Suffering for Christ
I did some Bible reading today (I get daily emails from Bible Gateway) because today’s Bible verse grabbed my attention.
“Philippians 1:29 – [NIV Bible]
For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only
to believe in him, but also to suffer for him,…”
This passage conflicted me. I’ve heard about suffering for Christ before, many times in fact, but today it sparked an interest. I just had to look deeper into it. So I went on a hunt. Mind you, it was not a thorough excursion but merely a curiosity thing. What I found was the usual: people suffering for disobeying God; Job suffering; and Paul suffering for Christ because of his commission.
But what I also found through using the study helps was this:
Job 36:15 —
“But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction. [NIV Bible]
Life Lessons – Charles Stanley..
“God wants to use our afflictions, and the way He delivers us from them, to lead us into a deeper and richer relationship with Him. We should treat adversity as a bridge to a closer walk with God.”
Stanley’s idea touched me. Years ago, when I first heard about us having to suffer for Christ I was bothered. Isn’t He supposed to deliver us from this stuff? Why do I have to live my entire life suffering?
I still have issues with that. Just because Jesus died for me shouldn’t mean I have to live my entire life suffering. But Stanley says this will lead us to a closer relationship with God. And that’s cool. So I am trying to open up my mind and grab this thing and embrace it. Maybe my suffering won’t be so bad. Maybe I won’t be as bad off as Job.
So, I looked further and found this:
[ Paul’s Labor for the Church ] Now I rejoice in what I am
suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still
lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of
his body, which is the church
Paul is actually “rejoicing” in his suffering. Job didn’t do that, and God had mercy on him. But how can Paul be so gleeful in his persecutions?
1 Peter 4:13
But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings
of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
There’s the answer. I have to change my focus. I have to look for the future – to God’s second coming. I have been so busy just living day to day, barely making ends meet – suffering – that I have lost sight of the prize at the end of the race.
I guess we can suffer without being miserable. But, for me, that will be awfully hard. Because….I am miserable just being here in this life. Again, my focus is not on the hereafter, but on today. I guess focusing on today could be good if I were to be accomplishing my mission step by step, day by day, but I am not. I am sitting here wasting away like a good little mentally ill person. OKAY! So enough to the negative stuff. Let’s get on to some happy stuff.
Paul’s motivation for enduring suffering was to benefit and build Christ’s church. That must be my attitude as well. And my mission. To build Christ’s church. How do I do that when I am homebound? How much can I do? How much is expected of me?
Charles Stanley again comes to the rescue:
“To live the Christian life is to allow Jesus to liveHis life in and through us.”
I never thought of it that way before. I mean, heck, I’ve heard of allowing the Holy Spirit to take up residence in my heart and soul, but it never really came alive for me. But Jesus actually “living” in me and through me? That’s profound!
So, my reading took me to more verses and somehow I got to
Colossians 4:2 – Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
It always comes back to prayer.
That’s it! I don’t spend enough time praying. I spend too much time complaining and not enough time being thankful. I need an attitude adjustment and I need it now. What was possible for Paul is also possible for me. I just have to change my focus. Change my whole outlook. Change my mind.
Salvation is available for everyone. You only need to ask. Ask Jesus to come into your heart and to take up residence in there. Ask Him to forgive you of your sins and to save you through the renewing of your mind. Take the Roman Road to Salvation:
Romans 3:23 NKJV – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Romans 3:10 NKJV – As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one;
Romans 5:12 NKJV – Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned–
Romans 6:23 NKJV – For the wages of sin [is] death, but the gift of God [is] eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 5:8 NKJV – But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 10:9-10 NKJV – that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation
Romans 10:13 NKJV – For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”
What to do after you’ve prayed that prayer.
Romans 10:17 NKJV – So then faith [comes] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Go. Find Christian outlets, Christian people. Go to churches. Go online to churches and read, listen and watch videos. Immerse yourself in THE WORD. And then reach out to Christians for fellowship, companionship.
Here are some online resources to get you started:
Bible Gateway – https://www.biblegateway.com/
Community Crossroads Church – http://crossroadschurch.net/
Indian Rocks Baptist – http://www.indianrocks.org/