A Voice in the
Wilderness

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                           *** PORTIONS ***

Re: Partake of the Afflictions

"..taking recollection of the unpretended faith in you...For which
cause I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God which is in you
through the laying on of my hands. (2Tm1:5-6 litv)

Timothy was a special young person. Spent a lot of time along-side Paul
in the ministry. Several of Paul's epistles include him in the
greetings. When Paul was in prison, he would send Timothy here and
there to various ministries. He saw first-hand what Paul went through.
And, as would be expected, he also experienced fear. When Paul writes
to the church at Corinth, he speaks of Timothy's fear, exhorting them
to help him out in that matter. (1Cor16:10-11) Not to "despise" him. It
seems that his "youth" got in the way at times, as Paul exhorts him,
"Let no one despise your youth" (1Tm4:12) but continue in the ministry
in the Word, "reading, exhortation, teaching." (1Tm4:13) But that the
ministry involves "labor and [suffering] reproach." (vs10)

But it would seem that it happened to him as happened to many prophets 
from time to time. When things got rough and people were mocking,
Jeremiah said, "I will not mention Him, nor speak in His name any
more..." (Jer20:9) In Jeremiah's case, God's Word "was in [his] heart 
like a burning fire shut up.." and so he "could not stop" from 
proclaiming. 

In Timothy's case, Paul writes a letter. A little prodding. C'mon, son.  
Get up! Yes it's been a little rough; but that's the nature of this 
calling to which we've been called. Fear comes from us; it is not from
God.  The gift from God is "of power and of love and of a sound mind."
(1:7)

So, what does Paul continue to say? "Therefore do not be ashamed of the 
testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner. But be partaker of the 
afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God." (vs8)

Does Paul encourage him by telling him it will be "better"? No. Get in 
there and jump into the afflictions. It somewhat reminds a person of 
martyrdom accounts during the middle-ages, where Believers had been
gathered up, and a big bon-fire made to throw them into. In one such
case there was a young 'frail' teen-aged girl. Bystanders feeling a bit
"sorry" for her, being such a young 'pretty' girl; some, wondering how 
to 'save' her from the fiery death. Next thing they knew, she willingly 
ran and jumped into the flames. In another account, when a
mass-martyrdom was occuring, a man rode up on his horse at a gallop, 
announced something to the effect that he heard there was a "martyrdom 
of Christians" happened; that they couldn't carry on with out him; at 
which point he jumped into the flames.

After all, what did Jesus do for us? It says, "..I did not turn away 
backwards. I gave My back to strikers, and My cheeks to pluckers; I did 
not hide My face from shame and spitting." (Is50:5-6) Notice: He -GAVE- 
His body to those who abused Him. For us, who have been redeemed by His 
blood, to think of reeling back from afflictions is like "[being] 
ashamed" (2Tm1:8a) of Christ, and of other martyrs/sufferers that have
preceded us.

Notice a couple of things that afflictions produce in us. "Before I
was afflicted I went astray; but now I have kept Your Word." (Ps119:67)
Afflictions keep us humble, not too self-reliant. God disciplines us to
follow Him more closely. Most of us haven't endured what Paul did
with whippings, stonings or imprisonments. But God deals with each
of us according to our need, and according to the job He has for us
to do. (Heb12:4~) When we see our own inadequacy, it causes us to keep
our eyes on Him. It drives us to His Word.

"It is good for me that I was afflicted, to learn Your statutes."
(Ps119:71) You see, God's affliction is "for our profit, that we might
be partakers of His holiness." (Heb12:10b) Again, it drives us to His
Word.

Timothy obviously follows Paul's exhortation. He gets back into the
ministry. He also experiences further afflictions.  Imprisonment.
Because at some point it is said of him, "Know that our brother Timothy
has been set at liberty..." (Heb13:23)

In whatever the case we are called: "..my beloved brothers, you be
firm, immovable, abounding in the work of the Lord always, knowing that
your labor is not without fruit in the Lord." (1Cor15:58)

"Beloved, do not be astonished at the fiery trial happening among you
for your testing, as if a surprise were occurring to you; but according
as you share the sufferings of Christ, rejoice; so that you may rejoice
exultingly at the revelation of His glory.  If you are reviled in the
name of Christ, you are blessed, because "the Spirit of God and of
glory rests on you." (2Pt4:12-14 litv)

Amen!

Not Ashamed but Partake