Today’s selected reading is found in the second New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy who was a spiritual on in the faith. More specifically today’s passage begins with the first verse of the first chapter and continues through to the fourteenth verse of the second chapter: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord” (2 Timothy 1:1-2).
“I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day; greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears that I may be filled with joy; when I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also. Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but now is made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immorality to light through the gospel: whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whomI have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Timothy 1:3-12).
“Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us. This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; for whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. The Lord give mercy unto the house of Oneisphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain: But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me. The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well” (2 Timothy 1:13-18).
“Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully. The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits. Consider what I say: and the Lord give thee understanding in all things. Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: if we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:1-3).
“Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers” (2 Timothy 2:14).
When you come to this particular epistle and writing of the apostle Paul you will come to the second epistle written by the apostle unto Timothy. This particular epistle would be the second of two epistles which the apostle Paul would write unto this spiritual son of the faith and would seek to admonish and encourage him. What I so love and appreciate about the epistles written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy is his earnest and eager desire to comfort and encourage him. The more you read the words which are found in the epistles written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy the more you get the sense that although he was perhaps walking in the call of God upon his life it would not come without and apart from struggle, conflict and the like. There is not a doubt in my mind when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture Timothy was experiencing a tremendous amount of pressure as he was moving and operating in the role of bishop within the city of Ephesus. The city of Ephesus—you will recall—had previously experienced a tremendous riot which was incited by Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen in response to the preaching of the word and gospel of the apostle Paul and his companions. It would be in Ephesus where the whole city was set in an uproar against the word, against the gospel and against the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. What we must needs recognize and understand is that it wasn’t a struggle or conflict against the apostle Paul and/or his companions for the struggle was not against flesh and blood. The struggle and conflict we witnessed in the twentieth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts was indeed a struggle between principalities, spiritual wickedness, powers of darkness and the unseen forces of the darkness and the powers of light and the kingdom of heaven.
With this being said I find it absolutely astounding and remarkable to consider the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts concerning the events which took place in Philippi, the events which took place in Ephesus, the events which took place in Thessalonica, as well as the events which took place in Corinth and Jerusalem. If you read the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts within these chapters you will encounter the tremendous reality of chaos, confusion, riot, division and the like within these cities. If there is one thing we must needs recognize when reading the New Testament book of Acts is that it was not only a book about the power and presence of the Holy Spirit nor even a book about the persecution of the early church. Upon reading the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts you will find powerful language surrounding the riots which were incited by certain individuals and certain groups of people within those cities. Beginning with Philippi we find the tremendous power of mob, the power of riot and the power of contention and chaos in the midst of a city. It is absolutely impossible to read the New Testament book of Acts and not encounter and come face to face with the riots which took place in the various cities which the apostle Paul and his companions would travel. What makes this all the more intriguing is when you think about the fact that it could have simply been one or more individuals rising up against the apostle Paul and beating him, or imprisoning him or some other means of persecution. That which was experienced within these cities could have very easily been contained to a specific individual or a specific group of individuals. What we find, however, is an individual or a group of people raising themselves up against the word, against the gospel and against the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. As a direct result of this we witness the incitement of crowds of people within these cities against the apostle Paul, against his companions and against their work and ministry in these cities.
It is at this juncture I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the riots which took place within these cities as a direct result of contention and strife toward and against the word, gospel and name of the Lord Jesus. I am absolutely convinced that if you want to truly understand the words which are found in the epistles written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy you must needs understand the background and events which took place within the city of Ephesus. Timothy was absolutely no stranger to witnessing and observing persecution, affliction and suffering for he would see firsthand what would happen in Philippi, what would happen in Thessalonica and even what would happen in Corinth. Timothy would see up close and personal the tremendous cost of walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ and how serving Him could very well mean suffering, persecution and affliction. With this being said there is not a doubt in my mind that we need to recognize and understand the power of mob, the power of riots, the power of crowds and chaos and confusion for they help set the stage for how we can and should even understand the days in which we are living. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we have witnessed over the past two and a half years in this country—and not only within this country but in countries throughout the world—is the manifestation of the same realities which were found in the midst of these cities within Asia and Europe. Having said this I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the following passages found in the New Testament book of Acts beginning with the sixteenth chapter and the events which took place in the Macedonian city and colony of Philippi:
“Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters. Much profit by fortune telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation. And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out that very hour. But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities. And they brought them to the magistrates, and said, These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city; and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe. Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, Do yourself no harm, for we are all here. Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? So they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household. Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household” (Acts 16:16-34).
This passage of Scripture describes the events which took place in the city of Philippi and how the apostle Paul and Silas were dragged before the magistrates in the marketplace where they were not only accused but also beaten with rods before being cast into prison. This is important for us to recognize and understand for it calls and draws our attention to the beginning of the work of the enemy and adversary using and moving in the midst of chaos, confusion as well as mobs and riots. With this in mind I invite you to consider the events which took place in the seventeenth chapter of this same New Testament book as we witness the power of chaos and confusion in the midst of mobs and riots in both Thessalonica and Berea:
“Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ. And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas. But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the vil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying, there is another king—Jesus. And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard these things. So when they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go” (Acts 17:1-9).
“Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men. But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, they came there also and stirred up the crowds. Then immediately the brethren sent Paul away, to go to the sea; but both Silas and Timothy remained there. So those who conducted Paul brought him to Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him with all speed, they departed” (Acts 17:10-15).
It is incredibly important to recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found within these two passages of Scripture for within them we are brought face to face with the absolutely incredible truth surrounding the enemy beginning to stir up the people and crowds in these cities. Much like kicking a hornet’s nest or stirring up a hornet’s nest the enemy and adversary would use vessels whose minds and hearts could be manipulated during those days to not only incite chaos and confusion but also incite a riot and mob. I am absolutely convinced that the enemy does some of his greatest work in the midst of chaos and confusion—and not only in the midst of chaos and confusion but also in the midst of riots and mobs. It is indeed true the enemy and adversary moves in the shadows and moves and operates in the darkness, however, I am absolutely convinced the enemy comes out from the shadows in the midst of confusion and chaos in cities within and throughout the world. I am convinced the enemy’s activity can be seen, heard and even felt in the midst of such riot(s), violence, mob(s) and chaos and confusion. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous reality of how the enemy can indeed use chaos and confusion to raise up men and women to do his bidding and his desire. There is not a doubt in my mind when reading the words found in these passages of Scripture that the enemy and adversary was indeed moving forth from the shadows and the darkness and was moving and operating in the light. What makes this even more intriguing when you think about it is when you consider and ask yourself if there were any who recognized and discerned the activity and movement of the enemy and adversary during those days. The struggle was not against flesh and blood nor was the struggle between flesh and blood and what we find within this passage of Scripture is a tremendous demonstration of the conflict that exists within the spiritual realm.
With this in mind—and before I move to the events which took place in Corinth, Ephesus and Jerusalem—I find it absolutely necessary to pause and call your attention to this conflict and struggle which exists in the unseen realm and against spiritual wickedness in high places, against the rulers of darkness and against the powers of wickedness and evil in the world. I am convinced that what we see and find within these passages of Scripture is not a struggle or conflict between flesh and blood nor against flesh and blood but was a conflict and struggle against the powers of darkness which were present within and over these cities. I believe the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the sixth chapter of the epistle written unto the Ephesian saints must be carefully considered in order to understand this conflict has never nor will it ever take place between flesh and blood but against the powers of darkness. Moreover I am convinced we must also consider the words which are found in the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints in the tenth chapter. In addition to this I believe it is also necessary to consider the words which are found in the fourth and fifth chapters of the first epistle written by the apostle Peter as well as the words which are found in the fourth chapter of the epistle written by James. Consider if you will the following words which are found in each of these passages beginning with the words the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian saints:
“Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you. But I beg you that when I am present I may not be bold with that confidence by which I intend to be bold against some, who think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when you obedience is fulfilled” (2 Corinthians 10:1-6).
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:10-20).
“But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for another, for love will cover a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other peoples’ matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now, If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear? Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator” (1 Peter 4:7-19).
“Likewise you go under people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed wit humility, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:5-11).
“Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You ought and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously? But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: God resist the probed, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter Ben turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:1-10).
I am absolutely convinced there is a great need to recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for beginning with the second epistle written unto the Corinthian saints through to the words which James wrote in his epistle we see very clearly a struggle that has never been, nor is at this present nor ever will be against flesh and blood. There have been countless men and women who have believed that the conflict, the struggle and the battle is against flesh and blood. This is perhaps no truer than it has been over the past two and half years within this country—and not only within this country but within the countries of the world. During the summer of 2020 and even during the following year we witnessed countless riots and protests within the streets of our cities. From mask mandate opposition, to vaccine opposition, to lockdown opposition, to opposition against church buildings being shut down, to BLM, to George Floyd, to the riots and violence in many of our cities, to seeking to eradicate our history and cancel culture, to the LGBTQ agenda and even abortion rights activists we witnessed the power of riots and protests within countless cities within our countries. Streets were flooded with men and women who were “united” in a singular cause—regardless of what that cause ultimately was. What’s more is that while on the surface this might seem like unity among men and women in this country for a common cause it is a false unity that is not produced within and by the Holy Spirit. There would be those who would like to think that the so-called unity that was manifested in these riots and protests is worth lauding and applauding and yet the truth of the matter is that it was a unity that was manufactured without the Holy Spirit and had at the very heart of it chaos, confusion, anger, bitterness and resentment. I am convinced that when chaos and confusion, bitterness and offense, rage and resentment are at the heart of protests and riots any “unity” that is perceived in the midst of them is nothing but smoke and mirrors and a farce.
The more I think about this the more I am convinced that the enemy and adversary was successful over the past two and a half years in getting men and women to believe that flesh and blood were the real enemy and adversary. There is not a doubt in my mind that over the past two and a half years the enemy and adversary has succeeded in not only dividing us across various lines, opinions and beliefs but he has also succeeded in getting us to believe that flesh and blood is the true and ultimate enemy and adversary. If you think about it we have spent the past two and a half years fighting and warring against each other not even realizing the true enemy and adversary has gone largely and widely ignored and not even discerned. What’s more is James asks his readers where wars and fights came from among them before declaring unto them how they came from their desires for pleasure that war in their members. James goes on to declare that they lust and do not have, they murder and covet and cannot obtain, and they fight and war. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for if you want to truly understand the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts—and not only what is found in the New Testament book of Acts but also within our own nation and the nations of the world—you need recognize that fights and wars come from desires for pleasure warring in our members, lust, covetousness and the like. What’s more is I am convinced that during these past two and a half years the enemy and adversary has moved from out of the shadows and into the light concealing himself in the crowds, within the riots, within the protests and within the mobs which are and have been present within our cities and streets. If you think about it how easily could riots and crowds be used to conceal oneself from others if they did not want to be detected? If you wanted to move freely and openly without being detected it would be very easy to conceal yourself with crowds and multitudes of people that you might blend in with the rest of the people around you and not be noticed.
As I read the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts the more I am convinced the enemy and adversary not only succeeded in getting men to engage in war, fighting and conflict against flesh and blood but he was also successful in moving within the light rather than the darkness. I firmly believe the enemy and adversary does indeed and does in fact conceal himself in crowds and multitudes of people that he might move freely without being seen, noticed or detected. With this being said I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the fact that over the past two and a half years the enemy and adversary has not only tipped his hand but has also begun to show himself to those who are wise and discerning. I am convinced that wherever you see flesh and blood warring against each other you will find the enemy and adversary and his forces of darkness at work in the midst of it. What’s more is I firmly believe the enemy and adversary thrives off chaos, contention, confusion, division, strife, violence and the like. There is a great need for us to recognize and understand that wherever there is division, contention, strife, fights, wars, quarrels, riots, protests and violence the enemy and adversary is sure to be present in the midst of it. The question we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we have the discernment within our hearts and spirits to recognize the presence of the enemy among us in these places. Are we truly able to see and discern the movement and the activity of the enemy in the midst of the chaos and confusion or are we too blind and naïve to what is truly taking place before and around us? I am absolutely convinced there is a great need for us to recognize and pay close attention to the events which took place over the past two and a half years and even to prepare and make ourselves ready for what lies ahead of us in the coming days, weeks, and even months.
Having said all of this I find it necessary to return to the New Testament book of Acts before delving into the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy. It is in the eighteenth, nineteenth and twenty-second chapters of the New Testament book of Acts we find this power of mob, riot and even violence being manifested in the life of the apostle Paul and during the days of the early church. I am convinced that if we want to truly understand the words which we find in the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy we must needs acknowledge and understand the events which took place in Corinth, in Ephesus and even at Jerusalem. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in these passages of Scripture beginning with the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts:
“After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them. So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers. And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks. When Islas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ. But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles. And he departed from there and entered the house of a certain man named Justus, one who worshipped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue. Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized. Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city. And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. When Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him to the judgment seat, saying, This fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law. And when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio, said to the Jews, If it were a matter of wrongdoing or wicked crimes, O Jews, there would be reason why I should bear with you. But if it is a question of words and names and your own law, look to it yourselves; for I do not want to be a judge of such matters. And he drove them from the judgment seat. Then all of the Greeks took Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. But Gallio took no notice of these things” (1 Corinthians 18:1-17).
“When these things were accomplished, Paul purposed in the Spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. So he sent into Macedonia two of those who ministered to him, Timothy and Erastus, but he himself stayed in Asia for a time. And about that time there arose a great commotion about the Way. For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Diana, brought no small profit to the craftsmen. He called them together with the workers of similar occupation, and said: Men, you know that we have our prosperity by this trade. Moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands. So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship. Now when they heard this, they were full of wrath and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians! So the whole city was filled with confusion, and rushed into the theater with one accord, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians, Paul’s travel companions. And when Paul wanted to go in to the people, the disciples would not allow him. Then some of the officials of Asia, who were his friends, sent to him pleading that he would not venture into the theater. Some therefore cried one thing and some another, for the assembly was confused, and most of them did not know why they had come together. And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander motioned with his hand, and wanted to make his defense to the people. But when they found out that he was a Jew, all with one voice cried out for about two hours, Great is Diana of the Ephesians! And when the city clerk had quieted the crowd, he said: Men of Ephesus, what man is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple guardian of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Zeus? Therefore, since these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rashly. For you have brought these men here who are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of your goddess. Therefore, if Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a case against anyone, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another. But if you have any other inquiry to make, it shall be determined in the lawful assembly. For we are in danger of being called in question for today’s uproar, there being no reason which we may give to account for this disorderly gathering. And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly” (Acts 19:21-41).
“Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having been purified with them, entered the temple to announce the expiration of the days of purification, at which time an offering should be made for each one of them. Now when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, crying out, Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, the law, and this place; and furthermore he also brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place. (For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the Temple.) And all the city was distributed; and the people ran together, seized Paul, and dragged him out of the temple; and immediately the doors were shut. Now as they were seeking to kill him, news came to the commander of the garrison that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. He immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down to them. And when they saw the commander and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. Then the commander came near and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and he asked who he was and what he had done. And some among the multitude cried one thing and some another. So when he could not ascertain the truth because of the tumult, he commanded him to be taken into the barracks. When he reached the stairs, he had to be carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob. For the multitude of the people followed after, crying out, Away with him. Then as Paul was about to be led into the barracks, he said to the commander, May I speak to you? He replied, Can you speak Greek? Are you not the Egyptian who come time ago stirred up a rebellion and led the four thousand assassins out into the wilderness? But Paul said, I am a Jew from Tarsus, in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city; and I implore you, permit me to speak to the people. So when he had given him permission, Paul stood on the stairs and motioned with his hand to the people. And there was a great silence, he spoke to them in the Hebrew language” (Acts 21:26-40).
In returning to the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy you will find him beginning and opening with the affectionate statement of his regard for Timothy as a beloved son. The apostle Paul would then proceed to write unto Timothy how he thanked God who he served with a pure conscience as his forefathers did without ceasing remembering him in his prayers night and day. The apostle Paul then goes on to write of his being very much aware and mindful of the tears which Timothy had cried in the midst of fulfilling and carrying out that which he had been ordained and appointed unto. The apostle Paul would proceed to write how he called into remembrance the genuine faith that was in him—a faith that first dwelt within his grandmother Lois, then his mother Eunice and now was present within him. The apostle Paul would then instruct and exhort Timothy to stir up the gift of God which was in him through the laying on his hands. Pause for a moment and consider the tremendous weight and significance of the words the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy in this particular section for he not only wrote and spoke of the genuine faith that was present within him but he also wrote concerning the gift of God that was in him through the laying on of his hands. This is something we dare not and must not miss and ignore for I am convinced that there is a gift that is present within each and every one of us—an importation and a measure of the eternal and living God with which we are to fulfill and carry out that which He has ordained and appointed unto us. If you want to truly see and understand what this looks like I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the twenty-fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew concerning the servants and the talents:
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. Then he who had received the five talents went and trade with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s moment. After a long time the lord of those servants came and s settled accounts with them. So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them. His lord said to him, Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord. He who had received two talents came and said, Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained to more talents besides them. His lord said to him, Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord. Then he who had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours. But his lord answered and said to him, You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. For to every one who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:14-30).
With the parable of the kingdom of heaven being likened unto servants and talents and the reckoning and calling into account of what was done with those talents I would like to call and draw your attention to the following words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints as well as the words which are found in the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome:
“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant: you. Know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. Therefore are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another the gifts of healings by the same Sprit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills” (1 Corinthians 12:1-11).
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one so measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our minister; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness” (Romans 12:1-8).
Having presented you with the words the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian saints in his first epistle as well as the words which he wrote in the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome I find it absolutely necessary to build upon this concept of gifts and talents. With this being said I feel it is absolutely necessary to consider the words which are recorded in the nineteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke. It’s here within this passage of Scripture where we find a parable similar in nature to what we see in the twenty-fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the nineteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke beginning with the eleventh verse of the chapter:
“Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately. Therefore He said: A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten Mina’s, and said to them, Do business till I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, Master, you kinda has earned ten Mina’s. And he said to him, Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities. And the second came, saying, master, your Mina has earned five minas. Likewise he said to him, You also be over five cities. Then another came, saying, Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief. For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow. And he said to him, Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow. Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest? And he said to those who stood by, Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas. (But they said to him, Master, he has ten minas). For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me” (Luke 19:11-27).
In returning to the second epistle written by the apostle Paul you will find the apostle Paul emphatically declaring unto Timothy that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. It might very well be that when the apostle Paul wrote these words he either discerned fear within the heart and soul of Timothy or he was aware of the struggle and conflict with fear he had at the time of this writing. The apostle Paul spoke both of tears and fear(s) and I am convinced this is something we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words found within this epistle. I believe that if you want to truly understand the words which are found in this epistle you need recognize that Timothy was undoubtedly struggling and contending—both with fears and tears within himself. Scripture is unclear what caused the fears and tears within the life of Timothy, however, we know that as you continue reading the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy he admonished him to not be ashamed of the testimony of their Lord, nor of Paul his prisoner. Moreover the apostle Paul admonished and exhorted Timothy to share with him in the sufferings of the gospel according to the power of God who had saved them and called them with a holy calling—not according to their works but according to His own purpose and grace. The apostle Paul would go on to write unto Timothy and declare that he was not ashamed for he knew whom he had believed and was persuaded that He was able to keep what he had committed to Him until that day. There is a great need to recognize that which is found within this passage of Scripture for there seems to be every indication that Timothy was either struggling with the suffering of the apostle Paul or was indeed experiencing suffering and affliction within his own life. Scripture is entirely and altogether unclear what Timothy was indeed going through at the time of the writing of this second epistle, however, we must needs recognize that the apostle Paul felt compelled of the Spirit to pen this epistle and send it unto his beloved and dear son in the faith.
If you continue reading the words which are found in this epistle you will find the apostle Paul instructing and admonishing Timothy to hold fast the pattern of sound words which he heard from him in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. The apostle Paul further instructs and admonishes him to keep by the Holy Spirit who dwelt in them that good thing which was committed to him. This would immediately be followed by the apostle Paul describing unto Timothy some of the struggles which he himself faced as a faithful minister of the gospel and name of the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul would wrote how all in Asia turned away from him—among whom were Phygellus and Hermogenes. The apostle Paul would contrast those who turned away from him versus that one who actually refreshed him and was not ashamed of his chain. Beginning with the sixteenth verse of the first chapter the apostle Paul would write concerning Onesiphorus whom he declared often refreshed him and was not ashamed of his chain. Not only did Onesiphorus refresh the apostle Paul but when he arrived in Rome he sought him out very zealously until he found him. What’s more is the apostle Paul would go on to describe how this man named Onesiphorus ministered unto him in a variety of different ways while he was in Ephesus. Undoubtedly the purpose of speaking of those who turned away from him as well as highlighting that one who not only refreshed him but also was not ashamed of his chains was meant to encourage and exhort Timothy who might very well have been struggling with the idea of the apostle Paul being in chains and even in prison. Scripture is unclear whether or not this was indeed the struggle which Timothy had within his heart and soul, however, it is clear the apostle Paul recognized a conflict and struggle within the heart and would of Timothy. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful encouragement which was found within this epistle.
The more I read the words presented within this epistle the more I am brought face to face with the incredible reality that Timothy was undoubtedly experiencing some type of suffering, affliction and perhaps even persecution during and at the time of this writing. If you begin reading the second chapter of this epistle you will find the apostle Paul admonishing and encouraging Timothy to be strong in the grace that was in Christ Jesus. Moreover the apostle Paul admonished him to commit those things which he heard from him among many witnesses unto faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Not only this but the apostle Paul would go on to write unto Timothy and admonish him to endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the reality that as Christians—as those who name the name of the Lord Jesus Christ—we can and must expect to experience suffering and affliction within this life. There are far too many men and women among us within the church today who seek to somehow avoid suffering, affliction and persecution in this life. There are countless men and women among us who think and feel they can name the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and walk with and follow Him and somehow avoid and be exempt from suffering and affliction. The truth of the matter, however, is that this simply is not the case and men and women within our churches and within this generation must recognize and prepare themselves for whatever suffering, affliction and persecution can and will come there way.
If you continue reading the words which are found in this second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy you will find him instructing him to endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. He then goes on to declare that no one entangled in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. The apostle then goes on to draw from the example of athletics and describes how anyone who competes in athletics is not crowned unless he competes according to the rulers. Not only this but the hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. This is something we must needs recognize and understand when reading this epistle for within it the apostle Paul sought to encourage and exhort Timothy in the midst of suffering, in the midst of affliction and in the mist of persecution. We know that Timothy would at some point be imprisoned himself for in the final verses of the thirteenth chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews the author writes of Timothy their brother being set free. There is not a doubt in my mind that what the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews wrote was directly connected to Timothy beginning to walk in and experience some of the same suffering, the same affliction and the same persecution which the apostle Paul himself experienced. Undoubtedly Timothy witnessed the tremendous affliction, suffering and persecution the apostle Paul experienced in Philippi, in Thessalonica and even in Corinth. What makes this all the more intriguing when you think about it is when suffering, affliction and persecution begins to touch you personally. It was one thing for Timothy to witness Paul and Silas being beaten with rods and imprisoned in Philippi and even witnessing the opposition, the affliction and the persecution they experienced in Thessalonica and Berea.
What we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words which are found in this epistle is that Timothy was being exhorted and admonished to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. The apostle Paul sought to encourage and exhort Timothy to stand firm and stand strong in the faith which was imparted unto him by his mother and grandmother. The apostle Paul desired that Timothy not lose heart nor faint in the midst of suffering, in the midst of suffering and in the midst of affliction. Timothy was encouraged by the apostle to endure hardship as a good soldier of the Lord Jesus Christ and as one who would not bend, break nor buckle under the pressure. The apostle Paul desired Timothy be strong and courageous which was the instruction the living and eternal God gave to Joshua in the wake of the death of Moses. Joshua had been appointed to lead the children of Israel over the Jordan River and into the land of Canaan where they would engage the nations and peoples within the land. Joshua would be the commander of the armies of Israel and would lead them in battle against nations, peoples and armies that in many ways were stronger, more superior and greater than they were. After the death of Moses the living God instructed Joshua to be strong and very courageous and would give him the promise that every place the sole of his foot treaded that would be given unto him by the living and eternal God. This is something we must needs understand and recognize when reading the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy for within this epistle we find the apostle Paul admonishing him to be strong and courageous before the Lord in the midst of that which he faced. What adds even more credibility to this is when you consider the fact the apostle Paul declared unto the saints and believers that they must through many trials and tribulations enter into the kingdom of heaven.
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to declare to you who might be reading these words that you can and should expect suffering, affliction and persecution. The apostle Peter would write in his first epistle admonishing the saints to not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which was to try them as though some strange thing happened to them. In all reality I am convinced there are countless men and women among us within our churches today who would be shocked and surprised if and/or when they began experiencing suffering, persecution and affliction in the midst of the earth during the days in which we are living. The truth of the matter, however, is that I am absolutely convinced that we are about to enter into days of tremendous suffering, days of tremendous affliction and even days of tremendous persecution. Despite the best effort and attempt of many to shield and somehow guard themselves from suffering and persecution the reality is it is indeed coming. There is absolutely nothing we can do to escape the suffering and affliction that can and will come in the days which are ahead. Even when speaking unto one of the churches Jesus exhorted them to not be afraid of the things they were about to suffer for the devil would throw some of them into prison. Moreover Jesus would speak to another church concerning the hour of trial and the hour of tribulation was coming upon the whole world and encouraged them to stand strong and stand fast in their faith and confidence in the living God. With this being said I would dare say there are far too many “weak” Christians among us within our churches—weak in their faith, weak in their trust, weak in their confidence, weak in the power and might they think they have in themselves. Oh there might be men and women who are “strong” in their faith when it comes to prayers and praying, however, when it comes to their faith being put to the test through suffering, affliction and persecution their faith is incredibly weak and in need of strengthening. It is with this in mind I leave you with the following words which the apostle Paul wrote in the second epistle written unto the Corinthian saints.
It is necessary to consider the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthians in the second epistle for within it we find the apostle writing and speaking very candidly and openly about the suffering, the afflictions, the trials and tribulations he faced. What’s more is the apostle Paul used those trials, troubles and tribulations to exhort and encourage these dear saints within their own faith. The apostle Paul was not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ nor was he ashamed of chains or bonds which he would find himself contending with. Moreover the apostle Paul boasted in his infirmities and boasted in his afflictions knowing that the life of Christ might be manifested in him. The apostle Paul was not one who ever tried avoiding suffering, affliction and persecution for he knew those things which he must needs suffer for the sake of the word, the gospel and the name of Jesus Christ. This is something we must recognize when reading the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy for he—as one who had suffered a great deal as a faithful follower and apostle of Christ—had suffered and endured much for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul was one who was no stranger to suffering, affliction and persecution and recognized that more often than not his own suffering had absolutely nothing to do with him but those to whom he would minister to. The apostle Paul recognized that there was indeed a greater purpose for those things he suffered and gladly boasted in what he faced and endured for the sake of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is what is so absolutely incredible about the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian saints in the second epistle for not only did he speak candidly about his own suffering but he also admonished and encouraged them in the midst of their own suffering and in the midst of their own persecution. The apostle Paul recognized the eternal weight of glory that was found in the midst of suffering and affliction in this life. With this in mind I leave you with the following words which are found in the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints beginning with the first chapter:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation. For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted us through many” (2 Corinthians 1:3-11).
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but no in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you. And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, I believed and therefore I spoke, we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:7-15).
“For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming, but also by the consolation with which he was comforted in you, when he told us of your earnest desire, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more” (2 Corinthians 7:5-7).
“Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am i. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for al the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation? If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever knows that I am not lying. IN Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me; but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands” (2 Corinthians 11:22-33).
“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the LORd three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’ sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).