“For this reason 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 what I have committed to Him until that Day.” 2 Timothy 1:12 NKJV
Dear Heavenly Father – Thank you Lord for your grace which you have continually wrapped me in. Thank for your faithfulness and love. Please open our eyes to see your works and our ears to hear from you. Wake us up, and please open our understanding. Help us understand your plans for us! In the name of Jesus – Amen
Honestly, I did not want to share the troubles of this past week. Instead, I want to say – since committing my life and my all to Christ, I have been blessed abundantly and have not had any struggle. (Which would be a lie.) But The Bible does say troubles will come, that weapons will be formed against us and that we will struggle and suffer. I share them to testify – to tell others – that in the midst of troubles, attacks, struggles and suffering God hand is there, God is still working (even if we do not see it), and that God is still good. It is good to know the truth – that it is sometimes hard and that even in the hard God blesses with grace sufficient to navigate it and blessings of the deep spiritual kind that people cannot see.
In the verse above – the very first part – “for this reason I also suffer these things”. I haven’t mentioned this part yet this week. Maybe we should read the whole passage?
“8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, 10 but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. 12 For this reason 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 what I have committed to Him until that Day.” 2 Timothy 1:8-12 NKJV
Paul also had weeks (like I had) with one thing after another coming against him – Paul had a lifetime of things coming against time. The man had persecution: thrown in prison and beaten. However, he experiences 2 shipwrecks – talk about a couple of bad days at work! Thank you Lord, that my troubles at work and troubles this week are not prison, beatings and shipwrecks! Hallelujah! Some of the attacks against Paul were people, some were spiritual and some a combination of the two. Paul didn’t ask God: why oh why? No. He declares boldly that for the gospel and for the glory of God – ‘for this reason I also suffer’.
Look deeper and see that word ‘also’. The sufferings and persecution, some of these troubles, they are us sharing in the work of other Christians (or the past and present). And some are us sharing in the work of the cross.
Salvation through the cross is the new testament the new covenant. Covenants with God have always required a blood sacrifice which Jesus shed on the cross – we however are instructed to also lay down our lives. Beautiful metaphor and a blessed symbolic action as our blood is not required to enter into or abide within the salvation covenant.
Paul shares this message of sharing in Christ’s suffering in many books of the New Testament. Let us look at how clearly he lays out this idea for the Galatians:
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 ESV
Not just Paul – but Jesus also said it:
“And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23 ESV
Pick up your cross – as I have posted before your family isn’t your cross, my troubles at work aren’t even my cross. My cross is my own death – the complete denial of my wants for God’s will, the complete denial of my sinful nature for the free gift of righteousness, the complete denial of me for the opportunity to be made into a new creature and the person who our Creator intended you to be.
We are not told to actually die or literally die – we are to be a living sacrifice, sharing in the sacrifice of denial as Christ denied His own life to let prophecy be fulfilled and God’s plan to manifest.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Romans 12:1 ESV
Therefore we need to sacrifice to let the prophecies God spoke over us (known or unknown to you) be fulfilled and for God’s plan to manifest in our lives.
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:1-11 ESV
Do you know in whom you believe? When the troubles come do you seek God first, seek prayer support second, and count it joy that you can partake in the suffering of Christ?
These troubles in my life have forced me to deny actions and responses that my flesh used to have. These troubles each made me ask God for wisdom in how to respond. They were not a surprise to God, He was already prepared. So I just needed to be read into the plan (on a need to know basis – He only tells me what I need to know).
Each of these troubles this week emptied me more of me. And I prayed as I emptied that God fill me with more of Him, more of the infilling of the Holy Spirit! I must be emptied, because I must not respond, but Christ in me must respond for God’s glory. I must be emptied because if I was self-reliant, then I would get the glory and not God. I must be completely God-reliant. GOD MUST GET THE GLORY.
I am fallible and learning – I am not yet dead but must practice every day while God works on me – just as Paul said :
“being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;” Philippians 1:6 NKJV
If you don’t already, and today you would like to have a relationship with a God who can communicate with you and be part of your life (and protect you) – one who is full of mighty power and tender love, then please know that I have put the “A, B, C’s of Salvation” in my introduction. Please click here to follow the link.**
Thank you for reading ~ Grace be with you
Be healthy and blessed ~ I love you and love one another
Watch and Pray ~ Seek God & keep your eyes on Jesus!
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!