Rejoice in the Lord and again I say, rejoice
Paul was a man who loved his Saviour and a man whose service to his Lord is one that we hold up as an example of a great man of faith – a man of God that we ourselves would seek to emulate, and yet his comparatively short life in the ministry was one that was engulfed by an overabundance of problems and difficulties – a ministry that was packed from start to finish with unbelievable severities and significant hardships.
One would have thought that this apostle of God, whom the Lord had specifically selected to be the His chosen instrument to the gentles, would have been a man held in high esteem by his contemporaries. One would have expected that a recipient of heavenly revelations from God.. one who was entrusted with mysteries of the Church, that were hidden before the world was founded.. one would become such a prolific contributor of the New Testament scriptures, would have been awarded a position of respect and honour in the early church.
And yet we discover that the apostle Paul was hounded by those who sought to destroy his ministry and discredit His reputation. Time and again he was beaten with rods by his Jewish brothers and faced many false accusations, imprisonments, beatings, and banishments. He was in peril on the sea and faced great risks on land. He was hounded by his own people and faced danger from those he sought to help. He was stoned and shipwrecked. He was rejected and robbed.
He was deserted by friends and imprisoned by enemies. He worked hard and long hours to support himself.. enduring many sleepless nights. He faced hunger and thirst and often went without food. He shivered with cold, having insufficient clothing to keep him warm – and yet He discovered that in all things God’s grace is made perfect in his weakness.
While his enemy sought to do their worst, Paul discovered the inexhaustible supply of the peace of God, the joy of the Lord, the sufficiency of His Master and the blessed hope.. that was stored up for him in heaven. Despite His many difficulties and trials, Paul was able to rejoice that he was counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Christ.. for he discovered a truth that is equally real today – that we are more than conquerors, through Him who loved us and gave Himself for us.
Paul discovered that no privation or prison cell, no threat or torture, no impoverishment or lack was able to separate him from the love of Christ Jesus. Indeed, he was able to say with confident assurance, "I am persuaded that nothing can ever separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus.. neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither fears for today nor worries about tomorrow, not even the powers of hell, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation can separate us from the love of God".
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