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)

Devotional

I Have Seen Your Tears

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2 Kings 20:5

Weeping is for a season, the Psalmist suggests, but morning brings joy (Psalm 30:5). Why is it then that for many people morning never seems to come? Tears and sorrow seem to last forever! Does God really see our tears?

Tears are a marvellous release of tension. However, some people fear that crying will make them vulnerable. There is some truth to that, but the fact is confronting one’s feelings makes it easier to move forward in life. Actual breaking down into tears may help us to let go of baggage, the beginning of healing. A Jewish proverb tells us “What soap is for the body, tears are for the soul.”

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” – Washington Irving

There are many reasons for tears – tears of intercession, like King Josiah shed when he realized God’s wrath would fall upon his disobedient people (2 Kings 22:19). God’s people wept for release from slavery in Egypt. Hannah wept before the Lord as she asked for a child (1 Samuel 1:7, 10-15). The woman pouring ointment over the feet of Jesus, wept with tears of love as she kissed His feet. (Luke 7:37ff). Those who pray with tears over the lost, “Go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him!” What a promise! (Psalm 126:6).

Implying that God is attentive to every detail of our lives, the Psalmist prays that God will record his lament, by listing his tears on a scroll. KJV says “Put my tears in Your bottle” (Psalm 56:8). Why is this important? Tears are to be remembered. There are lessons to be learned as we weep. We identify ourselves with the sufferings of Jesus Christ when we weep. Our shame is taken away when we weep over our sins. We release ourselves into the exquisite comfort of God’s love as we sorrow in our disappointment, hurt or loneliness.

As we look at scripture we notice that whether a nation or an individual is suffering, throughout history God has seen their tears. Whatever it takes our Father provides, so that we can be His representatives here on earth. In the Millennial Kingdom we read both death and tears will vanish. “The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces” (Isaiah 25:8). “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order has passed way” (Revelation 21:4). Until that time, the Holy Spirit will sustain us in our griefs and sorrows by His gentle presence. God does not just see our tears but goes to the utmost to relieve them. Praise the Lord for the fullness of joy when it does come through our Father’s miraculous intervention.

Reflection:

How does it comfort you to know God sees your tears? Does that evoke any other feelings?

Are you uncomfortable when others weep in your presence? If so – why?

Since God allows us to cry in His presence, how might we bring comfort to those who are sad?

by Marilyn Daniels (marilyndaniels.net)

Devotional

Why?

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reflections on Job

“Why” is a little three-lettered word that sometimes gets us into trouble. Children sometimes exasperate their elders as they use it to learn about the world around them. If we question the established order of things, as adults, we may irritate others. Sometimes it is a word used when we fall into desperate circumstances. Often we question God with “Why?” when things are hard to understand, such as natural disasters, or the death of a loved one or a pandemic!

God understands our query more than we know. He too might ask “Why” questions. As His people wandered away from His goodness, His will and His ways, we might wonder why? However, an omniscient God knows all. He knows the end from the beginning. Why? Because He is God. Look at God’s declaration to Isaiah:

“I am God and there is no other [god]!

I am God and there is none like Me!

I make known the end from the beginning!

I say: My purpose will stand! And

I will do all that I please” (Isaiah 46:9-10).

Why then does God allow trouble and violence and death? Job is the Bible character outstanding for his suffering. Yet he was a man described by God Himself, as blameless. From this we learn that trouble does not always perform as a punishment in our lives. Yes – there are consequences for our poor choices, but what did this blameless man learn from his woeful experience?

He did ask “Why” questions: “Why have You made me Your target?” (Job 7:20).

“Why did You bring me out of my mother’s womb?” (Job 10:18).

It seems Job’s faith passed the test because he concludes:

“I could only plead with my Judge for mercy” (Job 9:15).

“Can anyone teach knowledge to God, since He judges even the highest?” (Job 21:22).

“In His hand is the life of every creature, and the breath of all mankind (Job 12:10).

“To God belong wisdom and power, counsel and understanding are His…..He pours contempt of the nobles

and disarms the mighty…..He deprives the leaders of the earth of their reason” (Job 12:13, 21, 24).

Reflection:

These reflections may not be encouraging, but Job gives us some very beautiful and up-lifting reasons to trust in God. “He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 32:10).

“The fear [reverence] of the Lord – that is wisdom and to shun evil is understanding” (Job 28:28).

Job longed for those days “When I was in my prime…God’s intimate friendship blessed my house!” (Job 29:4). However, Job also looks to the future “I know that my Redeemer lives…and after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God!…How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27).

Does your knowledge of God, your experience of His mercy and His loving faithfulness prompt this same response when you face sorrow and struggles, when you ask “Why?”

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net