The Work Without & The Work Within: Stay In The Fight & Remain In The Struggle

Today’s selected passage continues in the scriptural account of the spiritual body of Jesus the Christ which is the church of Jesus the Christ as it was written and recorded by the beloved physician in the book of Acts. More specifically, today’s passage begins with the eighteenth verse of the eighteenth chapter and continues through to the final verse of the chapter. When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul moving on from the city of Corinth where he had just devoted a year and a half of his life laboring and serving among the people. It’s actually quite interesting to read the following words in the eleventh verse—“And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them”—and reading those words in relation to the following words which are found in the eighteenth verse—“And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow.” In the eleventh verse of the eighteenth chapter we find the beloved physician writing how after hearing from the Lord Jesus Christ while in Corinth, the apostle Paul devoted a full year and a half there in Corinth. As you come to the eighteenth verse of the same chapter you will find Luke transitioning from the apostle Paul continuing in the city of Corinth for a year and a half to departing from the city after he had tarried there a good while. With these two passages we encounter and come face to face with an absolutely wonderful and tremendous concept of tarrying with, laboring among and serving the brethren. If you study the life and ministry of the apostle Paul up to this point you will find that he was absolutely no stranger to laboring among the brethren and serving them according to the divine will of the Father within and for His life. Up until the eighteenth chapter there is absolutely no indication as to how long the apostle Paul spent in each place, however, when you come to the eighteenth chapter you will find the apostle Paul devoting eighteen months investing in, laboring among and serving the brethren there in Corinth. What makes this all the more intriguing and captivating is the fact that I am convinced it is absolutely and intrinsically linked to the word which Jesus the Christ spoke unto the apostle when He appeared unto Him. If you begin reading in the ninth verse of this chapter you will find the following words which were spoken by the Lord Jesus the Christ unto the apostle Paul at night—“Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city” (Acts 18:9-10). There is not a doubt in my mind that it was this vision of the Lord Jesus the Christ, and the words which He spoke unto the apostle Paul that had a direct impact on his decision to remain in Corinth—despite the fact that the brethren might very well have tried convincing him to depart from the city.

As I sit here this morning and consider that which is written and found within this passage I can’t help but think about and consider what it could very well have been like for the apostle Paul as in previous cities he had labored and served—when opposition and trouble arose in the midst of the city—the brethren would send him forth from those places. If you read the seventeenth chapter especially and specifically you will find that when opposition and trouble rose up against Paul, Silas and Timothy in the city of Thessalonica, the brethren sent Paul, Silas and Timothy away from that place and unto the area called Berea. It was while the apostle Paul, Silas and Timothy were in Berea that the apostle once more reasoned with the Jews concerning Jesus suffering, dying, rising from the dead on the third day, and this Jesus being the Christ. When, however, the same Jews which gathered unto themselves men of the baser sort and incited a riot within the city of Thessalonica heard that the word of God was being preached by the apostle Paul there in Berea, they came down unto Berea and incited that city against the apostle Paul as well. If you continue reading in the seventeenth chapter you will find that when the opposition rose up against the apostle Paul there in Berea, the brethren sent him away from that place while Silas and Timothy remained behind in Berea. Upon departing from Berea those who conducted the apostle Paul brought him down to Athens while he waited for Silas and Timothy to join him there. It’s actually quite interesting and unique to think about what it must have been like in both Thessalonica and Berea as the brethren in both places sent the apostle Paul forth from their midst because of the opposition and trouble he faced and experienced there. When, however, the apostle Paul came to Corinth and experienced opposition from the Jews, there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if the brethren in this particular city though to send the apostle Paul away from that place. Scripture provides no clear indication as to whether or not the apostle Paul was advised by the brethren to depart from the city, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest bit to think about and consider the fact that as had happened in previous cities the brethren witnessed the tremendous outcry and opposition of the brethren against the apostle Paul, and sought to send him forth from that place. While there is no indication within this passage that the brethren sought to send the apostle Paul forth from that place, we can deduce that it might very well have been likely, as in previous cities—specifically within cities of Greece itself—the apostle Paul sent forth from those places because of the opposition that rose up against him and the gospel he preached among the Jews. It would have been quite interesting and intriguing if the brethren here in the city of Corinth sought to send the apostle Paul forth from the midst of the city of Corinth in an attempt to protect and preserve the apostle Paul just as the brethren had done in previous cities.

WHEN JESUS INSTRUCTS YOU TO STAND YOUR GROUND! WHEN JESUS INSTRUCTS YOU TO STAY PUT! WHEN JESUS INSTRUCTS YOU TO STAY AND FIGHT! It’s actually quite interesting and unique to think about and read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture and consider them in light of the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the second epistle which he wrote unto the saints of Corinth. I can’t help but see a strong connection and a strong correlation between the words which the Lord Jesus spoke unto the apostle Paul there in Corinth, and what the Lord Jesus Christ spoke to the apostle Paul—perhaps there in Corinth as well, or perhaps in some place apart from Corinth. Consider once more the words which are found in the ninth and tenth verses which are found in the eighteenth chapter of the book of Acts: “Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city” (Acts 18:9-10). As you read these words you will find the Lord Jesus Christ appearing to the apostle Paul by night in a vision and not only commanding him to be not afraid, but also to speak and hold not his peace, for He was with Him. What’s more, is the Lord Jesus Christ also emphatically declared unto the apostle Paul two distinct realities while he was there in Corinth. The first declaration was that no man would set upon him to hurt him, while the second declaration was that He had much or many people within the city. It is actually quite astonishing and unique to think about and consider the words which are found within this passage, for one can’t help but wonder if the apostle Paul had thought to depart from the city of Corinth having faced the same type of opposition and resistance he experienced in previous cities—particularly, within those cities which were found in Greece. In all reality, if you study and read the book of Acts you will find that virtually everywhere the apostle Paul went and taught and preached the word of God concerning Jesus the Christ, there was a degree and measure of opposition and resistance against him and the gospel which he preached. This was nothing different when the apostle Paul came to Corinth, for there in Corinth the apostle Paul experienced opposition and resistance from the Jews once more, and the apostle Paul had finally had enough, for he not only shook the dust off his raiment, but he also declared that his hands were clean and that their blood be upon their own heads. What’s more, is the apostle Paul would go on to declare unto the Jews there in the city that from that time on he would go unto the Gentiles and deliver unto them the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ. It would be there in Corinth the apostle Paul would once more experience opposition and resistance from the Jews, and while there is in fact no indication that the apostle Paul sought to depart from that city, nor even that the brethren sought to send him forth from that place, he received a vision from the Lord Jesus Christ by night in a vision. Consider the words which the apostle Paul received from the Lord in the night by vision with the words which are found by the hand of the apostle Paul in the second epistle which he wrote to the congregation which was established in this very city:

“Are they ministers of Christ? ( 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 Ben 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 churche. 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 the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: and through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands…” (2 Corinthians 11:23-33).

“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 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 I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:1-10).

I have to admit that I find it incredibly intriguing and interesting to think about that which is found in the eighteenth chapter of the book of Acts while the apostle Paul was there in Corinth, and how the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him by night in a vision and not only instructed him to be not afraid, but also instructed him to speak and hold not his peace, for He was with him. The words which Jesus the Christ spoke unto the apostle Paul while he was there in Corinth are quite astounding and remarkable—particularly when you consider them in light of the words which he wrote in the second epistle which was sent unto the saints and congregation within this very city. It was while writing a second epistle unto this congregation the apostle Paul spoke of him beseeching the Lord three times to remove the thorn which was in his flesh and afflicted him, and on each occasion the Lord not only declared that His grace was sufficient for him, but also that His strength was made perfect in weakness. Oh please don’t miss the incredible significance and importance of what is found within this passage of Scripture, for while in Corinth the Lord Jesus the Christ appeared unto the apostle Paul and instructed him to be not afraid and to speak without holding his peace, for He was with him and had much people in the city. When the apostle Paul had a thorn in the flesh which afflicted and buffeted him, the apostle Paul asked the Lord three times that it might depart from him, and yet not only did the Lord seem to say “No” to the apostle Paul, but the Lord also emphatically declared unto the apostle Paul that His grace would be sufficient for him, and His strength was made perfect in His weakness. In all reality, the words which the Lord spoke unto the apostle Paul while in Corinth was to remain, to abide, and to stay in the fight and to not lose heart and more on from that place. When it came to the thorn in the flesh which afflicted and buffeted the apostle Paul the Lord declared unto Him that His grace was sufficient for him, and that His strength was made perfect in his weakness. Oh, I can’t help but see the strong connection and correlation between these two realities, and how there are times within our lives when the easiest thing to do would be to flee and take light. There are times in our lives when it is easy to abandon and neglect the fight which the Lord has called and instructed us to, and yet it is neither the Lord’s good pleasure, nor the delight of the Lord for us to leave the fight and to take flight from where He has brought us. It would have been very easy for the apostle Paul to leave and depart from the city of Corinth when he found himself once more experiencing opposition and resistance from the Jews, and it is possible that he might have found himself discouraged and frustrated at the vehement resistance and opposition of the Jews concerning the gospel which was both taught and preached about Jesus the Christ.

What we find while the apostle Paul was in Corinth was the Lord Jesus the Christ speaking unto him and instructing him to be not afraid, and to continue to speak and hold not his peace, for He was with him and had many people within that city. What’s more, is the Lord Jesus also declared unto him that there would be not a single man who would lay any hand upon him to hurt or harm him. In all reality, that which the Lord spoke unto the apostle Paul was an emphatic declaration to stay in the fight and to remain the struggle—despite the fact that he might very well have found himself facing discouragement and frustration at the continued frustration with the Jews and their resistance to the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ. STAY IN THE FIGHT AND REMAIN THE STRUGGLE! I have to admit that there are and there have been countless times within my life when it would have been easier to take flight and to abandon the struggle and fight the Lord has placed me in, and yet to do so would not have been the desire, nor would it have been the good pleasure of the Lord Jesus Christ. I know for a fact there have been times within my life when I have found it easier to take flight and to run when I found myself facing and experiencing conflict and struggle, and perhaps even when I have faced discouragement and/or even frustration. There is not a doubt in my mind that the apostle Paul might very well have found himself experiencing frustration and discouragement there in Corinth, for this was the first time we read of him shaking his raiment and declaring that from that time on he would preach to the Gentiles. What we find within this passage is that the Lord Jesus the Christ appeared unto the apostle Paul by night and instructed him to continue to speak and to hold not his peace, for no man would harm him, He was with him, and the Lord had many people there in the city. How absolutely amazing and wonderful it is to consider how closely linked and how closely connected the words which Jesus the Christ spoke unto the apostle Paul by night in a vision were to the words which the apostle Paul heard and received from the Lord when he faced the thorn in his flesh. While still in the city of Corinth the apostle Paul received instruction from the Lord to be not afraid and to continue to speak and hold not his peace, and when it came to writing about the thorn in the flesh to the same congregation which he labored among, he wrote of the Lord Jesus appearing unto him and not only declaring that His grace was sufficient for him, but also that His strength was made perfect. Oh, we would be incredibly naïve to think about and consider the fact that there isn’t a strong and powerful connection between the words which the apostle Paul heard and received from the Lord while in the city of Corinth, as well as the words which the Lord Jesus spoke unto him concerning the thorn in the flesh. Is it possible that the thorn in the flesh was experienced in Corinth, and the apostle Paul wrote about it in the second epistle which was written and sent unto them. I cannot help but see a strong and powerful link and connection between the declaration the Lord Jesus made to the apostle Paul that He was with him, that no man would set upon him to harm him, and that he must needs speak and not hold his pace, and the words which the Lord Jesus spoke unto him concerning His grace and strength.

As I sit here this morning and think about and consider the words which are found and written within the book of Acts—as well as the words which are found in the second epistle which was written unto the Corinthian saints—I can’t help but be directly confronted with the strong reality of the apostle Paul being instructed by the Lord to not only stay in the fight, but also to remain the struggle. While there were times previously when the brethren sent the apostle Paul forth from the city he labored and ministered in because of the opposition and resistance he experienced from the Jews, that would not be the case here in Corinth. Despite the possibility the apostle Paul faced discouragement and frustration, and despite the fact the apostle Paul might have departed from previous cities because of the brethren before and around him, that would not be the case here in the city of Corinth. In all reality, I am convinced the main and underlying reason the Lord instructed the apostle Paul to remain in the city of Corinth was and is found in the final portion of the message He spoke and delivered unto him—namely, that he had many people within that city. The man and underlying reason the Lord instructed the apostle Paul to remain where he was within the city of Corinth was because He had many people there within the city, and there was an intense work of labor that needed to be done in the midst of the city to reach , minister and disciple them. While it might have been easy for the apostle Paul to depart from the city of Corinth, the Lord appeared to him by night instructing him to remain and abide within the city—essentially to remain and abide within the fight and the struggle. Oh, what do you do when the Lord Jesus appears unto you in a vision, or while you are praying and seeking His face, and He instructs to remain in the fight, and to remain the struggle? What do you do when it would be much easier for you to take flight rather than flight, and depart rather than remain and abide, and the Lord prohibits you from doing so because there is a work He not only has for you to do, but there is also a work He needs to do in you? I am thoroughly convinced that in such instances there is not only a work the Lord has for us to do where we are, but there is also a work the Lord has to do within us. THE WORK WITHOUT AND THE WORK WITHIN: REMAINING THE FIGHT AND ABIDING IN THE STRUGGLE! There is not a doubt in my mind that the Lord instructed the apostle Paul to remain in the city of Corinth—not only because there was a work He had for the apostle to do, but there was also a work he had to do within the apostle himself. It was this inner work which was not and could not be seen by human eyes the apostle Paul wrote and spoke about in the second epistle which was written unto the saints which were in Corinth. I am convinced that what we find in the book of Acts is the declaration of the work that was to take place without, and what we find in the second epistle which was written unto the Corinthians describe and spoke to the work which was done within the apostle. In all reality, it is quite possible that the Lord Jesus Christ appeared unto the apostle Paul on two separate occasions—perhaps both times while he was in the city of Corinth—and on the one hand the Lord spoke to him concerning the work without which he had been called to do, and on the other hand the Lord spoke to him concerning the work within which He needed to do.

THE EXTERNAL AND OUTWARD WORK OF LABOR! THE INWARD AND INVISIBLE WORK OF STRENGTH AND GRACE! I am firmly and completely convinced there are times within our lives when both the hidden and concealed work of grace and strength is manifested at the same time as the external and visible work of labor, while there are other times within our lives when the works take place apart from and independent of each other. In the book of Acts we find the apostle Paul receiving instruction from the Lord concerning the external and visible work of laboring among the Corinthian people, while in the second epistle which was written unto this same congregation we find the apostle Paul writing and speaking concerning the hidden, the concealed and the invisible work of grace and strength. What’s more, is that it is this hidden, concealed and invisible work of grace and strength that is directly impacted by that which manifested itself within our lives—even that which was permitted by the Lord Jesus the Christ Himself. It’s worth noting that when writing unto the saints there in Corinth the apostle Paul declared that there was GIVEN unto him a thorn in the flesh, which was a messenger of Satan to buffet him, lest he should be exalted above measure. What we must recognize and understand concerning that which is found in the second epistle which was written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian congregation is that the thorn which he experienced in the flesh was given unto him (it could very well be assumed it was given him by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself), thus indicating that the hidden and concealed work of grace and strength needed to be done within his heart and life. Oh, I can’t help but get the strong sense that there are times within our lives when the Lord can and will allow certain things to take place within our lives in order that He might manifest His grace and strength within our hearts and lives. There are times within our hearts and lives when the Lord can and will allow certain things to happen and take place, and yet He does so because He desires to manifest the inner, the inward, the hidden and the concealed work off grace and strength. There are times within our lives when the Lord instructs us to remain the fight and to abide in the struggle because there is an external work of labor He desires for us to engage in. There are times within our lives when the Lord can and will permit something to enter into our lives because there is in an inner, an inward, in invisible, a hidden and concealed work of grace and strength which needs to be done within our lives. There are other times when the Lord might allow both to work in conjunction, union and harmony with each other because He not only has a work for us to do, but He also has a work which He needs to do within us. There are times within our lives when both the external work and the inward work take place at the same time—and although it is true the Holy Spirit is always at work within our lives—there is a specific, concentrated and focused work the Lord Jesus Christ desires to do within our hearts and lives. I firmly believe that there is a strong and powerful link and connection between the hidden and concealed work of grace and strength within the life of the apostle Paul, as well as the external and outward work of labor, and we would be incredibly wise to recognize and understand this reality within our own hearts and lives. There are times within our lives when it would be easy to take flight and to abandon the fight, and yet the Lord not only instructs us to remain and abide, but He also declares unto us that He is with us, commands us not to be afraid, and declares unto us that His grace is sufficient for us, and His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

I find it absolutely wonderful and astonishing to think about and consider the fact that in the eleventh verse of the eighteenth chapter we find it written that the apostle Paul continued there in Corinth for a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them, and in the eighteenth verse Luke writes how after Paul tarried in Corinth for a good while, he departed from that city, and took his leave from the brethren. I feel the need to pause here and to speak to the fact that were cannot, we dare not, we must not and we should not make any attempt to depart from the work of labor before the appointed time has come, and before we have been released to do so by the Holy Spirit. We must come face to face with and encounter the reality that we cannot and should not depart from the work which the Lord has called us to before the appointed time, and before we have been released to do so. What’s more, is that what we find here is a powerful picture that there are times within our lives when it is necessary to withdraw and depart from labor and service in order that we might take care of ourselves and experience rest and refreshing in the Lord. I firmly believe that there are times within our lives when the Lord can and will instruct us to remain the fight and abide in the struggle, and I firmly believe that we cannot, we dare not, and we should not depart from the work the Lord has called us to until the appointed time, and unless He has given us the release to do so. It is quite unique and astonishing to read how the apostle Paul remained and abided in Corinth for the space of a year and six months, and when we come to the eighteenth verse of the same chapter we find the apostle Paul departing from the city and taking his leave from the brethren in order that he might travel unto Jerusalem to keep the feast. I am convinced there are times within our lives when it is absolutely necessary to take time away and take time apart unto ourselves in order that we might not only take care of ourselves, but also to fulfill our commitments which we have made in the sight and presence of the living God. The apostle Paul departed from the city of Corinth because he had made a vow and wanted to keep the feast which was in Jerusalem, and he did so after spending a full year and a half there in the city. In verses eighteen through twenty-three of the eighteenth chapter we find the apostle Paul taking his leave from the brethren, taking Aquila and Priscilla with him, and coming unto Ephesus where he left both Aquila and Priscilla. While there at Ephesus the apostle Paul reasoned with the Jews in the synagogue, and when they desired him to remain and abide with them, he would not do so, for he needed to journey down unto Jerusalem in order that he might keep the feast which was there in the city. FROM THE FIGHT TO THE FEAST! FROM THE FIGHT IN CORINTH TO THE FEAST IN JERUSALEM. Please note and please understand that when I speak of moving from the fight in Corinth to the feast in Jerusalem I am not speaking of feasting as we think of feasting, but I am speaking of one of the feasts in Jerusalem which took place at appointed times during the year.

The eighteenth chapter of the book of Acts concludes with a certain Jew named Apollos, which was born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and might in the Scriptures, coming to Ephesus. This particular man was instructed in the way of the Lord, and being fervent in the spirit, spoke and taught diligently the things of the Lord. There was unique thing about Apollos, which the beloved physician Luke mentioned—namely, that Apollos only knew of the baptism of John. Luke wrote how Apollos spoke boldly in the synagogue, and when Aquila and Priscilla heard his teaching and speaking, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. . When the eighteenth chapter of the book of Acts ends and draws to a close it does so with it being written how this man named Apollos came unto the saints which were at Achaia and helping them much which had believed through grace, for he mightily convinced the Jews publicly, showing them from and by the Scriptures that Jesus was indeed the Christ. As the eighteenth chapter of the book of Acts draws to a close we not only find the apostle Paul in the country of Galatia and Phrygia, but we find Apollos in Achaia, and Aquila and Priscilla in the city of Ephesus. How incredibly interesting it is to think about and consider the fact that the work was being done and performed in three distinct locations as the apostle Paul himself in Galatia and Phrygia, as Aquila and Priscilla were in Ephesus, and as Apollos was in Achaia. We aren’t given any clue or indication as to where Silas and Timothy were, for the last time there was any mention of them they were with the apostle Paul in Corinth. It might very well be that Silas and Timothy remained in Corinth, while the apostle set sail from that place in order that he might make his way down unto Jerusalem to keep the feast. As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I am firmly convinced that we must read this chapter and not only understand the external work of labor which the Lord Jesus calls us to do, but we must also understand the internal work of grace and strength which the Lord desires to do within us. We must remember the words which the apostle Paul wrote when writing unto the Philippian saints when he declared unto them that he was confident that He who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it until the time of the coming of Jesus. What’s more, is it was the apostle Paul who also declared that it is the Lord who works in us both to will and to do good. We must recognize and understand that there are times in our lives when the Lord does in fact speak to us and instruct us to remain the fight and to abide in the struggle, and instructs to be not afraid and to not fear for He was and is with us. When it comes to the external work of labor the Lord emphatically declares that He is with us and instructs us to not be afraid, and when it comes to the inward work of the Spirit within our lives—the work of grace and strength—we must yield to and allow Jesus Christ to work His strength in us as a baker would knead yeast into the dough in order to produce something that will be put into the oven to be baked. Oh, I am convinced that strength is much like yeast and much like flour which is added to dough as it is being formed and shaped into something that will eventually be placed in the oven to bake for a specific period of time. I firmly believe that the strength and grace of Jesus the Christ is much like that yeast and flour added to the dough in order that we might be formed and shaped into that which the Lord Jesus Christ desires for us right before and as He puts us in the oven and furnace that what He designed and created might come forth. It’s worth noting that strength and grace are pressed into us as men and women of the living God, and that strength and grace is used to form and fashion us into something that will ultimately and eventually be put in the furnace and oven in order that the finished product might come forth. Oh that we would not despite nor would reject the work of grace and strength the Lord Jesus Christ desires to do within us, and that we wouldn’t abandon, neglect and forsake the external work of labor the Lord has called us to do—patriotically and especially when we would much rather take flight than fight.

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