My posts come from my personal daily scripture readings and a part of my personal accountability. If we are going to grow as followers of Christ, we must be in the Word! If you miss these a few days, something has kept me from it; but if they're gone for too many days, call me on the carpet. We need to hold one another accountable. Join me on this journey as our lives are to Reflect the Image-and Jesus IS the image. Peace, Carla Sunberg
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The rich diversity of the church in Africa after many years and the long slow endurance of many.
Heb. 10:32 But recall those earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to abuse and persecution, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion for those who were in prison, and you cheerfully accepted the plundering of your possessions, knowing that you yourselves possessed something better and more lasting. 35 Do not, therefore, abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward. 36 For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.
Following Christ is a life-long journey of endurance. At times it will be filled with struggles, sufferings, exposure to abuse and persecution and joining others in their pain. Compassion is a mark of endurance, and the sharing of our possessions with those in need. There is confidence in this relationship with Christ and we must endure to the end, through the good times and the bad. That’s how we receive what we were promised; eternity in a relationship with our holy God.
Enduring through difficulties doesn’t sound very inspiring. We all want instant gratification, knowing that what we are doing is going to bring some kind of a result — and soon! But life just doesn’t always work that way. Instead, we are invited into a Christian life, a journey which is for the long-haul. Somehow in God’s estimation, time is simply different, and what may appear to be an eternity to us, is simply the blink of an eye. Therefore, while we are on this journey in the flesh, we are encouraged to endure, for it will be worth it all.
I’ve thought much about endurance during my time in Africa. The church in South Africa will soon celebrate 100 years of ministry, and yet, I imagine that those who were engaged in the work at first, could not imagine what would happen on the continent. A hundred years ago there were 10 million Christians on the entire continent, and by the year 2000, there were 346 million. Projections are that by 2025 there will be 600 million Christians in Africa. Our tribe, the Church of the Nazarene, has doubled in the last ten years, growing to over 750,000 members. Did anyone imagine this happening to Africa 100 years ago? Or was there a lesson on endurance that needed to be learned?
Our confidence is in Christ Jesus, not the things of this world, nor success as defined by this world. Instead, we are to invest with the long-view in mind. Nearly 100 years ago my husband’s great-grandfather sold his worldly possessions to help plant a church in Pennsylvania. He believed that God was calling him to sacrifice for the sake of the kingdom of God, and an investment in a future which he may never see. Yes, the investmentdid result in a vibrant church, but it went way beyond a building. He demonstrated to his children that commitment and obedience to Christ was worth everything. Seeds of faith were planted in the lives of his children, which began to bloom in his grand-children, great-grandchildren and today his great-great grandchildren. So far, 15 of his descendants have attended Nazarene Theological Seminary and served God through some form of ministry, as well as countless others who are faithfully serving in other ways. I don’t think he could have ever imagined the long-term impact of his wholehearted commitment and sacrifice to follow Jesus Christ but he believed in enduring and investing with a long-view in mind.
There will be days of discouragement, but we cling to the promises and continue to press on, enduring in confidence. God is faithful and has promised to be with us to the very end — not just our end! Endurance is not just about us, but about those whose lives will be impacted when we aren’t around to see the results. Today we press on with grateful hearts.
Lord, open my eyes to press on in faithful endurance. Amen.
Rom. 6:22 But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. Rom. 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Two sides of life are presented here in great contrast. One is a life of sin and enslavement to evil. The other side of life is freedom which provides the advantage of sanctification (or holiness as some translate the word) that leads to eternal life. The options here are a life of sin, slavery and death; or freedom, holiness and eternal life.
The advantage of holiness or sanctification is the benefit of the life of freedom. Jesus died so that we might be made holy like him and this is something that is offered as a “fruit” or “advantage” right now. The end is eternal life — but the living of life is that it can be lived out in holiness.
The next verse is really just an affirmation of the verse 22. Sin will lead …
Scripture: Mark 8:31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” Observation:
Peter had openly declared that Jesus was the Messiah when suddenly the conversation shifted to suffering, rejection and death. With his affirmation of Jesus as Messiah, Peter had brought with him all of the connotations of that term. Jesus was to be a great military leader, a Davidic Messiah, who would save the people from the earthly authorities. Jesus’ description was a paradigm that didn’t fit into Peter’s thinking.
Peter’s rebuke of Jesus was severe. The language reflects a long and unpleasant conversation. The…
Scripture: Rev. 3:14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the origin of God’s creation: Rev. 3:15 “I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.’ You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich; and white robes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen; and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. 19 I reprove and discipline those whom I love. Be earnest, therefore, and repent. 20 Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me. 21 To the one who conquers I will give a plac…