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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Co-sufferers With Christ?

1PETER 4:1 says "Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind; for those who have suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin; (WHY?)-

" so that they no longer should live the rest of our time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God..."

I take this to mean that suffering, in some way that I do not understand, separates us from fleshly lusts and desires and give us a mindset that is focused on the heavenly things?

A much persecuted Romanian Christian poet, Traian Dorz, said " Tears, tears, bitter hulls but with such a sweet kernel..." Another accomplished poet named Milton wrote his finest poetry after he became blind. Beethoven composed his most beautiful music only after he became deaf.

If suffering produces these lasting, life-changing effects, why do I run from, complain, avoid suffering with such vigor? Is this an exhibition of just how strong the flesh is? The desire for comfort, ease and the "easy life"...?

What of any eternal value does a life of ease produce? Apparently not much!

A philosopher who suffered from an incurable sickness wrote that he had become master of the sicknesses influences on his thoughts and actions by turning his attention away from the feelings altogether, just as if it did not at all concern him...

The founder of the VOICE OF THE MARTYRS ministry said the 14 years in communist prisons where he was tortured were the most fruitful years of his life. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the great Russian dissident whose writings were instrumental in the exposure and downfall of Russian communism wrote "Blessed by thou, prison." The seven years he spent in Soviet jails made him into the most powerful opponent of communism.

Jesus Himself, the One whom we are to emulate, was made perfect through sufferings (HEBREWS 2:10) He was called a man of sorrows (ISAIAH 53:3) . Am I a man of sorrows? Jesus is the Lamb slain from the foundations of the world (REVELATION 13:8).

Does becoming a Christian require becoming a co-sufferer with Christ? What does Christ mean when He tells me to pick up my cross daily and follow Him? He did not say to just wear a cross on a chain around my neck or as a lapel pin, but have one that is large enough to actually carry, one that requires effort to bare.

Is it possible that to the extent we suffer, the more of His pain we are ready to share, determines the more truth and depth we receive from Him?

" Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;
(WHY?) That he be no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God..." (Philippians 3:7,8)

I have never heard a sermon in this context; but it IS in the Book!

Can I, like the Apostle Paul, say, "But what things were gain to me, these I counted loss for Christ. Yes, doubtless, and I count all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my LORD: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ..."

Is this the process to know Christ? To be willing to lose all things to win Christ?

Am I given a different, easier, more comfortable road to travel than the Apostles?

Can I say with Paul, "that I might know Him, and the fellowship of His suffering"?

The more of His pain we are willing to share, the more truth we will receive. I do not go looking for pain; but when it comes across my path on this journey that only lasts for a brief season, I know that He who suffered all things, and me just a portion, He will bear me up and cover me under His almighty wings as I learn of Him, trust Him and depend upon Him in all things.

One day soon we may have to actually pay a larger price for what we believe. It is time to get acquainted with this strange concept for most of us. We may be called upon to be His faithful witnesses in ways we can only imagine in these last of days.

Our success, or failure in suffering will be a strong witness to those who are lost. Our success in understanding the ways and sufficiency of our God during those seasons will influence many of our lost friends and associates to determine that, yes, Christ is the way, the truth and the light.

It will truly be worth it all, when we SEE JESUS. Life's trials will seem so small, when we see Christ. One look on His dear face, all sorrow will erase, so gladly run the race, til we see Christ!

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