Month: January 2018

What If Jesus Meant What He Said? Part 2

Part 2.

In Suffering and Persecution, We Are Reminded of Who We Are

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12).

This verse raises the question, ‘If I am not suffering persecution, am I living godly in Christ Jesus?’ Are we more concerned when we do suffer persecution as a Christ-follower or when we don’t. Perhaps the latter should be our greater concern.

We shouldn’t go looking for persecution, but we should recognize that persecution will be the result of godly living. It’s easy to think of dramatic examples of physical persecution, but persecution can come in different ways. Sometimes, the effects of persecution are emotional when believers are ostracized, ignored, insulted, bullied, slandered, or discredited because of their faith. First Peter 4:2 tells us, ‘Whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.’ Think this through. If our flesh wants to sin but we yield to the Holy Spirit, the flesh suffers. Part of us dies. This is real and painful. When we have a seemingly brilliant retort to a painful insult, but recognize it is not from the mind of Christ and we refuse to say it, our flesh suffers. When lust comes knocking and offers sensuality served up sweet, but we refuse to entertain the thoughts, our flesh suffers. When we have the opportunity to show off before others but choose to take the low position, our flesh suffers.

We can dramatize suffering and persecution, but the reality is this: if you are going to live a godly life, you will suffer persecution – whatever form it takes. We ought not to fit into this world that crucified our Savior. When we stand up for Christ, we will stand out from the world.

Part 3

Through Suffering and Persecution, We See a Reformation of Our Character

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope (Romans 5:3-4).

Once while I was speaking at a summer camp in North Carolina, a college freshman chatted with me about some trying family situations and struggles she was facing with friends. She was receiving quite a bit of flak for her obedience to the Lord. Halfway through the conversation, it hit me. I asked her, ‘Have you been praying to know the Lord more?’ She gave me a strange look and affirmed that indeed, that was her prayer. Smiling, I pointed out that God had simply been answering her prayers by giving opportunity for her character to be reformed and refined that she might know Him more.

God allows difficult times in our lives that Christ may be seen in us. Remember that Jesus Christ ‘was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil‘ (Matthew 4:1). How could the Spirit lead Jesus Christ into temptation since God ‘tempts no one‘? (James 1:13). The same word tempt can also be translated test. God tests His children so that they might be proven, but the Enemy tempts us that we might fall.

In 1 Corinthians 10:13 , we are told, ‘No temptation [or testing] has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted [or tested] beyond your ability, but with the temptation [or testing] He will also provide the way of escape, that you might be able to endure it.’ While God allows us to experience these difficult times, He always provides a way of escape.

But we need to keep in mind that often God’s way of escape is not through evacuation, but through endurance. Perhaps there is a situation in your life that you wish God would kindly relieve you of, or remove completely. Could it be that His love deems the situation too valuable for your formation to simply remove it?”

Bibliography

Bramsen, N. (2017). What if Jesus meant what He said? Emmaus International, Dubuque, IA

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An Educator’s Interpretation of 1 Cor. 13

I was working through some old files and found this gem. It’s too good to not share.

“If I learn my ABCs, can read 600 words per minute, and can write with perfect  penmanship, but have not been shown how to communicate with the Designer of all language, I have not been educated.

If I can deliver an eloquent speech and persuade you with my stunning logic, but have not been instructed in God’s wisdom, I have not been educated.

If I have read Shakespeare and John Locke and can discuss their writings with keen insight, but have not read the greatest of all books – the Bible – and have no knowledge of its personal importance, I have not been educated.

If I have memorized addition facts, multiplication tables, and chemical formulas, but have never been disciplined to hide God’s Word in my heart, I have not been educated.

If I can explain the law of gravity and Einstein’s theory of relativity, but have never been instructed in the unchangeable laws of the One Who orders our universe, I have not been educated.

If I can classify animals by their family, genus and species, and can write a lengthy scientific paper that wins an award, but have not been introduced to the Maker’s purpose for all creation, I have not been educated.

If I can recite the Gettysburg Address and the Preamble to the Constitution, but have not been informed of the hand of God in the history of our country, I have not been educated.

If I can play the piano, the violin, six other instruments, and can write music that moves men to tears, but have not been taught to listen to the Director of the universe and  worship him, I have not been educated.

If I can run cross-country races, star in basketball, and do 100 push-ups without stopping, but have never been shown how to bend my spirit to do God’s will, I have not been educated.

If I can identify a Picasso, describe the style of da Vinci, and even paint a portrait that earns an A+, but have not learned that all harmony and beauty comes from a relationship with God, I have not been educated.

If I graduate with a perfect 4.0 and am accepted at the best university with a full scholarship, but have not been guided into a career of God’s choosing for me, I have not been educated.

If I become a good citizen, voting at each election and fighting for what is moral and right, but have not been told of the sinfulness of man and his hopelessness without Christ, I have not been educated.

However, if one day I see the world as God sees it, and come to know Him, Whom to know is life eternal, and glorify God by fulfilling His purpose for me, Then, I have been educated!”

By Carolyn Caines, Supervisor
Columbia Heights Christian Academy * Longview, Washington

What If Jesus Meant What He Said?

A missionary friend, Nate Bramsen, just recently published his book What If Jesus Meant What He Said? and I had a chance to read it just before Christmas. One chapter, in particular, really impacted me and I would like to share some excerpts over the next few weeks.

Part 1.

In Suffering and Persecution, our relationship with Christ is deepened

“That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Php. 3:10).

How frequently we pray, “Lord, I want to know you more!” It is the cry of a heart of one who has gotten a glimpse of the beauty of the Savior. And yet how do we expect God to answer our prayers? Do we anticipate being zapped with the knowledge and experience of Christ, or do we expect God to give us the opportunity to learn of Him more intimately?

To truly know Him as our Comforter, there must be pain.

To know Him as our Provider, there must be need.

To know Him as our Healer, there must be infirmity.

To know Him as our Restorer, there must be something taken.

To know Him as our Savior, there must be something lost.

To know Him as our Resurrection, there must be death.

The Lord Himself is the One who sets the stage for us to share His intimate fellowship – including the fellowship of His suffering. Don’t miss the precious opportunity to know God amid hard circumstances (that you would never have chosen). He may be answering your prayer “to know Him.”

When did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego enjoy the most intimate fellowship with God? It was in the flames of Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace. They were in no hurry to come out. In fact, they had to be called out of the fire by the king’s command. The only thing the flames burned were the ropes holding them in bondage (Daniel 3:25-27).

Christ never promised physical safety to His followers. He promised something far better: His presence. When commissioning His disciples before ascending to the Father, Jesus told them. “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…” and then left them with this promise: “I will be with you, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19a, 20). Sometimes the physical flame does touch our lives, but Christ took the furious flames of God’s wrath and judgment so that we might forever enjoy His life. Christ was forsaken on the cross so that we might eternally dwell in God’s presence. This present suffering is but a platform on which to display the presence and preciousness of Jesus Christ.”