Adaptation without change

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

We do not give anyone an occasion for taking an offense in anything, so that no fault may be found with our ministry. 2 Corinthians 6.3

Paul was diligent in his effort to not stain his ministry after becoming an apostle. He adapted his message to his audience without changing the contents of the gospel. He would work at his trade when necessary and would preach full time when the funds were available.

He suffered many things in his efforts to work in the kingdom. In 2 Corinthians 6, he listed many of the things that he had suffered. The list was a long one. Many of the trials listed had happened to him more than once.

But he also mentioned things by which he had commended himself that were positive things, such as purity, knowledge, patience, benevolence, the Holy Spirit, genuine love, truthful teaching and the power of God.

Living life as a Christian will never be a bed of roses. There will be times passed in the valleys where the difficulties will be keenly felt. However, there will also be highs on the mountaintop where one can see God working in the lives of others!

One needs to ask the question: how do I navigate the suffering in my own life? Do I suffer at all? Or do I give in to denial when my faith is challenged? In 1 Peter 4.12-16, the scriptures say that “if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but glorify God that you bear such a name.”

#risingjoy #2-Corinthians #suffering

A cause for feeling blessed

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you and insult you and reject you as evil on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and jump for joy, because your reward is great in heaven. For their ancestors did the same things to the prophets.(…) Luke 6.22-23

Being a Christian is not always easy. Suffering is not the popular choice. Insult and rejection are things that we try to avoid as much as possible. For someone to call us evil is offensive. Yet, when these things happen because we are following Jesus, it is cause for feeling blessed and rejoicing.

The apostles, in Acts 5.12-42, were called before the Sanhedrin, the high council of the Israelites. The high priest and the Sadducees, because of jealousy, had put the apostles in a public jail after they had been teaching and healing people. An angel released them during the night. He told them to go teach in the temple courts. They obey. Once again they find themselves before the Sanhedrin. The apostles were told not to teach in the name of Jesus. After barely escaping execution and being beaten, they left the council. They did not leave the council with their heads hanging down and feeling beaten. They left rejoicing because they had been worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of Jesus. Every day they continued to teach and to proclaim the good news of Jesus!

When you are mocked for your faith, how do you react? Do you stand firm or do you begin to cower and wither? May we stand firm before persecution and continue to proclaim Jesus Christ!

#risingjoy #Luke #suffering

Because I belong to you, O Lord

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

As your words came to me I drank them in, and they filled my heart with joy and happiness because I belong to you, O Lord, the God who rules over all. Jeremiah 15.16

Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet. He was sent to the children of Israel to preach repentance when the people followed after false prophets.

In Jeremiah 15, the prophet is complaining about how he is being treated by the people. He asks God to apply justice to his situation and to remember how he has served the Lord faithfully.

However, he also begins to question why he is having to endure what he is going through. The people insult him continually. He questions if God will be there for him when he needs him. At this point, God calls for his repentance to receive restoration.

The verse above paints a picture of thirst and satisfaction at being filled with joy and happiness at hearing the words from God. God rules over all and Jeremiah belongs to him.

We should have the same thirst for God’s words as Jeremiah. We should drink them in through reading the Bible. They still have the ability to fill our hearts with joy and happiness if we belong to him.

#risingjoy #Jeremiah #suffering

After you suffer for a while

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

And, after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5.10

Suffering. Nobody likes it. No one wants to suffer. Sometimes when a person becomes a Christian, they think that their suffering is over. Life is going to become a bed of rose petals. Yet the Bible teaches differently. Mathew 5.11 teaches that a person is happy or blessed when they are persecuted for righteousness. Persecution is suffering. God allowed Satan to take everything from Job: his family, his wealth, and his health. That is suffering. In Acts 5.17-41 we read where the apostles are put in prison and eventually beaten. But they left the council rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of Jesus. James tells us in James 1. 2-4 that the testing of our faith (suffering) produces endurance and endurance helps us to mature and be perfect or complete in our faith, not lacking in anything. Whenever we are suffering, our attitude should be one of joy. We should search for the lesson that we are to learn and grow from the situation. Did you notice what happens after you suffer for a little while? God will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. That is cause for rising joy!

#risingjoy #1-Peter #suffering

Spectacle to the world, 1 Corinthians 4.9

“For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to die, because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to people.”

1 Corinthians 4.9

The unregenerate man thinks of titles, positions, and privileges in a given group or setting. Jesus calls the “best and brightest” to become the rejects and oppressed.

God calls us all into an eternal covenant whose major characteristic today is suffering. To reject the suffering of Christ, with Christ, is to reject the covenant and all its promises.

#votd #1-Corinthians #suffering

If the Lord is with us: Judges 6.13

“Gideon said to him, ‘Pardon me, but if the Lord is with us, why has such disaster overtaken us? Where are all his miraculous deeds our ancestors told us about? They said, “Did the Lord not bring us up from Egypt?” But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to Midian.’”

Judges 6.13

Gideon had difficulty in reconciling Israel’s situation and the Lord’s promise of blessing for his people. A common expectation is that God only blesses.

In the new covenant, the Lord’s blessing is spiritual, not material. Suffering is part of the work we do. Especially today such questions as Gideon’s are inappropriate.

#votd #Judges #suffering

Granted to you: Philippians 1.29-30

“For it has been granted to you not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for him, since you are encountering the same conflict that you saw me face and now hear that I am facing.”

Philippians 1.29-30

What an apostle is called to, so are all the people of God. The faith is for all, as is suffering for Christ. We find solace in knowing that others face the same spiritual conflict.

We suffer for Christ not only to live for him but to proclaim him. Together, we learn to trust in the Lord. We pray together, for one another, and rejoice in following the Lord’s path.

#votd #Philippians #suffering

Trustworthy saying: 2 Timothy 2.11

“This saying is trustworthy: If we died with him, we will also live with him.”

2 Timothy 2.11

Five times in his letters to evangelists Paul uses the phrase about trustworthy sayings. It indicates an essential truth. Some think verses 11-13 were taken from an ancient hymn. To die with Christ is to accept any suffering so that people can be saved, v. 10.

Christ died to save others. So do we. His task is ours. We embrace hardship for his mission. This is the calling of every follower. Are you willing?

#votd #2-Timothy #suffering

In the Midst of Suffering

By: Dr. Johnny O. Trail, LMFT — They had just placed membership, but were very infrequent at church. I wondered what the situation was with this family that had just moved into the community. After some investigation, I learned they moved into the Middle Tennessee area so they could be closer to Vanderbilt Hospital.

The father of the family, Greg[1], had a terribly bad and rare disease called, Syringomyelia, which was best treated at Vanderbilt Hospital and by their specialists. “Syringomyelia is a condition characterized by a fluid-filled cavity or cyst known as a syrinx that forms within the spinal cord.”[2] Up until the time of his death, he was in the hospital for approximately eight months solid being treated for this condition. As the evangelist in the church they worshipped with, I would make regular visits to Vanderbilt Hospital to offer words of encouragement and support. Little did I know that I would be the one edified by this family who was about to endure the suffering of the family patriarch. Continue reading

#disease, #glorify-god, #gratitude, #suffering

Not unfaithful: Psalm 44.17-18

“All this has happened to us, even though we have not rejected you or violated your covenant with us. We have not been unfaithful, nor have we disobeyed your commands.”

Psalm 44.17-18

At some point, the nation of Judah is afflicted, but not for lack of faithfulness. The center of the psalm laments the nation’s suffering, vv. 9-16, and ends with an appeal for help, vv. 23-26.

“We should learn to make trouble and perplexity drive us to our God not away from him”. —J.A. Motyer, “Psalms” NBC21, 514.

#votd #Psalms #suffering

Evidence: 2 Thessalonians 1.5 VOTD

“This is evidence of God’s righteous judgment, to make you worthy of the kingdom of God, for which in fact you are suffering.”

2 Thessalonians 1.5

“This” refers to the “persecutions and afflictions”, v. 4, that the Thessalonians were suffering. Suffering in this way is not evidence of God’s indifference or injustice. Rather, it is evidence of his righteousness and goodness.

Do not doubt God in whatever you are called upon to suffer. Show perseverance and faith in such moments. What is the goal God has in mind for you?

#suffering #divine-judgment #VOTD

Take the prophets: James 5.10 VOTD

“As an example of suffering and patience, brothers and sisters, take the prophets who spoke in the Lord’s name.”

James 5.10

James points to the need for patience until the Lord’s return. He mentions the OT prophets as examples. They spoke God’s word of repentance to Israel for years under most trying circumstances.

Christ’s people also speak in his name and face suffering because of it. What other parallels with the prophets can be made?

#patience #suffering #VOTD

Those feelings of loneliness

Do you ever feel alone? When we feel that way, we’re probably not really alone. Feelings don’t do a good job of reflecting reality. They’re a result of our interpretation of events and situations. Since our views of reality are often skewed, our feelings seldom reflect what’s really happening.

But let’s say, for sake of argument, that there are times when we’re really alone. Isolated. Estranged. Closed off from people. What would that be like? How would we really feel? Continue reading

#corollaries, #learning, #loneliness, #relationships, #suffering

‘The granddaddy of all laments:’ Psalm 88

By Sean Ashberry

The Bible is not casual about evil and suffering. The Bible in fact is brutally honest about pain, misfortune, and the challenge it presents to faith. The fact of suffering continues to stand as one of the greatest challenges to the Christian faith. Its distribution and degree seems random and unfair. People have always asked how one might reconcile this reality with God’s justice and his love. Those are fair questions. Continue reading

#prayer, #psalms, #suffering

The ‘passion’ of the Christian

Word has it Mel Gibson wants to follow up his movie on “The Passion of Christ” with a film on his resurrection. But a film that nobody will make is one about the passion of the Christian—passion in this phrase meaning “suffering.”

I’m doing a series in the Urbanova congregation on Sundays about the pains of the disciple of Christ. They include the pains of growth, service, persecution, God’s discipline, and Christ’s suffering.

These pains do not overwhelm the joys in Christ nor the peace of God. But they are real and ought to be shared ahead of time with those who are considering discipleship of Christ. Let there be no surprises upon becoming a Christian.

Jesus was, after all, the Suffering Servant, and his followers will be as well.