VIDEO Partakers of His Suffering – The Afflictions of the Godly

Partakers of His Suffering

By Oswald Chambers

If you are going to be used by God, He will take you through a number of experiences that are not meant for you personally at all. They are designed to make you useful in His hands, and to enable you to understand what takes place in the lives of others. Because of this process, you will never be surprised by what comes your way. You say, “Oh, I can’t deal with that person.” Why can’t you? God gave you sufficient opportunities to learn from Him about that problem; but you turned away, not heeding the lesson, because it seemed foolish to spend your time that way.

The sufferings of Christ were not those of ordinary people. He suffered “according to the will of God” (1 Peter 4:19), having a different point of view of suffering from ours. It is only through our relationship with Jesus Christ that we can understand what God is after in His dealings with us. When it comes to suffering, it is part of our Christian culture to want to know God’s purpose beforehand. In the history of the Christian church, the tendency has been to avoid being identified with the sufferings of Jesus Christ. People have sought to carry out God’s orders through a shortcut of their own. God’s way is always the way of suffering— the way of the “long road home.”

Are we partakers of Christ’s sufferings? Are we prepared for God to stamp out our personal ambitions? Are we prepared for God to destroy our individual decisions by supernaturally transforming them? It will mean not knowing why God is taking us that way, because knowing would make us spiritually proud. We never realize at the time what God is putting us through— we go through it more or less without understanding. Then suddenly we come to a place of enlightenment, and realize— “God has strengthened me and I didn’t even know it!”

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

“When the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” We all have faith in good principles, in good management, in good common sense, but who amongst us has faith in Jesus Christ? Physical courage is grand, moral courage is grander, but the man who trusts Jesus Christ in the face of the terrific problems of life is worth a whole crowd of heroes.  The Highest Good, 544 R


Puritan Thomas Watson – The Afflictions of the Godly (Christian audiobook)

 

Puritan Thomas Watson – The Afflictions of the Godly (Christian audiobook)

Hebrews 12:4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

Thomas Watson – (ca. 1620-1686), English non-conformist Puritan preacher and author

Watson was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he was noted for remarkably intense study. In 1646 he commenced a sixteen year pastorate at St. Stephen’s, Walbrook. He showed strong Presbyterian views during the civil war, with, however, an attachment to the king, and in 1651 he was imprisoned briefly with some other ministers for his share in Christopher Love’s plot to recall Charles II of England. He was released on June 30, 1652, and was formally reinstated as vicar of St. Stephen’s Walbrook.

Watson obtained great fame and popularity as a preacher until the Restoration, when he was ejected for nonconformity. Notwithstanding the rigor of the acts against dissenters, Watson continued to exercise his ministry privately as he found opportunity. Upon the Declaration of Indulgence in 1672 he obtained a license to preach at the great hall in Crosby House. After preaching there for several years, his health gave way, and he retired to Barnston, Essex, where he died suddenly while praying in secret. He was buried on 28 July 1686.

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What’s the Best Gift?

The temple I am going to build will be great, because our God is greater than all other gods. 2 Chronicles 2:5

My husband recently celebrated a milestone birthday, the kind that ends in a zero. I thought hard about the best way to honor him on this important occasion. I discussed my many ideas with our children to help me home in on the best one. I wanted our celebration to reflect the significance of a new decade and how precious he is to our family. I wanted our gift to be in keeping with the importance of this milestone in his life.

King Solomon wanted to give to God a much greater gift than a “big birthday” would merit. He wished for the temple he built to be worthy of God’s presence in it. To secure raw materials, he messaged the king of Tyre. In his letter, he remarked that the temple would be great “because our God is greater than all other gods” (2 Chron. 2:5). He acknowledged that God’s vastness and goodness far exceeded what could ever be built with human hands, yet set about the task anyway out of love and worship.

The most treasured gift we can give to God is our love.

Our God is indeed greater than all other gods. He has done wondrous things in our lives, prompting our hearts to bring Him a loving and precious offering, regardless of its external value. Solomon knew his gift wouldn’t match God’s worth, yet joyfully set his offering before Him; we can too.

Lord, You are indeed a great God, matchless in worth. May my offerings be pleasing in Your sight.

The most treasured gift we can give to God is our love.

By Kirsten Holmberg

Unveiling the Hidden

Jeremiah 33:1-3

Every decade, it seems as though there’s a fresh crop of books on the topic of communication. We can walk down the aisle of any bookstore and take our pick from the many volumes dedicated to public speaking, preaching, and even interpersonal communication. Learning how to speak effectively is, without question, a big industry these days.

But even more important is learning how to communicate with the Lord. Too often, we take what we learn about mass communication and try to apply it to prayer. We carefully craft each word of our petitions, laboring over every phrase and peppering in some fancy biblical words like “thou” and “thee.” Sometimes, we seem to believe that it’s possible to unlock the mysteries of heaven if we just learn how to phrase our prayers.

Friend, this is a misguided approach. We should never come before God’s throne with the presumption that we just have to find the right combination of words in order to get Him to speak. The power is not in what we say, but in what He says.

Our role in prayer is not to impress the Lord with our fine phrasing and fancy vocabulary. Rather, it is to cry out to Him, to express our needs, and then to listen. Sadly, we often miss out on what God wants to say because we’re too busy doing all the talking!

This week, take a different approach to prayer. Practice solitude and quiet meditation in your time with the Lord, and open yourself up to what He may be telling you.

The Voice of the Lord

“The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.” (Psalm 29:4)

This solemn phrase, “the voice of the LORD,” occurs seven times in Psalm 29, centered especially on the awful judgment of the great Flood in the days of Noah. “The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters” (v. 3). It occurs many other times in the Old Testament as well, with a wide variety of applications and circumstances.

The very first time it occurs, however (and this is also the first occurrence of “voice” in the Bible, indicating thereby that it is God’s voice—not man’s—that we must hear if we seek guidance for life), is in the Garden of Eden immediately after man brought sin into the world. “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden. . . . And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” (Genesis 3:8­­­­-9). Mankind is lost and separated from God, but God calls unto each of us as He did to Adam, and we desperately need to hear His voice if our lives are to be fulfilled and spiritually fruitful.

In contrast to this scene of alienation, the final occurrence of a “voice” in the Bible is a beautiful scene of reconciliation when God again speaks to lost mankind, this time in glorious restoration of that broken fellowship. “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Revelation 21:3).

To hear His voice then, however, we must first hear His voice now, through His Word. Jesus said, “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life. . . . the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live” (John 5:24-25). HMM

If ye seek him he will be found of you

2 Chronicles 15:1-17

2 Chronicles 15:2

While they were flushed with victory it was a fit time to remind them where their great strength lay, and urge them to continue in obedience while the rewards of it were before their eyes. The prophet did not congratulate and flatter the monarch, but impressed upon him his obligations to the Lord, who had so greatly favoured him. Ministers are not sent to please us, but to profit us.

2 Chronicles 15:3-7

It was matter of plain history that the condition of the people depended entirely upon their fidelity to God. They made or unmade their own fortunes. Have we not also learned by this time that we are happy when we live near to God, and are in an evil case when we backslide from him? Let us lay this fact to heart.

2 Chronicles 15:8

The best swept room will bear cleansing again, and therefore Asa made another and further investigation and reformation, for idolators here and there had kept up their idols by stealth, but down they must go at this second search.

2 Chronicles 15:14, 15

The people were great at promising, but slow in performing; their hearts were fickle, and what they resolved upon one day with great enthusiasm they forgot the next, and were again mad upon their idols. How much were they like ourselves!

2 Chronicles 15:16

This was a masterstroke; he deposed the queen-mother and demolished her idol in the most ignominious manner. The king would not connive at sin in those nearest and dearest to him. It must have caused him much pain, but he loved his God too well to shrink from the deed.

2 Chronicles 15:17

Even in the best work there is a flaw, which has to be spoken of with a “but.” The false gods were put down, but the unauthorized altars to the true God were still untouched. This may be thought to be a lesser evil, but it had been better to have gone through with the work. It was well, however, that in heart and intention Asa was sound before God.

 

A Great and Effectual Door

1 Corinthians 16:9

Just after the collapse of the Soviet Union, through a series of very remarkable events, I found myself sitting in the central office for the national television station of a large country that had once been a part of the former Soviet Republic. A contract was laid on the table before me that gave me the privilege to broadcast the Gospel to that entire nation every day on prime-time television.

As the conversation with these national television leaders progressed, I learned that this was the first time such a door of opportunity had ever been opened to anyone since the fall of communism in the Soviet Union. As I sat and looked at the contract that lay on the table before me, I thought of Paul’s words in First Corinthians 16:9, where he said, “For a great door and effectual is opened unto me….”

Just as Paul once stood before a great and effectual door, at that moment I was also standing before a great door of opportunity that God was entrusting into our hands. But let’s talk for a moment about Paul’s situation. Where was he when this great and effectual door opened to him?

After Paul had waited many years for the extremely pagan city of Ephesus to open up wide for the preaching of the Gospel, the atmosphere of Ephesus was finally starting to change. Previous resistance was crumbling, and Paul’s prayers were finally being answered as the Gospel message began to conquer the city of Ephesus. First Corinthians 16:8 lets us know that Paul was in Ephesus at the time he wrote his first letter to the Corinthian church. He wrote, “But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.”

Paul’s accomplishment in Ephesus was no doubt one of his greatest works, if not the greatest. During the three years that he lived and worked in Ephesus, Paul established one of the greatest churches in world history. The revival that swept through the city was so massive that the church of Ephesus soon became the largest and most influential church in the first century.

Just as I have felt on so many occasions, Paul was keenly aware at this time that a door had opened to him that had never been opened to anyone else in human history Notice that he wrote, “For a great door and effectual is opened unto me….” The words “unto me” come from the Greek word moi, which means uniquely to me. This was a moment when Paul was standing in the midst of an apostle’s dreams. A city was falling to the Gospel; darkness was being driven out; and the church was being established.

Paul referred to this unique, unprecedented opportunity as “a great door and effectual.” The word “great” is the Greek word mega, which always speaks of something that is huge or massive. The word “door” is the word thura. This is the Greek word for a door, but Paul uses it here as a metaphor to describe a unique opportunity.

Paul said that this huge door of opportunity “opened” to him. This word “opened” comes from the Greek word anoigo, which means to open. However, it must be noted that the tense Paul uses doesn’t describe a door that is starting to open, but rather a door that is already standing wide open. This was the opportunity of a lifetime. The doors were wide open. Paul had complete and total access to the city of Ephesus.

Paul called this unique opportunity not only a “great” door, but also an “effectual” door. The word “effectual” is the Greek word energes, from which we get the word energy. But as used in New Testament Greek, the word energes describes something that is forceful, effective, active, or powerful. Paul declared that when this door opened to him and to the Gospel, it created a divine release of God’s power that immediately began to engulf the city of Ephesus.

But notice what else often accompanies a great and effectual door of opportunity. Paul went on to say, “A great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.” The word “adversaries” comes from the word antikeimai, a compound of the words anti and keimai. The word anti means against, and the word keimai means to lie, as with something that is lying around.

When these two words are compounded together, they express the idea of hostile forces that are standing in opposition to someone. These forces are literally lying all around, pitted against a common foe and just waiting for the opportunity to strike! These sneaky, sinister powers lie in wait to deceive, attack, or pry away another’s opportunity in order to steal it for themselves.

Anytime we find ourselves standing before a rare door of opportunity, people with impure motives and jealousy will appear on the scene to see how they can steal the victory we worked so hard to achieve. Paul was very aware (as I have been on many occasions in my own ministry) that there were deceptive people opposed to him who would have loved to remove him and steal the place God had given him in Ephesus.

Through the years that Denise and I have worked on the front lines of the Gospel, we’ve had a myriad of experiences with sinister people who saw our success as their opportunity. The television opportunity I mentioned earlier is just one of our many great and effectual doors for which we are so grateful. But like the apostle Paul, whenever we have stood before a great and effectual door that uniquely opened to us, the Spirit of God has made us very aware that our success was envied and coveted by others who wanted to steal it for themselves. Through these experiences, God has taught us to be wary of those who might want to take advantage of us.

You see, jealousy and covetousness in others is an unfortunate reality that often manifests when God opens a door of opportunity for you. That’s why it is so imperative that you learn how to be discerning. Those with impure motives have a way of showing up wherever people are being blessed, so don’t be surprised if it happens to you. If you’re not careful, these individuals will try to steal the victory away from you after you have worked hard to achieve it.

So if you find that God has set a unique door of opportunity before you, walk through that door by faith, expecting the power of God to be mightily released. Meanwhile, however, don’t forget to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. He will warn you if someone tries to sneak up from behind to steal what God has dropped into your hands!

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, I ask You to set a great and effectual door of opportunity before me. Please help me recognize when that door opens, for I desire to truly appreciate what You are doing in my life. At the same time, I need You to help me be spiritually discerning so I can differentiate my true friends from opportunists who might come to take advantage of me and steal this victory from my life. Give me spiritually discerning eyes to help me see who is and isn’t with me whenever a great and effectual door is uniquely opened to me for Your purposes.

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I confess that God is setting a great and effectual door before me! I have prayed and waited for this day to come, and now is the time when God is opening that door to me. I don’t take this unique time lightly. Rather, I am grateful to God for counting me faithful to receive such a rare and special opportunity. Because God’s Spirit works in me, I am able to recognize those whom God has sent to help and those whom Satan has sent to hinder.

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. Have you ever had a moment in your life when you realized a great and effectual door of opportunity was being given to you that had never been given to any other person you knew?
  2. How did it affect you when you realized that you were standing in the midst of such a God-ordained opportunity?
  3. Have you ever been taken advantage of by opportunists with impure motives who showed up when you became successful? Did you listen when the Holy Spirit spoke to your heart and tried to warn you about these opportunists?

Jealousy and covetousness in others is an unfortunate reality that often manifests when God opens a door of opportunity for you. That’s why it is so imperative that you learn how to be discerning. Those with impure motives have a way of showing up wherever people are being blessed, so don’t be surprised if it happens to you. If you’re not careful, these individuals will try to steal the victory away from you after you have worked hard to achieve it.

 

Four Reasons Why We May Be Unavailable To God

(1) An unwillingness to give up security or comfort to follow Christ: “As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, I will follow you wherever you go. Jesus replied, Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.‘ (Luke 9:57, 58)

 

Years ago, in spreading the Gospel, I took strong, red-blooded businessmen with me to the back alleys of one of the world’s most abysmal locales. But after a couple of hours of inhaling the ubiquitous aroma of burning tires and human waste, while being jostled on rutty roads in tropical heat, one of the men groaned, “ManI cant take this.” Today he luxuriates in California’s finest environs.

 

(2) An unwillingness to allow Christ, rather than man to determine your responsibilities in life: “He said to another man, Follow me. But the man replied, Lord, first let me go and bury my father. Jesus said to him, Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.‘” (Luke 9:59, 60)

 

Family expectations dictated that this fellow stick around home until his father died. Christ however, did not allow him that option, by saying in effect, “Let your spiritually dead relatives and friends bury your father when he succumbs. Put my mission before family demands. Now.

 

I wonder how many of us are in bondage to family expectations at the expense of Christ’s call upon our lives?

 

(3) An unwillingness to sacrifice relationships closest to you to follow Christ: “Still another said, I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family. Jesus replied, No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.‘” (Luke 9:61, 62)

 

I suspect Christ knew that if this man went home, He would never again return. As a young man struggling to follow Christ, I knew I had to physically leave the city of my family. The pull and expectations of the clan upon my life was simply too much to resist. So I left — at the cost of family favor.

 

(4) An unwillingness to live by a single, God-given focus: “Jesus replied, No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.‘” (Luke 9:62)

 

The simple fact is, “The man who trusts God, but with inward reservationscannot hope to receive anything from the Lord, and the life of a man of divided loyalty will reveal instability at every turn.” (James 1:6-8 – Phillips Translation)

 

QUESTION: From God’s perspective, are you truly available to Him? If not, what would it take to set you free?

 

 

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