The gift of suffering

God has a blueprint for our lives.

Probably we don’t often think of suffering as being a gift but the Scripture reveals that it is for Christians.  The Atoning Sacrifice of Jesus was (John 19:30) final and complete.  He fully accomplished eternal salvation for all who would believe.  But through the Persecuted Church, God is filling up (Colossians 1:24) that which is behind, still needs to be done in proclaiming salvation to those who have never heard, for the purpose of building the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ among them.  This holy purpose of God continues through His suffering saints.  Jesus is going right into (Luke 11:22) the strong man’s house, invading the kingdom of darkness binding the strong man and taking his spoils - - the souls Satan thought were his forever - - and translating them from the power of darkness into the Kingdom of Light.  God is manifesting His wisdom (Ephesians 3:10) to the principalities and powers through His Church.  That is why we have been given (Philippians 1:29) not only the gift and privilege of believing but also the gift and privilege of suffering for His sake.  It has been truly said that if you are not ready to die, then you are not ready to live.

The disciples rejoiced (Acts 5:41) at the gift of being counted worthy to suffer for His Name.  Suffering is evidence of (2 Thessalonians 1:5) our worth to the Kingdom and faithfulness to our King.

We are told (Colossians 3:16) to let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly.  I always thought that meant to fill our hearts and mind with God’s Work.  That is true of course but suddenly when I was praying for the Persecuted Church, the Holy Spirit showed me something even deeper.  He said that verse to me like this: “Lord Jesus Christ Himself, Who is Himself (John 1:1) the Living Word, dwells Himself in you in the rich fullness of His Person.”  This gave me fuller understanding of how to pray for fellow-believers in the Persecuted Church and also how to be prepared myself for whatever may be coming, prepared to receive and rejoice in the holy gift of suffering.  Jesus Himself, the Living Word, indwells us and He Himself can keep us steadfast and loyal to Him every day and all the way.

What we say is based on what we think.  Our words are the expression of the thoughts in our mind. (Dr. Tozer) “Jesus is known as the Word of God, that is, the mind of God in expression.”  Jesus was never the victim of (John 8:29) circumstances and never a victim of (John 19:15) the screaming hate-filled mob.  He was never victim but always Victor over all because He knew that everything in His life, suffering and death was (Acts 4:27-28) the predetermined plan and purpose of God.

This is the secret for our victory in the turbulence of life.  We are secure in the knowledge that nothing (apart from self-chosen sin) happens or comes into our life without God’s permission and loving good purpose for spiritual enrichment and maturity for us.  God has a plan for our lives and we need to listen to Him so He can give us the blueprint.

The fact that GOD became MAN is a miracle but I think God’s reason for becoming MAN is almost a greater miracle.  The shadow of the Cross that loomed over the manger in Bethlehem was a shadow that continued all through the life of Jesus until it became reality at Calvary.  When I read my Bible, I go slowly and discuss it with the Holy Spirit as I read.  I am filled with wonder at the amazing deep truths He unpacks for me.  Just one example:  The Holy Spirit explained to me the meaning of (Ezekiel 10:14) each cherub having 4 faces.  Each face represents a pinnacle in the phases of God’s creation.  Cherub – pinnacle of heavenly host, man – pinnacle of earthly creation, lion – king of the beasts, eagle – king of the birds.  My Bible is truly a goose-bumpy treasure chest and I’ll never get to the bottom because it is bottomless.  Because we know our wonderful God, nothing He does or ever has done surprises us even though it constantly amazes us and fills us with wonder.

Who is a God like unto our God (Malachi 3:16) our Sovereign Transcendent God?  Who loves us so much that He condescends to listen to us.  Just think of WHO God is, ALL He is and WHAT He is, has always been and will (Malachi 3:6) never forever ever change.  To know that He is pleased when we think about Him and when we talk together about Him. The glorious personal relationship we can have through Jesus Christ with the ever transcendent yet ever eminent God is beyond comprehension or words to describe, but not beyond our joy, experience and reality.  Every fibre of my being should pulsate and glow with supreme love for Him.  WORTHY is the LAMB.  Oh, come let us adore Him.

Our Sovereign Lord God (Ezekiel 14:23) does nothing without cause.  Think about this and apply it to yourself.

God chose me (Ephesians 1:4) before He created the world.

God loves me because (Ephesians 2:10) I am the work of His hand, His personal creation, He is my Creator.

God thought I was worth dying for but not because of anything He saw in me.

God thought I was worth dying for because of what He could see that He could do in me and for me through the Atoning death of Jesus to make me (2 Corinthians 5:17) a new creation.

Now as my new creation life is (Colossians 3:3) hidden with Christ in God, God is pleased (Galatians 1:16) to reveal Jesus in me.  We know that one day (Philippians 2:11) every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.  But what about me right now?  My life, in co-operation with the Holy Spirit should continually confess that Jesus Christ is my Lord to the glory of God my Father.  To be conformed (Romans 8:2) to the image of Jesus means to be (Philippians  2:8) obedient unto death.  Death to self while we live and actual death if it becomes necessary in order not to deny the Lord Jesus.

I pray that my love for the Lord will be the cause of my deepest sorrow if I grieve Him and the cause of my greatest delight and joy when I please Him,

Whether we live or die, born again Christians (Romans 14:8) will always belong to the Lord.  While we are still living on earth we have supernatural life, eternal life, the very life of God.  If we cross the bridge which is called physical death, our true life will not cease for even one tenth of a second.  That life will not end but will gloriously burst forth to flourish in our vibrant health and our radiant beauty and our unending holiness.

This world will never feel like home because we were created for another world.

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