It may seem counter-intuitive, but we are not only called to suffer for the sake of Christ, but suffer well. Now man’s way of suffering is to demand why, blame others or turn our backs on God. But suffering well for Christ starts with changing our perspective, by looking at our suffering through God’s eyes not ours. And when we do this, we can then see the purpose, practice obedience, and persevere victoriously through the suffering. The Apostle Paul’s theology of suffering well was this: it produced joy in seeing the Gospel Message advanced, it exalted Christ, and it increased our faith.
As Jesus was making His way near Jericho, He came upon a blind man sitting near the road. When the man heard that it was Jesus approaching he started yelling, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” So Jesus stopped and very bluntly asked the blind man, “What do you want Me to do for you?” Now obviously, Jesus knew the man was blind, so why did He ask him a question like that? He was asking the man to verbalize his heart’s desire… and his fervent hopes. He was also asking him to be explicit not general. The Lord wants us to pray specific prayers…for He wants to hear our heart’s desires. I remember well when we were looking for a new home in Idaho…my prayers were very general, “Lord, help us find a new home.” But it was during one of my generalized prayers that the Holy Spirit stopped me and asked what I wanted in that home. I started listing my heart’s desires one by one…large kitchen, fireplace, walk-in closet, jetted tub, a large space for a garden, and East facing windows to watch the sunrise. And He gave them all to me in a perfect home!
Joseph didn’t deserve to be in prison. He had been unjustly charged by Potiphar’s wife for something he hadn’t done… yet, there he was. And as Christians today, we know we too don’t have immunity against worldly injustice. But we do have a Sovereign Lord who is faithful. For it tells us in Proverbs 16:7, “When a man’s way is pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies live at peace with him.” So, we may live in a world filled with unfairness and wrong…and we may have to endure being unfairly persecuted…but praise God, we do have a Savior who makes even our enemies befriend us.
I bet that if you ask someone who you admire for their strong Christian walk, you’ll find out that a quiet time with the Lord is a vital part of their day. I discovered it as a young Christian over 36 years ago and it still remains a necessary part of my routine. When the Lord said, “Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” He was speaking to all of us. In this noisy, chaotic world we live in today we need those moments of peace and quiet to be renewed, refreshed and revived as we read God’s Word, pray, and listen to the Holy Spirit for guidance. If you’re not already doing this, I’d urge you to start the practice of daily coming away with the Lord…it will change your life for the better.
God’s ultimate plan and purpose for all Christians is to make His Name known among the nations. For His is a Missional plan and part of the Great Commission to go and make disciples. But before you start making excuses of why you can’t…Jesus said in John 20:21, “As the Father sent Me, I am sending you.” Fulfilling the Great Commission for you could involve traveling internationally and reaching people-groups very different from you, or it might be just touching the people you see everyday…God’s plan is unique for each one of us. But His purpose remains the same…Make My Name known among the nations.
Spoiler alert! The bad guys lose in the end. Satan’s nickname is the devil which means slanderer and/or accuser. Satan’s mode of operation is to slander God’s word by deceivingly presenting false and blasphemous suggestions to gullible human minds. He is also the accuser of the brethren before God…using shame and guilt to maim, kill and destroy lives. And as I was staring at this word- devil – I saw why he was so aptly nicknamed this, for within that word I saw just who Satan is and what he does…evil. But his time is going to end, for within the Book of Revelation we see many passages that tell of his demise..Revelation 12:9, Revelation 9:17, and Revelation 14:10-11 for a few. Evil may exist for now…but not for long.
Human emotions can be all over the place…from jubilation to despair. But when your trust is firmly fixed on Jesus, the highs and lows aren’t as severe. For when your faith is based on Him and what He can do and not on fate or luck…you can face any bad news with confidence that Jesus will see you through. This is shown to us in Psalm 112:7, “He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast in the Lord. His heart is secure, he will have no fear.” Thank you Lord for that certainty we can have.
The Sea of Galilee is only a little over 8 miles across, so the disciples had rowed almost halfway when Jesus appeared out of the darkness, walking on the water. The disciples were terrified. Matthew’s Gospel tells us that they thought it was a ghost gliding across the water. Here were men who had traveled with, ministered along side, and observed miracle after miracle from the hand of Jesus…but still doubted. They could of also remembered Old Testament Scriptures such as Job 9:8 that said, “He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea.” Or Psalm 77:19, “Your path led through the sea, Your ways through the mighty waters, though Your footprints were not seen.” So the next time you start to beat yourself up for doubting God…remember, the disciples did too.
Melchizedek was both…king of Salem (the early name for Jerusalem) and high priest of the Most High God. In these verses Jesus is also being shown to have combined both kingly and priestly duties. For it tells us in Hebrews that Jesus entered the Most Holy Place, once for all, by way of His own blood and for our sake, and made atonement for the sins of all people. And in doing so, we can now have this eternal hope…secure and reliable, that will never fail.
He is not a sadistic God that takes delight in watching the wicked die, nor is He unjust. But He is the only One that can proclaim with all certainty that His promises and judgement will prevail. So the decision-making becomes ours. Do we continue down the path of unethical and immoral actions and behaviors, or do we change course, shifting our focus from self to Jesus, and yielding up tendencies and propensities to a Savior who can forgive and save us. “Come back to Me,” the Lord is exhorting us…the invitation is there, but ultimately it becomes our responsibility to act on it.