“Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” 2Ti 3:12
Living a godly life will not insulate you from hardship. Paul said that the more blameless your life, the more likely you will be persecuted. According to Paul, “evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse” (2Ti 3:13).
As the world increasingly embraces sin, worldly people are becoming increasingly intolerant of godliness. Darkness cannot tolerate light; the more your life illuminates the presence of Christ, the more you should expect opposition from the forces of darkness.
Your Christlike nature will be offensive to those in rebellion against Christ’s Lordship. You may have recently repented of your sin and taken a new step of obedience to God. Perhaps you expected to experience God’s blessing immediately as He demonstrated His approval of your obedience. Instead, you were met with opposition.
The persecution may have come even from other Christians who misunderstood your motives. Perhaps you obeyed God, and still your actions were met with criticism instead of praise. If you are sincerely following the Lord’s direction, don’t be discouraged.
Paul warned that those who seek to live godly lives will suffer persecution. Do not be surprised when this happens to you. If the world crucified the Son of God, surely the world will be hostile to anyone who lives by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Persecution may be the best evidence that your life is like that of Christ. Jesus warned that the world hated Him, the Savior, and so it would certainly misunderstand and mistreat His disciples (John 15:18).
The kind of prayer that moves mountains is prayer for the fruitfulness of God’s Kingdom. It would seem impossible to move a mountain into the sea, so Jesus used that picture to say that God can do anything. God will answer your prayers, but not as a result of your positive mental attitude.
Other conditions must be met:
(1) You must be a believer;
(2) you must not hold a grudge against another person;
(3) you must not pray with selfish motives;
(4) your request must be for the good of God’s Kingdom.
To pray effectively, you need faith in God, not faith in the object of your request. If you focus only on your request, you will be left with nothing when your request is refused. Be a person of prayer, and watch God move mountains.
“When He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was” (John 11:6).
Has God trusted you with His silence—a silence that has great meaning? God’s silences are actually His answers. Just think of those days of absolute silence in the home at Bethany! Is there anything comparable to those days in your life? Can God trust you like that, or are you still asking Him for a visible answer? God will give you the very blessings you ask if you refuse to go any further without them, but His silence is the sign that He is bringing you into an even more wonderful understanding of Himself.
Are you mourning before God because you have not had an audible response? When you cannot hear God, you will find that He has trusted you in the most intimate way possible—with absolute silence, not a silence of despair, but one of pleasure, because He saw that you could withstand an even bigger revelation.
If God has given you a silence, then praise Him—He is bringing you into the mainstream of His purposes. The actual evidence of the answer in time is simply a matter of God’s sovereignty. Time is nothing to God. For a while you may have said, “I asked God to give me bread, but He gave me a stone instead” (see Matthew 7:9). He did not give you a stone, and today you find that He gave you the “bread of life” (John 6:35).
A wonderful thing about God’s silence is that His stillness is contagious—it gets into you, causing you to become perfectly confident so that you can honestly say, “I know that God has heard me.” His silence is the very proof that He has. As long as you have the idea that God will always bless you in answer to prayer, He will do it, but He will never give you the grace of His silence.
If Jesus Christ is bringing you into the understanding that prayer is for the glorifying of His Father, then He will give you the first sign of His intimacy—silence.
“And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.” Mt 25:10
There is no substitute for spiritual preparation. Spiritual preparation equips you for unforeseen crises or opportunities. However, if you are unprepared you will be vulnerable in life’s unexpected events.
Jesus told a parable that teaches this truth. Ten virgins were awaiting the arrival of the bridegroom so that they could celebrate with him and his bride. Five of them prepared in advance and brought an adequate supply of oil for their lamps. The other five were not prepared, so they rushed out to buy additional lamp oil. While they were gone, the bridegroom arrived. The five who had planned ahead entered into the house with him, but the door was closed against the five who were not ready, and they missed the celebration.
If you are spiritually prepared when a crisis comes, you will not have to try to develop instantly the quality of relationship with Christ that can sustain you. If you suddenly have an opportunity to share your faith with an unbeliever, you will be equipped to do so.
If you enter a time of worship spiritually prepared, you will not miss an encounter with God. If you are spiritually filled when you meet a person in sorrow, you will have much to offer. If you have established safeguards in your life in advance, you will not give in to temptation.
Christians lose many opportunities to experience God’s activity because they have not devoted enough time to their relationship with God. If you have not yet developed the habit of daily prayer and Bible study, why not begin now, so that you will be equipped for whatever life brings?
During the early centuries of the church there were groups that denied the true humanity of Christ. But the reverse is the emphasis today. In the past two hundred years liberal theology has vigorously expressed a denial of Christ’s deity.
Yet C. S. Lewis was correct when he said that the only options available concerning the Person of Christ were: He was a liar, a lunatic, or Lord. Considering the enormous claims that Christ made, it would be impossible simply to designate Him a “good teacher.” He claimed to be much more than a teacher.
To affirm that Christ is God is not simply to suggest He is “God-like.” Christ is absolutely equal with the Father in His Person and His work. Christ is undiminished deity. In commenting on the phrase “(Christ) existed in the form of God” in Philippians 2:6,
B. B. Warfield says, “He is declared, in the most express manner possible, to be all that God is, to possess the whole fulness of attributes which make God God.”
Chastisement at the hand of God is the experience of every Christian. Individuals who are not true children of God know nothing of it, Heb. 12:8; 1 Pet. 5:9.
Scourging in Heb. 12:6 is understood to refer to the breaking of the stubborn human will.
Chastening includes every form of discipline imposed by a loving Father as He prepares His children to reign with Christ.
Four possible attitudes toward chastening are suggested in Heb. 12.
Some may despise divine discipline, that is, think lightly of it, v. 5.
Others may faint or become disheartened, v. 5.
It is possible simply to endure chastisement with stoical resignation, v. 7;
but those who are exercised thereby reap great benefits, v. 11.