Friday, July 10, 2015

Reflection - Suffering for the faith

Source (book): "Faithful to the end", Question 4, Page 62.
By Robert M. Solomon, Bishop of the Methodist Church in Singapore from 2000 - 2012


Suffering for the faith
PHOTO: Suffering for the faith
Sufferings - include beatings, imprisonment, stoning, false charges, and other forms of severe persecution.
God enters our suffering. (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the Fiery Furnace by William Maughan, 1985)
Posted by walklikejesus on 7 January 2015, Endurance and suffering

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-wH_xtol4jbA/VZ9Z25qrICI/AAAAAAAAggk/8m_OUqGadyE/s1600/three-men-in-the-fiery-furnace-william-maughan-1985.jpg
https://walklikejesus.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/three-men-in-the-fiery-furnace-william-maughan-1985.jpg
http://walklikejesus.net/category/endurance-and-suffering/



In what ways do people feel ashamed of the gospel of Jesus or of suffering for the faith? Discuss this sentence: "Faithfulness in service required love for Jesus, courage in difficult circumstances, and a thick hide". Think of your own life circumstances and directions in the light of the parts in the sentence. If there is any area that needs strengthening or transformation, speak to the Lord about it.

In what ways do people feel ashamed of the gospel of Jesus or of suffering for the faith?

Suffering for the Gospel [1]
Lack of conviction, commitment and courage to stand for the gospel
Serving God as His witnesses and servants in an unbelieving world is not easy. It often involves personal suffering, as the stories of Christian martyrs, ancient and contemporary, demonstrate. If it is not martyrdom, it may be ridicule, prejudice, loss, and deprivation. Will we run away then? If one really believes in the gospel and the uniqueness of Jesus, there is less likelihood. Shaky belief will result in shaky Christians who will flee at the first sign of trouble. But those who know Jesus and are convinced of gospel truths will have the conviction, commitment and courage to stand their ground for the gospel. Paul was an excellent example of this.



Lack of conviction, commitment and courage to stand for the gospel
PHOTO: Lack of conviction, commitment and courage to stand for the gospel
Serving God as His witnesses and servants in an unbelieving world is not easy. It often involves personal suffering, as the stories of Christian martyrs, ancient and contemporary, demonstrate.
Image source: peaceandemic.blogspot.com
Posted by Avatar Emilia Siahaan, © 2015 Voices of Youth

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-_iDjK1aM-jw/VZ9ZqagLKoI/AAAAAAAAgeI/XKacBjZDOzg/s1600/52b3b1124bb22-full.jpeg
http://www.voicesofyouth.org/assets/52b3b1124bb22-full.jpeg
http://www.voicesofyouth.org/en/posts/beat-your-fear-factor


To be laughed and sneered at
Paul would have compromised the gospel in the light of severe persecution from his fellow Jews. He could have toned down the message of the gospel to allow for the Judaisers' insistence on circumcision and the observance of Jewish customs for Gentile Christians. However, Paul insisted that Christian conversion is a conversion to Christ rather than to Judaism. Paul also faced ridicule from the Gentiles when he preached of Jesus. They laughed and sneered when he spoke of a God who was crucified and resurrected (Acts 17:32).



To be laughed and sneered at
PHOTO: To be laughed and sneered at
Others may laughed and sneered when we spoke of a God who was crucified and resurrected. This can be shameful.
Picture from the Daily Record, Dailyrecord.co.uk
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5SSuYTnAEqY/VZ9ZzQrjSqI/AAAAAAAAggU/BZabCXouZ84/s1600/ladies-day.jpg
http://i3.dailyrecord.co.uk/incoming/article1813591.ece/ALTERNATES/s1227b/ladies-day.jpg
http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/ladies-day-aintree-1813638



To remain faithful to the uncorrupted gospel under difficult circumstances
Paul refused to change his gospel message to suit his listeners. He knew that the gospel of Jesus was a "stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles" (1 Corinthians 1:23). The Jews had problems with the weakness of a crucified Christ - their concept of the Messiah was couched in power and might. The Greeks found the message of Christ too simplistic when compared with the sophistication of their philosophies. Instead of catering to the narrow perspective of his listeners, Paul faithfully preached the uncorrupted version, convinced that "God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength" (1 Corinthians 1:25). He thus resolved "to know nothing . . . except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2). The apostle was not willing to change or compromise his preaching.



To remain faithful to the uncorrupted gospel under difficult circumstances
PHOTO: To remain faithful to the uncorrupted gospel under difficult circumstances
Paul refused to change his gospel message to suit his listeners. He knew that the gospel of Jesus was a "stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles" (1 Corinthians 1:23). Instead of catering to the narrow perspective of his listeners, Paul faithfully preached the uncorrupted version, convinced that "God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength" (1 Corinthians 1:25).
Picture posted in The Taboo Series8 November 2014
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-eZfj_aZGH0E/VZ9Zw2BJp4I/AAAAAAAAgfk/43e9A-Hr0IU/s1600/forbidden.jpg
https://theadventuresofhimandher.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/forbidden.jpg?w=700&h=648&crop=1
https://theadventuresofhimandher.wordpress.com/2014/11/08/the-taboo-series-chapter-1/


Harsh sufferings - beatings, imprisonment, stoning, false charges, and other forms of severe persecution
For his faithfulness to the gospel message, Paul suffered much. He knew his calling and was faithful to it. He also knew that as a result, suffering would be a common experience for him. "And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am" (2 Timothy 1:11-12). The suffering was not for his own faults but because of the gospel and his ministry for Christ. There are several passages in Scripture that list Paul's many sufferings - they include beatings, imprisonment, stoning, false charges, and other forms of severe persecution (2 Corinthians 4:8-12, 6:4-10, 11:23-29). In all of these, Paul held his head high as a faithful servant of Christ and steward of the gospel.



Harsh sufferings - beatings, imprisonment, stoning, false charges, and other forms of severe persecution
PHOTO: Harsh sufferings - beatings, imprisonment, stoning, false charges, and other forms of severe persecution
For his faithfulness to the gospel message, Paul suffered much. He knew his calling and was faithful to it. He also knew that as a result, suffering would be a common experience for him.
Picture posted by  HubPages Inc. on June 28, 2014, Paul Was Beheaded.
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http://usercontent2.hubimg.com/5300365_f520.jpg
http://wesmantoddshaw.hubpages.com/hub/The-Dumbest-Conspiracy-Theory-In-History#



Suffering should not detract us from continuing to serve Christ. Peter remind us: "However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name" (1 Peter 4:16). Paul was convinced that he was secure in Christ. He wrote about his unshakeable confidence in Christ: "I am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day" (2 Timothy 1:12). He knew that his life was in his Lord's hand and could therefore focus on his ministry. Paul was busy not saving his own life, but serving Christ.

Ashamed of Imprisonment
Paul provided an inspiring example of Christian courage and faithfulness amid persecution and suffering. He urged Timothy not to be ashamed of the gospel nor of God's servant and his imprisonment: "Do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner" (2 Timothy 1:8). We must note that Paul saw himself not as a prisoner of Caesar or circumstances, but of Christ his Sovereign Lord. His imprisonment was not merely a matter of politics or fate, but according to the will of God. He pointed to his own example when he testified: "I am not ashamed" (2 Timothy 1:12) and of Onesiphorus who was not ashamed of Paul's status as a prisoner (2 Timothy 1:16).



Imprisonment
PHOTO: Imprisonment
Paul provided an inspiring example of Christian courage and faithfulness amid persecution and suffering. At the house of a disciple in the city of Troas, Paul was again seized, and from this place he was hurried away to his final imprisonment—a gloomy dungeon, there to remain, chained night and day, until he should finish his course.
Picture posted by Ellen G. White, Sketches From The Life of Paul
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-oP0B3p0bsbk/VZ9ZsCwAMfI/AAAAAAAAgeg/ZxrFvNZ3OSA/s1600/PP-PaulAPrisoner_LJ2_0029.jpg
http://www.ellenwhite.info/images/chapt-illus/SLP/PP-PaulAPrisoner_LJ2_0029.jpg
http://www.ellenwhite.info/books/bk-slp-29.htm



It is humiliating to suffer
Paul suffered much for the gospel. A man in his situation may be tempted to consider what others think. The world admires and follows a "successful" man in the world, such success would involve prosperity, fame, and the absence of pain and suffering. A suffering servant of God may feel ashamed if he worries about what people might say. One would think that it is humiliating to suffer - especially to be treated as "scum of the earth, the refuse of the world" (1 Corinthians 4:13). But Paul was thick-skinned in this matter. He did not care how he appeared in the eyes of the world. He was not ashamed to be a prisoner for the sake of the gospel. In fact, he considered it to be a great honour to "bear the marks of Jesus" (Galatians 6:17), and when he appeared disfigured due to the various beating and tortures, he did not hide in shame but held his head high. He had every reason to do so because he saw Jesus as his greatest example. Jesus bore the cross with dignity and invites His followers to carry the cross to follow Him (Luke 9:23).



It is humiliating to suffer
PHOTO: It is humiliating to suffer
A suffering servant of God may feel ashamed if he worries about what people might say. One would think that it is humiliating to suffer - especially to be treated as "scum of the earth, the refuse of the world" (1 Corinthians 4:13).
Picture posted by Aamulehti on 14 March 2011 at 9:27
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http://api.ning.com/files/RhwHbHQJuDvrgcH7nIwMU1R5hx*HQ0Xpifph4Ad19Ok5VPimPwQzgWOdtneV2a-Q6ieD6TlCh*D11S5pGUs44qdcjJkl1yYA/V14021CW.jpg?width=737&height=443
http://aamulehdenkuvat.ning.com/photo/tuhoja-japanissa-23-paeivaeae-11?context=latest



Timid and sensitive by nature
It was an important message for Timothy who was naturally timid (2 Timothy 1:7). Timothy may have had problems with his timidity which got in the way of his duties as a pastor. Timidity is being afraid of others. It is different from gentleness, which is strength held under control. Timidity is a weakness of fear and cowardice. Paul reminded Timothy: "But God does not give us a spirit of timidity, but of power, of love and of self-discipline" (2 Timothy 1:7). Timidity must be replaced with tenacity (persistence). Timothy was to resist any temptation to respond timidly against challenges to the true gospel. He was to exhibit courage by defending the gospel publicly - like Paul. Timothy also had a sensitive nature; he may have being more sensitive to what others said and how they responded to him. Paul urge Timothy to be thick-skinned for the sake of the gospel.



Timid and sensitive by nature
PHOTO: Timid and sensitive by nature
Timidity is being afraid of others. It is different from gentleness, which is strength held under control. Timidity is a weakness of fear and cowardice. Paul reminded Timothy: "But God does not give us a spirit of timidity, but of power, of love and of self-discipline" (2 Timothy 1:7).
Picture posted by Dean K. Wilson on Tuesday, 21 April 2015
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-IuJr78ZsGXI/VZ9ZtqtOl8I/AAAAAAAAgfU/hyO08ck1vBI/s1600/Paul_and_Timothy.jpg
http://www.deankwilson.com/Blog_images/Paul_and_Timothy.jpg
http://suppressing-the-fire.blogspot.sg/2015/04/we-do-not-walk-alone.html



Not thick-skinned enough
Paul illustrated his point with some examples. Timothy was not to be like Phygelus and Hermogenes who deserted Paul when the going got tough (2 Timothy 1:15). They turned tail where they should have shown courage by standing with Paul the prisoner. They were not willing to pay the price of a courageous and faithful response to the challenge. They could have been the leaders of a defecting party, or more likely, a Bible scholar Robert Mounce suggests, they were the kind of men least expected to desert Paul. "It was as if Paul is saying, 'Even these two faithful brethren have deserted me in my hour of need'." [3] Their negative example was contrasted by that of Onesiphorus (his name in Greek means "help-bringer" or "bringer of profit"), who did not run away from persecution, trouble, and humiliation, in order to minister to Paul in prison (2 Timothy 1:15). He was thick-skinned enough to be useful to Paul and to God.



Thick-skinned enough to be useful
PHOTO: Thick-skinned enough to be useful
Paul illustrated his point with some examples. Timothy was not to be like Phygelus and Hermogenes who deserted Paul when the going got tough (
2 Timothy 1:15). Their negative example was contrasted by that of Onesiphorus , who did not run away from persecution, trouble, and humiliation, in order to minister to Paul in prison (2 Timothy 1:15).
Picture posted by Phillip J. Long on 19 August 2013
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-vuWnbGptHPs/VZ9Z1r6dogI/AAAAAAAAggY/dRuT4VV3lvw/s1600/paul-stoned.jpg
https://readingacts.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/paul-stoned.jpg
http://readingacts.com/2013/08/19/2-timothy-310-12-pauls-suffering/



We can imagine how difficult it must have been for Onesiphorus to locate Paul in a city which he was not familiar with. It must have taken him considerable effort and unflagging persistence to ask around and search across the city for Paul. What a joy it must have been for Paul to see this faithful friend finally enter his cell with essential supplies to cheer him up. Paul would benefit not only from his comforting company but also from the food supplies and money (to buy provisions) he must have brought him. We will appreciate this more if we note that in the first century the Roman state did not provide prisoners with the food and other necessities. [4] Truly, for the old apostle chained in a stale dungeon, Onesiphorus was "like a breath of fresh air" (2 Timothy 1:16 TLB).

Not courageous in difficult circumstances
Onesiphorus kept on visiting Paul at great danger to himself. He was not only unashamed to be a regular visitor of a condemned prisoner, he was also courageous, as Paul was probably considered a political prisoner and enemy of the state, and everyone associated closely with him would face a similar fate. Perhaps this was why many of Paul's friends deserted him - out of fear. But Onesiphorus was made of different stuff. Some scholars have suggested that he was probably dead by the time Paul wrote 2 Timothy for the following reasons [5]: Paul blessed his friend - that he would "find mercy from the Lord on that day!" (2 Timothy 1:18) and did not mention Onesiphorus when sending greetings to his household (2 Timothy 4:19) [6]. We cannot be sure of this, but if it were true, then Onesiphorus would rather die than be disloyal or desert Paul out of shame or fear.



Courageous in difficult circumstances
PHOTO: Courageous in difficult circumstances
Onesiphorus kept on visiting Paul at great danger to himself. He was not only unashamed to be a regular visitor of a condemned prisoner, he was also courageous, as Paul was probably considered a political prisoner and enemy of the state, and everyone associated closely with him would face a similar fate.
Posted by Churchmouse on Monday, 17 July 2006 at 8:05 PM, Onesiphorus in Purgatory?
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-DivZxLqqT50/VZ9ZtZFQ6wI/AAAAAAAAges/ZKZe84Mzu58/s1600/PaulOnesiphorus_cbig.jpg
http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/6462/394/1600/PaulOnesiphorus_cbig.jpg
http://churchmouse57.blogspot.sg/2006/07/2-timothy-116-19-onesiphorus-in.html



Unable to find joy but shame while suffering
As demonstrated in the life of Paul, suffering did not bring shame but joy. Writing from the Roman prison at his first imprisonment, he testified: "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow to attain to the resurrection from the dead" (Philippians 3:10-11, emphasis added). Paul could write with joy from a prison and exhort (urge) his readers to "rejoice in the Lord always" (Philippians 4:4) because in his sufferings he felt an intimacy with Jesus, who had suffered for his Lord and the gospel, instead of feeling self-pity and shame, Paul felt an inexpressible joy. His suffering brought him closer in fellowship with his Lord.



Unable to find joy but shame while suffering
PHOTO: Unable to find joy but shame while suffering
Writing from the Roman prison at his first imprisonment, he testified: "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow to attain to the resurrection from the dead" (Philippians 3:10-11, emphasis added).
Posted by wtadmin on 8 May 2013 in Addiction, Recovery, Shame
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-q_Pqaz1dKxQ/VZ9Z2cfFEBI/AAAAAAAAggc/hmh0dZd3hVU/s1600/shame.jpg
http://womenstreatmentcenter.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/shame.jpg
http://womenstreatmentcenter.com/moving-past-shame-in-your-recovery/



Joy while suffering
PHOTO: Joy while suffering
Instead of feeling self-pity and shame, Paul felt an inexpressible joy. His suffering brought him closer in fellowship with his Lord.
Posted by  COTK on Friday, 27 February 2015 at 06:06
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http://cathedraloftheking.org/media/k2/items/cache/4b9f9da50cf2f358abdcd4a4321104f9_XL.jpg
http://cathedraloftheking.org/component/k2/item/339-the-joy-of-a-friend


Lack of trust in God
There is no doubt that Paul wanted Timothy to know this, so that he would not be discouraged nor afraid but stand for the gospel no matter what happened. On his part, Timothy must have found Paul's exhortation most helpful, as it appeared that he was subsequently imprisoned too, though he was released after a while (Hebrews 13:23 - "our brother Timothy has been released") [7]. No doubt what Paul shares in 2 Timothy would have been a precious reminder and encouragement to Timothy. There would be times when facing pain and suffering that doubts may arise. Or we may be puzzled why the Lord is allowing us to suffer for no apparent reason. In such situations, it is important to trust God.



Lack of trust in God
PHOTO: Lack of trust in God
There would be times when facing pain and suffering that doubts may arise. Or we may be puzzled why the Lord is allowing us to suffer for no apparent reason. In such situations, it is important to trust God.
Picture posted By Betsy Rothstein on 11 November 2010 at 10:44 AM
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-DnLP1Tqzi1Q/VZ9Z0_CV3bI/AAAAAAAAggA/C5k4acMY9tA/s1600/mrworry.jpg
http://www.adweek.com/fishbowldc/files/2010/11/mrworry.jpg
http://www.adweek.com/fishbowldc/a-worried-reader/26112



Christian author Elisabeth Eillot tells this story in her book, Keep a Quiet Heart:
Brenda was almost halfway to the top of the tremendous granite cliff.



Brenda was a young woman who was invited to go rock climbing.
PHOTO: Brenda was a young woman who was invited to go rock climbing. Although she was very scared, she went with her group to a tremendous granite cliff. In spite of her fear, she put on the gear, took hold of the rope, and started up the face of that rock. Well, she got to a ledge where she could take a breather. As she was hanging on there, the safety rope snapped against Brenda's eye and knocked out her contact lens.
Posted by Josh and Karen Zarandona, Inspire21.com - A True Story
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-QaHMLbPo2Cs/VZ9Z3RWrPfI/AAAAAAAAggo/U6aNK2hhzcs/s1600/woman-climber.jpg
http://www.inspire21.com/sites/default/files/image/woman-climber.jpg
http://www.inspire21.com/stories/faithstories/antandthecontactlens



She was standing on a ledge where she was taking a breather during this, her first rock climb. As she rested there, the safety rope snapped against her eye and knocked out her contact lens.

"Great", she thought. "Here I am on a rock ledge, hundreds of feet from the bottom and hundreds of feet to the top of the cliff, and now my sight is blurry."

She looked and looked, hoping that somehow it had landed in the ledge. But it just wasn't there.

She felt the panic rising in her, so she began praying. She prayed for calm, and she prayed that she may find her contact lens.

When she got to the top, a friend examined her eye and her clothing for the lens, but it was not to be found. Although she was calm that she was at the top, she was saddened because she could not clearly see across the range of mountains. She thought of the bible verse "The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth."

She thought, "Lord, You can see all these mountains. You know every stone and leaf, and You know exactly where my contact lens is. Please help me."

Later, when they had hiked down the trail to the bottom of the cliff they met another party of climbers just starting up the face of the cliff. One of them shouted, "Hey, you guys! Anybody lose a contact lens?"

Well, that would be startling enough, but you know why the climber saw it? An ant was moving slowly across a twig on the face of the rock, carrying it!

The story doesn't end there. Brenda's father is a cartoonist. When she told him the incredible story of the ant, the prayer, and the contact lens, he drew a cartoon of an ant lugging that contact lens with the caption, "Lord, I don't know why You want me to carry this thing. I can't eat it, and it's awfully heavy. But if this is what You want me to do, I'll carry it for You."

I think it would do all of us some good to say, "God, I don't know why You want me to carry this load. I can see no good in it and it's awfully heavy. But, if You want me to carry it, I will." [8][1]



The Ant and the Contact Lens
PHOTO: The Ant and the Contact Lens
It would probably do some of us a lot of good to occasionally say,
"God, I don't know why you want me to carry this load. I can see no good in it
and it's awfully heavy. But, if you want me to carry it, I will.
"

God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called.
GOD is my source of existence and my Savior.
He keeps me functioning each and every day.


"I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me." (Philipians 4:13)
Posted by Dr. Eowyn on 31 October 2010
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-GMt3WOf_XIg/VZ9ZvltgA4I/AAAAAAAAgfE/gF1eA-7gaok/s1600/ant-and-contact-lens.gif
https://fellowshipofminds.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/ant-and-contact-lens.gif
http://fellowshipoftheminds.com/2010/10/31/the-ant-and-the-contact-lens/



Discuss this sentence: "Faithfulness in service required love for Jesus, courage in difficult circumstances, and a thick hide".
Stewardship, suffering and Intimacy with Christ [2]
Paul reflected the kind of Christian the Lord wants in His kingdom: One who loves the Lord and know Him, one who is faithful and courageous in guarding and proclaiming the gospel, and one who is prepared to suffer. But Christians today, being nothing more than religious consumers, are not prepared to suffer for Christ and His gospel. Either they are too much in pursuit of their comforts and things of the world, or they are too frightened to face the consequences of being faithful to Christ in service. Faithfulness in service requires love for Jesus, courage in difficult circumstances, and a thick hide, which Paul literally had due to his numerous beatings. If we are not suffering for Christ, perhaps we are lacking these things.



Faithfulness in service
PHOTO: Faithfulness in service
Faithfulness in service requires love for Jesus, courage in difficult circumstances, and a thick hide
, which Paul literally had due to his numerous beatings. If we are not suffering for Christ, perhaps we are lacking these things.
Picture posted by Miranda on Tuesday, 20 January 2015
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-CG6iCVKVRVw/VZ9ZuC4MbJI/AAAAAAAAge4/GBKzIouXH4w/s1600/Youn_Women_Theme_Poster_2.jpg
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-rF8cdIyz6dA/VL70ZrnUS3I/AAAAAAAABWA/gMUfAJe5lek/s1600/Youn_Women_Theme_Poster_2.jpg
http://thissideofinvisible-mlm.blogspot.sg/2015/01/no-more-hiding.html?spref=pi



We must remain unashamed while suffering humiliation in the eyes of the mocking world for His gospel
Timothy was urged by Paul not to be ashamed "to testify about our Lord" (2 Timothy 1:8) even though people might have laughed at the idea of a crucified God. Neither was he to be ashamed of Paul, the Lord's prisoner, nor was he to be ashamed of any suffering he might have encountered (2 Timothy 1:12). Like Timothy, we are also urged to developed a thick hide. Yes, we must be ashamed of sin or shoddy work (2 Timothy 2:15) in our lives. But when it comes to the gospel of our Lord, standing up for Christ and His faithful servants, or suffering humiliation in the eyes of the mocking world, we must remain unashamed. There is a place for this "holy shamelessness" as depicted in the lives of Paul and Onesiphorus. God will not be ashamed of them on that day. Will He be ashamed of us? Will we face suffering unashamedly? Paul urged Timothy and us: "Join with me in suffering for the gospel" (
2 Timothy 1:8). We cannot do it on our own, but only with "the power of God" and with the company of suffering fellow believers. A suffering Christian finds great strength in the company of suffering saints.


We must remain unashamed while suffering humiliation in the eyes of the mocking world for His gospel
PHOTO: We must remain unashamed while suffering humiliation in the eyes of the mocking world for His gospel
Timothy was urged by Paul not to be ashamed "to testify about our Lord" (2 Timothy 1:8) even though people might have laughed at the idea of a crucified God.
Picture posted by Geoff Waugh on 29 March 2015
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https://renewaljournal.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/easter-friday-lamb.jpg
https://renewaljournal.wordpress.com/2015/03/29/good-friday-day-of-crucifixion/



Suffering matures us and brings us to a deeper experience of God's love
Quaker theologian Thomas Kelly describes how suffering matures us and brings us to a deeper experience of God's love: "The heart is stretched through suffering, and enlarged. But O the agony of this enlarging of the heart, that one may be prepared to enter into the anguish of others! . . . The cross as dogma is painless speculation; the cross as lived suffering is anguish and glory. Yet God, out of the pattern of his own heart, has planted the cross along the road of holy obedience. And he enacts (put into practice) in the hearts of those he loves the miracle of willingness to welcome suffering and to know it for what it is - the final seal of his gracious love." [9]



Suffering matures us and brings us to a deeper experience of God's love
PHOTO: Suffering matures us and brings us to a deeper experience of God's love
God, out of the pattern of his own heart, has planted the cross along the road of holy obedience - the final seal of his gracious love. 

Posted by James Fire on Tuesday, 6 November 2012
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http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m20iv4VrCm1rrurpvo1_500.jpg
http://www.thetruthunderfire.com/2012_11_01_archive.html


Discover His sweet presence in the most difficult and painful of situations
Our intimacy with Christ grows as we continue to be faithful stewards of His gospel. The more we are united with Jesus in this respect, the more we will be faithful stewards of the gospel. Our appreciation of the glory of the gospel, our tenacious hold on it and our willingness to guard it, even through suffering, will be evident when we remain with Jesus our Vine and grow close to Him (John 15). Even, and perhaps especially, in our suffering, we will find a sweet fellowship we may not experience when things are well. God does not abandon His faithful servants but blesses them with His special presence. As Paul testified that "the Lord stood at my side" (2 Timothy 4:17), we will discover His sweet presence in the most difficult and painful of situations, and our union with Christ will shine brightly in the darkness of suffering. [2]



Discover His sweet presence in the most difficult and painful of situations
PHOTO: Discover His sweet presence in the most difficult and painful of situations
Our appreciation of the glory of the gospel, our tenacious hold on it and our willingness to guard it, even through suffering, will be evident when we remain with Jesus our Vine and grow close to Him (John 15)
Picture from imgkid.com
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http://imgkid.com/jesus-with-children.shtml



Think of your own life circumstances and directions in the light of the parts in the sentence.
"Faithfulness in service required love for Jesus, courage in difficult circumstances, and a thick hide"
We are pragmatists (practical and focused) who can change brands easily [2]
How convinced are you about this knowledge of God, His gospel, and His saints? Is it more than speculation, imagination, or guesswork? A good test of whether you have this knowledge is the quality of your stewardship of the gospel and your willingness to suffer for it. Too many Christians today are living as religious consumers. They are pragmatists (practical and focused) who can change brands easily. They are not willing to suffer. They are not unshakably convinced about the faith and holiness.



We are pragmatists (practical and focused) who can change brands easily
PHOTO: We are pragmatists (practical and focused) who can change brands easily
Too many Christians today are living as religious consumers. They are pragmatists (practical and focused) who can change brands easily. They are not willing to suffer. They are not unshakably convinced about the faith and holiness.
Posted by Erasmus, Picture by Hans Holbein from Hellenica World
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-0EEPOm7olhU/VZ9ZphHDFKI/AAAAAAAAgeM/xw-_UtszEQk/s1600/324.jpg
http://www.hellenicaworld.com/Netherlands/Literature/DesideriusErasmus/en/images/324.jpg
http://www.hellenicaworld.com/Netherlands/Literature/DesideriusErasmus/en/InPraiseOfFolly.html



We want to be saved but don't want to have any part in faithful service and stewardship
Paul appeals to us to be sure of whom we know and of the gospel. This is especially challenging in our pluralistic and postmodern world. To take a firm stand for Jesus and the claims of the gospel is frowned upon as socially backward and sneered at as being medieval. Christians are maligned and ridiculed when they express their confidence in the gospel and the truths passed down generations in the church. Many choose the easier option of social timidity, and call it courtesy and sensitivity. Many desert the difficult road, whether because of consumer desires of social fears. Many want to be saved but don't want to have any part in faithful service and stewardship.



We want to be saved but don't want to have any part in faithful service and stewardship
PHOTO: We want to be saved but don't want to have any part in faithful service and stewardship
Many choose the easier option of social timidity, and call it courtesy and sensitivity. Many desert the difficult road, whether because of consumer desires of social fears. Many want to be saved but don't want to have any part in faithful service and stewardship.
Picture posted by briggenbach on 11 November 2014

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-fpuZ3FbgQvg/VZ9ZzlHVfvI/AAAAAAAAgf4/BgDlz7eTwsM/s1600/motorcycle-graphicsfairy.jpg
https://beckyrigg.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/motorcycle-graphicsfairy.jpg
https://beckyrigg.wordpress.com/category/trusting-god/



Faithfulness in service: The gospel - "Guard it faithfully. Spread it actively. Suffer for it bravely."
Are you a deserter or a devoted disciple of Jesus? John Stott aptly summaries Paul's exhortation to the wonderful gospel this way: "Guard it faithfully. Spread it actively. Suffer for it bravely." [10] Any other option would not bring glory to God and joy to our hearts. [2]



Faithfulness in service: The gospel - 'Guard it faithfully. Spread it actively. Suffer for it bravely.'
Faithfulness in service: The gospel - 'Guard it faithfully. Spread it actively. Suffer for it bravely.'
PHOTO: Faithfulness in service: The gospel - "Guard it faithfully. Spread it actively. Suffer for it bravely."
Any other option would not bring glory to God and joy to our hearts.
Picture from free-stock-illustration.com Inc
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http://free-stock-illustration.com/lds+gospel+art



If there is any area that needs strengthening or transformation, speak to the Lord about it.
Area that needs strengthening or transformation [12]
 
Values
What one treasures, determine motives or that which impels one to action: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).



Values

PHOTO: Values
What one treasures, determine motives or that which impels one to action: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).
Where we love wealth, Jesus loved God. Where we pursue comfort, Jesus went to the cross. Where we look for profit and gain, Jesus took loss. Where we gladly bow down to the devil for little more than a sampling of this world’s riches, Jesus renounced this world’s riches and worshiped God. Where we are faithless in little, He is faithful in much. Where we exalt power and wealth and fame, He exalts righteousness and faithfulness and love.
Posted by Pastor Samwise Praetorius (Samuel Schuldheisz) on Monday, 23 September 2013 at 11:34 AM
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-NstZRPlEmk4/VZ9Zr7RVDLI/AAAAAAAAgec/_IQkkizUGqA/s1600/Money_Church.gif
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-wBE-EnBmkmc/UkCJkp2HfvI/AAAAAAAADug/0QIn89MaBqc/s1600/Money_Church.gif
http://e-nklings-revschuldheisz.blogspot.sg/2013/09/sermon-for-pentecost-18-mercy-for.html



Perspective
One’s perspective or insight to life determines values and so also one’s pursuits: “The eye is the lamp of the body. If then your eye is sound (lit., “simple, single”), your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!" (Matthew 6:22-23).



Perspective
PHOTO: Perspective
One’s perspective or insight to life determines values and so also one’s pursuits.
Picture posted in Reclaiming Your Legacy on 27 November 2012, A photo of a woman holding a key in the sunlight.
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-vmrCPvzzPWE/VZ9Zy3BXL_I/AAAAAAAAgfo/XlNJf8HIrFo/s1600/keytolearning.jpg
http://www.reclaimyourlegacy.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/keytolearning.jpg
http://www.reclaimyourlegacy.com/archives/426/the-key-to-success



Which Master
Behind the choice of treasures is the choice of masters. Double minded pursuits (impure motives) make faithfulness impossible: “No one is able to serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. No one is able to serve God and money (possessions)" (Matthew 6:24). [12]



Which Master
PHOTO: Which Master
No one is able to serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. No one is able to serve God and money (possessions)" (Matthew 6:24)
Picture taken by skambalu on 28 March 2009
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https://www.flickr.com/photos/skambalu/3392641766/in/photostream/



Summary of Part One: United with Christ [2]
In His concluding thoughts at the end of his commentary on 2 Timothy 1, biblical scholar Adam Clarke writes these inspiring words:

"It is impossible to read this chapter over without feeling deeply interested for this most noble and amiable of men. To what trials did God expose him! His life was a life of perils and tribulations, his labours were superabundant, and his success all but incredible. Wherever he went, he left a track of light and life behind him. To him, as the grand instrument of God, the Gentiles, the whole habitable world, owe their salvation. Yet see him, in his old age, neglected by his friends, apparently forsaken of God, and abandoned to the hands of ruthless men; in prison and in chains; triumphing over sufferings and death; perfectly unshaken, unstumbled, with the evils with which he is obliged to contend, having the fullest persuasion of the truth of the doctrines which he had preached, and the strongest and most encouraging anticipation of the glory that was about to be revealed. He felt no evil, and he feared none. Sin had lost its power, and death its sting; the grave its victory, and hell its horrors. He had the happiness which heathenism spoke of, but could not attain, because it knew not the great Source whence it must proceed. This God he knew, feared, loved, obeyed, and was happy. . .



Adam Clarke, biblical scholar
PHOTO: Adam Clarke, biblical scholar
Posted by Wesley Wildman

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http://people.bu.edu/wwildman/WeirdWildWeb/media/galleries/theology/theology_cg.htm



No murmur is heard from his heart; he is persuaded that all things work together for good to them that love God; the miserable uncertainty of friendship, the defection of cowardly brethren, and the apostasy of once zealous professors, did not move him. As far as it is lawful, he courts death, knowing that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Glorious system of truth by which such an apostle was formed! and glorious apostle by whom this system was illustrated and confirmed! The character and conduct of St. Paul must make Christianity doubly amiable to believers and highly respectable even to its enemies." [10]


Reflection - Suffering for the faith, by Robert M. Solomon, Bishop of the Methodist Church in Singapore from 2000 - 2012


God gives us strength to endure, not escape
PHOTO: God gives us strength to endure, not escape
So this is what I pray for: not a guarantee of happiness, but the strength to endure. The strength to go on when I feel like I can’t take another step. The strength to trust when I am filled with doubt and fear. The strength to stand firm when everything in me is crying out to give in. The strength to bear my responsibilities cheerfully and well, not with bitterness or grumbling resignation. The strength to persevere in the faith to the end. The strength to rejoice, even as I mourn. The strength to seek God’s face, to find my security in him.
Text posted by Jean Williams on 27 November, 2013
http://matthiasmedia.com/briefing/2013/11/gods-gifts-in-suffering-6-god-gives-us-strength-to-endure-not-escape/

Picture posted by Erik Kieser, Fearmastery Blog
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https://fearmastery.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/helpless-3.jpg
https://fearmastery.wordpress.com/tag/depression/




Reference
[1] From "Faithful to the end" A Preacher's Exposition of 2 Timothy, Copyright © 2014 by Robert M. Solomon, ISBN 978-1-62707-241-0, PART ONE: UNITED WITH CHRIST, Chapter 4 "United with Christ in Service and Suffering" (2 Timothy 1:8-18), Page 50 - 57.

[2] From "Faithful to the end" A Preacher's Exposition of 2 Timothy, Copyright © 2014 by Robert M. Solomon, ISBN 978-1-62707-241-0, PART ONE: UNITED WITH CHRIST, Chapter 4 "United with Christ in Service and Suffering" (2 Timothy 1:8-18), Page 57 - 61.

[3] Details of this continuous ministry across several generations are found at www.sastriars.org/index.html. One of the key living sastriars, Durairaj Baga vathar Vedanayagam Sastriar, was called by God to vontinue in this tradition of ministry when he read Isaiah 59:21, http://www.sastriars.org/present_sastriars.html.

[4] Wright, The Pastoral Letters, 94.

[5] Fee, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, 236. Wirherington, Letter and Homilies for Hellenized Christians, 324.

[6] Towner, 1-2 Timothy and Titus, 168.

[7] Hebrews was written by an unknown author, most likely after 2 Timothy.

[8] Elisabeth Eillot, Keep a Quiet Heart (Ventura, CA: Vine Books, 1995), 119.

[9] Thomas R. Kelly, A Testament of Devotion (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1941), 71.

[10] Adam Clarke, Adam Clarke's Bible Commentary - 2 Timothy 1, http://www.godrules.net/library/clarke/clarke2tim1.htm, Godrules.net.

[11] Stott, The message of 2 Timothy, 47.

[12] Motivations for Faithfulness - The Impact of Motives on Faithfulness, https://bible.org/seriespage/mark-14-faithfulness, © 2015 Bible.org .


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