Are You Ready?

“Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” (Matthew 10:17-20)

“Calvary is God’s great proof that suffering in the will of God always leads to glory.”
-Warren Wiersbe
Jesus’ words to His disciples regarding the response they should anticipate from His message appears anything but encouraging. He taught them they were to expect suffering–on His account–in carrying out His ministry. Floggings, arrests, and fears in speaking certainly do not promote warm fuzzies and sweet dreams! Yet our Lord also directed the disciples on how to bear up under these trials, how to go on with His works even in the midst of suffering. He also tells them how to battle and abate fear –the great enemy of faith.
“To added affliction He addeth His mercy, to multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.”
-Annie Johnson Flint
This instruction all in an effort for them to be readied for battle and to remain at peace in every circumstance. It is our Lord’s desire for His disciples to be alert to the fact of these possibilities and to be on guard so as not to be taken by surprise by the enemy. Jesus’ words to us in John comes to mind:

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.” (John 15:18-21)

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

“Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger … these are nothing when compared with the glory that will be revealed in, and for us.” -David Livingstone
Scripture teaches us that following Jesus often results in the world’s hatred. James tells us that friendship with the world is hatred toward God:

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. (James 4:4)

We often think that selflessness, suffering, trials, and tribulations are foreign to the will of God. Actually, nothing is further from the truth. Just take a look at the selfless life Jesus lived and suffered through for the benefit of all sinful humanity. Christ foresaw His sufferings as well as those of His followers and He bids us to go forth as He resolutely went forth Himself. He gives us a heads up in order that we will neither be surprised nor shocked by persecution in our walks of faith. He desires that we be strengthened and encouraged as a prediction fulfilled brings confirmation that we are walking rightly. Peter also stressed that we are not to be surprised when difficulties come:

“It is in the quiet crucible of our personal private sufferings that our noblest dreams are born and God’s greatest gifts are given; often given in compensation for what we have been through.” -Wintley Phipps

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:12-13)

Paul wrote:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30)

Take It to Heart

“On Him then reckon, to Him look, on Him depend: and be assured that if you walk with Him, look to Him and expect help from Him, He will never fail you. An older brother, who has known the Lord for forty-four years, who writes this, says for your encouragement that He has never failed him. In the greatest difficulties, in the heaviest trials, in the deepest poverty and necessities, He has never failed me; but because I was enabled by His grace to trust in Him, He has always appeared for my help. I delight in speaking well of His Name.” (George Mueller)

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