Necessary Interests

But seek ye first the kingdom of God
and his righteousness.
.
.”
Matthew 6:33

The first thought for this post was the title, Unnecessary Interests, as the Lord has been revealing interests that are not for my growth or are a waste of time. There are some that I need to let go, but as He has been leading me to stop looking at the underside of this world and its interests, and to focus on the upper side and the interests of His kingdom, my thoughts turned to where my interests should be.

From our thoughts to our words and actions, we have much to desire beyond normal and common interests. We can compare what is holy to what is unholy; what is common to what is uncommon; what is clean to what is unclean. Our interest in the news of the world keeps us from the interests of His Kingdom. The interests of the world ~ its entertainments and influences ~ impede our journey with Him.

For the child of God, known as a Christian, our life here has a definite purpose. The purpose of this physical life is to prepare us for eternal life with Him in His glory. We now live and serve Him in what is known as the Kingdom of Grace; His keeping us, sanctifying us, purifying us; making us compatible for Himself.

 If ye then be risen with Christ,
seek those things which are above,
where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 

Colossians 3:1

Necessary Interests for a Child of God
So, what are the necessary interests for a child of God? What raises us above the world’s standards; even Beyond a Mere Christianity?

We must start with an in-depth interest in His Word, where we learn to love what He loves. Here we find the truths of God and the filling and leading of His Holy Spirit to the necessary interests that He wants for us. He teaches us how He conforms us to the image of His own Son

Through His Word, He teaches us how to communicate with Him; to pray for the things He has prepared to give (1 Corinthians 2:9-16).

He leads us in the interests of His other children, of like-mind and heart; to participate in worship and the Word preached within His church.

He brings us to others with an interest in their souls, to witness of Christ to them.

There is much that we could cover here, but we don’t have the time or space. If you are reading with an interest in what is necessary for growth as a child of God, I implore you to take your Bible, shut out any other interests, ask the Lord to fill you with His Holy Spirit as you read His Word; to speak to you through His Word; to show you His will.

As He has been speaking to my heart, He has pointed out certain interests that I need to forsake and leading me to more of the interests He has for me. One thing for sure is the desire for me to draw closer to Him.

“Set your affections on things above,
not on things on the earth.”
Colossians 3:2

Gracious Father in heaven, whose name I want to hallow, draw me closer to you, to love you more; to seek a deeper understanding of what it means to be your child and a disciple of Christ. Open my mind and heart to those things of your kingdom and displace anything of this world that would hinder your image and your work in me. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran
Show Me Thy Ways, O LORD Psalm 25:4-5

Related Post: Letting Go
(Suggested Reading: The Garden of GOD’S WORD ~ The Purpose and Delight of BIBLE Study)

I Can’t Write Fast Enough

As I begin to write this post, my heart overflows; so much so that I cannot know what to write first. There is more than enough for another book about the ills of a people in yet another generation that stand and live against the Creator of heaven and earth; a generation that is ignorant of the foundation of civilization, of what makes for freedom and peace. But, that is not why my tongue is the pen of a ready writer (Psalm 45:1).

It is the overflow Jesus promised in John 7:37-39 from the Holy Spirit to those who come to Him ~ those who are thirsty for something that this world cannot give.

While the world has hung Christianity out to dry ~ as Christ was hung on a cross ~ He continues to pour out His blessings from His majestic throne in heaven on those who seek freedom and peace in Him.

This early Monday morning dawns after a day of worship and seeking Him above all things. If the world knew the purpose and benefit of a day set apart for Christ in His glory, they would flock to His church. If they knew the King of kings and Lord of lords, they would put aside the things of this world at least for one day to have the blessings of heaven saturate and consume them.

I cannot, without it flowing into a full-size book, write everything that we continually experience in a relationship that turns me from the chaos of this world and enables me to focus on Christ. But, just for a bit, let me share His kingdom that is present and powerful in this world, a kingdom I continue to write about, the kingdom that He shares with all His people.

Currently, Jerry and I marvel at how Jesus Christ is real, the same today, as He was when He, with joy, endured the cross for us. Sometimes this is more the miracle than when He rose from the dead.  He is present always and speaks in and to every situation.

Jerry woke me last Tuesday night around 4:00, to tell me that there was a snake in the bathroom.

Normally, you would expect the man to take care of these things, but Jerry, being an amputee in a wheelchair, needs me to work things out.  We don’t think the snake was poisonous. Nonetheless, in all his (82) and my (79) years and together (57) we have never had to contend with snakes in the house. I say, snakes, because as I write this, there is another one under a butterfly net in our other bathroom, discovered yesterday morning. We hope to have this one removed when a pest control expert comes today. The first one got away when we were turning on lights and opening the front door; planning to catch him and throw him out.

His Promises
As I lay back down, the words came, “Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous, right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

These words ring true every time.

We never know what will happen next as we live in this wilderness, the wilderness into which God banished our first parents when they refused to listen to Him. The world’s ills are a combination of the individual ills of all His creatures. Those who follow Christ have to live in the middle of the sin and rebellion of the whole world. But, we don’t have to be slaves to the god of this world, and the news of its continued upheaval. We have a heavenly Father, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives true to His promises and witnesses through us of His grace and glory.

His Worship
Yesterday’s attendance of our Lord to His worship was another pouring out of His blessings to carry through this week. To hear again of how He loved us before the foundation of the world; how He proved that love when He sent His Son, and Jesus gave Himself to deliver us from this present evil age; to share this love with our brothers and sisters, is a life that leaves no room for the world’s sensationalism.

To write about the kingdom of God and His righteousness is a full-time job; one that I experience more than I can write about. It is worth more than all the world offers. It is worth all that we have to go through. His Word is the most precious thing to read. To meditate and memorize, to hear it preached, all in the power of His Holy Spirit, is His means of abiding with us and speaking to us in every circumstance.

I could write about all that I experienced yesterday as we jam-packed all that we could in one day, but it would not mean as much to you as it did to me. You had to be there. The personal relationship with the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ is His gift to all His children, those who are born of His Spirit, waiting to be poured out.

He must increase, the world and we decrease, in the sight of His grace and glory. In the showers of His blessings, the world is diminished. Satan and his forces are brought to nothing in our eyes and our world. The river of living water showers us with His blessings, and washes away the filth of the world (Ephesians 5:26-27). We see the triumphant Lord of glory ruling above the fading glory of man. He laughs them in derision (Psalm 2).

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all they that put their trust in him. Psalm 2:1, 12

Gacious Father, as we begin a new week, let us continue to focus upon you through Jesus Christ, your Son, whom you have given to be our Lord. Give us repentant hearts, filled with your Spirit for obedience of faith; that we may live in anticipation of what you have planned for us. Make us to experience the truth of your presence and power. Let your words of grace, truth, love and peace flow and bless others so that they know the reason for our hope and peace. In Jesus’ name, I pray.
Fran

Image:Google

The Need for a True Christianity

As we near another year in celebration of the Protestant Reformation ~ October 31, 1517, there seems to be a need for two articles from this heart that beats for the Lord Jesus. Before Nailing Our Theses next week, my thoughts are turned to how far we have come from the corruption that ruled the church in the century of Martin Luther and other reformers. Though the church will never be perfect here in this world, we do have God’s Word available for every person who desires to know the truth; not depending on man for the knowledge of our relationship with God.

We have enough wickedness in the world. I can’t bear to see it in God’s house. Having experienced almost eight decades of this wilderness, I think of the song Leaving on a Jet Plane and want to take that plane home, but like Jesus, I have a purpose here for now. “Stop the world; I want to get off” is an expression from past decades which reflect the thoughts of many who wonder where the world is going.

We praise the Lord that He, as our Lord God Almighty, is still and always reigning and ruling His universe. We are still learning to live in the language of a new world order with Christ as King and to spread this vocabulary wherever we can. Others need to hear and know that this world is not all there is. We will look briefly at why Christianity is necessary in the world in every generation.

What we advocate is not what is normally seen, but what is real in the true Christian life and the difference we make, being who we are in Christ. We see this in the individual life and the life of the true church. We see the difference between Christianity and other religions.

The True Christian Life
Christians are those who individually and adamantly follow Jesus Christ, learning, knowing, believing and loving with all the heart, soul, mind and strength the Lord and Master who lived and died sacrificially for His people. We follow and obey Him through a knowledge of His Word, and by His Holy Spirit live daily by His example. This world is not our home. We are only here to witness of Him and the salvation He came to give. This life is preparation for eternity with Him and our heavenly Father in their kingdom.

The true church is not the visible church that meets every week for planned programs and entertainment, but the invisible body of Christ whom He has brought to Himself, living where we are in every generation with others who join in worship around His Holy Word and His Supper renewing faith and love. From this gathering we go into the world as salt, light, a sweet fragrance and full of His Spirit bearing the fruit of His kingdom ~ love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, holiness, righteousness, truth, grace, humility, godliness, mercy and compassion.

True Christianity is revealed to the senses  of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch.

Salt was necessary is Jesus’ day to preserve food. Salt is needful in a world that is in decay.

Light is necessary in the darkness of this world, as we “hold forth the word of life.”

“That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the worldHolding forth the word of life;” Philippians 2:15-16

Good fruit is produced by true Christians.

“Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.” Matthew 7:17

Fragrance is needful to cover the stench of this world.

 “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” 1 John 5:19

The world needs Jesus’ touch.

“And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.” Matthew 17:7

The world filled and overflowing with oppression, sin, and corruption has no recourse in other religions, nor in a false Christianity. Only a true Christianity has the answer to sin through the only person who has claimed to be God and became a sacrifice for the sins of those who believe His claim on their lives.

We live, proclaiming LIFE over death. If we die for our faith, it will not be to take other lives with us, but to witness of the life of Christ who loved us and gave His life to deliver us from this evil age (Galatians 1:4).

We must know who we are in Christ and live accordingly. True Christianity makes a difference.

Gracious Father, we could say so much more, but you have said it all. It is but for us to read your Word faithfully, intentionally seeking your guidance for us as your people. Enable us to speak your truth wherever you lead us, living our faith to the fullest and most fruitful with our families, in our churches, and in the workplace. Shine your light in and through us into the darkness of this world.  In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Related Post: Beyond a Mere Christianity
Photo:Pixabay
Image:Google

Preaching, Teaching, Reaching

Week after week we are blessed to witness of the Lord’s work through the ministers of our church. This gives me much by which to express my thoughts on the Christian life that is beyond what most experience in the world today (Beyond a Mere Christianity).

A mere Christianity may serve some who are independent of the church, but to see how God’s Word leads His minsters to serve Him, we experience the church that He creates. God’s Word teaches us that we are all members of one body, with each one having its special place. Some are leaders, knowing and preaching God’s Word on the Lord’s Day as the center of His worship. From this Word preached, the members are given direction as to how we are to live in faith during the week. We learn how to worship at home personally and with our families, and to prepare for worship on the next Lord’s Day; this all, in preparation for that eternal worship to which we live onward and upward.

 PREACHING

“Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.” Acts 8:4

“But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour;” Titus 1:3

 “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18

Preachers are also pastors to the Lord’s sheep, knowing each family and its members.

“And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the Lord.” Jeremiah 23:4

TEACHING
But the pastor cannot do all the work. Elders are ministers who teach and serve the members, reaching out beyond what the preacher is able to do.

“And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.” Acts 14:23

REACHING
Deacons are also servants of the Lord, knowing and attending to needs of the church.

Families and other members of the body of Christ are taught to reach out, to exhort one another; to love and teach as they are taught.
Everyone prays, interceding for other members of the church.
Before there is a need, a child of God knows their church family and knows where to turn; either to a close member or to a minister of the church.

It is through the body of Christ that He reaches those in need outside the church. When they see the work of Christ in us, He draws others to Him and His church.

THE TRUE CHURCH
This is the true church, growing in grace, knowledge, love and devotion to Christ and His people; knowing the Father, the Son; their presence and the power of the Holy Spirit in everyday life. Jerry and I have experienced this love and relationship with the whole of our church; blessed and praising the Lord everyday for the church family He has given us.

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you that as your sheep, we have been brought into your fold under the true Shepherd who leads us in the path of righteousness for His name’s sake. Thank you for placing us in the care of your under shepherds from whom we receive the truth of your Word. We are taught the doctrines of your grace; to experience heaven opened to us so that we are able to witness of Christ to others, to reach out in love when there is a need, and to praise you together for all that you are and promise to be in and through us ~ to your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name, we thank and praise you. Amen.
Fran

Photo:Pixabay

Breakthrough and Follow-through

So as not to miss any gods they might appease, the Athenians had set up an “unknown god” among the others. And so, Christianity today is seen as a religion among many others. The God of Christianity is “unknown” even to some who claim it as their faith. If we see little more than the surface of this way of life, we simply exist without the source and the power of this life. For the most part, we fail to differentiate between what other religions offer. We must be sure that it is an offering; a supernatural offering between our God and us. It is a spiritual gift from the Lord God of Christianity whom we know as Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of Jehovah, the Almighty God and Creator of the heavens and the earth and Redeemer of mankind.

Baptized as a child on a profession of faith, Christianity was basic but ineffective in my life until as an adult, I was drawn to read, then study; to write and teach what I was learning from the Bible. During those years, the Holy Spirit I was reading about in the Bible used God’s own words to transform my life. Through a new birth, with a new heart and spirit, my life was changed and has not been the same for decades. My books, articles, and poems attest to the revealed and fulfilled promises made to those He brings to Himself.

The best way I can describe this new way of life is with a parable I heard several years ago.

A prisoner was held captive for years, not knowing where he was. He existed in an obscure stronghold in a foreign country. His food and drink were barely enough to keep him alive. Since he knew no other way of life, he did not wish for anything else.

One day a stranger entered his cell and told him about life outside his captivity. He had come to deliver him. At first, the man could not vision anything beyond his own existence, and so refused to follow him out. Unknown to the prisoner, the stranger had broken through the outside barrier of the stronghold to save him. He was there, not to be refused; and so, stayed with him, living off the same fare by which the prisoner had been fed most of his life. At times he would open the cell door and lead him down a long dark hallway to show him the light outside. Not used to the light, the prisoner would soon move back to his comfortable cell.

With time, the stranger presented truths about the light, each day praying with him and leading him a little further out from his cell. Gradually getting used to the light, he was drawn more; then more, to it. One day, his eyes becoming used to the light, embraced the light, walking with the stranger into a new life outside himself.

As I contemplated writing this post, I was reminded of an old TV series Mission Impossible. A different mission presented to the team with every episode including the statement, “This is your mission if you choose to accept it.” The missions involved seemingly impossible situations providing an escape for captives.

I imagined what this would have looked like for Jesus before Creation. He and the Holy Spirit were the team, Jesus being the one who would suffer and sacrifice to bring His people out of their bondage. His mission from God the Father was to go down, go to, and live with the captives on earth; live in full obedience to God’s law, which no man had ever done, and provide a true understanding of the laws of His kingdom. He would be the light from heaven to people living in darkness, under oppression and sin. He would at the appointed time, be offered up as a means of appeasing the unknown God and ascend back to the Father, where He would live and reign for us as His people.  He would send His Spirit of light from heaven; through His Word bring us out of our captivity and guide us into all truth.

Jesus accepted and fulfilled His mission. His Holy Spirit is now fulfilling His mission in our hearts and lives as we continue to follow Jesus.

Gracious Father in heaven, we praise you for so loving us that you sent your Son to be a propitiation for our sins. Lord Jesus, we thank you for being the author and finisher of our faith; for breaking through and enabling us to follow through this darkness until we see you in your full glory. Holy Spirit, we know your presence and power of the life of Christ in us. Continue to reveal and fulfill all that the Father has willed for us as your people. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Fran

Image:Google

The Secret Place

 We might have titled this The Secret Place of AFFLICTION because this chapter of Beyond a Mere Christianity is tied to our previous post, Words of Life ~ AFFLICTION.

The secret place of which we write is basically “the secret place of the Most High” referenced in Psalm 90:1. “He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” But it has a deeper meaning as we will show in this chapter.

How do we get to this secret place? We must first know about it through the revelation of God’s Word (1 Corinthians 2). We must be born into it by His Spirit (John 3:3-8; John 1:12). It is a spiritual experience of our heart and spirit ~ He gives us a new heart and a new spirit (Ezekiel 36:26). He makes us joint-heirs with His Son in His kingdom (Romans 8:17).

He has provided the means of communication with Him in this secret place. He speaks to us through His Word and receives our speech through prayer. His Word teaches us how to pray, and hears our prayers and our praises. As children, we are disciples and servants of His Son Jesus Christ; God gave Him for us as a propitiation for our sins showing His great love for us (1 John 4:10). Because we are believers and His followers, we will experience a taste of His persecution from those who do not believe in Him.

We experience affliction, suffering, and tribulation for His name’s sake.

We see this privilege, this honor of suffering in the life of the apostles in Acts 5:41; the apostles left those who had beaten them and had commanded their silence of the gospel, “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.”.

The Secret Place is an honorable place for His people who in all generations follow Christ and if need be, to suffer persecution.

No other people can claim this honor except those who belong to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. As we look at the remainder of our references, I encourage you to take time to meditate on these, take them to heart and remember whose we are as pilgrims and strangers in a foreign land. If you don’t have time to read all the references now, I encourage you to copy and save them.

We will look at these three areas and end with a section on Chastisement:

AFFLICTION of Christ
AFFLICTION of Followers of Christ
AFFLICTION within the Body of Christ

AFFLICTION of CHRIST

H6031 ânâh, aw-naw’ to afflict, oppress, humble

The affliction of Christ prophesied in Isaiah is the same word used for other references in the Old Testament.

“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” Isaiah 53:4

“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” Isaiah 53:7

The prophecy was fulfilled at the end of Jesus’ ministry when by His affliction, He took upon Himself our punishment for sin. We are not exempt from afflictions in this life but saved from the afflictions that will come to those who do not accept His sacrifice for salvation.

In the following verses from God’s Word, we hope to prove that afflictions are part of this life for all humanity because we live in a fallen, sinful world. The afflictions of unbelievers are just a prelude to the forever tune of eternal suffering. But as believers, we accept affliction as a part of our unity with Christ, our Lord, and Savior. We follow Him in the paths of righteousness with the promise that He is with us in our suffering for the sake of the gospel.

The prophecy of Jesus’ sufferings bridges the gap between the Old and New Testaments, bringing us to the record of His life and HIs instructions to His disciples as He was preparing them for His crucifixion and resurrection.

“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” Matthew 24:9

New Testament G2347
Strongs’s defines affliction thlipsis thlē’-psēs tribulation, affliction, anguish, persecution  References

The word is the same used for tribulation.

Jesus spoke of the tribulations that would come with discipleship. His encouragement was for peace and joy through His victory over death and the world. He promises all the physical blessings, including persecution (Mark 20:30).

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32

 AFFLICTION of Followers of Christ
Paul wrote of this tribulation to the early church.

“Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:22

To the disciples in the church in Rome Paul wrote to encourage them during those times. See how many times “joy” is related to affliction in these verses.

“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;” Romans 5:3

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” Romans 8:3

“Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;” Romans 12:12

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;” 2 Corinthians 4:17

“How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. 2 Corinthians 8:2

“Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:” Colossians 1:24

“And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.”1 Thessalonians 1:6

G3804.pathemapath’-ay-mah from a presumed derivative of 3806; something undergone, i.e. hardship or pain; subjectively, an emotion or influence:– affection, affliction, motion, suffering. The sufferings of Christ; also the afflictions which Christians must undergo in behalf of the same cause which Christ patiently endured.

“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;” Philippians 3:10

 “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” Hebrews 2:9

“Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” 1 Peter 1:11

“But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 4;13

“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:” 1 Peter 5:1

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

AFFLICTION within the body of Christ
G2347 thlipsisis the same word used for tribulation and trouble in 2 Corinthians 1:4

“Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

“For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:5

 “And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. 2 Corinthians 1:6

“So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:” 2 Thessalonians 1:4

“Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.” Hebrews 10:33

G4778. sugkakoucheo soong-kak-oo-kheh’-o from 4862 and 2558; to maltreat in company with, i.e. (passively) endure persecution together:–suffer affliction with.

The writer of Hebrews speaks of Moses choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. Hebrews 11:25

In James 5:10 he speaks of the prophets who were an example of suffering affliction, and of patience ~ from G2552 kakopatheia kak-op-ath’-i-ah from a compound of 2256 and 3806; hardship:–suffering affliction.

In 1 Peter 4:14 we read: “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you.”

Is this not the “secret place” in which we dwell with Him “under the shadow of the Almighty” who has sanctified us and is bringing us to glory in Him (Hebrews 2:10-11)?

Chastisement ~ the Secret Place  in the Life of God’s Child

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

“Though he was a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;” Hebrews 5:8

It is interesting that we are writing about this secret place of affliction at the same our pastor is preaching through the book of Hebrews. Finishing the eleventh chapter with the list of martyrs, the last two weeks we have been in Hebrews 12, seeing the relationship between God and His children, the same kind of relationship between Him and the Israelites in the Old Testament. The Old Testament speaks not only of affliction but also of chastisement (Isaiah 26:16). While we might not like the idea that He afflicted His people because of their rebellion, we might also not hold to the idea that God causes pain to His children who fail to hear and obey the instructions of His Word. In hearing these sermons, I have been moved to a deeper understanding of what it means to be a child of God, to be blessed that He chastens me because He loves me. (Hebrews 12:5-14); and all this, so that I stay close to Him and partake of His holiness; which means I pray even for His chastisement, along with instructions and corrections as needed, so that I know Jesus did not bear my chastisement in vain but is my example in His suffering and obedience. Our chastisement fell upon Him, so that we may become the children of God. Any pain we have to suffer now will be worth it all for the glory that waits with Him in eternity. All pain and adversity, whether or not we are suffering for Christ’s sake, is accepted because the Lord our God is sovereign over all things.

“He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” Proverbs 13:5

“And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Revelation 7:14

Gracious Father, we thank you for revealing the truth of your Word to us by your Holy Spirit. Enable us to accept all things, pain, sickness, and all adversity at your hand, working for our good and conforming us to the image of Christ, as we continue to abide in your word and under the shadow of your wings. Thank you for that secret place you prepared for us in Christ our Lord, in whose name I pray. Amen.
Fran

Image:Google

Words of Life ~ AFFLICTION

Fifteen years ago, I started thinking how good it might be to have a handbook that Christians could use concerning our particular language; the ordinary vocabulary that believers could study about our everyday life in Christ. All those years I shared some of this work with three of our granddaughters. Two years ago, we put together a list of words using the English alphabet to form Words of Life ~ A to Z ~ The Ordinary Vocabulary of a Christian.

Part-way through the list of A’s, we have been overwhelmed with our research and believe that this is a valued gift for all Christians. We come this week to the word AFFLICTION, one that will surprise and amaze all who truly understand how this word applies to us as God’s children.

We may not like what God’s Word teaches us, but hopefully, we will come away with a greater understanding of why we as God’s children have to endure AFFLICTION.

We are using a lot of references and not a lot of my own comments so God’s Word can speak for itself. Please take time to read these, so as to understand why affliction is an important element of the Christian life.

We will divide this into five areas:

The first two will be highlighted in this post.

AFFLICTION of the Israelites

Hope During AFFLICTION

The last three will be included in our next post.

AFFLICTION of Jesus Christ, our Lord, and Master

AFFLICTION of followers of Christ; 

AFFLICTION within the body of Christ

 AFFLICTION of the Israelites
STRONG’S defines AFFLICTION H6031 ânâh, aw-naw’ to afflict, oppress, humble  All References  online.

“But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.” Exodus 1:12 The more the Israelites were afflicted, the more they multiplied and grew and became a threat to the Egyptians.

“And the LORD said , I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;” Exodus 3:7

Seeing their affliction from the Egyptians, God brought them out of Egypt. They believed, bowed their heads and worshipped. (Exodus 3:17; Exodus 4:31) Yet, afterward, they rebelled in the wilderness.

The word used for affliction is the same word used for humble; when the Lord led them out of Egypt.

And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.
“And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.” Deuteronomy 8:2-3

All their suffering was meant for God to prove what was in their hearts and that they would learn that man does not live by bread only, but true life depends on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.

We may not like the idea that the Lord afflicts His own people, but affliction is His means of teaching His children, to bring attention to their sin and rebellion and to turn them to repentance. He does not afflict other people for the same purpose. We will look at this further in our next post: this week’s chapter The Secret Place in Beyond a Mere Christianity.

“Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” Isaiah 48:10

“Why criest thou for thine affliction? thy sorrow is incurable for the multitude of thine iniquity: because thy sins were increased, I have done these things unto thee.” Lamentations 1:3  

“Her adversaries are the chief, her enemies prosper; for the Lord hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: her children are gone into captivity before the enemy.” Lamentations 1:5

“I am the man (Jeremiah) that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath.” Lamentations 3:1

“For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.” Lamentations 3:33

“But, behold, I will raise up against you a nation, O house of Israel, saith the Lord the God of hosts; and they shall afflict you from the entering in of Hemath unto the river of the wilderness.” Amos 6:14

The Psalmist understood the Lord’s judgment and faithfulness in affliction. His afflictions are according to His judgments, His word, and His statutes.

“I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.” Psalm 119:75

“Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.” Psalm 119:67

“It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.” Psalm 119:71

Hope During Affliction

“And when we cried unto the Lord God of our fathers, the Lord heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labour, and our oppression:” Deuteronomy 26:7

“When the heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; yet if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou dost afflict them;” 2 Chronicles 6:26

 “I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O Lord, according unto thy word.”Psalm 119:107

 “Consider mine affliction, and deliver me: for I do not forget thy law.” Psalm 119:153

 “Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth: yet they have not prevailed against me.” Psalm 129:2

 “O Lord, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction,” Jeremiah 16:19

The Lord promised to restore those He had afflicted (Micah 4:6; Nahum 1:12).

The word is the same used for troubled when God’s people had no shepherd. Zechariah 10:2

Gracious Father in heaven looking down, even as we are looking up to you in our afflictions, have mercy upon us. Open our eyes to the truth of afflictions in generations of the past. Help us to understand why you afflicted your people then and guide us by your Spirit of truth to know that if we belong to you, you will afflict us as you see fit. Prepare our hearts through this first offering, to look further into the New Testament in our next post to see the afflictions, tribulation, and suffering of those who follow Jesus, your Son. In His name, I pray.
Fran

Image:Google