Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament account of the spiritual body of Jesus the Christ which is the church as it was written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke in the book of Acts. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses one through twenty-eight of the fourteenth chapter. How do you handle conflict? How do you handle struggle? When you are faced with something which not only tries your patience, but also tries and tests your character and your integrity—how do you react? When you find yourself with your back against the wall and you aren’t even sure of how you got there or what your next move is—how do you typically respond? When you find yourself in the midst of a situation you neither asked for, nor expected—how do you typically handle it? What’s more—when you’re right in the middle of what the Holy Spirit has called and ordained you for and yet in the midst of that you find yourself experiencing an insurmountable amount of hurt and pain—what are your responses? What is the language you find yourself using when—even though and even while you are in the divine will of the living God—you find yourself staring at a conflict and struggle that seems to have appeared and come out of nowhere? I stand here this morning and I can’t help but be directly and immediately confronted with the tremendous reality of what language we use to identify the struggle and conflict we face within and throughout the course of our lives. I can’t help but think back to the Old Testament book of the Psalms when the author wrote of the holders of Israel during the forty years in the wilderness and how in the midst of the tremendous suffering they experienced in the wilderness they gave themselves over to complaining, murmuring and grumbling. Oh, what do you do when you find yourself in the midst of a desperate wilderness and your back is against the sea and your enemies are pursuing you from the other side? What do you do when you find yourself wandering in the wilderness and there is no water anywhere before or around you and you are in a place of thirst? What do you do when you’re in the midst of the wilderness and there is no meat or bread anywhere to be found in the place where you are? If and as you read certain passages within the Old Testament book of the Psalms you will find yourself being confronted with the tremendous witness of complaining and grumbling—not only against the anointed of the Lord, but also against the Lord Himself for bringing you out of your slavery, bondage and oppression, but only to allow you to perish in the wilderness. Even more than this, the author of the New Testament epistle which was written unto the Hebrews also took their own to write about the attitude and mindset of those who were found in the midst of the wilderness after being delivered out of slavery, bondage and oppression within the land of Egypt. The author of this epistle was very clear concerning the attitude, the heart and the mindset of the children of Israel—that first generation of the children of Israel which entered into the wilderness after more than four hundred years of slavery.
I sit here this morning and I can’t help but be absolutely and incredibly gripped and captivated with and by the reality of how we handle and how we face conflict and struggle within our lives. What’s more, is how we handle and face that which inconveniences us and that which causes us to be brought forth out of our element and out of our comfort zone. There is a part of me that wonders how we handle and how we face those times within our lives when we are confronted with something that tests our faith and trusts our confidence in Jesus the Christ. What do we do when—not only has Satan asked permission to sift us like wheat as he did concerning Peter, but Jesus also seems to have granted him permission, and declares unto us that he has prayed for us that our faith fails not? What do we do when like Job in the Old Testament we are confronted with intense suffering out of nowhere while not being aware of the cosmic conversation and dialogue which takes place before and at the throne of heaven? What do we do when out of nowhere we lose everything and. Find ourselves in that place without any advanced warning or notice? Job initially found himself losing all of his possessions, which was then followed by the unexpected death of his children as a result of a strong wind that caused the house in which they were to collapse upon them. As if this weren’t bad enough, some time later—perhaps even as Job was attempting to recover from the loss and put his life back together—job found his own physical body entering a place of suffering as he was struck with unexpected and unexplained boils all over his physical and natural body from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet. How would you handle such situations if they were to take place within your own life, and what would you do if you found yourself in the midst of such an intense struggle which you neither asked for not expected? Even more than this—as I sit here this morning I can’t help but ask and think to myself how we respond and react when we know that we must suffer many things for the sake of the name of Jesus the Christ, and yet we find ourselves experiencing conflict after conflict, struggle after struggle, and trouble after trouble. Even though we know that we have been ordained and appointed to experience much conflict and much struggle without our hearts and lives we still seem to grow and become uncomfortable in the midst of the struggle and conflict. Despite the fact that we have come to understand what we can and will face within our lives, we sometimes have a difficult time bearing up under and hearing up in the midst of it.
Now you might be wondering why I would choose to ask such questions, and what the history of the children of Israel has to do with the passage which is before us here in the book of Acts, and I completely and totally understand where you would be coming from. I get and understand why you would ask such a question and why you would wonder how such questions and realities have anything to do with what is before is in the fourteenth chapter of the book of Acts. The answer is actually quite simple and will become clearer as you continue reading this writing, as well as that which you will find in the fourteenth chapter of the book of Acts. In fact, I would dare say that in order to understand the purpose and nature of this writing, and if you are found to at all understand that which is found in the fourteenth chapter of the book of Acts you must turn your attention to two distinct portions within the chapter. What’s more, is that as you come to the end of this chapter a picture begins to emerge concerning and regarding Paul and Barnabas and the tremendous struggles and conflicts by found themselves facing—even in the midst of fulfilling that which the living God and holy spiritual has ordained and appointed for them. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand that which is found towards the end of this chapter, for it is what we find at the end of the chapter that brings us face to face with the central theme of this writing and that which I believe the Holy Spirit desires to speak to us from the words which the beloved physician Luke wrote within this portion of the book of Acts. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of that which is found at the end and within the final verses of this chapter, for what we find there is a truly remarkable picture concerning conflict and struggle and not only how we view it, but also how we speak concerning it. As I began reading and considering the words which were written and recorded within this passage I couldn’t help but be completely captivated with that which the beloved physician Luke wrote concerning Paul and Barnabas. What’s more, is that o am also completely and totally overwhelmed with and by the words and language which is found in the lips and mouth of the apostle Paul concerning conflict and struggle. This entire chapter contains and incredible amount of language concerning and regarding conflict and struggle, and we would be incredibly wise to understand and comprehend what is found within it. It is only when and as we come to understand the language and context of struggle and conflict that we can not only understand ourselves, but we can also understand the heart of the Father, the grace is Jesus the Christ, and the work of the Holy Spirit. There is not a doubt in my mind that when we read the words which are found within this passage we must be confronted and we must allow ourselves to be confronted with how we view conflict and struggle—and not only how we handle and view conflict and struggle, but also how we respond and react in the midst of it.
THE LANGUAGE OF CONFLICT! THE LANGUAGE OF STRUGGLE! Would you be shocked and surprised if I told you who are reading the words which are found within this writing that there is a specific language that surrounds conflict and struggle? Would it shock and surprise you to know and understand that regardless of what you think or even how you feel, you yourself have your own language and understanding of conflict and struggle? I am sitting here this morning and I can’t help but come face to face with the reality that whether we would like to believe it or not each and every one of us has a view and understanding of conflict and struggle. What’s more, is that each and every one of us—regardless of and despite how we might think and perceive ourselves to view and handle conflict and struggle—has a universal language which we use when we encounter conflict and struggle within our hearts and lives. We cannot, we dare not and must not think to ourselves, or even believe the lie and the deception that we don’t have our own language when it comes to conflict and struggle, and that more often than not we have specific verbiage which we tend to gravitate to when we find ourselves in the midst of conflict and struggle. I fully realize and recognize that this might come across as a shock to you who are reading these words, however, the truth of the matter is that whether you want to believe it or not, you have a specific core set of beliefs and mindsets you hold to when you find yourselves in the midst of a conflict and struggle—particularly and especially when you find yourself in the midst of something you neither expected, nor anticipated, nor even asked for. Regardless of whether you want to believe it or not there is a specific core set of ideas and thoughts that you tend to gravitate to when you find yourself in the midst of conflict and struggle within your life, and we cannot even think to deny or try and hide it. Buried deep within our psyche, buried deep within our hearts, and buried deep within our souls and within our minds we have a framework and context for conflict and struggle, and it dramatically and radically alters and shapes—not only how we view the conflict and struggle, and not only how we view the heart of the Father, but also how we react and respond to the conflict and struggle we find ourselves facing and staring down. I fully recognize and realize that this might come across as a shock to you, and I fully realize that you might read these words and might be tempted to disagree with and even argue against them, and yet the truth of the matter is that we all have our own framework and context for struggler, for conflict, for suffering, and for affliction when it comes upon us within our hearts and lives. Before I even attempt to get into the words which I find and read in this particular chapter within the New Testament book of Acts, I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the second epistle which was written unto the Corinthian congregation. If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found within this chapter you will come face to face with the apostle’s view of suffering and affliction—one that was radically shaped and transformed by the grace of Jesus the Christ, and the understanding of the effectual working of the Holy Spirit and the heart of the Father. Consider if you will the words which are found in this particular epistle—first in the eleventh chapter, and then in the twelfth chapter immediately after:
“I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little. That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also. For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise. For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face. I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit, whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am i. 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. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings 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 care 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. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not. In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: and through a window in a basket was I lest down by the wall, and escaped his hands” (2 Corinthians 11:16-33).
“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 knew 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 forbears, 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” (2 Corinthians 12:1-10).
Taking one more quick step into the same epistle which was written by the apostle Paul, I can’t help but be reminded of the words which he wrote in the fourth chapter. If you take a look at this epistle you will find that there is a tremendous amount of language contained therein that speaks to this context and framework of conflict and struggle, and that which we as the saints of God and disciples of Christ face on a continual and regular basis. It is absolutely no mistaking it, for the apostle Paul was indeed one who regularly experienced conflict and struggle within his life, as was evident in the words which we read in the eleventh and twelfth chapters. In the eleventh chapter the apostle Paul invites us into the conflicts and struggles he faced, while in both the eleventh and twelfth chapters the apostle Paul declared unto the Corinthians that if he must needs glory and if he must needs glory and boats he will glory and boast in his weakness, his infirmities, his struggles, his conflicts, his struggles and the like. Pause for a moment and consider the reality that the apostle Paul actually put into writing when writing unto the saints of Corinth that he would actually boast of his weaknesses, and would actually boast of his infirmities and suffering. Pause for a moment and think about what it would be like to instead of complaining about the conflict and struggles we find ourselves facing within our lives, we actually boast about them—not only in the presence of the Lord, but also in the presence of others. When was the last time you actually boasted in the midst of the brethren concerning the conflicts and struggles you found yourself facing within your life? When was the last time you actually bragged and boasted of your weakness, and did so in light of the grace and strength of Jesus the Christ. Three times the apostle Paul asked for the thorn in the flesh to be removed from his life, and yet on each occasion the Lord told him no. What’s more, is that the Lord didn’t merely tell him no, but the Lord also declared unto him that his grace was sufficient for him. Take a moment to truly think about this within your heart and your mind, and whether or not you possess the strength, the grit, the grace and the fortitude to instead of complaining about the conflicts and struggles you face within your life, you actually brag and boast of such conflicts and struggles. Tell me dear brother, tell me dear sister—when was the last time you actually took to boasting concerning the conflict and struggle you faced within your life? When was the last time you entered in among the brethren and took to boasting of your conflict, boast of your struggle, boast of your suffering, boast of your weakness, and boast of your infirmities? The apostle Paul made it very clear that if he needed to boast of anything in his life, he would gladly and happily boast of his weaknesses and infirmities. With that in mind, and before we venture into the fourteenth chapter of the book of Acts I invite you to consider the words which were written by the apostle Paul in the fourth chapter of the second epistle written unto the Corinthians:
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of. Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you. We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak; knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also be Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” ( 2 Corinthians 4:7-18).
It is quite clear from the words which the apostle Paul wrote in this epistle that he had a context and framework of conflict, of struggle, of suffering, and of the like that many of us have not experienced within our hearts and lives. The way the apostle Paul wrote and spoke about the trials, the troubles and the tribulations he faced and experienced with his life is actually quite remarkable and extraordinary, and we must give and allow ourselves time to encounter this language of suffering, for regardless of whether we want to believe it or not, we have a context and framework for suffering, for conflict, for struggle, for affliction, and for trials and troubles within our hearts and lives. With that being said it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we understand and come face to face with the incredible reality that it is possible that we are in the middle and are in the midst of the divine will of the living God, and yet there in the midst of the will of God we find ourselves experiencing conflict, struggle and affliction. Consider the fact that the disciples were in the midst of the ship in the midst of the sea and that Jesus was in the ship with them, and yet a great tempest rose up against them in the midst of the sea. Consider how there is not a doubt in my mind that they were in the perfect will of the Father, and that they even had the very word of God made flesh in the midst of the ship with them, and yet it was in that place where they found themselves experiencing that which threatened to destroy and drown them. IF there is one thing the words which are found in the thirteenth and fourteenth chapters of the book of Acts points to and reveals, it’s that we can in fact be separated by the Holy Spirit unto Himself and unto the work for which we have been called, and yet even in the midst of that separation we can find ourselves encountering and experiencing tremendous conflict, tremendous struggle, tremendous affliction in the sight and presence of the Lord. The thirteenth and fourteenth chapters of the New Testament book of Acts not only describe the separation of Paul and Barnabas for the work for which they had been called, but it also describes the first missionary journey which the apostle Paul undertook after being separated by the Holy Spirit. It’s interesting to note that Paul and Barnabas knew that they had been separated by the Holy Spirit, and they knew they had been separated for a specific work whereunto the Holy Spirit had called the New, and yet it was in the midst of that separation they were also separated unto conflict, they were also separated unto struggle, and they were also separated unto affliction and trials and troubles. Consider that which is found and written in the fourteenth chapter of this particular book which was spoken by Paul and Barnabas unto those to whom they were speaking after Paul had just been stoned and supposed to be dead. After Paul rose from the ground whereupon he had been laid after they supposed he was dead, he went into the same city wherein he had been stoned and began exhorting the brethren in the following manner: “And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:21-22). AND THAT WE MUST THROUGH MUCH TRIBULATION ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD!
Stop right there and consider those words for a moment—the words which Paul and Barnabas exhorted the souls of the disciples in Lystra, in Iconium, and Antioch declared unto them that it would be through much tribulation they would enter into the kingdom of God. Oh, are you one who feels and believes within your heart that you can somehow enter into the kingdom of God absent and without experiencing any type of conflict and/or struggle? Are you one who has the jaded and misguided belief and understanding that you can possibly enter into the kingdom of God without experiencing some form, some type and some measure of suffering, conflict, struggle, and affliction? If there is one thing the words which the apostle Paul spoke unto those in these cities, it’s that while it is true there is a kingdom which has been and is being prepared for us—entrance and access to that kingdom is not without conflict, not without struggle, not without affliction, and not without suffering. There would be those among us who would attempt to enter into the kingdom of God without and apart from experiencing any type of conflict and struggle, and yet the truth of the matter is that such a reality is both misguided and false. Consider the reality that the apostle Paul spoke those words after he had just been stoned, supposed to have been dead, dragged out of the city, and laid to rest as men thought that he was in fact dead. Imagine rising up after being stoned and supposed to be dead, and yet the words which come out of your mouth when speaking unto the churches and the brethren is that we must through much tribulation and must through much suffering enter into the kingdom of God. Oh there would be those who would think and believe that they can somehow enter into the kingdom of heaven unscathed and untouched, and I am convinced that such souls are not only incredibly naïve, but also deceived. What’s more, is that not even Jesus could enter into the kingdom of God, and come unto the throne untouched and unscathed, for when He was seated at the right hand of the Father He bore the scars from the nails which pierced His hands and His feet. What’s more, is that when Jesus entered into the kingdom of God upon ascending from the mount of Olives, He entered with the print from the spear which was thrust into his side. Think about this for a moment—if not even Jesus could enter into the kingdom of God and heaven without being touched by suffering, without being touched by suffering, without being touched by affliction, without being touched by death—what makes us think for a moment that we are any different. If a servant is not above their master, and if a student is not above their teacher, then what makes us think that we can somehow enter into the kingdom of heaven absent and apart from conflict and struggles? What makes us think that we can somehow enter into the kingdom of heaven untouched and unscathed and having no scars from the wounds we experienced within and throughout the course of our lives? What’s more, is that it almost seems that the price of admission into the kingdom of heaven is in fact scars from the tribulation, the conflict, the struggle, the suffering and the troubles we faced within and throughout the course of our lives.
THE PRICE OF ADMISSION! As I sit here and think about and consider the words which the apostle Paul together with Barnabas declared unto the brethren in the churches of Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, I can’t help but think to myself and consider the fact that it almost seems to me that the price for admission into the kingdom of heaven is in fact the scars we carry with us from the conflict, the struggle, the suffering, the affliction, and the tribulations we faced and experienced within our lives. What’s more, is that we must remember that Jesus spoke and declared unto His disciples that in this world we will have many troubles and will have many tribulations, but to not fear for He has overcome the world. Oh please understand those words and allow them to sink down into the depths of your heart and spirit, for Jesus made it perfectly clear that in this world we will have trouble and in this world we will have tribulation. There would be those who would seek to avoid conflict, and those who would seek to avoid struggle and suffering, and yet such a reality and such a notion is not only false, but also dangerous and incredibly deadly. What’s more, is that if you read the four gospels which were written concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you will find that He didn’t prepare us to be loved, but rather He prepared us to be hated, to be persecuted, and to be opposed by those before and around us. When we have been instructed to love our neighbors as ourselves, and when we have been instructed to love our neighbors and to pray for those who persecute and despitefully use us, we are to do so knowing that in the midst of that context we were never prepared to be loved, nor were we ever prepared to be embraced and welcomed. If you read the words which are found within the thirteenth and fourteenth chapters of the book of Acts you will encounter the strong and perhaps even harsh reality that Paul and Barnabas were in fact and had in fact been separated by the Holy Spirit unto the work for which they had been called, and yet that separation did not exclude, nor did it pardon them from affliction, from tribulation, from conflict and from struggle. We would like to think that being separated by the Holy Spirit would mean a life of ministry absent conflict and struggle, and yet the truth of the matter is that that simply isn’t the case. There would be those who would preach that separation by the Holy Spirit unto ministry, and even making the decision to follow Jesus the Christ will and can mean a life absent of struggle and conflict, and yet the truth of the matter is that this comply isn’t the case. It is an incredibly dangerous and incredibly misleading idea and mindset to think that we can somehow enter into the kingdom of God absent conflict, absent struggle, absent affliction, absent suffering and absent trials and tribulation. The truth of the matter is that there is nothing put in Scripture that was put there accidentally, and the Scripture never embellishes, nor does it ever exaggerate anything, so if in Scripture we read that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God, then we must recognize and understand that this reality is in fact true.
If and as you read the words which are written and found within the thirteenth and fourteenth chapters of the book of Acts you will find the apostle Paul suffering a great deal of persecution and opposition from his own countrymen and from his own brethren, as the main source of opposition against him and Barnabas was not from the heathen or the Gentiles, but from the Jews. It is true in the fourteenth chapter that the Gentiles and heathen did join in the conflict and struggle against Paul and Barnabas, however, it was only after being incited by the Jews. In fact, in the opening verses of the fourteenth chapter you will find that the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren. This they did despite the fact that Paul and Barnabas had been a long time speaking boldly in the Lord, and giving testimony unto the word of His grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands. Luke goes on to write and record how the multitude of the city was divided, and how part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles. Luke goes on to write how there was an assault made of the Gentiles, as well as the Jews with their rulers to stone them, Paul and Barnabas became aware of it and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lyaconia, and unto the region which was round about. What’s more, is that if you continue reading the words which are found within the fourteenth chapter of the book of Acts you will find that there came certain Jews from Antioch where Paul and Barnabas had been sent out who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing that he had been dead. Thus within this particular chapter—not only do we find the Jews inciting the Gentiles against Paul and Barnabas, but we also find the Jews of Antioch and and Iconium persuading the people, and having stoned Paul brought him out of the city supposing him to have been dead. Despite what we find and read within each of these passages—not only do we find the apostle Paul exhorting the saints and brethren to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God, but when they were back in Antioch from which they had been sent out, we find them gathering the church together and rehearsing all that God had done with them, and how He had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of this tremendous and incredible reality, for to do so would be to miss and lose sight of the heart and mindset of the apostle Paul, as not only did he understand that through much tribulation we must enter into the kingdom of God, but he also boasted of all that God had done, and how God had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. Notice that there is absolutely no mention of the apostle Paul rehearsing the conflict, the struggle, the affliction, and the tribulation they faced and experienced while upon this missionary journey. Oh it might very well be that they did speak concerning these realities to some degree and measure, however, the conflict and the struggle didn’t define their journey, nor did it overwhelm and outweigh the effectual working of the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ within their lives among the Gentiles, for even in the midst of the suffering and affliction an effectual door was opened unto the Gentiles to hear the preaching of the word of God, and to come to the faith in Jesus the Christ. Oh the question we must ask ourselves is what are we going to rehearse? Are we going to rehearse the conflict, the struggle, the affliction, the suffering and the tribulation we have experienced, or are we going to rehearse the mighty grace of God and the effectual working of the Holy Spirit within and through our lives as He opens doors of ministry unto those for whom we have been called.