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

The Why and What of Where We Are

In light of all that has happened in the first half of this year it behooves each of us to stop and examine our own hearts and lives. What begins as a small secret sin, when brought out of the closet, can sometimes mushroom into acceptance by the highest court of the nation. If they had known the meaning of sin Adam and Eve would have thought theirs to be a little one, and yet their actions plummeted the whole world into a state of enmity with God. Jesus’ simple message to us all, is the same today as in His day, “Unless you repent, you, too shall perish.”

Perception and Perspective
Seeing where we are, corporately, and individually, may determine where this nation will be in the future. Perception, being the understanding of the way things are, not from our own viewpoint, but from an outside source, gives us a true perspective of the whole picture. Discernment comes, not from our own viewpoint, but from a greater source than our own. Input from God’s Word gives us the right perspective of where we are, why, and what we are to do. From the beginning God has made it known that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from His mouth. (Matthew 4:4) There is no true life without it. God’s written word was Jesus’ means of resisting the tempting of Satan in the wilderness. He did not sin because He always relied on the word of His Father. He lived in complete obedience so that He could deliver us from this wilderness. He said that heaven and earth may pass away, but that His Word would never pass away.  His Word is the law that judges our thoughts, words, and actions; but also the power that brings us to the law of liberty and new life in Him.  It is His means to guide us and to check us as we continue to live in this world.

Where We Are
The apostle John wrote in one of his letters these words, “the whole world lieth in wickedness ~ in the power of the evil one.” (KJV and ESV)

The apostle Paul wrote, “ the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Romans 8:7

This is where we are; in the middle of darkness and decay.  God has already pronounced His judgment against this world.

Why does the world continue to reject His Word and His Son? Because “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4) We, too, who claim Christ as Lord, and yet live in disobedience to His word, are blinded. God’s people, the nation of Israel, faced His judgment for their own sins. They profaned His name, His Word, and His Sabbaths; and were taken captive to another land because of their disobedience. We, as God’s children cannot point our fingers at others and blame them for where we are as a nation. It is in times like these that He brings us all to account, to prove who and what we are. (Hebrews 4:12-13)

It is in times like these that we learn the difference in God’s kingdom and the kingdom of the world.
It is in times like these that God’s Word becomes precious.
It is in times like these that God in His goodness brings His people to repentance.
It is in times like these that God’s people forget their differences and band together for the truth that is ours in Christ.
It is in times like these that we pray for God’s presence and power to be seen in the world.

Who We Are
Discerning the changes in this world and responding Biblically depends on what God is doing in our own lives. Our hopes for a better world lie in how we, by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:5) We need not fear what the courts of men and the world pass as law, but true perception enables us to fear, with wisdom and love, the final court of judgment that will come in God’s timing according to His Word.  I am glad that He is the one appointed as my judge; for He is my only Savior, the one who has redeemed me from my sin, and the King who sits at the right hand of the Father, ruling and reigning until He has put all enemies under His feet. His Holy Spirit, the greatest power in heaven and earth continues to rule in the hearts and lives of His people.  This we shall see this as the antithesis proceeds to its end.

What are we to do?
With perception from God’s Word we view the world with a right perspective ~ from God’s point of view.  We persevere, knowing that He is preserving and protecting His own in the middle of this wilderness. The following verses have served to help me remember that I am but a sinner saved only by His grace, and in need of constant awareness of where I am in this pilgrimage to a new world of righteousness.  Continually seeking “His kingdom and His righteousness” with faith and assurance through Jesus Christ we stand and live in the truth of His grace.  We prepare as soldiers of the cross for the trials and tribulations that He, as “the author and finisher of our faith,” leads us through; with prayer and supplication for all saints.

 “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

“Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober , and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;” 1 Peter 1:13

 “Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:21-22


“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,
12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,
13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” Titus 2:12-14

“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,
13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
14 Do all things without grumbling or questioning,
15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
16 holding fast to the word of life.” Philippians 2:12-16

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name.  According to your promises, keep us, your children, from the evil one; bearing the fruit of your Spirit. Give us fervency in prayer, and a diligence in the study of your Word. In the middle of the chaos let us live joyfully the abundant life in Christ that He gives so that others may see a distinct difference in your light and the darkness of this world, and be drawn to Christ. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

0001OM 

The Path to Glory

The path to heaven and eternal glory with God, which is presented by some today, is unreal.  Even in the name of Christianity most of it is only “hype.” Another four-letter word that I see plastered all over the Internet describes how people feel about what they read and hear.  The apostle Paul used the word “dung” (which is more graceful) to describe the things in this world, things that have no link to heavenly things, but are simply earthly.  Compared to the real thing they are but waste, worth nothing.

But in order to get past the earthly, and the dung, we have to address it.  It is a reality.  We have to see it for what it is, and know how to deal with it.   How do we know what we are dealing with, and how do we get through it.  It is all part of the understanding of the path that God calls us to.

“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory
by Christ Jesus,
after that ye have suffered a while,
make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”
1 Peter 5:10

The path to glory, by some, is paved with good intentions.  When the veneer cracks and crumbles they and their followers, like the Kohathites, (Numbers 16:32) will be swallowed up.  They want people to be a part of their ministry and so they make everything inviting; promising comfort and ease in joining their ranks.  Some hope for others a good life and try to make it look easy for them.  They have not yet understood, nor can they lead others in this path.

This path is not a “glory path” here on this earth. God, our heavenly Father does not promise us a path back to the Garden of Eden, but one that leads to Gethsemane.

Hidden and Narrow

“At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth,  because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.”
Matthew 11:25

It is a hidden path.  Only those to whom the Father reveals the Son and draws them to Him will find the path. (John 6:44-45)  It is always in following Him that He leads us to it.

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate,
and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction,
and many there be which go in thereat:
Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life,
and few there be that find it.”
Matthew 7:13=14

The path begins through a gate so slim that we can take nothing with us.  More so, there is a compression of all that we are that enables us to get through.  Humility, faith, and repentance empty us of our baggage, and shrink us to the size we need to be.

It is a narrow path.  This is the path that Jesus describes to his disciples.

He says that only a few will come to Him. The multitudes won’t lead us to it. The crowded path leads to destruction. The path to glory is not a wide path, but one that we most often will have to walk alone; not that others are not on the path, but there are times when they will not understand what we are dealing with or going through.  We may be too slow for them; we only get in their way. For the most part, only Christ can understand and lead us through.

Not Our Choosing

It is never the path we would choose for ourselves.  We would choose the easier way, but if we are to follow Christ it must be His way or not at all.  This is why many cannot find, know, or walk this path here on earth.  We must know our calling in Christ to be one of suffering and sacrifice for His name’s sake—for “righteousness’ sake.”

It is a walking path, not a bike lane or busy highway; we have no vehicle, only feet and body for the endurance; for proving of His own grace and power in our perseverance.

What God teaches us is — the path to His glory is difficult.  He has said it; and His saints are witnesses to the fact and experience that it is a struggle to endure the pains and trials of the Christian life.  It does not get easier as we get older; we simply require more of God’s grace and strength.

Steep, Rocky, and Dark

The path is steep, sometimes turning like a spiral, leading round and round, onward and upward. It is rocky; it seems that things are literally thrown into the path.  There we stumble and oftentimes we fall—right into the dung. There are times when it seems that we cannot take another step; our arms get so tired; or when we can no longer walk, the wheels on our chair get bogged down and won’t turn.

It is sometimes dark, with only the Word of God as a “light for our path, and a lamp for our feet.” It can lead to the mountains, where the sky is the bluest; the air is the freshest, and the aroma as heavenly as the very presence of God.  Other times it leads to the valley, or through a tunnel where all that we have is a glimpse of light at the end; other times we are led into a cave where all is black, and the only thing we can do is sit still, and wait.

Unless you are on the path that we describe, and you know the purpose in all your struggles, and striving, stop and examine where you are.  Stay with us for Part 2 to look at the promises that are posted on this path to encourage us and bring us gracefully, triumphantly, and gloriously into the presence of God, the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, here and for eternity.

“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