Friday, January 13, 2012

A Call to Suffer in the Time of Ease

In my study, as I am preparing my sermon for Sunday, I came across a great verse in Isaiah.  It is a prophecy about the suffering of our Savior Jesus Christ.  "Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand."  Isaiah 53:10  

The "him" who was crushed was Jesus Christ.  Then His life was made a guilt offering (payment for our sin and guilt).   And then it says, "He will see his offspring (spiritual children) and prolong his days ( be raised from the dead for eternity).  Then it says, "and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand." 

What is the will of the Lord?  In 2 Peter 3:8-9 it says, "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."

I quote in part... "He (being the Lord) is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentence.  (change your mind, return to God).  Jesus called sinners to repent in Matthew 9:12-13:  On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

So, what's the point?  If Christ suffered for us so we could repent (turn around, do an about face towards God) what does the Lord call us to do?  One part is that we are called to suffer.  The truth is the Great Commission will be accomplished but it will come with suffering.  Matthew 24:9 and 14 say: "Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me."   "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."

The purpose or the will of God will be accomplished but it will come about with suffering...really?  I must be honest, we seldom, if ever, hear this in our churches.  Are you ready to suffer for Christ?  If not, we should ask ourselves why.  I knew my answer, "because I don't want to."   I do not want to suffer.  Deep down inside I'm a wimp.  What is your answer?

The Marines advertise "we just need a few good men" meaning only those who need to apply must willing to sacrifice and die for the cause.  God does not ask for a few but He asks all of us to be willing to die for Him.  A heady and sobering call in these days of ease and of "having too much of everything."   God Help us. Amen

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