In the coming days, true believers in Jesus Christ will be challenged from every direction. Every believer who commits to an all-out relationship with our Lord will come under governmental oppression, various afflictions, and persecution. We may initially struggle in our trials because discipline and suffering is foreign to us, but as we continue to endure, we will recognize how meaningful the discipline of the Lord really is. Our hearts will continually grow deeper in our love and commitment to Him.
At times it may seem unbearable when some friends and even family members become spiteful toward us. Yet, enduring the scorn and persecution from the world joins us in a partnership with Christ as we share in His sufferings in this life. Suffering with Christ produces a strong heart bond in our relationship with Him and with one another as we follow Him down the same path that He walked. In order to better comprehend this, consider the following: Marines in combat who experience really tough trials together eventually grow in strength and closeness with one another. Marines will put their own lives on the line for their fellow Marines. Yet a heart that experiences the hardships that Christ also experienced produces a much greater bond than what Marines share with each other. For a deep spiritual love for one another begins to grow which will throw off all the cares of this world and focus only upon the Kingdom of God in this world.
Listen to Paul speaking to his disciple, Timothy:
Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.
‘Endure suffering son! You are a soldier in the Lord’s army. You have been trained to undergo hardship on the spiritual battlefield.”
EVIL DISGUISED AS DECENCY
Satan will undoubtedly attack many with, “this is too hard…..it’s not fair….God has forsaken me.” Be aware that when these thoughts begin to surface that you are a soldier in the Army of God under attack. Stand fast. Evil disguised as decency, together with a lukewarm Christian community, may be strong weapons the enemy will use against you. They will attack your faith and attempt to get you to make compromises so that life won’t be so hard. This will be tough when loved ones embrace you and try to get you to compromise your faith just a little bit by saying, “God will understand.” Fight this! Your steadfastness is of tremendous importance to both you and your loved ones who are considering small compromises.
OUR LORD TARRIES
Day and night, God’s intercessors have cried out to the Lord that His kingdom will come and righteous judgment will occur on the earth. Yet our Lord tarries. Though He is at work every moment of every day, it is not always as we wish or in ways that are visible to us. He is on the throne of justice; so we may wonder just how long justice can be postponed. Yet we must remember that He is also on the throne of grace. This grace is intended not only for those being persecuted but also for their persecutors. If postponement of justice for one more day results in bringing one more person into the Kingdom of Christ, then so be it. Remember, for the Lord a thousand years is like a single day. If a million years from now we were to ask ourselves whether our momentary suffering during our earthly life was an acceptable exchange for eternal glory, how would we answer?
When considering these hard, but wonderful truths, I am reminded of the Roman centurion who was in charge of the crucifixion of Christ. Listen to him:
When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, "Truly this was the Son of God!"
I wouldn’t be surprised if this Roman centurion and some of his men, who led the military unit assigned to crucify our Lord, will reign with us in glory. Such is the long-suffering of Him who sits on the throne of grace.
Warriors, consider this: Being imprisoned is not so bad, for prisoners are not as distracted as those on the outside and therefore the message of the gospel can be more powerful in a prison environment. They do not put hope in their plans for worldly success, and they think about the end of life more than those on the outside. Tell them about Jesus, and they are much more eager to hear. “If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.” That is real freedom. One man stands inside a prison and is free. Another man stands outside a prison in luxurious living and is in bondage.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, also remember this well: we are alive this day because Jesus has a mission for us yet to be fulfilled. When we die, that will be a sign that He wishes us to do something else. Eternal missions await each of us. We must move forward in our assignments each and every day of our short lives in this world. Our deepest motivation must be to hear Him tell us face to face…
…….'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'