November 09                                         Day 314

How Then Shall We Live?

Devotions on Living a Deeper Christian Life

“Suffer Hardships with me, as a soldier of Jesus Christ” – 2 Timothy 2:3

 

The First Recorded Words of Jesus

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The first recorded word of Jesus in the New Testament is “Suffer,” (Matt 3:15), “Suffer it to be so now; for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness). Here we see suffering playing a part of fulfilling all righteousness.

In 2 Timothy 2:3, Paul gives this invitation to the church at Ephesus to “Suffer hardships with me, as a soldier of Christ”. An invitation, that many of us would say, “No thanks, I don’t like to suffer. I want the blessing of full abundant life. I’d love to come on this journey with you, but I’m too busy at work, life is really busy, the bills are due, etc. I can’t add any more “sufferings” or “hardships” to my life right now.

Somewhere along the line, I think that Christians have forgotten the value of suffering. In fact, the first thing that we usually do when we face suffering is to command it to leave in Jesus Name! Yet, God has a different approach to suffering; one that Paul speaks almost as a guarded secret in his letters to God’s newest churches; “Therefore, I am content with weakness, with insults, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong“. (2 Corinthians 12:10). Suffering is often used by God to stretch our faith and work out things from His Eternal perspective in our lives.

Content with weakness”? What? The only thing Paul could be sure of when he was traveling God’s missionary road, was the fact that there were going to be persecutions. Yet, he went towards it, and discovered a divine sort of contentment. We want to turn and run away, take a pill, claim some sort of authority over it but, but never, never, never embrace it.

Paul faced suffering full in the face, and like a soldier who drew up his sword to battle the gates of hell, Paul would not skirt around his trial, nor would he try to elevate himself above it. He would war through it, with sword in the air, where most people would stop and question God’s wisdom and cry out “Why do I have to go through this Lord?” There is no Hebrew word for the word “why.” It can only translated, “for what purpose.” Your suffering has a purpose, and specifically, an Eternal purpose.

Paul knew that God had orchestrated these trials. The Lord had placed him right in the center of the war on Christianity in first century. God allows us to suffer because of what it is building in us, or stripping away from us. The Lord wastes nothing. He is no idle Husbandman. He may allow you to go through a trial because He knows you will need the muscle He builds in you through this season of suffering later in life or to minister to another who will go through that same trial.  We are constantly praying for God to conform us to his image, yet when he takes out a chisel to perfect us in some way we run the other way.

In Phil 2:13, we see that “It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” And James points out these trials produce endurance… “that you may be perfect and complete.” – James 1:4.

When you are suffering a hardship keep in mind that God is at work in the lives of His children, forming, molding, chiseling, loving, caressing, all in the same breath “for His good pleasure.” The Bible tells us that in Rom 8:18, “that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Christian, did you get that? In this life there will be “sufferings” for each of us.

1 Peter 4:12, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”

 


Words to Think About…

 

<>–STORM AND PATIENCE–<>

 

Be of good faith, my dear friends, look not out at any thing; fear none of those things ye may be exposed to suffer, wither outwardly or inwardly; but trust the Lord over all, and your life will spring, and grow, and refresh you, and ye will learn obedience and faithfulness daily more and more, even by your exercises and sufferings; yea, the Lord will teach you the very mystery of faith and obedience; the wisdom, power, love, and goodness of the Lord ordering every thing for you, and ordering your hearts in every thing” – I. Penington

Our Lord’s life was full of storm and tempest, yet in the darkest days of all He bequeathed to us His legacy of peace. His rest is no imaginary escape from reality…(but) that blessed consciousness that in the midst of trouble our real lives are beyond the reach of circumstance, hid with Christ in God.” – Vance Havner
“If any are inclined to despond, because they do not have such patience, let them be of good courage. It is in the course of our feeble and very imperfect waiting that God Himself, by His hidden power, strengthens us and works out in us the patience of the great saints, the patience of Christ Himself.” – Andrew Murray
<>–WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO–<>
“Be still and know that I am God.” – Psalm 46:10