Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.   And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. —II Corinthians 11:23-28

             Wow!  You think Paul was a committed servant of our Lord Jesus Christ?  Do you think he was a committed servant to our Lord’s Church?  Do you think he was a committed servant to the lost?  Look at all Paul went through and still he pressed on.  Still he was faithful.  Still he ran the race marked out for him.  Still he kept his eyes on Jesus.  Still he preached the gospel and made disciples who in turn loved Jesus and made disciples… right down to the gospel coming to us.  Wow!  Let us thank God for Paul and all who have endured such opposition so the gospel would advance!

            Now, tell me again what difficulties you are experiencing because of the gospel?  What kind of a servant are you and I?  Are we “fair weather” servants— serving as long as things are going well?  What would we do if we came under even part of what the Apostle Paul endured?  Would we endure and continue on?  Or, would we retreat into the comfort of our homes… and church buildings?  For us in the West I shudder at the answer…

            Paul suffered at the hands of the Jews— lashed, beaten, stoned, imprisoned, countless beatings and often near death.  He suffered from the elements— shipwrecked, adrift at sea, difficult journeys, dangerous rivers, danger in the cities, and danger in the wilderness.  He suffered danger from the Gentiles.  He suffered danger from false brothers.  He suffered physically from lack of sleep, hunger, thirst and He suffered mentally with from “the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.”

            So again, I ask— “What are you going through because of the gospel?”  Let us look at the “pattern/example” of Paul (I Timothy 1:16) and follow him as he “follows the example of Christ (I Corinthians 11:1).  And let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).  Yes, dear Father, may that be the case regardless of what I may encounter in life.  May I persevere, endure and be faithful by the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the authority of Your Son Jesus, my Lord.  So be it.

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