Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. —II Corinthians 11:23-28

And what difficulty are you going through as you follow Jesus? As we read the passage above there are not many of us that have gone through what the Apostle Paul did as he followed Jesus and for following Jesus. There are those in the world today who are going through great difficulty as they follow Jesus, but in the U.S. that typically is not the case. We still have religious freedom. Very few in the U.S. are in jail for preaching Jesus. None that I know of have been flogged in the U.S. for following Jesus nor beaten with rods or stoned. Some of greatest danger in the U.S. comes from false believers as they seek to lead the unsuspecting believer astray. There are followers of Jesus around the world that have suffered similar things as the Apostle Paul did.

What an example the Apostle Paul is to us! All that he suffered for the Name of Jesus did not cause him to turn back or give up. No, he knew what the truth was and trusted God with his life. “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). His desire was actually to die and be with Jesus— “I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” (Philippians 1:23). Can we say that? Are we at the place where we would rather be with Jesus than be here?

Paul’s desire to go on living was not for himself but he saw it as “more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith” (Philippians 1:24-25). As long as he lived his life was to be lived for others regardless of the difficulties he endured. He wanted to be used by God so other believers would progress in their faith and to have joy in their faith.

Is that our mindset? Will we continue to serve others even as we go through difficult situations? Do we truly have the desire to be with Jesus as Paul did? Do we have that mindset of serving others even in adversity for their maturity and joy? May it be so.

Dear Father, may I follow You, serve You and serve others regardless of what difficulty comes into my life. Be pleased to work through me to encourage others to mature in faith and to have joy in their faith walk. Oh, may this be so in the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the authority of Jesus. Yes, so be it!

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