II Timothy 4: 9 Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me:10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.12 And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus.13 The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments. 17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
The world is putting the squeeze on Christians in every nation. It’s much worse in other nations than here. Many have lost their lives. Many churches are underground, but most every country has Christians thanks to the work of missionaries. Here in the USA we’re just beginning to feel it. We live in the Bible belt; other parts of the country feel it more. We feel a gradual grip between two hands that squeeze us into a smaller area of freedom to express ourselves as children of God. Satan is directly assaulting the church and its prime directive to witness to others. Religion is accepted by the world, but if you’re a genuine, blood-bought, washed-in-the-blood Christian you are under fire. You’re under scrutiny, almost under surveillance. We’re starting to be treated differently. The devil wants to extinguish, or at least diminish, our effectiveness. If he can’t get us to backslide he will confine the range of expression in order that we might lose our effectiveness.
We are much like Paul. He was confined behind bars. He was in prison in Rome awaiting his execution; the date had been set. The signs of the time speak plainly. Jesus is coming back soon. The anti-Christ is busy getting things together worldwide. Internally the US is falling apart. In general the Christian is being squeezed. Paul had the world at his fingertips at one time. It’s hard to say how far he traveled. Now he was confined by Caesar and the workings of the devil to a small, cold, dark jail cell. Luke was with him. Why didn’t he just give up? He was in prison after all. What good could he do from a jail cell? Many probably tried to talk him into going back to his old life, but he wanted to see it through. Confinement and squeezing didn’t bother him. He stayed encouraged.
He wrote Timothy to bring some things he could use and use them he did. His most confining hour was his most defining hour. Countless people were influenced and changed by his witness down to the very end. After he died, others were encouraged to carry on. People are counting on us to carry on. We may be confined because of health, family, rules on the job, or laws of the land, but we don’t have to give up.
Paul asked for the cloak he had left at Troas. It would warm him in the cell and keep the dampness away. He wanted to be well so he could keep on going. The devil can take away a lot, but he can’t take away the righteousness that is found in Jesus Christ by faith. In these confining times, wrap in the cloak of Jesus Christ to keep from getting spiritually sick. Wear Jesus on the inside and outside. Never take him off outwardly to be assured of his presence inwardly.
Paul also asked for the books. Theses would be accounts of his ministry. Looking at the lives he touched would be encouraging. It reminded him that his life was not in vain. Realize how important you are and whose lives you have touched. The devil would tell us how limited we are; request the books. Look back and see whose life you have affected. You’ve helped more than you know. We can still do it! It was for Paul’s encouragement and learning. How readable are you? You could read Jesus when you saw Paul. Do people see a stronger Christian now than they saw a few years ago?
The old parchments were the scriptures. They were the scrolls of the Old Testament and the first issues of the gospels that were written down. Matthew, Mark and Peter, James and Jude had already written their books and copies were around. Paul had written his epistles. He wanted the Word of God with him. We need to request the Word again and seek it out. Proclaim it.
Paul also asked for certain people to be brought to him. He wanted a crowd, the company of the people of God. The devil wants to separate us. If the wolf can separate the sheep, he’ll pick them off one at a time. If we keep the company of each other, the wolf can’t get to us. Take each of our smalls and put them together for one big. We need to be of one mind and one accord. We need to be in fellowship and love with each other. The guards were tough, but in came a bunch of people with the books, the cloak and the parchments. How’d they get by them? Don’t worry about getting around the devil. The only time we’ll feel confined is if we isolate ourselves.
Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me. Paul got his strength from the Lord. If we keep so equipped the Lord will stand with us. He’ll strengthen us with his power. No power on earth can match it. Our most confining hour can be our most defining one as well if we go to God and trust in him.