“Suffering With Him”

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Today we begin our third week of prayer and fasting as we also journey into the Heartwork devotion. This morning’s Heartwork devotion is entitled, “Day 16: Co-suffering with Christ.” Intriguingly, suffering in some cultures is normal while in other cultures it is not. Suffering on any level is often met with a little whine and a little pill (or several). Many people are allergic to suffering; when it starts, they break out in hurt all over….

Suffering for Jesus 2 Peter 2~19

Every Christian must realize that at some point in their lives they are going to suffer for Jesus, but not in ways that we may think. For instance, when our brothers and sisters suffer, our suffering may be joining them in theirs. When we are suffering for them, we are actually suffering for Him.

At least this is how I read 1 Corinthians 12:26 (main text noted below).

Or perhaps I should be phrasing all this as questions?

Is it possible that my current pain is but a reflection of the vicarious suffering for a brother or sister who is right now suffering in a prison cell in some distant land? Are we that connected in the Body of Christ as v. 27 seems to imply?

If Jesus suffered vicariously (in the place of) me and my sins, and I want to be more like Jesus, does it not also follow that I, too, will suffer for others—be it their sins or their personal suffering?

What are your thoughts on this ?

Main Text: — 1 Corinthians 12:26 (NASB95)— And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

    Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of His body, which is the church.— Colossians 1:24 (NIV)

For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.— 2 Corinthians 1:5 (NIV84)

 I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.— Philippians 3:10–11 (NIV84)

Heavenly Father, as You empower me by Your Holy Spirt to endure the sufferings that You have in advanced prepared for me to walk in, may I be faithful to carry this cross as the Lord Jesus Christ is honor in and through my Life…. In His Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

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“Remain at Your Post”

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Date: 02-14–15

Text: — Nehemiah 6:10-13 — 10 One day I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was shut in at his home. He said, “Let us meet in the house of God, inside the temple, and let us close the temple doors, because men are coming to kill you—by night they are coming to kill you.” 11 But I said, “Should a man like me run away? Or should one like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go!” 12 I realized that God had not sent him, but that he had prophesied against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 He had been hired to intimidate me so that I would commit a sin by doing this, and then they would give me a bad name to discredit me. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: When faced with opposition, stand strong and remain at your post.

My Thoughts: 

Truly, there are those times we need to withdraw and regroup, but there are also those times when we remain strong and stay at our post. We do this for several reasons. In the above passage, Nehemiah shows us that one reason is being a strong leader. As a strong leader, one must demonstrate integrity by remaining strong at our post. I see this in v. 11 above: “should a man like me.” Nehemiah was a man of integrity, and as a wise and strong leader, he did what he expected those he led to do: Do not be intimidated by the enemy’s lies; stand strong at your post!

Lifestyle worshiper, right now you may be enduring lies and misinformation about you or your circumstances. You may be encountering those who are trying to intimidate you into ‘leaving your post’. Stand strong! Remain at your post. And do this not just for your own integrity’s sake, but also for the sake of those you are posted to protect! You are building walls from the debris of broken relationships. Your success may not be as evident to you as it is to others, but many are looking to you. They see your courage, your integrity, and your faithfulness. Stand strong! Remain at your post!

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

— Ephesians 6:10-11 (NIV84)

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.

— Galatians 6:9 (NASB95)

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

— Joshua 1:9 (NASB95)

  Lord Jesus Christ,  be my strength as I stand against the schemes of the wicked one. You desire to rebuild! He has come to tear down. You restore. He scatters. You heal. He wounds. Blessed be Your Name for You are greater in and through me than he that is in the world. Amen.

Pastor Mike

“The First Targeted”

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Date: 02-12–15

Text: — Nehemiah 4:3-6 — 3 Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!” 4 Hear us, O our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. 5 Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of the builders. 6 So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: Resist the enemy’s tactic by keeping the lines of communication open as we face the salvos of opposition in our daily lives.

My Thoughts: 

In any military operation, one of the first things targeted is communications. Whether it be through jamming the airwaves, shooting the RTO or bombing the HQ, the tactic is to disrupt communications so to cause confusion and isolation….

Lifestyle worshiper, has this happened to you? When was the last time you prayed to the Lord? Has this tactic been successfully used on you? I know I need to be mindful of my prayer life. When my prayer times diminish, I start to feel isolated and, frankly, confused. “What does the Lord want me to do?” Well, have I checked in with HQ to hear my orders?

Did you notice that Nehemiah kept his lines of communication open in v. 4? Yeah, his prayer is rather challenging for some of us (and perhaps we will deal with the content in later writings) but notice: He immediately goes to prayer. As a matter of fact in chapters 4 & 6, three of the four times Nehemiah prays in these chapters are recorded. He clearly did not let the enemy’s tactic of disrupting communications be successful….

So if it has been a while since you’ve prayed, or if you’ve flagged a wee bit in the last few weeks, join me in keeping our lines of communication open as we face the salvos of opposition in our daily lives.

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”  — Matthew 26:36-41 (NIV84)

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.— Romans 12:12 (NIV84)

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. — Ephesians 6:18 (NIV84)

  Lord Jesus Christ,  ignite in my soul a  passion for prayer. Allow me to move toward a running dialogue with You. And in the silence, let my ears be attentive to Your still, small voice. Penetrate the noise in my life with Your Words of Peace and  Joy. Direct my steps as I face the salvos of opposition in my life.  In Your Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

“God’s Will & Opposition”

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Date: 02-10–15

Text: — Nehemiah 4:1-3 — 1 When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, 2 and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?” 3 Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!” [NIV84]

The Big Idea: Expecting opposition better prepares us for it; Expecting victory through the opposition fuels our resolve and doubles our joy.

My Thoughts: 

Finally, we act; we step out in bold faith and confident assurance because we are so convinced the Lord wants us to do something. We move in the direction we sense He is prompting us. Suddenly, almost without warning, “Slam!” We’re hit by some resistance; some terrible opposition to our direction. Questions flood our minds as doubt floods our souls. “Did I hear the Lord right? Why all this difficulty and struggle? Why this opposition?”

Lifestyle worshiper, does this describe you? Are you one that feels that any opposition demonstrates that you are out of God’s will? Allow me to suggest to you that, in fact, opposition is almost certain to come when you are doing the will of God. As the old WWII saying goes, “You know you’re close to the target when the flack starts flying!”

I was one who would whine and complain with each wave of opposition, but I am learning that through the passage of time and the presence of struggle the character of Christ is forged in me. So as I walk in obedience to the Lord; as I fulfill the dreams and destiny that He has designed for me, I will encounter strong opposition as Nehemiah did (noted in the above passage). And, as Nehemiah did not: I will not complain or whine to the Lord. Instead, I will follow his example and pray to the Lord Almighty: “Hear us, O our God, for we are despised” (4:4). And keep working….

Expecting opposition better prepares us for it; Expecting victory through the opposition fuels our resolve and doubles our joy.

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it.

— 2 Timothy 3:12-14 (NIV84)

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. — Philippians 1:27-28 (NIV84)

Then [Paul & Barnabas] returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. — Acts 14:21b-22 (NIV84)

  Lord Jesus Christ,  forgive me for giving up when the slightest hint of opposition arises. Fuel my passion with the Power of Your Holy Spirit to overcome the opposition and persevere  in Your strength to accomplish Your bidding.  In Your Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike