WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
MAY 23, 2022
TOPIC: SUFFERING FOR CHRIST
BY T. O. BANSO
“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:12-13 New King James Version).
Paul, writing to Timothy, his protégé in the ministry, said that Timothy had carefully followed his (Paul’s) doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, and persecutions and the afflictions which happened to him at Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. He added that he endured the persecutions and remarked that out of them all, the Lord delivered him (2 Timothy 3:10-11). Paul was not regretful about the persecutions he endured at Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. They are recorded in Acts 13:44-45, 50-51; 14:1-2, 5-6, 19.
Paul regarded persecutions as expected in the Christian journey. He said in 2 Timothy 3:12 that all who desired to live godly in Christ Jesus would suffer persecution.
Comparing himself with the false apostles, Paul said, “Are they ministers of Christ? — I speak as a fool — I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness — besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?” (2 Corinthians 11:23-29 New King James Version).
In Mark 10:30, Jesus mentioned persecutions along with the blessings that those who had left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for His sake and that of the gospel, would receive.
Paul said, “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3 New King James Version). New Living Translation renders “endure hardship” as “endure suffering.” Paul didn’t ask Timothy to pray that he wouldn’t have to suffer! But he asked him to endure suffering as a good soldier of Christ.
There will be times of suffering, and when they come, endure the suffering. Soldiers know this and don’t complain; they know suffering is temporary. That should be our mindset. We must not allow the work of the Kingdom to suffer because of suffering. We should carry our cross daily and follow Christ, doing His will.
As soldiers of Christ, we must not approach, with a ‘civilian’ mentality, the war God has called us to fight. We must not run away because of suffering. The military does not condone cowardice by soldiers. 2 Timothy 2:12 says if we endure, we shall also reign with Him and if we deny Him, He also will deny us.
The fourth stanza of the hymn “Begone, unbelief” says:
Why should I complain
Of want or distress,
Temptation or pain?
He told me no less;
The heirs of salvation,
I know from His Word,
Through much tribulation
Must follow their Lord.
The fifth stanza says:
How bitter that cup
No heart can conceive,
Which He drank quite up,
That sinners might live!
His way was much rougher
And darker than mine;
Did Christ, my Lord, suffer,
And shall I repine?
The sixth stanza, which is the last, says:
Since all that I meet
Shall work for my good,
The bitter is sweet,
The medicine, food;
Though painful at present,
’Twill cease before long,
And then, oh, how pleasant
The conqueror’s song!
We must have a positive attitude to the sufferings we may go through because of our faith in Christ and commitment to Him. We must not have a victim’s mentality but a victor’s mentality. The Apostle Peter said, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:12-13 New King James Version). We are to rejoice to the extent that we are partakers of Christ’s sufferings. There is nothing to be ashamed of about it. It is different from suffering as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or a busybody in other people’s matters, which the Bible warns against in 1 Peter 4:15.
The Bible says that after the Jewish Council had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go (Acts 5:40). Look at verse 41: “So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (New King James Version). They didn’t leave, feeling humiliated and regretful. They considered it an honour to suffer for Christ.
Romans 8:16-17 says, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together” (New King James Version). Take note of the phrase “if indeed we suffer with Him.”
In Philippians 3:8, Paul said he counted all things as loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom he had suffered the loss of all things, and counted them as rubbish, that he might gain Christ. In verse 10, he expressed a desire to know Christ and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.
Writing to the Colossians, Paul said he rejoiced in his sufferings for them and filled up in his flesh what was lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, the church (Colossians 1:24). The Twentieth Century New Testament puts the verse this way: “Now at last I can rejoice in my sufferings on your behalf, and in my own person I supplement the afflictions endured by the Christ, for the sake of his Body, the Church.” He had no regrets for suffering because of Christ. He said because of the Good News He preached, he suffered trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains but the word of God is not chained (2 Timothy 2:9). In other words, although he wasn’t a criminal, he suffered and was chained like a criminal but the word of God could not be chained.
Christians must understand that whatever trouble we suffer for Christ is not in vain. Peter prayed that after the believers had suffered a while, God would perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle them (1 Peter 5:10). Believers must endure whatever suffering comes to them because of Christ. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 New King James Version).
Suffering for the sake of Christ and the Gospel is unavoidable in Christianity. The suffering may differ from person to person and place to place. We must endure suffering for the sake of Christ and the Gospel.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Holy Spirit, enable me to endure suffering as a good soldier of Christ. Let me not deny Jesus so that I will reign with Him. In temptation, pain, or tribulation, Holy Spirit, help me to follow the Lord to the end. Father, strengthen all your children to carry their cross daily and follow Jesus. We shall not deny Jesus because of suffering.
(For over 800 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
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