Devotional

Principles of Suffering

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1 Peter 2:21

Peter is writing “to God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered….who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:1-2). He praises God who, because of His “great mercy” gives us “new birth” along with a “living hope” and eventual “inheritance” which is kept in heaven for each one who “through faith are shielded by God’s power….to be revealed in the last time” (1:3-5). Does this apply to you and to me today?

He then goes on to say that Salvation comes through the sufferings of Christ (1:12), which were predicted by the prophets, men who spoke about God’s anticipated grace (i.e. Isaiah 53). Let’s pause for a moment to look at the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ. Long before the cross Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37). For any of us who weep over loved ones who still reject salvation through Jesus Christ, we know the suffering of His heart! He knew that everyone would not turn to God, even when He gave His life for them. We know the crowd was fickle; just as people are today. How many want what they can get [heaven], without being willing to suffer for principles seen in the life of Christ. He gave up everything…”making Himself nothing” to become a human being, humbling Himself and being obedient to death! (Philippians 2:7-8).

Jesus taught His disciples all about suffering. When He said “ the Son of Man must suffer many things” He then listed rejection by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law before He mentioned being killed (Mark 8:31). Rejection is painful. Every human being has been created with the longing to “belong”, to be significant and secure in relationships. It is hard to stay the course in the face of rejection. But, thankfully He did!

Peter goes on to describe what following Jesus looks like. Even if we suffer for doing good our hearts will be at peace because our intentions were good, and therefore our consciences are clear before the Lord. If someone speaks maliciously against us, our good behaviour may be a rebuke to them. Certainly our attitude of gentleness and respect will be a powerful testimony in the face of adversity (1 Peter 3:13-16). After all we are representing the One who cried from the cross “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing!” (Luke 23:34).

How might we respond to suffering for Jesus’ sake? Peter addresses this too. We must rejoice! Really? Yes, he writes “Rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may rejoice when His glory is revealed” (4:13). He goes on to say what he, himself, knows all too well to be true: “If you suffer as a Christian do not be ashamed”. We mustn’t forget Peter denied knowing Jesus, fearing for his life at one point in time, yet now his perspective ha s totally changed! Why? “Praise God you bear that name [Christian]”. For Peter to be a Christian meant everything! (4:16).

Reflection:


When we think of suffering, often it is with the fear of physical pain. However, emotional pain goes even deeper – right into the soul of every human being. God can rescue us from that, delivering us from evil (Matthew 6:13), as Jesus taught us to pray. The Holy Spirit infuses us with the power to be kind and good and patient (Galatians 5:22), when we encounter Satanic attacks. Let us be “strengthened with all power according to His glorious might, so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully give thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light!” (Colossians 1:11-12).

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in His steps” 1 Peter 2:21

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Uncategorized

Make Disciples

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Colossians 1:15-19

Sadly lacking in the modern church is the concept of discipling. The emphasis on evangelism in bygone years brought people to a point of decision, but having then birthed a new baby, the child was often abandoned to fend for itself.

What did Jesus mean when he said “Go and make disciples of all nations”? (Matthew 28:19) This commandment – and it is a command, was given just prior to His ascending into heaven. If each believer is part of a “royal priesthood” as Peter tells us (1 Peter 2:9), then they need some training. The purpose of a priest was to minister God’s words to the people.

How does anyone know the will of God for their lives? The Bible is a great source of information regarding the character and works of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our faith is nourished by recognizing and getting to know this amazing God we worship! How thrilling it is to have a real relationship with the invisible God. This God, we read is Sovereign of the universe. Do we believe what we read?

One needs to have faith in the inerrancy of scripture. This comes from the ministry of the Holy Spirit to our spirits. After all, in the beginning we are dead in our sin nature (Ephesians 2:1). But God raised us up! Ephesians 2:4 gives us a glorious hope! “Because of His great love for us, God who is rich in mercy made us alive with Christ, even when we were dead in transgressions!” Once we understand this with our minds and hearts, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit who continues the process of sanctification….making us pure, setting us aside for ministry, shielding us from temptation, leading and guiding us into all truth, as we study God’s Word.

Then there is the matter of conversation with God. Prayers have been written that express what we want to say in such a beautiful manner – the Psalms being a favourite of many people. But when we fall on our faces before God to confess our sins, there is no formula to follow; just the transparency of an open heart. “Father I have sinned”! 1 John 1:9 is a good verse to memorize. Prayer is sometimes very misunderstood. If we have trouble praying for 3 minutes every morning how will we ever grasp the joy of being in prayer at all times (1 Thessalonians 5:17)? That prayerful spirit testifies to the reality of God being ever-present in us!

As we already noted, the primary purpose of discipling new believers is to increase their knowledge of God. Their personal interaction with Him equips them to share the joy of the Lord with others. Often it is the testimony of someone who has seen Jesus for the first time that grips the hearts of non-believers. Just as a young man who has fallen in love for the first time cannot stop talking about his lady-love, so a new believer’s conversation overflows from their love relationship with Jesus Christ.

Reflection:

Discipleship requires thoughtful, prayerful commitment to pour into another’s life what God has been teaching us. Are we willing to devote ourselves to such a task? If not, might we justly question our own commitment to the Lordship of Jesus Christ? We must never lose sight of the reason for our covenant relationship with God which makes us servants of the most High God (Acts 16:17). Nowhere does the Bible tell us to make Christians, by simply saying a prayer; Jesus commands that His followers make more followers. This is how Christianity has impacted the nations down through millennia of time.

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)