Monday, August 30, 2010

Is Suffering Optional???

I know that it's not the most popular subject in Christian circles, but one that I feel should be discussed! I am not sure about your walk with the Lord, but from time to time, I tend to get "comfortable" and expect nothing uncomfortable to happen to my little world. But, we have been promised otherwise...remember that our adversary walks around like a roaring lion seeking who he may devour...and that doesn't sound comfortable in any translation!!!

Anyway, when struggles come about, I tend to want to throw my hands up and just give it just me? But, last night while watching a podcast of Francis Chan speaking from Biola University's chapel series, I was struck when he said that we ALL face hardships and trials...IF WE ARE TRULY DOING GOD'S WILL! Therein lies the emphasis...if we aren't doing anything for God in our lives, why would Satan even need to obstruct our path? You're right, he wouldn't. But, be alert...if you are doing the work of Christ, the trials will come. And, they don't always just affect you...Satan will attack in any way he can hurt you the most.

I wanted to share several verses on the subject of our suffering today, with the first being found in 2 Timothy 3:12..."Yea, and all that would live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." Like I have mentioned, the trials will come if you make a stand for Christ. One point Francis made in the podcast was particularly on point, I believe. He said that some of the biggest opposition you will find in seeking what God is telling you to do will be found in the church. Unfortunately, that can be true. Sometimes others want you to "cool off" or just calm down a bit because "that's not the way we do things around here". But, don't allow someone else to quench a fire that has been placed in your heart!!!

Another reference I would share is found in 1 Peter 2:19..."For this is acceptable, if for conscience toward God a man endureth griefs, suffering wrongfully." Sometimes we may even have to suffer wrongfully out of conscience sake. I know that can seem unfair, but in showing the true love of Christ to others it might be required. By the way, can you think of anyone else who suffered and died wrongfully, so that others might have life?

That would lead us to 1 Peter 2:21-23..."For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: (22) Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: (23) Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: (24) Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed."
There is no better example of how to deal with suffering and being mocked than Jesus Christ. When He was spat upon, he kept His composure...when He was mocked, He didn't mock back...through it all, He showed a grace on those who didn't deserve it. But, He knew what He was called to do...and through His death upon the cross we were given life...and by His stripes we are healed.

Another example of dealing with sufferings is found in James 5:10..."Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience." If you look at the history of the prophets who spoke in the Lord's name, you will find men who were imprisoned, beaten, stones, and even killed for the cause of Christ. But notice how the verse puts it...they were an "example of suffering and of patience".

In Philippians 1:29, we find..."For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;" We have been granted to suffer in His behalf...probably never thought of it that way either, have you? I know it opened my eyes as I read it again. Not only do we get to believe in Him, but we get to suffer. This verse ties perfectly with the message in the following Scripture, found in Romans 8:18..."For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us-ward." This makes it seem a bit better, when we realize that the things we struggle with here on earth will pale in comparison with the glory that will be revealed to us in Heaven! Don't lose hope. Remember what the last part of 1 John 4:4 says..."greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world"

The final passage I would like to share with you comes from Philippians 3:8-11..."Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,(9) And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: (10) That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (11) If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead."

Take a look at the same passage as translated in the Amplified Bible..."Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly]. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish (refuse, dregs), in order that I may win (gain) Christ (the Anointed One), (9) And that I may [actually] be found and known as in Him, not having any [self-achieved] righteousness that can be called my own, based on my obedience to the Law’s demands (ritualistic uprightness and supposed right standing with God thus acquired), but possessing that [genuine righteousness] which comes through faith in Christ (the Anointed One), the [truly] right standing with God, which comes from God by [saving] faith. (10) [For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope] (11) That if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body]."

Don't get stuck dwelling upon the lows of this life, and the suffering you will endure this side of Heaven...that is to be expected! Rather, allow Christ to do His perfect work through your life as a result of how you deal with it. Others will see in you what they have been searching for! Keep your head are not alone in your struggles!

Please let me know if you have a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!!

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