this same chapter we find Jesus speaking unto the Father and declaring, “For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me” (John 17:8. I HAVE GLORIFIED THEE ON THE EARTH! I HAVE FINISHED THE WORK THOU GAVEST ME TO DO! I HAVE MANIFESTED THY NAME UNTO THE MEN WHICH THOU GAVEST ME OUT OF THE WORLD! I HAVE GIVEN UNTO THEM THE WORDS WHICH THOU GAVEST ME! As I read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture I can’t help but consider and come face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that not only did Jesus emphatically state and declare that He had glorified the Father on the earth, but Jesus also emphatically stated and declared that He had finished the work which the Father had given Him to do. What’s more, is that Jesus would go on to declare unto the Father how He had manifested His name unto the man which He had given Him out of the world. Pause for a moment and consider the words which are found within each of these verses, for they have the awesome and incredible power to dramatically alter and shape how we live our lives, and how we spend our time upon the earth. As I sit here this morning I can’t help but think about the words which Jesus the Christ spoke unto the Father on this particular evening, and how Jesus was not only concerned with engaging in these actions, but Jesus also declared unto the Father that He had actively, completely and totally performed and done these things which He had spoken of. When the hour had come for Jesus to depart out of this world and unto His Father in heaven, and when the hour had come for for Jesus to be glorified within and upon the earth, He made some absolutely incredible and wonderful statements unto the Father concerning the work which He had done within and upon the earth. Jesus came to the hour in which He would depart from the earth and would return unto the Father, and in that hour He spoke unto the Father concerning His glory, concerning the finished work which He had completed, and concerning the name of the Father being manifested within and upon the earth. Oh I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul spoke unto Timothy who was his spiritual son in the faith. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy in the second epistle written unto him:

“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

Speaking even further along these lines of finishing the work which was set before the apostle Paul—and not only the apostle Paul, but also us who are alive in this generation—I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul spoke unto the Ephesian elders whom he called unto himself when he knew that he would no more see them in this life. If you turn and direct your attention to the twentieth chapter of the New Testament book of the Acts of the apostles you will find and come to the following words which were spoken by the apostle Paul unto the Ephesian elders concerning his time and work within and upon the earth. Consider if you will the words which were spoken by the apostle Paul on this particular occasion in the company and presence of the Ephesian elders when he knew that his hour had come, and when he knew that he would no more see them in this life. Beginning with the twentieth verse of the twentieth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find the following words which were spoken by the apostle unto these dear Ephesian elders:

“And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught publickly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and alto the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:20-27).

In this particular passage of Scripture and on this particular occasion the apostle Paul stated that neither afflictions nor bonds move him, for he counted not his life dear unto him, in order that he might finish his course with joy, and the ministry, which he had received from the Lord Jesus. I feel absolutely compelled to declare unto you who would read the words of this writing that the only way to finish the course which was set before you, and the only way to finish the work which was set before you is to not count your life as dear unto yourself, but to allow yourself to live and dwell in the place when neither afflictions, nor trials, nor bonds, nor suffering, nor persecutions move you. The apostle Paul was able to look forward to finishing the course set before him with joy, and was later able to declare that he had finished the course set before him with joy because he had considered his life to not be so dear unto him. The apostle was only able to declare unto the Ephesian elders that he sought and desired to finish his course with joy, and later unto Timothy that he had finished his course because he counted not his life as being dear unto him. What’s more, is that Jesus was able to declare unto the Father on this particular night in which He was betrayed that He had finished the work given unto Him, for He Himself had not counted His life as being dear unto Him. What’s more, is that Jesus was able to cry out and declare from the cross, saying, “It is finished” because He had not counted, nor had He considered His life as dear unto Him, but had laid it down and poured it out before and unto the Father. Oh, in light of this reality, I can’t help but be reminded of the words which are found and recorded in the third chapter of the New Testament epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Philippian congregation, as well as the words which were written and recorded within the twelfth chapter of the New Testament epistle which was written unto the Hebrews, and even the words which are found and written in the eleventh and twelfth chapters of the second epistle which was written unto the Corinthian saints. Consider if you will the words which are found and written in each of these passages concerning not counting our lives as being dear unto us, in order that we might finish the work which was set before us, and to do so with joy and gladness within our hearts:

“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:7-14).

“Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once I was stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeying often, in perils of waters in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the dare of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities” (2 Corinthians 11:23-30).

“Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in mine 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” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

“Wherefore seeing we also are compasses 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 is 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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