May 14 I Thursday
2 Kings 19-21
“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” —John 16:33
How do we find peace in a world that is hostile towards Christianity? Paul’s encouragement to Timothy was, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline”
(2 Timothy 1:7). When we look into what it means to have a spirit of self-discipline, the Greek word literally means “soundness of mind.” This term is used to describe a child that has been weaned from his mother’s milk––a person who is completely at peace. As a whole, when we look at Paul’s words, God has given us a spirit of power, everything we need to face the oncoming persecution and to overcome fear, a spirit of love in the midst of hate and a spirit of self-discipline, where we can be at peace and rest while the world around us is going crazy.
Paul exemplified these words in his circumstances as he penned his second letter to Timothy. Paul was locked up in a dungeon under Emperor Nero. The reputation Nero gained for his persecution of Christian is grievous. Nero was Emperor of Rome from 54 to 68 AD. His great uncle, Claudius, who was the previous emperor, adopted him. Nero’s mother strategically positioned and maneuvered him to receive power and eventually become emperor. To repay his own mother’s kindness for bringing him into this life and manipulating him into a position of power, he had her murdered five years after he came into his reign.
Then in 64 AD, like most emperors who wanted to create a monument to his own great name, Nero wanted to build a 30-meter-tall statue of himself entitled, “The Colossus of Nero.” But he encountered a problem, as there was not enough land in Rome for him to build that palatial structure, therefore, in order to make room for the building, Nero set fire to a part of the city where people lived and blamed it on the Christians. If scapegoating the Great Fire of Rome with Christians were not enough, he also arrested and brutally executed many Christians by throwing them to the lions, crucifying them or dipping them in oil and lighting them on fire to light the city by night.
As Paul was held in bondage by Nero because of his Christian faith, he told Timothy, “Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day” (2 Timothy 1:12). Paul was able to find peace in the midst of persecution and hostility because he was looking to the One who was his defender.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for being the giver of peace. Even in the midst of persecution