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23 May 2012

Victorious Living - 23 May

We discovered that Christ is our example for suffering. We know that because the world hates Him, it will hate us, and we found out that suffering is part of the deal because we are sinners. Next, let’s look at the ways that Christ’s example can help us respond to trials.

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2  so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. 3 For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. 4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; 5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does. …
Suffering as a Christian
12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14  If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. 1 Peter 4:1-19 (ESV)

In what ways might a believer suffer? When you suffer, what are you supposed to do? What are you not supposed to do? Is it difficult for you to endure suffering and trust in God?

Our society always wants to find out “what’s in it for ME”? According to these verses, what benefit do you get from suffering?

What will happen to the people who malign you for not folding to peer pressure? Why should we keep presenting the Gospel to those people?

It’s easy to look at these verses, read about people who malign us for not following the world, become “holier than thou” and seeing that they will give an account to God, maybe even cheering a little at the thought. Realistically, weren’t you a them before you came to Christ?

If your response to your persecutors is the same response they would expect of themselves – maybe you tend to argue, or scream, or curse, or punch a wall? Can you ask Jesus to help you change any behaviors that might help the unbeliever to think that “Christians are just hypocrites”? Can you stand quietly and pray?

I’m learning to pray for my enemies. It’s NOT fun. It’s HARD. I use the Psalms to help because I just can’t do it on my own right now. Here’s the Psalm I currently use.

May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! 2 May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion! 3 May he remember all your offerings and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah 4 May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans! 5 May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! May the Lord fulfill all your petitions!  Psalms 20:1-5 (ESV)

If you’ve never prayed Scripture, you may not know what to do. Let’s call our enemy “Dayzy” (that’s my dog’s name). If I were praying for her as an enemy, it might look like this:

Dear Lord, as I remember Dayzy today, I ask that You answer Dayzy in the day of trouble! If she has difficulties today, Lord, please smooth her way. Please protect her!  Please send your angels from the sanctuary to protect Dayzy and give her the support she needs. Lord, please grant Dayzy the desire of her heart today and give her the strength to fulfill all her plans! May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners to rejoice in the mercies you’ve shown her! May the Lord fulfill all her petitions!

Can you use this Psalm, or another scripture that is meaningful to you, to give you a basis for praying for your enemies the way God would want you to? Will this change your attitude toward the Dayzys in your life? I have consistently prayed this prayer toward a Dayzy and it’s really paid off. There was a situation where in the past my choice would have been to speak about her to a friend. That’s GOSSIP. Instead, I pulled the Psalm up on my handy phone, and prayed through these verses for her. By the time I was done, the desire to cut her down verbally had passed. As a result, my testimony was intact and others who saw the incident were reminded that I try to keep God in control of my mouth and actions. Does that happen every time? I wish – but sadly, it does not. Every day it gets better, with Christ’s help!

Which scripture will YOU choose to use to help you pray for your enemy when you feel mistreated? Please email me or leave a comment. I’d really like to know!

See you Friday.

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