Thursday, November 5, 2009

Devotional 051109

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. May our Lord grant you new strength to face the challenge of this new day! It is exciting to see how life unfolds each day, regardless of how boring or stressful it may be. If you walk with Christ, you know each day is a new lesson about His grace.

"Rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ's sufferings" (1 Peter 4:13). If you are going to be used by God, He will take you through a multitude of experiences that are not meant for you at all, they are meant to make you useful in His hands, and to enable you to understand what transpires in other souls so that you will never be surprised at what you come across. Oh, I can't deal with that person. Why not? God gave you ample opportunity to soak before Him on that line, and you argued off because it seemed stupid to spend time in that way.

The sufferings of Christ are not those of ordinary men. He suffered "according to the will of God," not from the point of view we suffer from as individuals. It is only when we are related to Jesus Christ that we can understand what God is after in His dealings with us. It is part of Christian culture to know what God's aim is. In the history of the Christian Church the tendency has been to evade being identified with the sufferings of Jesus Christ; men have sought to acquire the carrying out of God's order by a short cut of their own. God's way is always the way of suffering, the way of the "long, long trail."

Are we partakers of Christ's sufferings? Are we prepared for God to stamp our personal ambitions right out? Are we prepared for God to destroy by transfiguration our individual determinations? It will not mean that we know exactly why God is taking us that way that would make us spiritual brags. We never realize at the time what God is putting us through; we go through suffering more or less misunderstandingly; then we come to a realization stage, and say - ' 'Why, God has equipped me, though I did not know it!"

I believe that bearing our cross to follow Christ was God’s way to prepare us to face different challenges of life. Our Lord’s teaching for us is to intentionally train our souls to encounter suffering without fear. It may appear to be ridiculous when our Lord said, “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also…If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles” (Matt 5:39-42). To Christ, the first strike or draft was involuntary but the second one was voluntary; it requires exercising your free will to accept pain or suffering for a divine purpose: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matt 5:44-45). In the same token, Jesus challenged his followers, “Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27). Being the follower of Christ is to imitate Christ. And to imitate Christ is to identify with his death and suffering for mankind. As we do, we can truly echo Paul’s claim, “I can do everything (or encounter every situation) through him who gives me strength” (Phil 4:13).

Our Lord purposefully wants to equip His disciples to become special task forces like Navy Seals to accomplish His salvation plan on earth. Navy Seals are the Special Operations Forces of the United States Navy, employed in direct action and special reconnaissance operations. SEALs are also capable of undertaking unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, hostage rescue, counter-terrorism, and other missions. They had to endure a lot of suffering and went through very difficult training in order to earn their title. We don’t need to earn our title as the children of God. We received it through the suffering of Christ. But God wants those who received this free gift imitate the life of His Son. Continue to train us, O Lord, to be more Christ like each day.

Love you as Christ loves me,

No comments: