“But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me…: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.” Acts 9:15-16
It’s amazing. When Christians speak today, of suffering for Christ’s sake, it sounds nothing like the suffering of the Apostles. We say we are being attacked by the enemy; or that we are going through trials, because we are serving and seeking GOD. But truly, most of us have no clue what it means to suffer for Christ’s sake. A couple of years ago, our ministry was doing our regular street outreach; praying for people, serving food, distributing Bibles, etc…. and when we went inside of the building for a few minutes, someone stole my car. Is that suffering for Christ’s sake? Is that suffering for the kingdom? No!
When people are a part of the church and someone is laughing at them; or talking about them; or even refusing to speak to them…they say they are under attack and suffering because they are trying to walk right. This is not suffering for Christ’s sake. But Paul…… now he suffered for CHRIST’S sake. Paul gave up his position; ignored his education; was rejected by friends; hated by enemies; beaten for preaching; imprisoned for teaching; went without enough to eat, or enough to wear. This was all for Christ’s sake; and he did not cry about it; whine about it; or regret it… but he was glad about it!
The apostles…now THEY suffered for CHRIST’S sake. “…They called the apostles in and had them flogged (beaten). Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.” Acts 5:40-42 NIV
They were beaten, for preaching and teaching. They were told not to do it again. They rejoiced; and they continued to teach; and they never stopped! This is suffering for CHRIST’S sake. People of GOD; the call to CHRIST is not one of material gain and high praise from man. The call is one to suffer; to be persecuted (as JESUS promised); to be set apart for GOD, and set apart from the world. It is a call to suffer…. So that we can partake in the suffering with CHRIST now, and rejoice in HIS coming later!
“ But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” I Peter 4:13 NIV
Paul says, “ Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.” 2 Corinthians 11:24-27
We must grow up and learn to suffer for CHRIST’S sake.
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