41 So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. 42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. (Acts 5:41–42, NKJV)
The apostles had just been beaten and threatened for preaching Jesus as the Christ (Acts 5:40). One would think they would go underground to avoid further pain and threats of death. But, astonishingly, they continued daily to teach and preach, both publicly and privately. Their faith in Christ was greater than their fear of men. The apostle Paul vividly portrays the suffering of the apostles when he said, “To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now” (1 Cor. 4:11–13). Later, Peter would exhort us to have courage to gladly accept suffering as a Christian: “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter” (1 Pet. 4:16). Like the apostles, we must “not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” – regardless of the reactions of those who refuse to believe in the power and authority of Jesus Christ to save.
6 Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:6–7, NKJV)
The indication is that Timothy received a miraculous spiritual gift from the apostle (see also, 1 Timothy 4:14). Whatever the specific gift was, Timothy had a duty to stir it up, to rekindle it as one would stir the embers of a dwindling fire. Being fearful would prevent Timothy from stirring up his gift – from accomplishing his work. Timothy was to be bold and courageous in the power of truth, in the love of God, and in the soundness of mind that is shaped by putting the word of Christ into one’s heart (2 Corinthians 6:3-10). Like Timothy, Christians must stir up the gifts we have and faithful fulfill the will of God. Romans 12:6-8 exhorts us to bold and courageous service as members of the body of Christ. The enemies of truth and opponents of righteousness would have you be too afraid to aggressively stand fast in the faith. But, nothing will be achieved for Christ through fear. May we develop and add virtue (moral courage) to our faith (2 Peter 1:5). Replace fear with the spirit of “power and love and of a sound mind.”
“Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14, NKJV)
Patient endurance in the face of trials is a virtue of faith. When faced with a situation that calls for waiting, some do so out of anger, ready to exact revenge on their oppressor (Romans 12:17-21). Some wait with distressed hearts, anxious over an outcome that is beyond their ability to see (Matthew 6:34). Others wait with boredom and complacency, disinterested in the events to come. But, the one whose heart is set on the Lord is not deterred from trusting Him. David exemplified the patient endurance of faith: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1). When enemies surrounded him, he would not be afraid (Psalm 27:3). Patient endurance requires courage to trust the Lord’s deliverance, and to keep on fighting. David’s ability to patiently endure trials was anchored in his desire to seek the Lord and dwell in His presence (Psalm 27:4-5). Whatever trial you face, continue living faithfully to the Lord. Be strengthened, and be bold. He will strengthen your heart, and you will see the goodness of the Lord (Psalm 27:13).
18 And when they had come to him, he said to them: “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, 19 serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; 20 how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house,” (Acts 20:18–20, NKJV)
These words were spoken by the apostle Paul to the elders of the church of Ephesus (Acts 20:17). He had lived among them for three years (verse 31). His service to the Lord was marked by humility and zealous endurance, even while the Jews of that city plotted against him (Acts 19:8-9). In spite of this, Paul continued to courageously proclaimed the gospel of Christ. He understood what we must also perceive, namely, that the gospel saves sinners and protects Christians from the enemies of the faith. This is why we seek to declare the gospel publicly and privately. The gospel is God’s power to save the lost and equip the saved to do God’s work (Rom. 1:16; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). Nothing should be held back; It must all be preached. Avail yourself of every opportunity to teach and to be taught God’s word. It helps you serve God “with all humility” and with the zealous courage of faith.
13 Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done with love.” (1 Corinthians 16:13–14, NKJV)
The Christian must be spiritually alert every single day. The enemy is always stalking his prey, and he intends for you to be his next meal (1 Pet. 5:8). Like soldiers guarding a stronghold, we must not waver as we strive “together for the faith of the gospel” (Phil. 1:27). Moral courage is essential, and when added to your faith it helps you attain to the spiritual strength you need to battle the adversary (2 Pet. 1:5). The most striking part of Paul’s call to arms is the directive to do all things with love. Being steadfast in your faith and undeterred by the devil’s attacks is accomplished by loving God, His truth, your brethren and your enemies in all you say and do. The fight is on. Thanks be to God, “who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57).
24 But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. 25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” (Matthew 14:24–27)
As the apostles’ boat was tossed about in the Sea of Galilee storm, so our lives are often tossed about by the trials and uncertainties of life. Jesus is never far away. He is ever-present to comfort and to save. Like the apostles, we may be frightened at times, Jesus speaks words of comforting assurance to all who put their faith in Him. Take courage (“be of good cheer”), says Jesus. “It is I (lit., “I am”), do not be afraid”. He is the ever-existing One, the great I AM, who never falters and who never fails those who put their trust Him. Whatever life brings your way, courageous trust the Lord and follow His words. When you do, the peaceful calm of salvation will surely be yours (Matt. 14:28-33).