You Don’t Have to Suffer Alone, You Don’t Have to Feel Alone

Today’s selected reading is found in the New Testament epistle which was written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Philippi. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters one through four of this New Testament book. When you come to the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Philippi you will find the second epistle which the apostle Paul would write in chains from the city of Rome. If you read the words which are found in the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Ephesus you will find that epistle being the first which was written by the apostle Paul from the city of Rome—and not just from the city of Rome, but also as a prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ. You cannot read the words found within these epistles and not encounter and come face to face with the fact that even in chains and even bound in prison the apostle Paul would still be given to the care and concern for the churches. Even though he was bound in chains you could not bind the word of God within the heart of the apostle, nor could you bind or shut up the gospel concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. Despite the fact the apostle Paul was bound as a prisoner within the city of Rome and was no longer free to move to and from within and among the churches he would still extend his care, his concern and his compassion for the churches. What’s more, is the apostle Paul would still find a way to be connected to the churches which he had helped established—even in the midst of the chains which bound him there in the midst of the city. We dare not and must not miss this, for despite the fact that the apostle Paul would be bound in the city of Rome and could not physically journey unto the churches which he helped establish, he could still reach out and reach unto them through the gospel which was in present in his heart. Not only this, but the apostle Paul found himself in a place where he would give himself to prayer for and concerning the saints—a reality which was evidenced in the words which are not only found in the epistle written unto the saints which were at Ephesus, but now the epistle which was written unto the saints which were at Philippi.

            As you begin reading with and from the opening verses of this chapter you will find once more the apostle Paul writing side by side and together with Timothy—both of whom the apostle Paul wrote as being servants of Jesus Christ. THE SERVANTS OF JESUS CHRIST TO ALL THE SAINTS IN CHRIST JESUS! If there is perhaps one thing that so intrigues and inspires me about the words which are found in the opening chapter of this epistle is that even though the apostle Paul was now in Rome as a prisoner of the Lord he would still be present with Timothy who would be his spiritual son in the faith. Upon reading the New Testament book of Acts you will find the apostle Paul encountering Timothy as a disciple among the saints in Lystra and Derbe—one who was well spoken, and perhaps even well beloved of the saints in that place. The apostle Paul would invite Timothy to travel and journey with him as he engaged and embarked upon his missionary journeys, and what makes this so captivating is when you think about and consider the fact almost immediately after the apostle Paul brought Timothy with him along his missionary journeys this young disciple would witness and behold a side of Christianity he had perhaps not known, encountered or experienced there in Lystra and Derbe. Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that Timothy was indeed a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that Timothy was indeed a true follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, for the apostle Paul would most likely not have sought to bring him with him along his missionary journeys had he had any doubts or concerns about Timothy. What’s more, is that the beloved physician Luke was very clear concerning Timothy and how not only was Timothy a disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, but also that he was well beloved and well spoken of by the saints which were in Philippi. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and powerful reality, for to do so would be to miss out on what makes the life of this disciple so absolutely captivating.

            If and as you read the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts you will find that the apostle Paul sought to bring Timothy—this disciple whom he found in Lystra and Derbe—with him along his missionary journeys, and almost immediately after Timothy was brought with the apostle Paul he would be baptized in conflict, in trouble, in trial and tribulation. It would be almost immediately after Timothy would be taken by the apostle Paul along his missionary journeys that Timothy would begin to experience a different side of discipleship and Christianity—one that he perhaps had absolutely no association or familiarity with in Derbe. What is actually quite interesting is when you think about the fact that there are times within our lives when what is desperately needed within our hearts and lives is not merely being brought alongside someone else, but also being brought forth from that place of comfort and familiarity. It would be after and as Timothy left and departed from Lystra and Derbe, and as Timothy would begin to travel and journey with the apostle Paul that he would begin to experience an entirely different side of discipleship—one that would perhaps be vastly different from that which he experienced while in Lystra and Derbe. Oh this isn’t to say that there was somehow something wrong with the discipleship of Timothy, but rather that there was this additional element and additional aspect which needed to be present within his life. Timothy was indeed a true disciple of the Lord Jesus the Christ in Lystra and Derbe, and he undoubtedly walked with and followed the Lord, however, we might very well say that this discipleship and his relationship was largely absent of any type of conflict and any type of struggle. I would dare say that the discipleship of Timothy there in Lystra and Derbe was one that would be one of relative ease, relative peace, relative comfort, and absent any type of conflict, suffering, opposition and affliction. It would, however, be as Timothy would begin to make his journey with the apostle Paul that he would begin to realize that there was something that was largely missing from his discipleship—something which he perhaps did not even think was even needed.

            As I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts I can’t help but read the narrative and account of Timothy and how almost immediately after he began walking with the apostle Paul his Christianity and discipleship would take on an entirely different feel and an entirely different shape and form. The sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts would begin with the apostle Paul finding Timothy as a young disciple in Lystra and Derbe who was well spoken of by the saints and brethren there, and it would immediately shift to Timothy beginning to travel and journey with the apostle Paul. What’s more, is that almost immediately after Timothy would begin walking and journeying with the apostle Paul he would begin to experience just how steeped the apostle Paul was in conflict, opposition, affliction, suffering, trial, tribulation and trouble. In fact, it would be there in the sixteenth chapter—right after the apostle Paul would bring Timothy with him along his apostolic and missionary journeys they would come to Philippi. It would be there in Philippi where the apostle Paul would cast out an evil spirit of a girl who would bring her masters great money and fortune because of the evil spirit that was working inside of her. When her masters saw that their hope for acquiring wealth and fortune were now gone because the evil spirit had been cast out of this girl they immediately rose up against the apostle Paul and those with him. It would be there in Philippi where the rulers and leaders in Philippi would rise up against Paul and Silas, and would not only have them placed in prison, but would also have them put in the innermost prison with their feet secured in stocks. It’s actually quite interesting and intriguing to read the words which are found in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts, for it would be there in the New Testament book of Acts we find Timothy experiencing the tremendous opposition and affliction the apostle Paul would experience, for he would witness the apostle Paul being arrested and placed in prison.

            With this being said, however, is that despite the fact Timothy would witness the apostle Paul being arrested there in Philippi, and despite Timothy witnessing Paul and Silas being thrust into the innermost prison and their feet fastened in stocks, but Timothy would also witness the miraculous and supernatural release of these two men from prison. Although Timothy would not have been there with the apostle Paul and Silas in prison and behold and witness them singing praises and praying unto the Lord there in the prison, he would eventually witness the apostle Paul and Silas being brought forth out of the prison being delivered from their chains, their stocks and their fetters. Scripture records and reveals how Paul and Silas would be singing praises and praying unto the Lord in heaven, and how at midnight there would be a great earthquake that would not only shake the foundations of the prison, but would also cause the prison doors to be opened, and each man’s chains and shackles being loosed. It would be at midnight the LORD would cause such a great earthquake to take place there at the prison—an earthquake that would cause the foundations of the prison to be shaken, the prison doors to be opened, and the chains shackles of every man being loosed. Eventually and ultimately Timothy would witness Paul and Silas being brought forth from prison—and not only them being brought forth out of the prison, but also witnessing the jailor and his entire household believing on the Lord Jesus Christ and being baptized. Think about how absolutely incredible it is for Timothy to have witnessed and experienced the opposition which rose up against the apostle Paul, and to have witnessed the apostle Paul and Silas being arrested and placed in prison, and yet to witness and behold on the very next day Paul and Silas being brought forth out of the prison by the very ones who had cast them into the midst of it. Not only this, but I am absolutely and completely convinced that this jailor and his household might very well have been the very first converts there in Philippi and helped become an establish the church there. What’s more, is I can’t help but wonder if when the apostle Paul wrote this epistle unto the saints which were at Philippi, some of those saints which were a part of that church were the jailor and his household. How absolutely incredible it would have been for Timothy to witness the opposition against and imprisonment of the apostle Paul in Philippi, but also to witness the miraculous deliverance of Paul and Silas from prison, and the salvation of the jailor and his entire household.

            If you continue reading the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts you will find that the opposition which the apostle Paul experienced in Philippi would not be the only opposition he would experience, nor would it be the only opposition Timothy would witness taking place within the life of the apostle Paul. Upon reading the words which are found in the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find the apostle Paul coming unto Thessalonica, and there in Thessalonica experiencing tremendous opposition of and from the Jews as they would raise themselves up against the apostle Paul. It would be there in the midst of the city of Thessalonica the Jews would raise themselves up against the apostle Paul with the attempt to destroy him from among them. It would be there in Thessalonica where the Jews would speak of those who had turned the world upside down having come unto them there in the midst of the city and perpetuating and perpetrating the gospel concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. Eventually and ultimately the brethren which were there at Thessalonica would send the apostle Paul forth from the midst of the city, which would ultimately result in the apostle Paul coming unto Berea. There in Berea the apostle Paul would teach and speak in the synagogue as was his custom as he would teach concerning the gospel concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. It would be there in the synagogue the apostle Paul would reason together that Jesus was indeed the Christ, and that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. It is important for us to recognize and understand this, for when you continue reading the book of Acts you will find that when the Jews which were at Thessalonica heard that Paul was in Berea preaching the gospel concerning the Lord Jesus Christ they pursued him there in Berea as they would bring the opposition, the conflict, and the struggle directly unto him.

            The words which we find in the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts is actually quite interesting, for when we read these words we are brought face to face with the fact that the apostle Paul would experience tremendous affliction, tremendous opposition, and tremendous trial and trouble from the Jews. The apostle Paul would enter into the synagogues in both cities and would teach and preach that Jesus was indeed the Christ, and it would be in both places where the apostle Paul face and experience opposition toward and against him. What makes this truly unique is when you think about and consider that it would be in Thessalonica the apostle Paul would initially experience trial, trouble and persecution, and that persecution would follow him there in the midst of the Berea. This truly takes on an entirely different level when you think about what all this would have meant and would have been like for Timothy who would have witnessed and experienced the apostle Paul and Silas being arrested and imprisoned in Philippi before they would ultimately be released after a supernatural encounter there in the midst of the prison. Now here were in the cities of Thessalonica and Berea and we find the apostle Paul once more experiencing suffering, opposition, trial, trouble, affliction and persecution—and that at the hands of the Jews. It would be there in the midst of these two cities we find this young Timothy witnessing and beholding the tremendous opposition that would rise up against the apostle Paul for the sake of the gospel, and I can’t help but wonder if Timothy’s discipleship had any room for “if any wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” I can’t help but wonder if Timothy’s discipleship had any room or any place for “and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” We know that Timothy was indeed a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ—and perhaps even a faithful disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ—and yet I can’t help but wonder if there was any room within Timothy’s discipleship for being hated of all nations for the sake of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and experiencing many trials, many troubles, and much tribulation. In fact, it would be earlier on the apostle Paul would preach that we must needs through many trials and tribulations enter into the kingdom of heaven.

            The further you come into the New Testament book of Acts you will find Timothy witnessing further opposition and conflict against the apostle Paul in the city of Corinth, for it would be there in the midst of the city of Corinth the Jews in that place would raise themselves up against the apostle Paul. After opposing themselves and blaspheming the Jews would raise themselves in strong opposition against the apostle Paul. So great was this opposition and blasphemy from the Jews the apostle Paul not only shake the dust off his feet and shake his garments out before the Jews, but he would also determine from that moment on that he would preach the gospel solely unto the Gentiles. This takes on a whole different meaning when you think about the fact that the apostle Paul would spend a full year and a half there in the midst of Corinth—even after the Jews had raised themselves up against him in opposition. We know that it would be there in Corinth the Lord Jesus would appear to the apostle Paul in a dream during the night as the Lord would instruct the apostle Paul to continue speaking and not to keep quiet, for not only did the Lord have much people in that city, but the Lord also promised that no man would lay their hands upon the apostle Paul for hurt. It is truly something worth noting and pointing out when reading these words, for ever since Timothy began walking and journeying with the apostle Paul on his apostolic and missionary journeys he would witness Paul’s arrest and imprisonment in Philippi, would witness the opposition of the Jews in Thessalonica, would witness that opposition of the Jews following him to Berea, and would even witness the opposition of the Jews in the city of Corinth.

            Having set the foundation for all Timothy had witnessed—just in what he witnessed in the cities of Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea and Corinth—we find Timothy still with the apostle Paul when he took to parchment and scroll to write the letter unto the saints which were at Philippi. We know for a fact that when the apostle Paul wrote the epistle which was written unto the saints which were at Philippi Timothy was most likely with him—and not only with the apostle Paul, but still with the apostle Paul. It would have been very easy for Timothy to have witnessed and beheld the tremendous opposition and affliction that was raised up against the apostle Paul within and throughout his ministry and to turn and return to  Lystra and Derbe. It would have been very easy for Timothy to witness and behold the suffering and persecution that would take place within the life of the apostle Paul and determine that wasn’t the Christianity and discipleship he had signed up for. We know from the opening verses of the New Testament book of Acts that Timothy was indeed a disciple within Lystra and Derbe who was well spoken of by the saints and brethren there, however, I would dare say that it wasn’t until Timothy began walking with the apostle Paul that he began to witness and behold a different version of Christianity and discipleship than what he was used to. Scripture is unclear how Timothy would have become a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ there in Lystra and Derbe, and how Timothy would have heard the gospel concerning the Lord, but we do know that Timothy was indeed a disciple which was present there in the midst of that place. What I can’t help but wonder is what gospel was preached unto Timothy there in Lystra and Derbe that would have caused him to make the decision to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ. Scripture is unclear how Timothy had heard the gospel, or even what was preached unto Timothy, but one thing we can absolutely be certain of is that before the apostle Paul showed up and before Timothy would begin walking and journeying with the apostle Paul his discipleship would be absent any type of conflict, any type of struggle, any type of affliction, and any type of opposition. It would be after he made the decision to walk with the apostle Paul that he would begin to experience a different realm of discipleship and Christianity—one that he perhaps had not even thought or imagined before.

            If there is one thing I absolutely love about how the New Testament epistle which was written unto the saints which were at Philippi is that despite the opposition and affliction Timothy would witness and behold within the life of the apostle Paul he would still be with the apostle Paul. Even as the apostle Paul would now be in the midst of the city of Rome as a prisoner of the Lord Jesus the Christ, and even though the apostle Paul would be in chain and shackles there in the midst of the city of Rome, Timothy would not only still be with the apostle Paul, but would also still be a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even though Timothy would witness a tremendous amount of persecution, suffering and affliction within the life of the apostle Paul, and even though he would witness tremendous suffering and affliction for the sake of the gospel and for the sake of the Lord Jesus the Christ Timothy would still continue walking with the apostle Paul. What’s more, is that not only would Timothy continue walking with the apostle Paul, but we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the last epistles written by the apostle Paul would indeed be unto Timothy who would be his spiritual son in the faith. I’M STILL HERE! I’M STILL WALKING! I’M STILL FOLLOWING! We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found in the opening verses of the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Philippi, for when the apostle Paul would write this epistle he would write it together with Timothy who was not only a faithful companion in ministry, but would also be a beloved brother in the Lord. It is important to truly understand and consider this, for despite everything Timothy witnessed and beheld within the life of the apostle Paul he would still be just as committed, just as devoted, and just as dedicated unto walking as a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus the Christ.

            As you begin reading the words which are found in the first chapter of the epistle which was written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Philippi you will find the apostle Paul opening it up with mention of the prayers which he prayed for these saints at Philippi. You cannot make your way through the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Philippi without first encountering the heart of prayer and intercession within the apostle Paul. It would be in the opening verses of the first chapter of this epistle we find the apostle Paul—as he did twice in the midst of the epistle which was written unto the saints which were at Ephesus—speaking of his tremendous commitment, dedication and devotion unto the saints in Philippi in prayer It would be in verses three through eleven of this particular chapter and passage we find the apostle Paul writing and speaking—not only of his praying for the saints which were there at Philippi, but also those things which he prayed for them. Moreover, we find the apostle Paul emphatically declaring what he believed concerning the saints which were at Philippi, as the apostle Paul invited them into his personal prayer closet and into his prayer life. Oh how absolutely wonderful and incredible it is to think about and consider the fact that this would now be the second epistle the apostle Paul would write from prison unto a specific church and congregation, and it would be in this epistle we find the apostle Paul inviting them into that which he prayed for them. If there is one thing I absolutely love about these prison epistles is not only the commitment and dedication of the apostle Paul to encourage these saints and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, but also his commitment to praying and interceding for them. Here we find the apostle Paul in prison and in chains in the midst of the city of Rome, and yet we still find him just as zealous and just as passionate for the churches which he helped to establish in the midst of the Asia. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering when reading the words found in the opening chapter of this epistle, for within the opening chapter of this epistle we are brought face to face with the tremendous commitment and dedication of the apostle Paul for and unto this church. Consider if you will the following words which are found within this passage of Scripture beginning to read with and from the third verse of the first chapter:

            “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ; even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:3-11).

            YOUR FELLOWSHIP IN THE GOSPEL (FROM THE FIRST DAY UNTIL NOW)! BEING CONFIDENT OF THIS VERY THING, THAT HE WHICH HATH BEGUN A GOOD WORK IN YOU WILL POERFORM IT UNTIL THE DAY OF JESUS CHRIST! I HAVE YOU IN MY HEART! YE ARE PARTAKERS OF MY GRACE—BOTH IN MY BONDS, AND IN THE DEFENCE AND CONFIRMATION OF THE GOSPEL! HOW GREATLY I LONG AFTER YOU ALL IN THE BOWELS OF JESUS CHRIST! AND THIS I PRAY, THAT YOUR LOVE MAY ABOUND YET MORE AND MORE IN KNOWLEDGE AND IN ALL JUDGMENT! THAT YE MAY APPROVE ALL THINGS THAT ARE EXCELLENT! THAT YE MAY BE SINCERE AND WITHOUT OFFENCE TILL THE DAY OF CHRIST! BEING FILLED WITH THE FRUITS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS!

            What I find so absolutely incredible about the words which are found in this particular set of verses is not only Timothy’s commitment and devotion to discipleship and walking with the Lord Jesus Christ, but also that of the Philippians. If you truly take the time to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will encounter and be brought face to face with the tremendous statement of the saints which were at Philippi being partakers and having fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now. The “first day” which the apostle Paul wrote and spoke about was undoubtedly that time when the apostle Paul was there in the midst of them and was not only arrested, but also imprisoned. I can’t help but believe within my heart that the “From the first day until now” was that time when the apostle Paul was present among them there in Philippi when the jailer and his entire household believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and were baptized after witnessing and beholding the supernatural intervention of the LORD on behalf of the apostle Paul in delivering both he and Silas from their chains, from their bonds, and from prison. This is truly worth thinking about and considering, for in the fifth verse you will find the language of “from the first day until now,” while in the sixth verse you will find similar language contained within this epistle—namely, “he who began a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” How absolutely incredible and powerful it is to read the words found in this prayer of the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Philippi, for he not only spoke of the beginning of their fellowship with Jesus Christ and with one another until that time the apostle Paul was imprisoned within the city of Rome, but the apostle Paul also spoke about that work which the Lord began in them—a work which He would be faithful to complete until the day of Jesus Christ. Oh dear saint, please don’t miss and lose sight of these words, for these words bring us face to face with the awesome and powerful truth of these saints fellowshipping with the gospel from the time of their origin as a body of believe in Christ until the time when the epistle was written. Despite the fact they undoubtedly heard of the tremendous opposition, affliction and suffering the apostle Paul experienced in Thessalonica, in Beara, in Corinth, and even in Jerusalem, these saints would still fellowship in the gospel until the time the apostle Paul would be brought unto Rome as a prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ.

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this epistle and I find myself encountering the truly wonderful and powerful truth concerning Timothy still walking with the Lord Jesus Christ—even after and in spite of the tremendous opposition, persecution, and affliction he witnessed within the life of the apostle Paul. Even now as the apostle Paul was a prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ in the city of Rome Timothy would still be walking with the Lord Jesus Christ as a disciple and follower of Him. Even though Timothy would witness and experience tremendous opposition, affliction, persecution and suffering for the sake of the gospel it would not deter him from continuing on in his walk and fellowship with the Lord—and not only with the Lord, but also with the apostle Paul, and with the brethren. This same line of thinking can also be found when thinking about the saints which were at Philippi, for the apostle Paul wrote and spoke of their fellowship in the gospel from the first day they believed on the Lord Jesus Christ until the day the apostle Paul wrote this epistle. From the day they first believed on the Lord Jesus Christ when the apostle walked and moved among them until the time the apostle Paul would be a prisoner of the Lord Jesus the Christ these saints would continue to partner together and fellowship with the gospel. Not only this, but when the apostle Paul observed this awesome and powerful truth we find him writing unto them how he believed and was confident that He which began a good work would be faithful to complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. That work which the Lord began in them from the day they first believed would indeed be brought to completion at the time and day of the Lord Jesus Christ.

            WHEN DISCIPLES CONTINUE WALKING WITH JESUS AND SAINTS CONTINUE FELLOWSHIPING IN THE GOSPEL! If there is one thing I absolutely love about the words which are found in the opening chapter of this epistle it’s that not only do we find Timothy continuing to walk with the apostle Paul—even in the midst of his chains, bonds and affliction—but we also find the Philippians saints continuing to fellowship in the gospel from the day of their formation until that present day. Oh, I would dare say that what we read and what we find within these opening verses is not only an individual picture of a disciple, a fellow laborer, and a brother in Christ continuing to walk with the Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of suffering, opposition, and affliction, but we also find a corporate example of saints which continued in the fellowship of the gospel. As you continue reading the words which are found within this epistle you will find the apostle Paul writing and mentioning his bonds, for even in this prayer you find the apostle Paul writing how they were partakers of his grace—both in his bonds,  as well as in the defense and the confirmation of the gospel. When writing unto these saints the apostle Paul was very clear and candid about his chains, about his bonds, and about his afflictions, and how in spite of that which the apostle Paul faced and experienced for the sake of the gospel these saints were continuing to fellowship together with him in the gospel, as well as fellowship with each other in the gospel. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this truly astonishing and remarkable reality, for it brings us face to face with the commitment and dedication that was found within the hearts and lives of these saints. Not only this, but their fellowship in the gospel from the day of their inception until the present time of the writing of the epistle wonderfully and powerfully demonstrated the words the apostle Paul wrote and spoke concerning his confidence of the LORD who began a good work in them would be faithful to complete it until the end. It is with these words the apostle Paul made a powerful and emphatic declaration unto the saints which were at Philippi that not only did they continue to fellowship in the gospel with him from the time of their creation and formation as a body of believers, but also how the One who began a good work in them will be faithful to complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

            We must needs pay close and careful attention to the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto these saints concerning the LORD continuing and completing the work in them which He began at their birth and formation, for the LORD would not abandon, neglect, ignore, nor forsake that work. The LORD would indeed continue, carry out and complete the work which He had begun in them—that work which enabled them to remain steadfast in the midst of affliction, opposition, suffering, persecution, trials, trouble and tribulation. In fact, if you continue reading the words which are found in the first and opening chapter of this epistle you will find the apostle going on to write unto them concerning his bonds—and not only his bonds, but also those things which befell him as a direct result of the gospel. If you begin reading with and from the twelfth verse of the first chapter you will find the apostle Paul desiring that they would understand how the things which happened unto him had fallen out for the furtherance of the gospel. The apostle Paul would go on to write how his bonds in Christ were and would be manifest in all the palace, and in all other places, and how many of the brethren in the Lord would wax confident by his bonds. Oh it is absolutely necessary that we pay close attention to this, for there are essentially two manifestations at work here within the life of the apostle Paul. The first manifestation surrounding and within the bonds of the apostle Paul is that they came and fell upon him that the gospel might be furthered and might spread within and throughout the earth. This is important for us to realize, for nowhere in any of these epistles do you, and nowhere in these epistles will you find the apostle Paul complaining about the bonds and the afflictions he faced and experienced.

            THERE IS NO COMPLAINING IN SUFFERING! THERE IS NO GRUMBLING IN AFFLICTION! THERE IS NO MURMURING IN TRIAL! Perhaps one of the greatest truths surrounding this epistle—and not only this epistle, but all the other epistles which the apostle Paul wrote—is that not once will you ever find him writing unto the churches and complaining unto them concerning his bonds and his afflictions. Even when standing before Agrippa the king the apostle Paul emphatically and boldly declared how he wished and prayed that he was like him save the bonds and afflictions which he had experienced. What’s more, is that when you read the second epistle which was written unto the saints which were at Corinth you will find the apostle Paul declaring how he would not only boast, but also how he would glory in his infirmities, in his afflictions, in his sufferings, and in those things which he faced. We must needs pay close and careful attention to this, for as you read the epistles which the apostle Paul wrote—specifically and particularly the prison epistles which he wrote while a prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ in bonds within the city of Rome—you will not find a single place where the apostle Paul complained about his suffering, nor murmuring about his affliction, nor grumbling about his bonds and chains. In fact, that which you find the apostle doing something that we wouldn’t normally expect or anticipate when thinking about and considering the affliction, the opposition, the suffering, and the persecution he experienced. What you will instead find the apostle Paul doing in the midst of this bonds and afflictions is actually speaking of them as being tools and instruments in the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ to bring about His purposes and His intentions in the earth. It would be in the twelfth verse of the first chapter the apostle Paul would write how his bonds had fallen unto him that the gospel might be furthered in the earth, while it would be in the thirteenth and fourteenth verses the apostle Paul would write how his bonds in Christ were manifest in all the palace there in Rome, as well as in all other places—undoubtedly “all other places” speaks of and references the various churches which were scattered throughout Europe and Asia. Moreover, you will find the apostle Paul emphatically speaking of the second great manifestation of his bonds and his afflictions—namely that many of the brethren in the Lord would wax confident by his bonds, and would become much more bold to speak the word without fear.

            DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE IMPACT OF YOUR SUFFERING? DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE IMPACT OF YOUR AFFLICTIONS? DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE IMPACT OF YOUR OPPOSITION! We read these words and we are brought face to face with the tremendous and powerful truth that the apostle Paul recognized and understood that his bonds and his afflictions weren’t even necessarily about him—in fact, they perhaps undoubtedly had anything to do with him. As you read the words found within this passage of Scripture you will encounter the fact that the apostle Paul realized and recognized that his bonds were not only for the furtherance of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, but also that his bonds and afflictions would produce boldness and confidence within the hearts and souls of others. There would be those within the various churches of Europe and Asia who would hear of his bonds and his afflictions and would take and draw strength from them. There would undoubtedly be those who would hear of the bonds and afflictions of the apostle Paul, and as a direct result of his bonds and afflictions they themselves would gain unto themselves boldness and courage to be able to speak the word without fear. In fact, this is the underlying principle and prayer that was found in the hearts of the apostles when they returned unto the brethren in midst of the city of Jerusalem. If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the fourth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts—not only will you find the apostles counting it all joy that they might suffer with Christ, but you will also find them together with the brethren praying unto God for boldness to continue speaking the word of truth and the gospel concerning the Lord Jesus Christ without fear and with great boldness. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the fourth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts—not only concerning their prayer, but also the response of the Spirit to their prayer:

            “And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: AND GRANT UNTO THY SERVANTS, THAT WITH ALL BOLDNESS THEY MAY SPEAK THY WORD, BY STRETCHING FORTH THINE HAND TO HEAL; AND THAT SIGNS AND WONDERS MAY BE DONE BY THE NAME OF THY HOLY CHILD JESUS. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, AND THEY SPAKE THE WORD OF GOD WITH BOLDNESS” (Acts 4:23-31).

            “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold then, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need” (Acts 4:32-35).

            It is absolutely incredible to read the words which are found within the final verses of the fourth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts, for the words which are found there are absolutely remarkable and astounding when you consider the response of the apostles after they had just experienced resistance, opposition and oppression from the religious leaders of that day. Here a man who had been lame since birth had been healed in the name of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit, and the religious leaders could not handle the healing which had taken place. What is truly awesome about these words is when you think about and consider how after the apostles had experienced opposition from the religious leaders they returned unto the brethren, reported unto them all the chief priests and elders said unto them, and then immediately resorted to prayer and intercession before the Lord Jesus Christ. That which is even more astounding when reading these words is as you read the words found in their prayer you will find them crying out to the Lord to behold the threatenings of the religious leaders—and not only to behold their threatenings, but also to grant unto them that with all boldness they might speak the word of the gospel by stretching forth His hand to heal. Although the apostles had been threatened by the religious leaders which were present during that day and within that generation we find them not losing heart, we find them not growing weary, we find them not fainting, but instead we find them glorifying the Lord that they were counted worthy to be partakers of the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ. What’s more, is that there greatest response to the threatenings of the religious leaders was that they might have greater and further boldness to speak and preach the word. Despite the fact they had been afflicted, resisted, opposed and threatened the concern of the apostles was that they might have further and greater boldness to preach the word of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that signs, wonders and miracles would follow and accompany the preaching of the word.

            We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of that which took place here during the days of the early church, for it is in direct alignment with that which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Philippi. When writing unto the saints which were at Philippi the apostle Paul emphatically proclaimed and declared that his bonds would indeed and would in fact grant boldness unto others that through and as a result of his bonds and afflictions they might further preach, proclaim and speak the name of the Lord Jesus and His gospel. This is truly something that is worth noting and pointing out, for despite the fact the apostle Paul was in prison and in bonds, nowhere will you find him complaining, murmuring, or grumbling about his present situation. Even when writing unto the saints which were at Corinth the apostle Paul recounted all his trials, all his troubles, and all his tribulations, and viewed them as badges and marks of honor in the sight of the living God and of His Christ. When writing unto the Corinthian saints the apostle Paul declared that he would rather glory in his weakness and boast in his infirmities. Oh pause for a moment and think about how absolutely incredible that truth truly is when you truly take the time to think about it. Consider if you will how incredibly significant it is for the apostle Paul to write those words and how instead of complaining, instead of grumbling and instead of murmuring against those who afflicted him, and instead of complaining against the Lord Jesus Christ, he instead counted it all joy to suffer with Christ and to be a partaker of Christ’s suffering. For the apostle Paul it was not only about suffering with Christ, but it was also about being a partaker of Christ’s sufferings as he bore in his body the sufferings of Christ, and the afflictions and bonds of death. Oh how truly incredible it is to consider—not only suffering with Christ, but also being a partaker of Christ’s sufferings. Both of these realities are something which we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of, for they are essentially two sides of the same coin which are intrinsically linked and connected to each other. We must needs realize and recognize that there is something incredibly powerful about suffering with Christ—essentially walking through and experiencing suffering with Christ—and partaking of Christ’s sufferings.

            I am sitting here today and I can’t help but think about the fact that while it is true there is an intrinsic link and connection between suffering with Christ and being partakers of Christ’s sufferings, we must needs recognize and understand the vast difference. If you are reading the words found in this writing it is absolutely necessary that you understand the vast difference between suffering with Christ as a means to actually walk through suffering with Christ—that one who is not a high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all ways tempted as we are, and yet was without sin. I feel a need to pause right here and speak and declare that within this passage in the epistle written unto the Hebrews there is not only the infirmity itself, but there is also the feeling of the infirmity. More often than not we would read these words which were written by the author of this epistle and we think that the feelings of our infirmities is one distinct truth which was presented by the author of the epistle. The truth of the matter, however, is that there is not only the infirmity—that which we are presently and actively going through and experiencing—but there is also the feeling of the infirmity—that which is produced within our heart, within our mind and within our soul as a direct result of the infirmity. We would be incredibly naïve to think that walking through suffering, walking through affliction, and walking through opposition cannot and does not take a toll on the human soul and upon the heart. Even when writing unto the saints which were at Corinth the apostle Paul would write of how they despaired even of life because of the suffering, the persecutions, and the afflictions they experienced. Oh if there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand concerning suffering it’s that there is indeed the actual suffering itself, but there are also the feelings those sufferings produce within us.

            If there is absolutely one thing I absolutely love about the words which are found written within the epistle unto the Hebrews it’s that not only is Jesus one who can be touched and identify with the infirmities we have faced and continue to face within this life, but Jesus is also one who can be touched with the feelings of our infirmities. Can I be bold and honest right now and declare that sometimes the feelings associated with and the feelings behind the infirmities are greater within our lives than the actual infirmities themselves? We would like to think that the infirmity, that the suffering, that the affliction, and that the trial and trouble we face within our hearts and lives is the greatest impact and has the greatest toll on our hearts and souls. The underlying truth is that there are times when the feelings, the thoughts and the emotions associated with the actual infirmity is greater than the actual infirmity itself. If you want to see what this look likes in the life of an individual I invite you to consider the life of John the Baptist who after he had finished, fulfilled and completed his course, his mission and his assignment within and upon this earth he would be imprisoned by Herod. It would be there in prison where John the Baptist would send some of his disciples and followers unto Jesus who asked if He was the Messiah or if they ought to look for another. Jesus—upon hearing the words which these disciples spoke—would not only heal the sick, open the blind eyes, cause the deaf to ear, and drive out demons, but would also send the disciples of John back having witnessed the supernatural manifestation of the kingdom of heaven, and instructing them to tell John of all they had seen and heard. What’s more, is that Jesus also added an additional statement and declaration which was directed to John—namely, the blessing of that one who is not offended in Him. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words Jesus spoke unto John, for the words Jesus sent the disciples of John back unto him with address and speak to the feeling of the infirmity John the Baptist was facing and experiencing. John the Baptist was in prison, and it was his being in prison that was the actual infirmity, the actual affliction, the actual opposition, the actual trial and trouble. Where the feeling of that infirmity comes into place is John’s apparent doubt of whether or not Jesus was indeed the Messiah—and not only that doubt, but also a possible offense within his heart and mind with Jesus because of his present situation.

            Oh we must needs recognize and pay close and careful attention to this particular narrative, for there is not a doubt in my mind that more often than not we can endure, we can bear up under, and we can hold up in the midst of the trial, in the midst of the trouble and in the midst of the tribulation. Where it more often than not becomes more difficult to bear and endure is when we speak of and deal with the “feelings” of the trial, the “feelings” of the trouble, and the “feelings” of the tribulation. We dare not be so naïve into thinking and believing that we are somehow immune from the feelings of the infirmities which we face and experience within this life, and that we cannot be touched or moved by them. With this being said, however, it’s worth noting that the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews spoke of Jesus being able to be touched with and by the feelings of the infirmities. This is actually quite incredible when you think about it, for although Jesus felt every ounce of pain as a result of being scourged, and although Jesus felt every ounce of pain as the crown of thorns was placed upon his brow, and although He felt every ounce of pain from the cross upon which He was crucified, He still allows Himself to be touched again by the feelings of our infirmities. Although the physical pain and the physical infirmity itself cannot touch the Lord Jesus at the right hand of the Father—the feelings of those infirmities can indeed reach and touch Jesus. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that while on the earth Jesus experienced the full force and weight of the pain of suffering, of persecution, of infirmities, of affliction, and of opposition, and at the right hand of the Father Jesus continues to allow Himself to be touched by such realities within our lives. Although Jesus cannot be touched with the physical pain of our suffering, nor even the suffering itself—Jesus can indeed and can in fact be touched with and by the feelings of our infirmities.

            We cannot afford to miss and lose sight of that which is found here, for more often than not it is the feelings associated with and produced by the suffering and the affliction that has the greater impact within and upon our lives. We seem to be able to handle and bear up under the suffering, the affliction, the trial and the trouble itself, however—more often than not it is the feelings, it is the thoughts, and it is the emotions that are directly connected to the suffering that make it sometimes impossible. Oh it’s something worth thinking about and considering that more often than not it is that which the suffering produces within us, and the effect suffering has within and upon us that is actually greater than the suffering itself. The human body is resilient and absolutely remarkable and can withstand tremendous pressure and force, and yet when we think about the human heart, the human soul, and even the human mind, we must needs recognize that more often than not it is less easy for those to bear up under the weight and burden of suffering and affliction. We would like to think that we can bear up under the suffering and affliction which we face within our hearts and lives, and yet the truth of the matter is that more often than not the feelings, the emotions and the thoughts that are directly associated with the suffering has a greater impact on us, and makes the suffering all the more difficult to bear. How absolutely incredible it is to not only know and understand that we can suffering WITH Christ, but also that Christ can indeed and can in fact be touched with the feeling(s) of our infirmities. There is something truly wonderful and spectacular when you think about and consider this amazing and awesome reality, for there is something incredible about not only being able to suffer with Christ—to actually walk through suffering with Him as the three Hebrews walked through the fire with that fourth man in the fire—but also knowing that even in heaven and at the right hand of the Father in heaven Jesus can indeed and can in fact still be touched by suffering, and can indeed still be touched by affliction, by infirmity, by persecution, by trial and trouble. Oh although Jesus cannot be touched with and by the physical pain of such persecution and affliction He can indeed and can in fact be touched with and by the feelings of our infirmities. Oh dear brother, oh dear sister—how absolutely incredible it is to think about and consider the fact that even at the right hand of the Father Jesus chooses to allow Himself to continue to be touched with and by what we go through, for He allows Himself to be touched with the feelings of our infirmities.

            YOU DON’T HAVE TO SUFFER ALONE! YOU DON’T HAVE TO FEEL ALONE! There is something truly remarkable and powerful about not only having to walk through suffering alone, but also not having to feel alone. The declaration the apostle Paul made concerning our suffering with Christ is truly captivating when you take the time to think about and consider it, for through his words we recognize and understand that we do not have to walk through suffering alone, but we can actually walk through suffering with Jesus. In the narrative and account of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego we find the per-incarnate Christ coming forth from heaven and actually walking in the midst of and through the fire with these three Hebrews. It would have been one thing for the LORD God to prevent them from being burned and from being consumed in the midst of the fiery furnace and then bringing them out untouched and unscathed. It would, however, be something else altogether and entirely different for the LORD to actually walk through the suffering with them. It is truly spectacular to think about and consider that not only did the LORD keep these three Hebrews from being consumed with and by their suffering, but He also walked with them in the midst of their suffering. They were willing to suffer for the sake of their belief and for the sake of their conviction, and as a direct result of this the Lord would descend from His place in glory and actually walk with them in the midst of their suffering. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering when you take the time to understand how not only can we suffer with Christ as Christ walks with us through and in the midst of our suffering, but so also can Jesus be touched with the feelings of our infirmities. Though Jesus can never experience the physical pain of suffering again within His body He can indeed be touched with and by the feeling of our infirmities. Stop and think about the tremendous power and weight that holds within our hearts and lives, for although Jesus cannot feel, nor can He experience the physical pain that might be associated with suffering as He did during His own passion and suffering, He can indeed and can still be touched with the feeling(s) of our infirmities.

            As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I fully realize there is still a whole lot that is left in this particular epistle that remains untouched and undealt with. In the final portion of the first chapter you will find the apostle Paul declaring unto the saints which were at Philippi that there was an earnest expectation and hope that in nothing he would be ashamed, but rather, that with all boldness Christ should and would be magnified in his body. What’s more, is the apostle Paul earnestly and eagerly desired the Lord Jesus Christ to be glorified and magnified through him and through his life—regardless of whether that meant his life or his death. Regardless of whether or not the apostle Paul would die, or would remain alive upon the earth he desired that the Lord Jesus Christ would indeed be magnified and glorified with and through Him. Moreover, the apostle Paul would go on to emphatically declare that for him to live is Christ, but to die is gain. The apostle Paul realized and recognized that if he lived in the flesh, the fruit of his labour was suffering, affliction, opposition, persecution, trial, trouble, and tribulation. What makes the words which the apostle Paul writes unto the Philippian saints so incredibly unique and astonishing is when you think about the fact that there was a conflict within his heart and soul, for while he earnestly and eagerly desired to be absent from the body knowing it would mean he would be at home with the Lord, he knew that his being in the flesh would be for their benefit and for their good. The apostle Paul recognized that so long as he was in this physical and natural tent and continued to abide with them it would be for the furtherance of their joy and faith that their rejoicing might be more abundant in Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul recognized that while it might be easier, and while it might indeed be greater to depart from this earthly and natural life to be with the Lord, there was a work which needed to be done within and upon the earth. It would be that work which needed to be done within and upon the earth that would cause the apostle Paul to continue to bear up under the weight, the burden, the pressure and the feelings of the suffering and persecution he faced and experienced. Although the apostle Paul was in bonds and in prison within the city of Rome, he would and could still encourage and strengthen the churches by and through his writing and that which he would send unto them. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for it is truly something to think about and consider the apostle Paul and his willingness to continue working and laboring so long as he was in this earthly and natural tent—despite and regardless of his being in bonds and being in prison. Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of this, for when you come to the third chapter of this epistle you will encounter the apostle Paul not only looking back over his life and counting all things as loss for the sake of the knowledge of Christ, but also his desiring to be a partaker with Christ and enjoying and experiencing the fellowship of His sufferings. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the third chapter of the epistle written unto the Philippian saints beginning to read with and from the seventh verse:

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubltess, 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 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 3:7-12).

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