ALL THAT WILL LIVE GODLY IN CHRIST JESUS SHALL SUFFER PERSECUTION
While working out of town my prayers at the start of the commute were usually with specifics to protect my wife and children, our home, our vehicles, etc. from all evil, wickedness, sickness, disease, injury, or accident. My wife called and woke me after 2 am on January 10, 2012 and in our discussion mentioned that she found another golf ball in the yard. This left my mind racing; we have several holes in our siding from prior golf balls that we do not know who is hitting, and two broken windows, neither of which we could afford to fix. Thoughts also went to the roof damaged by hail, the water damage at several spots in the house, and our daughter’s car totaled in an accident the prior week. While thinking on these things Isolena Gaither singing “My God delivers again, again” was rolling through my head. With my mind racing on these things, sleep left me. My diligence in properly praying for the protection of God was questioned, and an attempt was made to try to get the song out of my head. After finally falling asleep with my Bible beside me, awaking led me to see Hebrews 2:10 … perfect through sufferings.
The devil fights our lives, possessions, and finances to keep us from giving, but tight finances keep us seeking God as our provider, and help us to avoid or to reduce the spiritual complacency. We also would not know Him as deliverer without the need to be delivered. These concerns are such light affliction when we consider the full scripture and what Jesus suffered;
Hebrews 2:9, 10 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
Jesus suffering brought Him to glory and honour and to perfection; He will bring us to glory if we will be stedfast in Him. The scripture on all who will live godly suffering persecution was then remembered, and sought. Faithfulness will allow you to walk through the warfare victorious: consider Paul;
II Timothy 3:10 – 12 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
Paul notes that despite everything that he suffered … out of them all the Lord delivered me. Stop seeking God to deliver your things, and praise Him for delivering you! We are being weaned off the milk of the word, and the warfare and attack of the enemy can be seen in the afflictions and trials the enemy is putting us through. Seek God for deliverance, but stand steadfast in the promises of God regardless of the perceived outcome. God will then remove things that hinder you and bring you to a greater walk. Jesus sought God in the garden to be delivered from death; by His obedience He was perfected;
Hebrews 5:7 – 10 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; Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.
Many believe that God did not answer Jesus’ petition to be delivered from death, but Jesus was gloriously delivered from death by the resurrection! He was not delivered from the physical pain, but … was heard in that he feared; and delivered spiritually to a glorified life and body. By His obedience and … by the grace of God, (Hebrews 2:9 above) He came to … taste death for every man. And by His resurrection He was … made perfect, and is the … author of eternal salvation … for us if we will but obey Him. Understand that all of these things are part of spiritual warfare. In our weakness, in our frailty, in our distress, our suffering, our persecution; His grace is sufficient for us if we will accept and embrace it;
II Corinthians 12:9, 10 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
In your weakness; it’s He! Find joy in your affliction, and even in chastisement, knowing Jesus is greater than all you face. Do not be defeated by an “I can’t” attitude, but realize you do not begin at these perfect places in God. The Apostles were told that they were not yet prepared for everything;
John 16:12 I have yet many things to say to you, but ye cannot bear them now.
The Apostles were still in preparing, and had need of the Holy Ghost! They all fled when Jesus was taken. But look at the victories after He finished preparing them! Volunteer for spiritual boot camp, and allow God to bring you through the things you can bear, then prepare for the next thing God has for you. Brother Clendennen said when he joined the Marines and went through boot camp, that they were automating him to obey without question. The Marine motto is Semper Fidelis, Always Faithful. God wants us to hear and automatically obey in spiritual warfare as well, and there is a training and preparation that are necessary. He wants to put iron in your soul, that you will be faithful. A walk of faithfullness will be absolutely necessary for you to be part of the last day battle;
Revelation 17:14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.
To be part of that battle we must be found faithful! Your fleshly, carnal nature cannot be faithful to the commandments of God. We have considered the scripture on making provision for the flesh several times lately;
Romans 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
But consider that our victory and overcoming is in the other part of the scripture, putting on Jesus!
The I Kings 19 account of Elijah on the mount of God records him hearing a still small voice. Let us get one more scripture of what God said to Elijah for our use in this exhortation;
I Kings 19:18 Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.
When Elijah lamented that he was the only one left, God told him that He had a remnant. Those seven thousand men are not mentioned individually in the bible. They are not named, famous or exalted in any way. They were just humble, diligent, servants of God in a time of great affliction, persecution, and vexing of their souls. God has always, and will always, have a remnant that will completely, totally, and faithfully serve Him, for He will enable them to do so.
Years ago God gave me a dream of me walking, with my wife following in the car driving very slowly. She was cursing me (not foul language, but mad and speaking ill), with the kids in the car, and trying to get me to get in. This was very troubling to me, and provoked much thought. Why wasn’t I driving the car? Because walking humbly with God describes our continual going on in the Spirit. It is not a run, which can wear you down. It is not a ride, waiting or counting on others to provide the energy, preparation, and diligence. It is not a drive, where you take control until problems arise, and then ask God to correct things. The Word relates our serving Him to a walk. We are often encouraged of the benefits of walking for our physical health, and it is the same in the spiritual. It is easy, and restful, if we will walk humbly with God, and God is always there for us.
Further considering the dream brought the thought that my wife’s anointing is so great, but she is not fully embracing it; as Jesus told the disciples … the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Matthew 26:41) The initial thought was that God was telling me to go on for Him, and that she would follow reluctantly, and achieve things for Him. But I now do not believe the dream was only about my wife, or me. God is again looking for seven thousand spiritually hard-headed, steadfast men and women who will not bow the knee to the gods of materialism or Hollywood. Seven thousand who will stand firm, and not sell out to, or for, wealth, fame, greed, or entertainment. Seven thousand men and women who will overcome sin and the lust of the world. Seven thousand children who will again stand for Him against all attack and persecution of the enemy, and in doing so strengthen others to be overcoming, and ultimately bring them to their own personal calling. Seven thousand that will hear the … author of eternal salvation … and say, Yes Lord; hearing and totally obeying despite their circumstances. Seven thousand who do not need fame or recognition, but only the blessing of serving God. Can you receive the call to this walk?
A physical example of this might be Hur. In Exodus 17, Joshua had been sent to fight Amalek, and Moses stood on the hill holding up the rod of God. As long as Moses held up the rod Israel prevailed; but the spirit is willing and the flesh weak. When he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. Scripture accounts that Hur (and Aaron) held up the arms of Moses, the man of God, in the time of great affliction and persecution against Israel. Very little else is known about Hur. Will you be so humble, yielded, and consecrated to God that you can just hold up someone else in their time of calling and need?
All of the above is not to say that we cannot or should not be moved by our persecution. The early church expanded by persecution;
Acts 11:19 Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.
Men have a phrase that they use when they want to say that something is a long shot; it is ‘one in a million’. We are told today that there are now 7 billion people on the earth, so 7000 men of God will be one man for each million people; God is looking for some men and women that are willing to be ‘one in a million’! These must be totally yielded, humble, obedient, and unconcerned with personal exaltation, only exalting their God. As with the 7000 men in Ahab’s army that God used to defeat a vastly larger and much more superior army, He will take the seven thousand that will endure for Him and begin changing the spiritual warfare. Find the humble, yielded, obedient, diligent, walk with Him and start changing the lives around you. Many will fall along the way; Ask Him to begin and complete this walk with Him in you. For an example, let us consider at length the battle of Ahab’s army;
I Kings 20:1 – 7 And Benhadad the king of Syria gathered all his host together: and there were thirty and two kings with him, and horses, and chariots: and he went up and besieged Samaria, and warred against it. And he sent messengers to Ahab king of Israel into the city, and said unto him, Thus saith Benhadad, Thy silver and thy gold is mine; thy wives also and thy children, even the goodliest, are mine. And the king of Israel answered and said, My lord, O king, according to thy saying, I am thine, and all that I have. And the messengers came again, and said, Thus speaketh Benhadad, saying, Although I have sent unto thee, saying, Thou shalt deliver me thy silver, and thy gold, and thy wives, and thy children; Yet I will send my servants unto thee to morrow about this time, and they shall search thine house, and the houses of thy servants; and it shall be, that whatsoever is pleasant in thine eyes, they shall put it in their hand, and take it away. Then the king of Israel called all the elders of the land, and said, Mark, I pray you, and see how this man seeketh mischief: for he sent unto me for my wives, and for my children, and for my silver, and for my gold; and I denied him not.
Silver and gold are not spent, but are an indication of level of wealth. Ahab was willing to give up much more than part of his wealth to avoid the war. But he did not want to give up … whatsoever is pleasant in thine eyes. Are we sitting in complacency and allowing the enemy to have our spouse, our children, and our wealth? What spiritual blessings are we missing because of our inactivity and complacency? Are we content to be left alone with our worldly things and our pseudo life? We are called from worldly things to the battle;
I John 2:15 – 17 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
II Timothy 2:3, 4 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
God is looking for those who have not bowed to the world, the enemy of God. To be part of the kingdom of God, or the army of God, you cannot be a friend of the world, but must desire the spiritual blessings;
Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
It is not about food or things! Things will distract you from God’s plan for you. We need to get in the Spirit, and walk with Him in victory. Give the devil a black eye by looking beyond the physical attack and seeing the spiritual battle. Take up arms, and do not murmur or complain (I Corinthians 10:10, Philippians 2:14, Jude 16). Do not be found avoiding the battle, but fight the devil at every attack through the Lord.
Returning to Ahab and I Kings, I like what people today would call trash talking in verses 10 and 11;
I Kings 20:10, 11 And Benhadad sent unto him, and said, The gods do so unto me, and more also, if the dust of Samaria shall suffice for handfuls for all the people that follow me. And the king of Israel answered and said, Tell him, Let not him that girdeth on his harness boast himself as he that putteth it off.
If the devil tells you what he will do to you, or who all he has with him, in the spiritual battle remind Him that you serve the King of kings! God told Ahab through the prophet what was to come;
I Kings 20:13 – 15 And, behold, there came a prophet unto Ahab king of Israel, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Hast thou seen all this great multitude? behold, I will deliver it into thine hand this day; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord. And Ahab said, By whom? And he said, Thus saith the Lord, Even by the young men of the princes of the provinces. Then he said, Who shall order the battle? And he answered, Thou. Then he numbered the young men of the princes of the provinces, and they were two hundred and thirty two: and after them he numbered all the people, even all the children of Israel, being seven thousand.
Ahab was told of things that appear impossible in the physical, but obeys the prophet completely in preparing for the battle. The word records that the result was … a great slaughter;
I Kings 20:19 – 22 So these young men of the princes of the provinces came out of the city, and the army which followed them. And they slew every one his man: and the Syrians fled; and Israel pursued them: and Benhadad the king of Syria escaped on an horse with the horsemen. And the king of Israel went out, and smote the horses and chariots, and slew the Syrians with a great slaughter. And the prophet came to the king of Israel, and said unto him, Go, strengthen thyself, and mark, and see what thou doest: for at the return of the year the king of Syria will come up against thee.
Know of a surety that the devil will come back as well. If he cannot defeat you with temptation he will bring persecution, but he will not quit; will you be a quitter? The Syrians are recorded in the next verses as saying God was the god of the hills, and that they would win in the plain, and they prepared to return;
I Kings 20:26 – 30 And it came to pass at the return of the year, that Benhadad numbered the Syrians, and went up to Aphek, to fight against Israel. And the children of Israel were numbered, and were all present, and went against them: and the children of Israel pitched before them like two little flocks of kids; but the Syrians filled the country. And there came a man of God, and spake unto the king of Israel, and said, Thus saith the Lord, Because the Syrians have said, The Lord is God of the hills, but he is not God of the valleys, therefore will I deliver all this great multitude into thine hand, and ye shall know that I am the Lord. And they pitched one over against the other seven days. And so it was, that in the seventh day the battle was joined: and the children of Israel slew of the Syrians an hundred thousand footmen in one day. But the rest fled to Aphek, into the city; and there a wall fell upon twenty and seven thousand of the men that were left. And Benhadad fled, and came into the city, into an inner chamber.
Again, in total obedience Ahab is given utter victory by God; God even takes out 27,000 men by the falling of a wall. But please note that God said he would deliver all this great multitude. The Syrians then seek surrender and mercy;
I Kings 20:31, 32 And his servants said unto him, Behold now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings: let us, I pray thee, put sackcloth on our loins, and ropes upon our heads, and go out to the king of Israel: peradventure he will save thy life. So they girded sackcloth on their loins, and put ropes on their heads, and came to the king of Israel, and said, Thy servant Benhadad saith, I pray thee, let me live. And he said, Is he yet alive? he is my brother.
Despite seeing the devastating victory God had given, Ahab strays from the instructions and plan of God, and spares Benhadad and his remaining army. Ahab was judged for this disobedience;
I Kings 20:41 – 43 And he hasted, and took the ashes away from his face; and the king of Israel discerned him that he was of the prophets. And he said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Because thou hast let go out of thy hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore thy life shall go for his life, and thy people for his people. And the king of Israel went to his house heavy and displeased, and came to Samaria.
At what point will you quit and feel you have enough victory? If the devil tells you he will leave you alone? Will you quit if you see looming persecution, and avoid it? Many will fall along the way. You are a soldier of the Lord, and you are not your own; you are bought with a price, and it is not your decision if or when to stop. You must hear and obey, and you must be found faithful. At the end of World War II, Patton advised that Russia was undersupplied and vulnerable, and could be defeated in a few days, or else we would have to deal with them in the future. Politicians prevailed, and the cold war followed, with many nations afflicted under communism. After Desert Storm, Norman Schwarzkopf advised that they should go on to Baghdad and take out Saddam Hussein, or he would have to be fought again. He was told our objectives had been met. History has proven him correct. There also will never be a time in the spiritual warfare where it is up to us to decide to maintain the status quo. The devil will not quit, and we must obey our King and continue the fight in total obedience. Let God be your guide in everything you do; He loves you, and His love is pervasive in the earth. By His grace we are kept and delivered. Can any of these things the enemy attacks us with move us from the love of God?
Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
While you can fail to acknowledge His presence as you walk through these troubles, trials, and tribulations, God’s love is always there, and He is patiently waiting for you to seek Him to be delivered and strengthened. Always remember that nothing can separate us from the love of God;
Romans 8:38, 39 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God loves us and desires the best for us; walk in the knowledge of His love as you face the attack of the enemy, and … endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Do not be dismayed if or when you feel chastened of failure in the battle:
Revelation 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
Know that the Lord loves you, and corrects as you are His child. It is the working of all things for your good.
A weekly commute to Topeka was used to consider Brother Buckner’s message on consume and consummate, and a realization came that everything will be consumed in one way or the other; consumed into the kingdom of God, or consumed by the fire of God. These two contrasts can be seen in scripture;
Malachi 4:1 – 3 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts.
This scripture does not speak of two different times, or two different places. When the fire comes the children of God will be delivered and have the provision of Almighty God, as the Hebrew children did in the fiery furnace. The flame of the fire slew those that cast the children into the furnace (Daniel 3:22). The wicked will be burned around you as you walk for God, and will be ashes under your feet. But this is true now in this life for us each day: the attacks of the enemy are defeated and, regardless of what the world considers to be consuming fires around us, we can walk in victory through seeking God.
Look above these scriptures to Malachi 3:16 – 18. Are you in the book of remembrance mentioned here? Fear and serve God, and be spared and delivered! Look further up at Malachi 3:1 – 6. Will you allow Him to refine you? There is a choice you must make, and He is mercifully waiting;
Malachi 3:6 For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
It is the enduring mercy of God that we are not consumed. Remember also that He provided salvation! Our part is only in a little enduring; ... endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Stand, and be one of the seven thousand (those who will be ‘one in a million’) unflinching soldiers that God is seeking to abide for, and in, Him!