Archive for January 21, 2012


Suffering is Your Opportunity to Show Your Quality (Part 1)

I would not be surprised if some of my readers were taken aback by my continual reference to suffering, trials, afflictions and the like. I am sure I sound like a morbid person. And quite probably I am. You see, I am a Christian and Christians by nature should be morbid persons since they are continually experiencing death to Self. Yet it is through this death that life emerges and we may rejoice and be glad in it.

“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:  Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” Rom. 6:3-6.

I have titled the message “Suffering …”, when it could have just as easily been titled, “Dying to Self is Your Opportunity to Show Your Quality.” It is this “dying to Self”, that I have synonymously labeled suffering. And it is this living of the life of Christ that is continually approached and entered through dying.

I want to expand, explode and explore the Book of Job in the next number of weeks to the end that you are left without a doubt of the value of dying to Self. It is the very heartbeat of the Christ-life and your Christian daily walk. If you are not walking this way, quite frankly you are not walking in the Spirit. Those who are living for their Self are in direct, adversarial and red-handed rebellion to God and His will.

For today I want to just take an overview of some of the verses that come to mind that speak to this issue of dying to self and living for God. I hope that God’s Word will speak for itself regarding His will in the matter and at the same time reveal some of the rewards and value of suffering and dying to Self.

Please note that this suffering is not suffering for human stupidity and earned consequences but for righteous and godly living, which will always attract, invoke and ensure trials, afflictions and persecution from this world system.

Death/Dying

Revelation of John 12:11: And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

Philippians 3:10: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

Philippians 2:8: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

II Corinthians 4:11: For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

II Corinthians 1:9: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:

I Corinthians 4:9: For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.

II Corinthians 4:10: Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

Suffering

I Peter 2:19: For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.

Romans 8:17: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

Philippians 1:29: For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

I Timothy 4:10: For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.

II Timothy 2:12: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:

II Timothy 3:12: Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

Hebrews 11:25: Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;

I Peter 2:20: For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.

I Peter 3:14: But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;

I Peter 4:16: Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

Persecution/Affliction

Romans 8:35: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Psalms 34:19: Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.

II Corinthians 6:4: But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,

Colossians 1:24: Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:

I Thessalonians 3:3: That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.

II Timothy 1:8: Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;

II Timothy 4:5: But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

Hebrews 10:32: But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;

II Corinthians 8:2: How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.

I Peter 1:7: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

I 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:

James 1:2-4: My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;  Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Matthew 16:24:
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

II Timothy 1:12: For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

Final thought:

Mark 8:38: Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

Quote Title Quotation Source
Wrong Tools for the Job He tells us that our strength and our fruitfulness depend upon our prayers. He reminds us that the fullness of our joy depends upon answered prayer (John 16:24). And yet we allow the devil to persuade us to neglect prayer. He makes us believe that we can do more by our own efforts than by prayers, our intercourse with people than by our intercession with God. It passes one s comprehension that so little heed should be given to our Lord s sevenfold invitation – command – promise. How dare we work for Christ without being much on our knees? Unknown Christian – The Kneeling Christian, circa 1890, © 2007 Bidge-Logos.
Pray Determinedly, Not Impulsively Determination means to fix the form of our choice, and God demands that we use this power when we pray. The majority of us waste our time on mere impulses in prayer. There are many verses in God s Book which refer to this power in the heart to choose voluntarily. Impulse is not choice; impulse is very similar to instinct in an animal. It is the characteristic of immaturity and ought not to characterize men and women. Oswald Chambers – The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers
God of Extremes It is the glory of the Christian faith that it is immense enough to be able to contain within itself aspects and elements that at first sight seem strangely conflicting. I heard a preacher exulting in the tenderness and beauty of God’s infinite love. The very same day I heard another speak of the severity and exactness of God’s infinite justice. Surely he was speaking of a different God! But no; it is the same God, but such a God! There is no conflict or confusion. We are simply gazing at a sea of glass, mingled with fire. He is a “just God and the Savior.” And those who know Him and worship Him are like unto him. F. W. Boreham – The Luggage of Life, 1912, published by Kregel Publications
Unknown Except Through the Mind of Christ We may, and we do, have all sorts of thoughts of God, we may conjecture this or imagine that, but we are wasting our energies in it all. We simply cannot know, no man can, except through the revelation of Christ. Hannah Whitall Smith – The God of All Comfort, circa 1890 – 1956 Edition Moody Publishers
It is a strange phenomenon how many come out of the woodwork and into the pews when the message concerns end times and God’s wrath and judgment on the unrighteous. Yet when the messages are concerning God’s commands for righteousness, dying to self, loving your enemies, submission to authority and the like, the same brood are nowhere to be found. Perhaps they are hiding back in the woodwork. They will not come to Him out of love and devotion but because of fear for Self they come. Who told you, you brood of vipers to flee the wrath of God? Repent and be saved! Tom Van Hoogen
Fence Sitting is Painful Business The well-defined spiritual life is not only the highest life, but it is also the most easily lived. The whole cross is more easily carried than the half. It is a man who tries to make the best of both worlds who makes nothing of either. — Henry Drummond A. W. Tozer – The Pursuit of God
The Beginning Is Merely a Start Since, then, the conduct of these beginners upon the way of God is ignoble, [61] and has much to do with their love of self and their own inclinations, as has been explained above, God desires to lead them farther. He seeks to bring them out of that ignoble kind of love to a higher degree of love for Him, to free them from the ignoble exercises of sense and meditation (wherewith, as we have said, they go seeking God so unworthily and in so many ways that are unbefitting), and to lead them to a kind of spiritual exercise wherein they can commune with Him more abundantly and are freed more completely from imperfections. St. John of the Cross – Dark Night of the Soul, circa 1560
Rejoice!, Again I Say, Rejoice! I am amazed at the power that comes to us through suffering; we are worth nothing without the cross. Of course, I tremble and agonize while it lasts, and all my words about the beneficial effects of suffering vanquish under the torture. But when it is all over, I look back on the experience with deep appreciation, and am ashamed that I bore it with so much bitterness. I am learning a great deal from my own foolishness! Fenelon – Let Go, circa 1690, copyright 1973 Whitaker House
Peace Of, With and Through God Those who know their God have great contentment in God. There is no peace like the peace of those whose minds are possessed with full assurance that they have known God, and God has known them, and that this relationship guarantees God’s favor to them in life, through death and forever. This is the peace of which Paul speaks in Romans 5:1 — “since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”– and those whose substance he analyzes in full in Romans 8. “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus… the Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children… heirs of God… We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him… Those he justified, he also glorified… if God is for us, who can be against us?… Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?… Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?… I am convinced that neither death nor life… neither the present nor the future… will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” J. I. Packer – Knowing God, © 1973 InterVarsity Press
Same Family, Same Love Pray that you will love your fellow believers with the same love with which Christ loves you. If we abide in Christ’s love and let that love fills our hearts, supernatural power will be given to us to love all God’s children. As the bond of love between the Father and the Son, and between Christ and His followers, is close, so must the bond of love be between all God’s children. Andrew Murray – Andrew Murray 365 Day Devotional, © 2006 Whitaker House.
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