Daniel Fast Day 13

The Christian Cuss Word

What a day and age we live in! A day where knowledge is exponentially increasing. Regardless of what field of endeavor you find yourself in, there is a constant progression of thought and information; from the medical field to everyday technology; from the vehicles we drove as little as 10 years ago to what we are driving today. All of this in the name of progress. We see company mottos like “making life better” and “relieving suffering”, all of this striving to create comfort and ease. In the first world, we have created so many things in the name of making life easier. We have air conditioning for hot days and central heating for cold days. My wife’s car has a heated steering wheel and heated seats, you know for the freezing weather in Southern California, so you don’t have to have cold hands or a cold tush. Having a hot butt has a whole new meaning!

I am all for comfort and ease. I like it when things are convenient and comfortable. I love it when things work out just the way I planned, those are always good days. In some Christian circles, we are told if you just have enough faith, you are guaranteed to just have good days. Mention the word suffering and some look at you as if you just used an expletive. Talk about suffering and no one joins the podcast. We want to relieve suffering, avoid suffering, run away from suffering, and pray that we do not suffer. Nobody thinks of gladness and suffering in the same sentence. Yet, the Word of God paints a different picture of suffering. Paul writes, “I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church.” Colossians 1:24(NLT)

In one sentence, Paul gives us such a clear understanding of suffering that will help us to navigate the concept of suffering. Paul is writing to the church in Colossae, a church he has not visited, yet he is suffering for them. He is in prison for the sake of the Good News of Christ, so he is physically suffering. Paul is not suffering because of some wrong decision he made. Neither is he suffering the consequences of a bad lifestyle and paying the price for it. He is participating in the sufferings of Christ. He is not talking about what Jesus suffered on the cross. Only Jesus is qualified to suffer and die for a sinful world because Jesus is the only Perfect One. There is, however, a suffering that we are all subjected to as Christ followers. That suffering comes when we are willing to be courageous enough to carry out the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. ”But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.” 2 Timothy 4:5(NLT)

The world system in which we live is not becoming more tolerant, but rather the exact opposite. Although tolerance is being shouted from every corner, there is a fast-growing intolerance towards Christ and His church. The early church was very well acquainted with intolerance for the gospel message and animosity towards those who proclaimed it. Are you willing to be courageous enough to stand up for the Good News of Jesus regardless of the cost? This is not about glorifying suffering! I am not voting to suffer. But if you have any spiritual eyesight and you have not slept your way through the last several years, you will acknowledge that things are rapidly changing. What awaits the church in the next 10 years? What is on the horizon in the next 5 or even 2 years? We have seen the whole world come to a screeching halt in a matter of months, due to a virus. We have seen how the love of so many has grown cold and pointing fingers at the church, labeling and dismissing the church as haters and bigots!

Understand this; if we are unwise, unkind, selfish, and foolish, there are consequences. What we sow, we reap. Please don’t say you are suffering for Jesus when you are making dumb decisions. That’s just suffering the consequences of being stupid and that is avoidable. There is also suffering that the whole world is subjected to because we live in a fallen and broken world. That is the consequence of Adam’s sin, and we are all affected by it, including nature. That is what Paul addresses in Romans 8. But this suffering, the suffering that Paul says, “...of Christ that continue for his body, the church” will increase as we get closer to the return of Christ. Peter writes and says, “So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.” 1 Peter 4:19(NLT)

Suffer in a manner that pleases God, because you are unwilling to compromise the Gospel message or your witness for Christ. Paul understood this in his own life. “And now I am bound by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. I don’t know what awaits me,  except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead.  But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.” Acts 20:22-24(NLT)

We may not want to hear or read this, but we need this. We have an assignment that needs to be finished. The work that Jesus gave us to do, must be finished and must be continued regardless of the cost. There is still grace for the sinner. There is still forgiveness for the offender. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. He still saves, He still rescues, He still delivers, He still heals, He still invites the lost to be found and the prodigal to return. This assignment is for those who are not the faint of heart, for those who understand that glory can only be shared if you are willing to walk through the difficulty of suffering.  We cannot pray the suffering away. We cannot faith our way out of it. We cannot try to run and hide, hoping it will pass. There are storm clouds in the air (spiritually speaking). We are going to be rained on, and we are going to get wet with the hatred of the spirits that work in the sons of disobedience. The spiritual war is raging, and we are beginning to see the cracks of it breaking into our natural world. But here’s the good news. “For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.”
Romans 8:16-18(NLT)

It’s time to no longer think of suffering as a curse word. We must see suffering as a privilege. “For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.” Philippians 1:29(NLT)
Suffering for the sake of Christ is proof that we belong to Christ. It is also an indication of future glory with Christ. The suffering that we might have to endure cannot even be compared to the glory that will be revealed. Don’t become short sighted in your view and your approach. The church was born through the suffering of Christ Jesus. The early church was baptized in suffering for the sake of Christ. The pages of Scripture that you are holding and reading are marked and written by the blood of the martyrs. They suffered the loss of all things, including their very own lives so that they may gain Christ! “I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!” Philippians 3:10-11(NLT)

They were willing to appear to be fools for Christ. By doing so, their suffering became a witness and a tool to the power of Christ. God uses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise. What will history one day say about us and our witness for Christ? Will we confess Him before men, even when we know the consequences might be dire? Just remind yourself as you confess Him before the world, He confesses your name before the Father.

Where do you want your name to be known? Before men or before the God of the universe? If you are suffering for the sake of Christ, rejoice because glory will be yours!

Prayer and Reflection:
  • Are you willing to be ostracized, mocked, and ridiculed for the sake of Christ? 
  • How will you respond if you lose your job or lose out on a promotion because you refuse to compromise your Christian character and values? Are you willing to pray for your persecutors?
  • With the pressure of giving into an everything goes world and the perversity and identity confusion our world is suffering from, will you hold onto Biblical values, despite the pressure? Or will you change Scripture to suit the world’s agenda?
  • What will your testimony be when you stand before the Father?
  • Pray for your fellow believers who are under daily duress because of their faith in Jesus.
Father, thank You for the privilege of suffering for Jesus’ sake. Remind me daily that I am not alone, that You are with me. Remind me when life is hard and compromise seems to be the best way out, that You are my refuge and my fortress. 

I pray for all my fellow believers who might be under great and grave persecution, that You would surround them with Your love, keep them by Your grace and empower them by Your Holy Spirit. Strengthen and comfort their loved ones and provide in every need they may have. May Your church become bold in our witness, and courageous in our declaration of the Good News. May we be filled with Your light and Your love for lost people. Help us to see beyond the natural, and remind us that we do not fight against flesh and blood.

Father, in my life, let Your will be done! I boldly declare that I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ Jesus and I am confident in Your constant care. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen!

Verses for encouragement:
“Dear brothers and sisters, we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing. We proudly tell God’s other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering. And God will use this persecution to show his justice and to make you worthy of his Kingdom, for which you are suffering.” 2 Thessalonians 1:3-5(NLT)

“Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 2:3(NLT)

“Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises.” 
James 5:13(NLT) 

“For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.” 1 Peter 2:21(NLT)

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