WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
AUGUST 09, 2023
TOPIC: THE PRIVILEGE OF SUFFERING FOR CHRIST
BY T. O. BANSO
“For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him” (Philippians 1:29 New Living Translation).
Christians are always excited about God’s wonderful promises in the Bible both on earth and in eternity and want to enjoy their fulfillment. The promises concerning this earth are the prayer points of many Christians. Many have seen a number of these promises fulfilled in their lives. They look forward to the fulfilment of other promises on earth and in eternity.
The writer of the book of Hebrews says not to become sluggish but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Hebrews 6:12). The Apostle Peter says God has given to believers exceedingly great and precious promises, that through them they may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (2 Peter 1:4). Thank God for all the promises He has made in the Bible for His children to enjoy.
In Mark 10, Jesus, in answer to Peter about what they, who had left everything and followed him, would have, says, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time — houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions — and in the age to come, eternal life” (verses 29-30 New King James Version). These are promises for this earth and eternity.
Note that Jesus mentions persecutions along with the hundredfold blessing that His followers will receive. Many people miss this point. They only focus on the promise of blessings. But Jesus says there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for His sake and the gospel’s who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time — houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions.
During His earthly ministry, Jesus prepared the minds of His followers for persecution. Persecutions are part of the package He promised His followers! The early Christians considered it a privilege to suffer for Christ. They didn’t see it as strange. They gladly suffered for Christ.
In Acts 5, the Apostles who had been jailed but were supernaturally released by the angel were later beaten by the Jewish Council and commanded not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let go (verse 40). Verse 41 says, “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). Did they stop preaching in the name of Jesus? No. The Bible says daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ (verse 42).
The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ was advanced amid persecutions. In church history, the followers of Jesus suffered. Some were killed, burnt, imprisoned, rendered homeless, and so on. Nevertheless, they didn’t give up or regret following Jesus. This should be the attitude of Christians today. We must understand that persecution or suffering is part of what we have been promised. “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12 New King James Version).
As we enjoy the good things that Jesus has promised His followers and other promises of God in the Bible, we must not consider it strange when persecutions come or we have to suffer because of our faith in Jesus Christ. Some Christians may not like to read or hear this!
Jesus says in Matthew 5:11-12, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (New King James Version). Everything doesn’t end here on earth. There are promises of rewards for believers in eternity beyond the promises of blessings here on earth. But not every follower of Christ today considers the rewards awaiting believers in eternity. Some are depressed by the suffering they go through because of Christ.
When persecutions come or we have to suffer for our faith in Jesus Christ, we must see it as a privilege to suffer for Christ just as it is a privilege for us to be saved. The Apostle Paul puts it this way in the New Living Translation: “For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him” (Philippians 1:29). Did you see the two privileges mentioned: the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him? The two go together. The New King james Version puts Philippians 1:29 thus: “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” When suffering for Christ becomes the portion of a Christian, he should receive it with joy, as the apostles did.
After Paul and Silas had been beaten because of the gospel, the Bible says, “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25 New King James Version). A prisoner may be praying particularly for his release, but it is not normal for a prisoner to be singing hymns! But Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns.
We don’t know their prayer focus but they certainly were not worried. When the prison doors were supernaturally opened and their chains and the chains of other prisoners were loosed, they didn’t escape. That tells us that they were not worried about being imprisoned. The magistrates who jailed them had to apologize to them later when they heard they were Romans before they agreed to go.
It is a privilege to suffer for Christ. Have this mindset. Christianity is not all roses. There are blessings and persecutions. There are times of joy and also times of suffering because of Christ. The Apostle James says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (James 1:2-3 New King James Version).
Paul talks about glorying in tribulations, not complaining in tribulations. “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance” (Romans 5:3 New King James Version). Consider suffering for Christ a privilege. Don’t see it as strange.
1 Peter 4:12-14 says, “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. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified” (New King James Version).
Note the phrase: do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you. The New International Version renders it as “do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering.” Other translations have similar expressions. Persecutions or suffering because of Christ should not surprise a Christian. Peter continues in verses 15-16: “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter” (New King James Version). A Christian could suffer because of his faith in Christ but should not suffer as a criminal or an evildoer.
It is a privilege to suffer for Christ. Such a Christian should be exceedingly joyful in it, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 7:4b: “I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation” (New King James Version). He also says about himself. “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10 New King James Version).
Without the help of the Holy Spirit, no Christian can take pleasure in persecutions or suffering, as Paul says. The Holy Spirit is our helper. Christians must also depend on the grace of God in whatever suffering they go through for the sake of Christ, for His grace is sufficient for them. Rely on the grace of God when you have to suffer for Christ’s sake.
Your suffering for Christ is not in vain. He will reward you. Therefore, endure suffering or persecution, as the Thessalonians did. “Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring” (2 Thessalonians 1:4 New International Version). Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:12 that if we endure, we will also reign with Him and if we disown Him, He will also disown us. Endure; don’t disown or deny Christ because of persecutions or suffering. “But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:13 New International Version).
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 a palm tree and grow like a 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: Thank You Father for the privilege of trusting in Christ and suffering for Him. Holy Spirit, help me to endure suffering for Christ’s sake. Father, I receive the grace to endure persecution. I shall not disown or deny Christ in suffering in Jesus’ name.
(For over 900 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
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