The Fellowship of His Sufferings 3
In our last two articles we saw that Christians suffer satanically inspired affliction and persecution. The goal of this affliction and persecution is to discourage and if possible, through sickness and premature death, stop us from progressing to the fullness of Christ in our Christian race. We also saw however that God intends for us to overcome and be delivered from all afflictions (Ps. 34:19) and persecutions (2 Tim.4:18). We also saw that we suffer for two main reasons: to give God a legal basis to eternally punish Satan and to break the pride of the residual satanic nature in our souls and flesh.
In our article this week, we want to examine how we can endure and overcome in our sufferings.
In Romans. 12.12 we read,
Romans 12:12 (KJV) Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
When we suffer satanically inspired affliction or persecution we endure and overcome it by rejoicing in hope, being consistent in maintaining an attitude of loyalty to God and victory during the time of suffering: this will involve denying self to trust and obey God when you don’t feel like it. Finally with this attitude of joy and trust in God, even when things are negative in your mind, body and circumstances, you continue in regular, fervent and effectual prayer.
In order to do these things we must understand and then practice self denial.
Luke 9:23-24 (KJV) And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
To deny self is to do the will of God, especially and firstly in prayer and regular fasting, when your mind and flesh do not feel like it.
When you regularly or make it a daily habit as Jesus put it here, to take up your cross by daily prayer in the spirit and regular fasting on a weekly basis, you crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts. This then makes it possible and easy to deny self in other areas like our desire for material things and our ambitions or the pride of life when they are in conflict with the will of God.
It is vital to see that if you do not practice self denial to give time to daily prayer in the spirit, for at least one hour, as a goal that you gradually attain and increase as you grow spiritually, you will not be able to practice self denial in other areas of your life.
To give adequate time to prayer and fasting you must deny self in sleeping, eating and other legitimate pleasures of life, liking entertainment and watching TV etc. This is not to say we are not to enjoy these things (1 Tim. 6: 17), but we are to reduce them or deny them completely occasionally so that we can give enough time to prayer, the study, confession and meditation of the Word of God daily. In other words we are to prioritize our time to give God first (Matt. 6:33, Rev. 2: 4-5) place in our lives. In fact we teach that we should make it a goal, we should gradually attain and even surpass, to tithe our time like we should tithe our money. Give God 2 and a half to 3 hours of your time daily: 1-2 hours of prayer in the spirit and 1 hour of study, confession and meditation in the Word. This may sound almost impossible at first considering all the other vital responsibilities we have to do at home and at work.
However, if you simply cut out some time from your sleep, food and entertainment like watching TV, reading newspapers, long time of talking or gossiping you will discover that indeed it can be done and maintained by the grace of God.
In fact this was the example of what Christ did as a daily habit to learn obedience. He tells us in Luke 9:23 above to follow his example.
Hebrews 5:7-9 (KJV) Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
We see from this scripture above that it was Jesus’ daily habit, to offer up prayer and supplication with strong crying and tears (or fervency) with an attitude of the fear of God. The spiritual power generated in the place of prayer enabled him them to suffer self denial and obey God even when He did not feel like it.
The greatest example of this was at the Garden of Gethsemane when He said:
Luke 22:42-44 (KJV) Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
It is important to see here that according to Heb. 5: 7 above this was what Jesus did as a daily habit all His life and not just at Gethsemane alone.
Furthermore, it is instructive to contrast what Jesus did in prayer at Gethsemane and his subsequent obedience, with Peter’s slothfulness in prayer and his subsequent denial of Christ under pressure even though he had good intentions.
Matthew 26:40-41 (KJV) And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
So we are to follow the example of Christ in our daily lives by daily prayer in the spirit with an attitude of the fear of the Lord this will then give us the power to further deny self and obey God in other areas of our life.
Rejoicing in hope
With the background of daily denial of self to give adequate time to prayer and the Word you will then be able to rejoice in hope. This is because prayer and the Word will give you revelation of your coming victory over the situation and also of your eternal resurrection.
When you are faced with a negative situation and circumstance, like Job for instance, who had his wealth, family and health taken away by Satan’s attack you can still rejoice in the hope of your coming victory and of your eternal resurrection. In fact when all other physical hope is lost or obscure it is the hope of our resurrection that keeps us faithful to God in our tribulations.
Job 13:15 (KJV) Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.
1 Corinthians 15:19 (KJV) If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
Job 19:25-26 (KJV) For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
Daniel 3:17-18 (KJV) If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
Revelation 12:11 (KJV) And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
Now the joy of this hope of deliverance from your situation and of your eternal resurrection will give you the strength (Neh. 8:10) to be patient in tribulation and continue steadfastly in prayer. Without this hope there would be no joy and strength to overcome the satanic attack of affliction and persecution.
Patient in tribulation and continuing steadfastly in prayer
With this hope and joy you can be patient or consistent in maintaining a victorious and militant attitude in the middle of the satanic attack.
2 Timothy 2:3 (KJV) Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
Remember that even though Jesus is in your boat (representing your life and circumstances) it does not mean the storm will not come (Mark 4: 35-39).
However the storm will not sink the boat of your life if you continue steadfast in prayer.
The Word continue here is significant. It implies that you should already have had the habit of prayer even before afflictions or persecutions arise. Like we said above, develop the daily habit of self denial to give time to prayer and the Word, then when tribulation comes as it surely will, you will have the hope, strength and patience to continue in prayer and speak to the storm like Jesus did causing peace and victory to prevail in your situation.
Somebody may say, Pastor I’ve been negligent and lazy in my prayer life and the Word how can I overcome my present tribulations? Thank God, God is merciful and He will send His Word to heal you and deliver you from your destructions (Ps. 107:20).
E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will pray for you or go to an anointed man of God to pray for you and break the yoke of your present situation over you. Then begin to daily deny self to attain and maintain time with God in daily effectual fervent prayer and the Word so you can rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, continuing steadfast in prayer and so overcome every affliction and persecution you suffer.
In conclusion we see that we do suffer as Christians. We suffer attacks of satanic affliction and persecution. To overcome them we must further suffer self denial to give time to God in prayer in the spirit and the Word. Remember if we suffer with Him we will also reign with Him both in this life and in the world to come.
2 Timothy 3:12 (KJV) Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
2 Timothy 2:12 (KJV) If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:
1 Timothy 4:8 (KJV) For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.