Join with me in suffering

This chapter keeps finding its way to my eyes. It is a reminder to not focus with quarrling with the world. Quarreling doesnt lead to conviction. It doesnt lead to Christ. We are to handle the world with gentle instruction always living with hope that a seed was planted. It is up to each person to decide if they will disown Him or not. Quarreling wont change that.

This time, though, one verse popped out to me:
“Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus”
I hate that word. Suffering. Why in the world would I want to JOIN someone in suffering? I dont want to invite suffering into my life!! Then the Spirit guided my thoughts to an understanding. We certainly dont have to invite suffering into our lives for it to make a dramatic appearance, but being a follower of Christ does present a unique set of struggles. We must deny our flesh when we really want to argue with others, turn away from sinful things that distract us, and hold on to a truth the world tries to lable as wrong or even judgmentally hateful and not inclusive. In any and all suffering we are to join together in Christ. We are to suffer with Christ as He did on the cross. He never took His eyes off of His end results. He never took His eyes off the joy that would be set before Him when it was finished. During His time of sorrow He still asked for God’s will to be done even knowing what that will was about to do to Him. He didnt turn to alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, food, etc..to dull the pain. He suffered for us so we can have a savior to walk us through the pain and has endured every ounce of pain we could ever come across. Have you ever tried to talk to someone about a problem that they have never experienced? About a pain they know nothing about? They can say all the kind words they are supposed to say but how does that compare to speaking to someone that has experienced that pain and more, endured it, and lived in joy on the other side of it. It is a whole different conversation isnt it? All suffering has a purpose. I know. I know that is hard to hear. Whether you believe in Christ or not…you will have suffering. For believers, when we join Christ in that suffering…when we take Him our suffering and lean on His love, guidance, and will through it. When we keep our eyes on the joy set before us as Christ did. We grow. We endure. We find peace amongst the suffering. Joy even. I dont want to talk to you about suffering. But when I talk to you about how Christ is right there with us giving us strength. That nothing is without a purpose. That God can be so trusted that you can walk through this fire and not even smell like smoke. That, because of Christ, you dont need what the world has to offer to get you through the suffering. You can overcome it and be a victor over it instead of a victim of it. Well…that’s a whole different conversation, isn’t it?

2 Timothy 2
New International Version
The Appeal Renewed
2 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. 3 Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. 5 Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. 6 The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. 7 Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.

8 Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

11 Here is a trustworthy saying:

If we died with him,
we will also live with him;
12 if we endure,
we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
he will also disown us;
13 if we are faithless,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.

Dealing With False Teachers
14 Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 16 Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 17 Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have departed from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”

20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

22 Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

This is the way

Sometimes the first step is just knowing that it is wrong. Christ can take it from there. Let the bible be your compass and Christ be your navigator.

Isaiah 30:21

21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

And God said

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

How?

Let’s look at the first 3 words of verses 3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26, 29 in Genesis. Those words are “And God said”.

His words have the power to bring this whole earth into existence.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

What else is referred to as God’s word?

The bible. The same Word that had the power to bring this world into existence resides in that book that you can easily possess. You want life changing power in your life? Are you in a spot that seems impossible to get out of? Habits impossible to break? You know where to go.

This is how we fight our battles

God has provided us with tools to fight our battles. It is up to us to learn those tools daily. When a battle hits we must be able to pull that tool like it is second nature. So well versed in it that it is just part of us. If we are not in the word daily then how can we expect to be able to use it when we need it? Staying in the word even when life is going our way helps us to stay trained up and proactive instead of only getting in the word as a reactive response. I would rather win the battle in the early phase instead of having to be knocked down first. It may look like I’m surrounded but I’m surrounded by You! This is how we fight our battles!

His purpose alone

This is part of the prophesy of Jesus, written hundreds of years before He came. Two sentences stick out to me. “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” And “a man of suffering, familiar with pain” He was not sent here in the name of beauty. He was never meant for that. His looks and stature in life were never what was important. He was sent here with a purpose and He lived for that alone. He was always meant to take all the pain of sin and bear it so that someday we will no longer feel it. We may suffer for a little while but joy comes in the morning! (Psalm 30:5) Some sweet day we will rest in the true beauty of our Lord who understands our pain. Just look at how He was rejected and eventually “pierced for our transgressions”. These actions were prophesied long before they happened! Jesus always knew. He was never surprised by the actions that took place, yet He came here anyway. He isnt surprised by your actions either, yet He sent you here anyway. You are here for a purpose. Maybe you dont feel you have great beauty that attracts others to you. Maybe you strive for that. You dont have to. Maybe you feel that you suffer great pains and no one could possibly understand. There is a Man that does understand every bit of it, and He is a Man that promised to turn all bad to good if you will just give it to Him(Romans 8:28). “By his wounds, we are healed” Resurrect what Jesus has put inside of you. We all have purpose. My prayer is that we all see that, understand it, and live for that purpose alone. In Christ name, Amen

Judgement

Acknowledging sin is not judging. Judging is when you pick apart someone’s sin, talk about it to others as if you dont suffer from sin, and look down on that person because of their sin. We are ALL guilty of being judgmental. It is impossible not to be, but we can ALL strive to do better. Let’s take the half time show for example. (I know, old subject now but stick with me). There are some that called those women trash. There are some that called their behavior trashy. Both sound pretty harsh. When I prayed over how to feel about situations like that, situations where sin is blatantly happening, God gave me an answer last night. Love those women. Are they willingly getting on that stage and possibly performing the same kind of dances that got John the Baptist beheaded? Maybe. Some say since they are doing this willingly then they are not being exploited. But God says they are being exploited. They are exploited by the enemy causing them to feel they have to behave that way to be entertaining. It is the same way I am exploited when the enemy convinces me that Im not strong enough to fight off cravings to eat, or that I shouldnt have to keep my mouth shut when Im angry. Honestly, it was only a few years ago that I felt like I had to be drunk and dance crazy to be entertaining as well. I love these women as Jesus loves me. I will pray for them. I will pray for our President. I will pray for Pelosi. I will pray for drunk drivers that caused life ending damage. I will pray for myself and my family. Anytime a nerve is struck by the enemy that makes me want to judge them, I will remember to love them instead. We were all made by the same God. Maybe choices we or others choose can make that hard to remember at times, but it is never wrong to pray.

2 Corinthians 10:4
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds

Lord, help us to discern judgment from acknowledgment of sin. Help us to remember to pray for others while remembering we need others to pray for us. Thank You Lord for Your prayer warriors and remind us that prayer is always our strongest weapon and our responsibility as Your family. In Christ name, Amen

Lessons I have learned from hunting and the Bible

  1. You can pray all day for a blessing that God has promised, but if you won’t sit still and be quiet you can delay that blessing until you do. Just like a deer.

Psalm 62:5 For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.

  1. You have to watch for blessings. If you keep your head down and sights on worldly things then a blessing can walk right past you and you will never even know it was there. Just like a deer.

Matthew 26:41 Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

  1. Sometimes the blessing isn’t what you expect. Sometimes the blessing isn’t if you receive what you prayed for, but what you exprience while you are waiting. It’s hearing the birds and the squirrels come to life as the sun rises. It’s watching the rabbit dance around the field. It’s seeing how nature behaves when it doesn’t know you are watching. You have to learn from and appreciate your experiences in the waiting because sometimes what you think you need never shows up. Just like a deer.

Proverbs 16:9 The mind of man plans his way but the Lord directs his steps.

  1. Never stop praying and looking to God for wisdom. Just because the answer didn’t show up today doesn’t mean it is not on its way. Have faith, be patient, and keep showing up. Eventually, you will get it. Just like a deer.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.