Called To Suffer
"Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." 2 Timothy 3:12
What a strong statement of fact is given in the above verse! As Christians, we generally opt out of all situations that even remotely look like it could bring us suffering.
Although we have the blessing of God upon our lives as believers, we are called to suffer for Christ. Just let that sink in for a moment. It has taken me some years to wrap my brain around that fact. Let's take a look at some popular Bible characters that experienced suffering while trying to live obedient lives for God.
Naboth in 1 kings 21:1-16
He had a vineyard that apparently, was in a choice spot and King Ahab wanted it. It didn't matter that it was an inheritance given to Naboth, Ahab wanted it for his own. When Naboth refused, King Ahab told his wife, Jezebel, about it and she worked an evil plan that ended up in the demise of Naboth. The thing is this, God allowed this innocent man to lose his life while doing what was right.
Abel in Genesis 4
He is the brother of Cain, whose parents were Adam and Eve. Cain was angry because God accepted Abel's offering above his and he went out and killed his brother. Again, another innocent person loses their life for doing the right thing.
Joseph in Genesis chapters 37-50
Joseph's brothers were jealous of him because he was honored by their father in a way that made him special in his eyes. They decided to get rid of him and that they did. They hatched a plan that ended up separating Joseph from his entire family for many years. Joseph's life took a bunch of twists and turns as a result, and he ended up in some very dangerous situations that were all beyond his control.
David in 1 Samuel 18
After David kills Goliath and the women sing his praises, King Saul becomes disturbed with jealousy and now resents David. Long story short, Saul seeks the life of David on different occasions driving him away from even his best friend Jonathan.
Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4:14
Paul states clearly that a certain person, as he names him, Alexander the coppersmith, has done a lot of evil against him.
Gideon in Judges 6:5
God has chosen Gideon to be a judge in Israel during a very difficult time, a time when they were under God's judgement for their disobedience. They cried out to God for help from their enemies, the Midianites, and God raised up Gideon as an answer to their prayers. Israel's full deliverance meant that there would be a battle that had to take place. Their enemies were not going to leave them alone that easily. In Judges 7, Gideon goes to war with 100 men.
Mordecai in Esther 5:9-14
Haman hated Mordecai because he refused to bow to him when he saw him. Haman erects gallows to hang Mordecai on and he intended to end Mordecai's life because he was a Jew who disrespected him.
Jesus in the New Testament
Jesus suffered so many things that led up to His death, the death of the cross.
These individuals endured sufferings of various sorts and remained steadfast and faithful to God despite how hard things got for them. They placed their unwavering faith and trust in the promises of God. They did what was right regardless of the backlash and the attacks. Let me just say that-that is not easy to do. It's difficult even for the best of Christians. Rejection, ostracizing, scorn, lies, vicious attacks and humiliation is not a welcomed thing for any of us.
We are told in the Word of God to expect to suffer, to prepare for it and to endure it. It comes with the territory of being a Christian, especially if you want to honor and obey God.
God gives us the grace (ability and tolerance) to suffer for Him. Some suffering looks like the list above, while others may or could result in the loss of life, job, home, or reputation. No matter how we look at it-it will not be easy. Yet, we are not to shrink from it should we be faced with some form of suffering.
Evil men are getting worse and worse, and we are living in a time where Christians in the United States of America could find themselves under great suffering as we await the Lord's return for us. Ask yourself, "Where am I at on the subject of suffering for Christ?"
"Wicked people want to hurt people. They are digging a deep hole for people to fall into. But they fall into the hole themselves!" (Psalms 7:15 Easy)
Revenge may seem sweet, but the aftermath is dangerous. It's never advised that we try to 'get back' at someone for something they did to us. There are always consequences for evil acts of retaliation.
What a person fails to realize is that they are digging a pit for themselves. It's been said that when you dig a pit for someone else, dig another for yourself.
In the book of Esther, we see the outcome of Haman who hated Mordecai because he refuses to bow down to him. Haman in his wrath went home and told his family and he built a Gallo to hang Mordecai on. His plot failed. God says, what a man sows he will reap (Galatians 6:7). When Esther tells the matter to the king and who it was that put it in motion, the king had that man, Haman, hung on the very Gallos he built for Mordecai.
When Daniel's accusers caused him to be thrown into a den of lions because he was found praying and didn't honor the king's decree, which was set in place with evil intent, their plan also failed. God quieted those lions by squelching their hunger and they left Daniel alone. What were the consequences for such an evil act? Daniel's accusers along with their wives and children were thrown to the very same lions and were mauled and eaten before they hit the ground.
In situations where someone does you wrong, or any evil act, leave them to God. It's only a matter of time and they will experience the same thing happening to them. Charles Stanley said, "we reap what we sow, more than we've sown and for longer than we've sown it." That is scary!
Ultimately, revenge is not sweet after all. It comes with a price tag that most are not willing to pay.
God meant it for good
"But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him." Genesis 37:4
It doesn't matter how many times I read about the life of Joseph, there's always something different that comes across. There are a lot of modern-day Josephs around. Individuals who have suffered at the hands of their own family members, or church family. These situations are always sad and unfortunate.
In Joseph's case, his brothers were jealous and envious of him and that led to their hatred and ultimate ill treatment of him. They proved how much they didn't want him around by their actions. Hatred and resentment can be dangerous, but it should never characterize anyone who calls himself or herself a Christian.
Hatred is usually a problem within the hater. This type of emotion comes from a deep place within the person. It springs from a painful issue they've been living with and for whatever reasons has not sought to get the help and healing they need to break free of it.
Jealousy, envy and resentment eat away at the individual. It grows legs and arms and soon defiles everyone around them. It sows discord among the Lord's people, it separates friends, and it causes strife.
Joseph's brothers thought that once they got rid of him their problems would be over, but it was just beginning. It is never a good thing or a wise thing to do acts of evil. For what a man sows he will surely reap, says the Bible (Galatians 6:7). The consequence for doing an evil act is far greater than you could ever imagine. It's been said that when you dig a pit for someone, dig another one for yourself because you will certainly be the recipient of the same misfortune. In other words, you will suffer too. "Whoever digs a pit will fall into it; if someone rolls a stone, it will roll back on them" (Proverbs 26:27).
Ten of Joseph's brothers learned that lesson the hard way. It is such a sad story but with a glorious end. Evil never wins in God's economy. It's interesting how God allowed the evil against Joseph. It resulted in other harmful things, but God had a place and plan for it all. Thank God for His great wisdom in planning things out for us. All we can see is the painful evil act done against us, but God sees the blessed end He has in mind.
If those brothers knew how the story would end, they would have never done what they did. They didn't even consider their father, Jacob, or the devastation they were bringing on him and the entire family. They were selfish and cruel. God always makes sure that those who execute evil get what they deserve, even if they are a child of God. God has no favorites and His judgement for such things will fall.
It's unfortunate that sometimes within the family of God His children haven't learned how to appreciate and value one another. It is written in His Word that we are to esteem others above ourselves (Philippians 2:3).
The incredible success and blessing that was bestowed upon Joseph despite his sufferings says it all. God looked out for him and protected him through it all. Though his brothers meant it for evil, Joseph could say in the end that God planned it for Good. This he told them to their faces (Genesis 50:20). Little did they know that Joseph would save the lives of their entire family of 70 persons. We must be careful how we handle the Lord's people and people in general for we do not know if we'll need them in the end. We have no idea why God placed them within the family and the divine purpose they are to serve.
Keeping Our eyes on god
"Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you." 2 Chronicles 20:12
It is a most common response when one is overwhelmed, to panic. Fear sets in quickly and if we're not careful, despair will follow. There are situations in life that can throw us overboard. What do we do? How do we handle those times in our lives?
In this passage King Jehoshaphat was told that a great multitude is coming against him in battle. The scripture tells us that Jehoshaphat felt the fear and that fear was real (vs. 3). But we're also told that the first thing he did was to go to God about it. That's what we must do. We have to seek the face of almighty God for His help and direction. To be afraid is not a sin, reacting out of that fear is.
At times, there are situations that will require us to fast and pray. The people fasted as they asked for help from the Lord God. That is crucial. Sometimes prayer alone is sufficient for the need while at other times fasting must accompany those prayers.
Are you in the midst of a challenging time in your life? Are you going through deep trials or afflictions? Run to God seeking His face and help in your time of need. He has the answer, and He will give the victory. He will navigate you through.
It's so important to keep our eyes on God each and every day because there are so many distractions that are designed to take our minds off of spiritual things. The enemy does not want you or I to draw near to God and to be poised and ready to hear His voice. Distractions like entertainment, social activities, the flood of news and media sensation, movies and things of the sort are all intended to fill our minds and time in such a way where we won't connect with God via prayer and the study of His Word. Believe me, it seems to be working with many Christians these days. When crisis happens, trials, or afflictions, we are hard pressed to have peace in the storm because we may have been following from a far off, spiritually speaking. This is how fear can consume us and try to make us react and respond when we become afraid.
Let us keep our eyes on God in the good times when we are not experiencing trials so that we will be ready when they come for they will come. If we desire to live in obedience to God and His Word, we will have many trials and we will suffer persecution, so the Bible says. "Yea all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." 2 Timothy 3:12
get beyond the bread
"It is written: man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of my mouth." Matthew 4:4
We must get beyond praying for our needs only (our family, our job, etc.). We should prepare our hearts for the Lord and His things.
Praying and preparing our heart helps us to know the will of God. We should be concerned about what concerns God.
Proverbs 21:25 says:
"The desire of the lazy man kills him, for his hands refuse to labor."
Having dreams and desires but too lazy to do what is needed to see them come to pass?
With planning and diligence success is the result. You must do the work and what it requires for the thing you desire.
The lazy person just talks about it, they talk themselves up year after year, but you never see anything come of it. They're generally looking for other persons to come along and help them by providing everything that will be needed to get their dream off the ground. They, themselves do minimal work yet, they boast or speak about the thing as if they are spearheading it.
There is no success or accomplishment of anything unless we have rolled up our sleeves and set a plan of action in place. Then diligence and hard work must follow consistently. Even when you've reached your goal, it will take the same effort, time and attention to maintain what you have until it doesn't!
It's a New Year! Put a plan of action in place! You were created to succeed!
Enjoying Church or christ?
"God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth." John 4:24
Jesus was speaking with the Samaritan woman at the well when He said this. He was teaching her about what true worship is. Worship is defined as adoration and reverence for God. Is that relegated to Sunday Mornings only? I think not. True Worship to God is a daily ongoing act from one's heart, in all sincerity to God. Corporate worship takes place on a Sunday as we gather with those in the body of Christ, but worship is ongoing beyond that.
Our lives can worship the Lord God daily when we are living in obedience to the Word of God. In this we are showing that we respect God with reverential fear. We do what He asks us to do when it comes to lifestyle, conduct, conversation, engagement in activities and our treatment of others.
A person can sit in church, participate in holy things for years and never be a true worshipper of Christ. Some feel that they can go to church on Sundays, put money in the offering plate, enjoy the music and the emotional preaching and this is worship. Not according to the scripture, I gave.
A true worshipper lives Monday through Sunday striving to obey God's laws and commands. You cannot live any way you please and say that you worship God. You cannot live in sin, participate in sinful acts, that cater to the flesh, and honor God.
A true worshipper of God has committed his or her life to Christ and has a personal relationship with the Lord God. It's a daily relationship consisting of prayer and the reading of His Word. It's a relationship that causes them to rely and depend upon God for daily living and provisions because the individual has a desire to please God in their life.
There are things to enjoy while attending a church service, like the music, the people, the social fulfillment it brings, the fellowship dinners and the positive atmosphere, but that alone does not define true worship. Without conversion by salvation and a personal walk with God, you're just going to church as an attendee.
As we approach a new year, let's do some soul searching; let's be clear on where we stand with God. Let's examine our lifestyle and see if it matches up to God's laws and commands. It will not take us long to answer the question of 'Are we enjoying church or Christ'?
"But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people's matters." 1Peter4:15
To be forewarned is to be forearmed. It's interesting that the Word of God associates a busybody with a murderer and a thief. This speaks to how dangerous a behavior it is.
How does one become a busybody? Idleness leads to being a busybody. We have heard the adage that idleness is the devil's playground and how true it is. Idleness opens the door to being a gossip and a talebearer. A busybody is also a gossip and a talebearer. This behavior causes strife among God's people.
A busybody will suffer the consequences for not minding their own business. A busybody meddles in other people's affairs. They pry into personal information of others. They comment and judge matters that don't concern them. They gossip their thoughts and feelings to others creating their own scenarios. They gather other people's opinions and gossip and pass it along to others including who said what.
What is the busybody's problem? What makes them engage in such behavior? They are in other people's business to compensate for not handling their own. There are things in their life that need tending to but, they won't deal with what needs their attention. They refuse to face issues of discontentment, disappointments, and problems in their personal lives. Some are resentful because of what God hasn't given them and it comes out in the form of making negative comments about the success, good fortune, or blessing of others.
Often, it is believed that only females engage in such behavior but, this problem is not exclusive to women. Some men are also busybodies.
The body of Christ suffers behind such behavior. Friendships are broken, divisiveness finds its way into the fellowship and the 'he said, she said' can never be sort out thereby causing all kinds of discord among brethren. Six things does the Lord hate and seven are an abomination unto him; we find included in that verse, one who sows discord among his brethren. God really abhors and hates that! (Proverbs 6:16-19)
Avoid engaging in such conversations with a busybody. Don't feed their curiosity. Refrain from giving them your opinions. Speak well of others when they speak critically of them. Leave them in such a situation where they think twice about coming to you with that stuff.
What they say about others they will say about you and spread it given time and opportunity. They are really friends to no one. Also, somewhere in the midst of all the gossip are lies meshed in.
Busybodies rarely stop what they do, but you can certainly stop them from coming to you!
Drawing Near to God
"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." James 4:8
God promises to reciprocate His gracious presence, which includes the warmth of His love, protection when we need it, strength, His divine concern, provisions, a listening ear with His undivided attention.
Since He forces Himself on no one, He will only draw near when we draw near. We must have a desire for such a relationship. It starts with the individual.
Drawing near isn't defined by a 10-minute drive by. It requires sitting a while in His presence. Intentionally setting time aside, the same time each day is preferable. This is a planned meeting to be engaged in fellowship and communication through prayer and the reading of the Word of God. This time allows us to hear His voice and what He wants to say to us, it allows us to unload our cares as we express what is on our hearts. This alone time with Him allows us to walk away differently than how we initially came into His presence. This time of engagement will bring the answers we're desiring.
When we don't give a person our time and attention, we don't have a relationship, we're merely an acquaintance.
The closer we get, the closer He gets. The closer we get, the more we'll hear. The closer we get the more He'll speak. The closer we get, the closer He becomes. This is intimacy, this is what having a true relationship with the Lord God looks like.
May you and I seek to draw nearer and nearer To God as the New Year approaches.
"The LORD says, "I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you." Psalm 32:8
The above Bible passage is God's navigational system! It's the best one around because not only will He tell you where to go and how to get there, He will also keep an eye on you in the process. Is there anybody else around that can do that?
Things are pretty scary in the world we're living in right now. Nothing is certain and things keep changing but not for the better. People are dropping off the face of the earth for various reasons and suddenly, at that. People want answers, justice for hate crimes and someone to be held accountable for the heinous acts that roam our subways, streets and schools. We're on our way to crashing and burning!
What navigational system have you been using? Who's giving you direction for the path you're on? Is it a path with hope for a better tomorrow? Who can you turn to - to answer all the questions you need answering? Are you feeling the pressures of life? Are you riddled with fear?
I ask these questions because everything going on around us has been threatening. The constant deaths of the rich and the poor, the random attacks due to racism and hatred have left mankind at a loss for words. People are asking questions. People are saying that this world is coming to an end. Everyone has their take on it all.
I encourage you to get hooked into God's GPS! The offer will not last forever for it will soon be off the table. There is a time limit on God's reaching out to man. Harden not your heart! God has done everything to make life easier, better and satisfying for you, but you must accept His only Son, Jesus Christ into your heart as your Savior. He is the answer for the world today. Above Him there's no other for Jesus is the way!
We rely on our car's GPS to get us where we need to go. We put the destination in, and it calculates how to get there, how long it will take and the best highways and roads that will get us there. God is so much greater than this world's Global Positioning System because this type of system has been created by humans for humans. God's GPS navigates beyond this life, beyond satellites, beyond human calculations and beyond technology. God is a supreme being who created man and all of creation. He knows the way and how to get us to the best place possible!
I decided long ago to get on board with God's navigational system and as a result I have a guaranteed assurance of life after death, should I die. He has secured me a place in Heaven and while I'm still on earth, He takes care of everything I need and will ever need. I'm so glad I'm saved!
Think about what I'm saying and don't let this offer run out for you. Cash in on it while you still have the chance!
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16