Christain Suffering, Part 2

I Peter 4:12-19

To those who cling to the LORD, you have power and security.

Remember Dad’s first point in Christian Suffering—expect it. If you haven’t suffered, there is probably something wrong.

John Wesley

Wesley praising God

John Wesley was riding his horse once when he realized that nobody had thrown anything at him recently. Now, Rev. Wesley was used to having rotten eggs, tomatoes, rocks, and just about anything else thrown at him wherever he went…he expected it. Anyways, Wesley stopped his horse as soon as he realized this, slid off, and started praying. A bystander heard his prayer and said, “I’ll fix that preacher!” So he reached down and threw a brick as Wesley. As the brick fell harmlessly to the ground, Wesley got up and proclaimed “Thank God, his presence is still with me!”

Christianity isn’t for the faint-hearted.

The second point is found in verse 13 and 14. “But rejoice…ye may be glad also with exceeding joy…happy are ye.” Enjoy it, but remember, you can’t enjoy it in the flesh.

We should enjoy suffering because it shows that there is enough “glow” of the LORD that the devil hates it. It means you are doing something right. If the world embraces you, there is something wrong. Although enjoying suffering doesn’t make sense in the head, it does make sense in the deep relationship with Christ, insomuch that you ENJOY suffering for his name!

Obadiah Holmes Portrait

Rev. Holmes whipped for home bible study

In Acts 5:41, after the apostles were beaten by the coucil for speaking in the name of Jesus, they “departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worth to suffer shame for his name.” Wow!

Now if you are sitting there thinking that this couldn’t persecution couldn’t happen in America, you probably need to know has been here before. In March of 1640 Rev. Obadiah Holmes of Rhode Islandwas whipped with thirty lashes for having a prayer meeting in his home. Holmes later said about the event: “Having joyfulness in my heart, and cheerfulness in my countenance, I told the magistrates, ‘You have whipped me with roses’.”

We should enjoy suffering because God allows it for a purpose (v19). Would God allow anything without a purpose? Romans 8:28. In verse 12, the work “fiery” means “smelted in a furnace”. God is refining us with suffering and only when we yield our lives to God can God work.

We should enjoy suffering because we glory in it. Romans 8:17-18 and II Corinthians 4:17-18.

Travail before children, exercise before strength, practice before beautiful music. When you get to the point where you don’t think you can do it anymore, the veil is rolled back, for God never puts on us more than we can bear.

We have no other purpose than to walk close to Jesus Christ.

He Delighteth in Mercy

I was reading in Ezekiel this morning and noticed an interesting fact: whenever God judged a nation and scattered them, there was a purpose and he usually restored them. The verses I was reading was Ezekiel 29:12-14. It says, “And I will make the land of Egypt desolate in the midst of the countries that are desolate, and her cities among the cities that are laid waste shall be desolate forty years: and I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and will disperse them through the countries. Yet thus saith the Lord GOD; At the end of forty years will I gather the Egyptians from the people whither they were scattered: And I will bring again the captivity of Egypt, and will cause them to return into the land of Pathros into the land of their habitation and they shall be there a base kingdom.” Notice, that God set a specific period of judgment—It didn’t last forever. Also, when the Egyptians came back, they were a “base kingdom.” “Base” means “humble.” God taught them something called humbleness.

If you go one chapter back to Ezekiel 28, near the end of the chapter God is talking about his judgment on Zidon. He said that he would “send into her pestilence, and blood into her street” (v22). Going down to verses 25-26, God says: “Thus saith the Lord GOD; When I shall have gathered the house of Israel from the people among whom they are scattered, and shall be sanctified in them in the sight of the heathen, then shall they dwell in their land that I have given to my servant Jacob. And they shall dwell safely therein…” What was it God was teaching them? Sanctification! “Sancified” means “clean, consecrate, dedicated, hallow, holy, keep, prepare, proclaim, purify.”

Thank God that his mercy comes! It reminds me of Micah 7: 18b “He retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy”

Christian Suffering, Part 1

Yesterday Dad preached about Christian Suffering. His text was from I Peter 4:12-19. Dad only got through one point, which is usual. The point was that we should expect suffering. As verse 12 states, “Beloved think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.” Verse 16 says, “Yet if anyman suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed…”

Paul before King Agrippa (Acts 26)
Paul before King Agrippa.

There are only three times in scripture that the word “Christian” is used. The first is in Act 11:19-26. The believers were first called Christians in Antioch (v26). Why were they in Antioch? Because of persecution (v19)! The second place the word “Christian” is found is in Acts 26. Paul is standing before King Agrippa. In verse 28 Agrippa tells Paul: “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” The early church did not call themselves “Christian,” they used the words “believers,” “saints,” or “brethren.” The word “Christian” was used by the people of the world as a subject of scorn. The last place that “Christian” is used is here in I Peter 4. Just months after Peter wrote this epistle, Rome started persecuting the Christians.

We should expect suffering because we have an enemy—the devil. Everything that is pure and good, the devil will hate it with a passion. This is because the devil is the exact opposite of pure—he is filthy and vile.

All through history Satan has been trying to destroy the saints of God. Just read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. People were burned to death, stretched apart, and much more horrific and pain-inflicting things just because a person identified with Jesus Christ. Everything in the world is about identification. The world wants you to indentify with them. For example, in some gangs, you have to have a certain tattoo to identify with them. Or to be a part of the “cool” group in school, you have to wear certain clothing or talk in a certain way.

We should expect suffering because we live in a fallen world.

Cain slaying Abel (Gen 4)
Cain before the slain Abel.

We should expect suffering because we have chosen a life contrary to the world. The world mocks that which does not join their party. The world hates us because we identify with Jesus Christ. John 15:18-19 “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have c hosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” Remember I John 3:11-13. John is talking about Cain and Abel. Abel was bring a blood sacrifice to God while Cain was bringing vegetables. I’m sure Cain was saying “It’s the heart that matters.” But God had set specific standards and Cain was ignoring that standard. Therefore, Cain slew Abel because Able did what was right and Cain was not. I Peter 2:21 “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” II Timothy 3:12 “ Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

We are called to suffering. Yes. Us. Americans. Not just the Africans, but US IN AMERICA. This does not mean that we should go out and try to suffer. No, suffering will come. It not just being excluded from being “apart of the gang,” but it also means that people will misread you and misunderstand you. People from your own family will look at you strange and whisper behind you back about how strange you are. This is all because you have chosen a life with Jesus Christ and the world will persecute you for that decision.