Bible Study Notes:


Spiritual Weapons: # 15
Suffering: The Mind of Christ, Part 1


These notes are from a transcript of the postings during Bible Study on Thursday Nights at 8 PM at Bible Study Chat at churchusa.com.
You are welcome to join us at any time!

When we don't take on the attitude or mind of Christ, we are UNarmed, defenseless against conflict, suffering and persecution. Then we will REACT to the situation through shock, offense, vengeance, wrath, bitterness and doubting. But if we are ARMED to expect suffering, we will receive it with rejoicing, knowing all of the good character traits that it is developing in us.

Father God we lift your name on high tonight and praise you for your many blessings that you heap upon us daily, EVEN in times of suffering. Lord Jesus we look to you as our example of patience under suffering.

OlePappy - Thank You Father for the love and grace that You give us. Lord bless us with Your presence tonight. Blessed Lord show us the knowledge we need tonight and give us the wisdom to follow up on it as we walk with You. Thank You father in the name of Jesus. Amen

satan you are a defeated foe and we declare you bound and gagged tonight. In Jesus Name you cannot interfere before during or after study. Be gone in Jesus Name!

Holy Spirit, we rejoice that you are our teacher. Help us focus on the lesson and learn deep things from the Word. In Jesus Name AMEN. Father God we ask that you help us all stay connected tonight. You are Lord of everything, even cyberspace! Allow your children to feast on your Word. AMEN

We have been doing a series of lessons on spiritual warfare. Last time we spoke about the weapon of discernment. We talked about the fact that discernment, the ability to distinguish good from evil, is a skill that is developed as it is used, and as we are led by the Holy Spirit.

We also talked about using discernment to keep us from error, and using the Gift of Discernment to identify the spiritual forces or evil spirits that might be operating in another's life.

The purpose for this is to give us insight for prayer and to protect us, NEVER to harm the other person (as in gossiping about them, etc.) We also spent some time talking about characteristics of false doctrine found in passages such as I John 4 , Colossians 2, I Timothy 4 and 2 Peter 2.

I'd just like to clear up a couple of loose ends before we continue. First of all, we frequently have people coming into chat proclaiming "If you don't belong to MY group (whatever it's called), you will be lost!!! We are the only TRUE church!" What pride, what arrogance, what presumption!

It is not belonging to a certain group that brings you salvation, it's belonging to the Lord Jesus Christ! The TRUE church is composed of ALL who have trusted in Christ for salvation, yes, even those with weird doctrines. For we are saved by grace through faith, not of works, lest any man should boast.

Which brings up a second point. If you ARE deceived, how do you know it? Or to put it another way, how can you be SURE that you are believing in the truth, and not a lie, or a partial lie?

((((star)))) - Good question OldTimer

The ONLY way to keep from deception is to pray, read the Word, pray, read the Word, pray, read the Word - and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth. Ultimately you must appear before the judgement seat of Christ and answer for your deeds done in the flesh, including allowing yourself to be deceived. If you allow someone else, no matter how saintly or righteous they may appear to be, do you thinking for you, you are subject to deception.

mercy - amen

The Bible clearly teaches that the Holy Spirit is your teacher, and you should not let any man or woman take His place. This is not to say, of course, that you shouldn't do Bible Studies like this one, just test everything that is taught BY THE WORD. I am not your final authority, the WORD IS.

Tonight we are taking a slightly different approach to spiritual warfare. The topic is "The Good News About Bad News!" When your road turns towards hardship, does this mean you are out of God's will for your life? Does suffering mean you have been rejected by God?

It's possible that some suffering is caused by disobedience. If you have committed a sin or have been disobedient in some way, then just confess it to the Lord according to I John 1:9: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Then you will know that unconfessed sin is NOT the cause of your hardship.

Torahboy - No...even Job's suffering was willed by God

But if you haven't sinned and are still facing hardship, does that mean that God has abandoned you? By no means! He has promised NEVER to leave us or forsake us.

Hebrews 13:5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "NEVER WILL I LEAVE YOU; NEVER WILL I FORSAKE YOU."

Acts 14:22 "strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God," they said."

The Bible makes it very clear that suffering is part of the Christian life to prepare us to enter the Kingdom. Paul ENCOURAGED young churches by telling them that we must go through MANY hardships to enter the kingdom of God. Why would this BAD NEWS be an encouragement to believers?

First of all, when we suffer, we erroneously believe that God has forsaken us. Paul declares that this is not true! Second of all when we suffer, it is painful of course, and it is encouraging to know that we are reaping some benefit from it.

2 Thessalonians 1:4-5 Therefore, among God's churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.

It creates and matures perseverance and faith in us. In fact, is there any other way to mature faith in us? For it is as we NEED God and call out to Him, and He answers us, that our faith in His love for us grows, isn't it?

Philippians 1:27-28 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved--and that by God.

Justme - that exercising unto Godliness......

Now suffering is not an excuse to act ugly or to whine. Paul says "conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ". We must stand firm IN ONE SPIRIT, fighting as one man, or in unity for the gospel, and not let those who oppose us frighten us. Acting worthy of Christ AND fighting in unity is a sign that we WILL be saved by God.

Realize that one purpose that satan has to bring suffering is to "divide and conquer" - to isolate us and pick us off one by one. If we stand TOGETHER in unity, supporting each other in trials, the devil can't touch us!

Philippians 1:29 -30 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.

In fact, suffering is a PRIVILEDGE, according to Paul, that is granted to us, as a gift! The struggles that we go through for Jesus are a working out of God's grace in our lives.

"Granted" is charizomai {khar-id'-zom-ahee} meaning to do something pleasant or agreeable (to one), to do a favor to, gratify, to show one's self gracious, kind, benevolent, to grant forgiveness, to pardon, to give graciously, give freely, bestow, to forgive, graciously to restore one to another, or to preserve for one a person in peril. This comes from the same root as "charis" which means gift, and is used in reference to spiritual gifts.

We don't normally see suffering as an extension of God's grace to us, do we? Or something to be happy about? This is certainly a different view of life than the culture we live in, whose goal is to avoid pain and suffering at any cost! So when you are suffering, or going through a trial, meditate on this: "What GIFT is God trying to give me through this?"

Romans 8:17-18 Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Suffering is not a sign of sinfulness or immaturity in Christ, it is a sharing of Christ's sufferings so we can share in His glory. In fact the glory that will be revealed in us will be so wonderful, our present sufferings are not worth comparing to it.

Do the math: Today I stumped my toe, OUCH! But in glory I will walk on streets of gold and have toes that are unstumpable!!!! Op wants to know what unstumpable means! LOL Well you won't be able to bruise your toes in Heaven.

OlePappy - OK, I gotcha. hehehe

And whatever bruises we do get here will be long gone when we get there. Maybe a silly example - but I stumped my toe once on asphalt and gravels when I was a kid, and the memory still hurts!

To suffer with is sumpascho {soom-pas'-kho} meaning to suffer or feel pain together, or to suffer evils (troubles, persecutions) in the like manner with another. We do not suffer alone - Jesus is our partner in any hardship we face. Isn't that wonderful? And doesn't that take the "edge" off our pain to know Jesus is right there with us, helping us?

SealedNHim - Doesn't God want us to have abundant life on earth as well as in heaven?

Seald that's a good question! And the answer is YES! But that doesn't deny the fact that we all go through times of suffering to get there. Notice I said go THROUGH - meaning constant suffering is not the mark of a Christian life... For the Christian, there is a beginning and an end to the suffering, and a purpose for it.

Why are we partners in Christ's sufferings? For one thing, we oppose the same enemy. The devil will do all in his power to discourage you by bring hardship upon you. But God allows it because suffering brings maturity:

James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Notice that James says WHEN not IF you face trials... Suffering is a gift from God because He wants us to be mature and complete, not lacking anything. When our faith is tested, we develop perseverance which leads to maturity.

guitarman524 - Amen OT, the worse things seem to get the closer I seem to get to God

Kind of like having a vaccination - it's painful but protects us from disease. I never will forget going to a doctor, and in the next room was a small boy who had had a bicycle wreck. This child's knees were full of tiny gravels and he screamed every time the doctor picked on out. But if the doctor had left them in, infection would have occurred and the boy could have lost his legs.

Justme - and face it.... some of us were pretty beat up & bad infected when we got adopted into His kingdom.....
OlePappy - yep, got that right JM

From the child's point of view, it was sheer torture (and to my ears!), but from the doctor's point of view, it was necessary. We tend to look at life from the child's point of view... If we saw our lives from God's point of view, we would understand.

1 Peter 1:6-7 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Justme - keeps us from getting spiritually lazy?

Right Justme! I used to be a VERY lazy Christian. I wanted to float on flowery beds of ease, just being happy ... but the problem is, we have an enemy who is trying to devour us ... and guess who he goes after first? The lazy, hazy ones...

To God, the condition of our faith is the primary thing. Faith is worth more than gold - which itself is not eternal. Your faith is eternal, and needs development. This is why God allows trials and suffering: to refine our faith, removing the impurities, the doubts, the falsehoods, the fears and doubts that hide the gold of it.

Trials also "prove" our faith, or show us that it is genuine. Suffering is a great locator of your faith. When Jesus was asleep in the boat, and the disciples fearfully woke Him to still the storm, Jesus said, "Where is YOUR faith?" Trials are an opportunity to put into practice what we profess to believe.

Or trials show up the imperfections and shortcomings of our faith. Another time when the disciples failed to cast a demon out of a boy, Jesus declared, "O you of LITTLE faith!" The disciples had some faith, but not enough, although they should have had the faith after being with Jesus and being given His authority over all the power of the enemy.

Justme - good point, OT..... God doesn't prove to Himself our faith..... He proves to us..... He already knows what's there, cuz He gave it to us in the first place.....

Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is what gets us to Heaven - and I want to be sure that MY faith is solid, genuine, a firm foundation, adequate to get me through this life and into the next one, don't you? And a bit of suffering now will be worth the world of glory that we will receive then.

I Peter 4:12-13 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

SealedNHim - When the going gets rough what's inside you will come out!

Hardship or suffering is not something strange or abnormal to the Christian life. Trials shouldn't "take us by surprise". Instead we should be prepared for them, and not only that, REJOICE in them! The greater your sufferings, the greater you should rejoice. And the greater glory will be revealed in you!

American Christianity preaches an "easy believe-ism" that ignores the role of suffering in the believer's life. So when difficulties come, the believer is shocked and dismayed, and will often fall away from the faith, because he is not prepared to receive them, or even expect them.

Justme - amen, OT.... oh amen......

Nettleton*, a reporter for Religion Today says: "Persecution is like vitamins for the church," a church leader in Saudi Arabia told Nettleton. There are no hangers-on or shallow Christians, because the price believers pay for their faith is too high."

"They don't go to church because their friends are there or because they want to have fun. They are there because they want to live their faith, and the church is exploding because of it." Christians in persecuted countries are focused on living their faith rather than changing their circumstances, Nettleton said.

guitarman524 - In the early Church persecution is what lead to the spread of Christianity

It's against the law to be a Christian in Pakistan, and you WILL be persecuted for it, and probably killed. It is against the law in China to belong to any church except the state sponsored one. Many pastors and believers have been arrested, their goods confiscated, put in jail, tortured and even executed because they refuse to let the government govern their relationship with Christ. Even in the worst of times, we have it easy here. Maybe too easy - we whine when we should SHINE.

Hebrews 12:2-Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Torahboy - the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church
guitarman524 - Buts is those type of situations that make beleivers stronger and leads to spread of the Gospell

Amen TB and gman!!! When the topic of suffering comes up, we need to consider what Jesus suffered and how He suffered, for He is our example. If we fix our eyes on JESUS, gazing intently upon Him, instead of our suffering, we will be filled with joy as He was. He endured the cross, not caring how shameful it was, and won our salvation.

I have heard many testimonies about how someone's patient endurance of hardship was encouragement and inspiration for others to come to Christ. So it is inevitable that we WILL suffer sooner or later. The important thing is that we endure suffering with JOY like Jesus did.

OlePappy - yes, Thank You Father
guitarman524 - amen OT

Thinking about "scorning the shame", a lot of times when I suffer, I tend to blame myself for it, thinking there must be something lacking in my life because I feel like a failure, or like I am "letting someone down" because of the difficulties. However, what is the point in "beating yourself up about it" when you suffer? This plays right into the hands of the devil, who is using it as an invitation to a "pity party". We need to "scorn the shame", and not feel less of a Christian because of a hardship or trial.

Sadly sometimes our "Christian" brothers and sisters are the first to condemn us when we go through hardship - again preaching an easy life without any trials or suffering that we simply aren't promised here. Sometimes those who suffer are looked down upon as not being very "spiritual" or not having enough faith. God help us to QUIT shooting our own wounded!

guitarman524 - But OT we also can find strength in our Christian bros. and sis.
Rolling Thunder - the church is good at shooting its wounded

Oh YES Gman, and I often have! Wasn't condemning everybody by any means. But even one episode of "friendly fire" is one too many!

OlePappy - it is not the church that shoots their wounded it the people in it . Those who have lost sight of what would Jesus do
guitarman524 - Amen Pappy
Rolling Thunder - good point

Amen OP, look at the lengths Jesus went to redeem Peter! Look at the lengths He went to redeem us all with His own blood!

OlePappy - And THANK YOU Jesus for it!!!!!!
guitarman524 - amen!!!

Hebrews 12:3-4 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

Consider Jesus, reckon up and consider it in comparison to your trials, think of the opposition and suffering that He endured, to the point of shedding His own blood. By comparison, even the worst of our trials is small, and we can be encouraged, strengthened and heartened by this meditation.

Hebrews 5:7 During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.

Amplified: Hebrews 5:7 In the days of His flesh [Jesus] offered up definite, special petitions [for that which He not only wanted, but needed], and supplications with strong crying and tears, to Him Who was [always] able to save Him (out) from death, and He was heard because of His reverence toward God - His godly fear, His piety [that is, in that He shrank from the horrors of separation from the bright presence of the Father].

Now the only prayers of Jesus that we have recorded accompanied with loud cries and tears to be saved from death, is the prayers Jesus made on the night He was betrayed in the Garden of Gethsemene. He was facing certain death, and begged release from it.

Luke 22:41-44 He withdrew about a stone's throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

Now the writer of Hebrews says that Jesus' prayers WERE heard, but He still died for us. How did God answer Jesus prayers if Jesus still had to die?

First of all, God heard Jesus' anguish and suffering and sent an angel to strengthen Jesus for the task that lay ahead. Secondly, Jesus prayed most of all that God's will be done. And although God hated the fact that Jesus had to suffer, His will was that all men might be saved, and Jesus' death was the only thing that would accomplish that. So God answered the prayer to fulfill His will in Jesus' death. And also the praying that caused Jesus to sweat drops of blood further strengthened Him for the task ahead.

Hebrews 5:8-9 Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him

Although Jesus is God's Son and lived a sinless life, He still learned obedience from the things He suffered. Learned is manthano {man-than'-o} meaning to learn, be appraised, to increase one's knowledge, to be increased in knowledge, to hear, be informed, to learn by use and practice, to be in the habit of, accustomed to.

Obedience is hupakoe {hoop-ak-o-ay'} meaning obedience, compliance, submission, and obedience rendered to anyone's counsels, an obedience shown in observing the requirements of Christianity.

This comes from the root word hupakouo {hoop-ak-oo'-o} meaning to listen, to harken, of the duty of a porter to listen to who is knocking on the door, to harken to a command and to obey, be obedient to, submit to.

Suffer here is pascho {pas'-kho} meaning to be affected or have been affected, to feel, have a sensible experience, to undergo in a bad sense, to suffer sadly, be in a bad plight, of a sick person.

"Being made perfect " is teleioo {tel-i-o'-o} meaning to make perfect, complete, to carry through completely, to accomplish, finish, bring to an end , to complete (perfect), add what is yet wanting in order to render a thing full , to be found perfect, to bring to the end (goal) proposed, to accomplish, bring to a close or fulfillment by event the prophecies of the scriptures.

So as Jesus went through bad experiences, or suffering, He listened to what God had to teach Him about it, and by listening to God, He became perfect, mature, complete, accomplished. "It is finished", He said on the cross. He was able to accomplish God's goals as Savior of mankind by learning obedience through suffering.

I don't know about you, but I still stubble to understand why and how Jesus as the Son HAD to learn obedience by the things He suffered. I struggle to understand it, but yet rejoice in it! Because that means that my suffering is not in vain - it is training for my "Sonship" - my full rights as a child of God. I should say that my OBEDIENCE through suffering is training for my Sonship - if you go through trials with doubt, grumbling and complaining you learn nothing from them.

Amplified: Hebrews 5:8 Although He was a Son, He learned [active, special] obedience through what He suffered; And [His completed experience] making Him perfect [in equipment], He became the Author and Source of eternal salvation to all those who give heed and obey Him.

Why did the Son of God need to learn obedience? He didn't, as the Son OF GOD Jesus was perfect in obedience. That is why He came to the earth in the first place, to obey God's will. Yet as the Son of Man, in the flesh, He needed the training to perfect that obedience unto death to become the sacrifice for our sins.

Justme - when find myself grumbling or complaining, I know that my eyes are on myself instead of my Lord.....

Amen Justme, and don't you just have to pinch yourself and say, "Self, stop that! Fix your gaze upon Jesus!"? I know I do!

Justme - Amen, OT
OlePappy - been there JM...lots

If Jesus needed His flesh trained through suffering to learn obedience, HOW MUCH MORE do we??? Therefore, we need to complete our "quota of suffering" so to speak, not only to learn obedience, but to complete what is needed in suffering for the sake of the Church, Christ's body. This too is an occasion for rejoicing.

Justme - It's a sharing, as well, I think.... We can get closer to Jesus, knowing His sufferings.... when we have someone else in our lives who has gone through what we have been through, there is a special connection in that area.... same with the Lord....

Colossians 1:24 Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking [and remains to be completed on our part] in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.

"What is still lacking" in the Greek is husterema {hoos-ter'-ay-mah} meaning deficiency, that which is lacking, in reference to property and resources, poverty, want, destitution.

Paul is saying that there is a poverty of necessary suffering in the Church. We in America love our "creature comforts", don't we? How many of us would prefer the deprivations that Paul suffered for the sake of the Gospel? There is still a poverty of suffering in the Church today, as many are lost and few are willing to suffer for the salvation of their souls.

guitarman524 - I watch the kids wear the WWJD stuff and started asking myself the same question! I now wear a WWJD necklace!
OlePappy - WWJD needs to be written on the inside of our eyelids
guitarman524 - AMEN but i keep it close to my heart
Torahboy - Would Jesus wear a WWJD bracelet??

And what little suffering we do endure, we whine and complain, take pain killers and tranquilizers, and "try to worm our way out of it". Christians in other parts of the world have few options. Again, according to Religion Today:

"Persecution of Christians increased in the last year, Nettleton said. Christians in Muslim countries are in the greatest danger. Christianity is outlawed altogether in Saudi Arabia; other Muslim nations rely on Islamic Shari'a law to restrict Christian worship and evangelism, and often ignore incidents of violence against Christians. Communist nations such has Vietnam, China, and Cuba continue to punish Christians, but by and large "the face of persecution has changed from communism to Islam," Nettleton said. "

"Nettleton remarks: In Bangladesh, friends and family disown Christians who convert from Islam. A shopkeeper who displays Christian materials has been robbed and threatened with beatings. When he distributed the books in a nearby village, Muslims threatened to cut off his feet so he could not travel, VOM said. Christians are banned from public water wells because they might "contaminate" the water and are forced to walk several miles for water. "

VOM stands for a ministry called "Voice of the Martyrs", to remind us of the suffering church and minister to them, primarily with prayer. Addy is http://www.vom.org .

Rolling Thunder - suffering is an excellent remedy for judgementalism

I Peter 2:21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

Since Jesus Christ was willing to suffer to buy our salvation, and since He is our example, it follows that we need to be willing to suffer, if and when it is needed. It is a part of our calling in Christ - it is inseparable from our vocation, ministry and walk with Christ.

How often do you hear sermons on this topic? I'm afraid we've had prosperity preached so much that we gag on this one! But Christ suffered, we should walk IN HIS STEPS... and HIS steps led to the cross.

Philippians 3:10-11 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Suffering is an active participation, fellowship, sharing and communion with Christ, and a way to activate the power of the cross in our life. When we suffer for Christ, He is right there with us, mortifying or putting to death the power of the flesh in our life. And as we identify with Him in death, so we shall be raised with Him to eternal life.

Torahboy - C. S. Lewis spoke some on the subject of suffering

Right TB, and I highly recommend "The Problem of Pain". My fav quote is "Pain is God's megaphone to rouse a lost and dying world".

The great apostle Paul resolved to know nothing, but Christ and Him crucified. The cross was his constant topic of meditation. Spurgeon, that great evangelist, always managed to have the theme of the cross in his sermons. It follows then, that we should pay more attention to this topic. Jesus on the cross...

HALO† - OldTimer,,,I have been watching but hadn't logged on till now,,the sufferings that these people in other countries are going through because they are Christians ,,How many Americans , as pampered and spoiled as we are, do you think would suffer these things for Christ ,,I am afraid many Americans would renounce their belief in Jesus, just to continue in their comfortable lives and ease ,,I pray I am wrong, but Americans have had it so easy,, they would faint in this kind of adversity I am afraid>>>
OlePappy - HALO, I am afraid you are right

Halo, I have often wondered how I would react under such pressure, and pray for the grace to confirm my faith with my blood, if need be!

HALO† - Yes, I pray also that I too would be willing to die for my faith in Jesus Christ,, and I also pray as Gods' word says , that I shall be accounted worthy to escape those things which are coming upon this world

Philippians 3:12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

Paul realized that suffering was an ongoing part of life, and the key to victory was to always keep in mind the goal - to be perfected, matured, accomplished in Christ, always pressing forward towards that goal. Endless suffering is impossible to endure. But keeping the goal of perfection in Christ foremost in your mind gives focus and definition to the suffering, and makes it endurable.

Philippians 3:13-14 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Paul continues with the idea of pressing on to the goal - by forgetting what is behind, and striving with all that was within him heavenward. If in our sufferings, trials and pains we could strive heavenward, our attitudes would change and we would count the suffering as a minor necessity on the path to glory.

2 Corinthians 12:10 That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

So because of Paul's attitude, he had a different perspective on suffering. He delighted in it. Why? He wasn't a masochist - he did not take pleasure in pain. No, he delighted in the fact that suffering is an opportunity for Christ's strength to be manifested in him.

AMPLIFIED 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 But He said to me, My grace - My favor and loving-kindness and mercy, are enough for you, [that is] sufficient against any danger and to enable you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect - fulfilled and completed and show themselves most effective - in [your] weakness.

Therefore I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ, the Messiah, may rest - yes, may pitch a tent [over] and dwell - upon me!

So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak (in human strength) then am I truly strong - able, powerful, in divine strength.

Glory! So the next time you are suffering through a trial, a difficulty, a weakness, an infirmity - whatever negative events assail you, allow the divine strength of the Lord Jesus Christ to pitch a tent over you and dwell with you! In your weakness, HIS strength is made perfect. Hallelujah!

Now when I'm talking about suffering, I don't mean we should go out and cause trouble so somebody can beat us up, or anything like that. We don't need to look for trouble, the devil will see to it that it finds us!

Psalm 34:17-19 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all;

The good news is not that we have troubles, or that they are many, but that the Lord delivers us from them all! So the more troubles you have, the more deliverance is available if you are in right relationship with God.

So when trouble upon trouble seems to pile up --- don't get upset about the problems, look forward to the MIGHTY victory that is yours by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ!!!

I Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

HALO† - Praise God, I needed that, Old Timer,, "The Lord delivers us from them all" Glory .The Victory is mine ,, In Jesus' Name!!!!!!!!!

Suffering isn't the purpose of life - and isn't the end of it either. Jesus came so that He could walk us THROUGH our sufferings, troubles, pains, and hardship into victory! Now you might be wondering what all this has to do with spiritual warfare. Simply this: weapon #15 is arming yourself with the Mind of Christ!

I Peter 4:1-2 Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, ARM yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.

"Arm" here is hoplizo {hop-lid'-zo} meaning to arm, furnish with arms, to provide, to furnish one's self with a thing (as with arms) and metaphorically to take on the same mind. Recall that "hoplon" means weapon.

"Attitude" is ennoia {en'-noy-ah} meaning the act of thinking, consideration, meditation, a thought, notion, conception, mind, understanding, will, manner of feeling, and thinking. If we arm ourselves with the attitude, mind, understanding, manner of thinking and feeling that Jesus had, we will be victorious over the enemy of our souls.

Another attribute of suffering is that it cleanses us from sin and makes us be done with it. We learn the consequences of following our lusts - which eventually leads to suffering of some kind or another - and no longer live for them, but seek to live for the will of God.

When we don't take on the attitude or mind of Christ, we are UNarmed, defenseless against conflict, suffering and persecution. Then we will REACT to the situation through shock, offense, vengeance, wrath, bitterness and doubting. But if we are ARMED to expect suffering, we will receive it with rejoicing, knowing all of the good character traits that it is developing in us.

Rolling Thunder - attitude is key!

Romans 5:3-5 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.

If we have Christ's attitude towards suffering, it leads to endurance, then character, then hope, and then our hearts are able to receive the outpouring of love through the Holy Spirit.

Let's look more at the attitude we should be armed with. A soldier is trained first of all to expect that there is an enemy trying to kill him. Do we have such an enemy?

1 Peter 5:8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Yes we do! And Jesus was well aware of His enemy and what the devil was capable of doing. A lion is a beast of mighty power, with a fearsome roar, a wise and successful hunter. The devil is like that, and we need to know it.

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

This passage shows us our enemy's motives - he is a thief of life and happiness. He comes only to steal, kill and destroy. He uses every trick in the book to deceive us out of our victory!

2 Corinthians 2:11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.

A soldier is trained about how to identify the tactics of the enemy and how to outwit them. Likewise, we are given the knowledge to outwit satan in the Word and as good soldiers we need to acquire this knowledge.

2 Timothy 2:3 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. A soldier is taught to expect and endure hardship.

1 Timothy 4:8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

de - we will need all our faith when 2nd Timothy 3:1 gets going stronger!

Amen de!!! A soldier is trained physically to prepare for long marches, rough terrain, and minimal living conditions. Likewise, as soldiers of Christ Jesus, we need to train ourselves for hardships with godliness, which promises us victory in this life and the life to come.

Christianity is not for "wimps". The conflict we are engaged in is even tougher because the enemy is unseen, yet deadly. Suffering is part of the territory. Arm yourself with the mind of Christ and be ready for it. The good news about bad news is that GLORY is on the way. So rejoice! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord. I pray that this study will help you understand suffering a bit more and rejoice in it!

Justme - Hallelujah, OT.... another Word in due season... Thank the Lord for not forgetting us, eh?
HALO† - Old Timer, those attacks are even more difficult to take when they come from those of your own household,,, the enemy working through loved ones is so difficult to take,,,
vanca - is it the same as the chastisement of the Lord as spoken of in Hebrews?
Torahboy - When I am not experiencing suffering, then I know something is wrong in my spiritual life. When my life becomes complacent, the suffering ceases
OlePappy - suffering WILL come, love Jesus and be prepared

Father we lift up Halo right now in the powerful mighty Name of Jesus. Help her in her sufferings, mature her faith as gold, and claim the victory in Jesus Name!

Remember, when sufferings, trials, etc. come, that God ALLOWS them to happen to perfect your faith, which is more precious than gold, and to strengthen you with might on the inner man. As you look to the Lord with faith, you become OVERcomers, not overCOME by the circumstances.

Remember also to meditate on the cross of Christ and what it means to us... to participate in Christ's sufferings, and to be willing to suffer, if need be, to win the lost.

mom of five - For from trials and tribulation..............patience
HALO† - When, if ever, do these sufferings and persecutions come to an end,,, never mind,, I already know the answer,, when we die,, and leave this world
Rolling Thunder - we need more teaching on suffering in our churches

Halo, yes, we will be "suffering-free" when we get to glory! ARM your self for battle with the mind of Christ. Have the same attitude that He had about suffering. Also remember those who are suffering and help them bear their burdens in the Lord.

Remember the REASON for trials - to develop and test our faith, so that we may be mature LACKING NOTHING.

OlePappy - Father, I thank You for the knowledge of suffering that I have received tonight. I pray that You give me and all of us the wisdom to apply it to our lives. Thank You Lord for Your Son, Jesus and his death and resurrection that we are now free. Bless each person here tonight and their families with Your love, joy and peace in the name of Jesus. AMEN

Father we give you praise for your holy Word. We thank you for the insights into our lives it brings. Help us to remember this study when trials come and REJOICE in the Name of Jesus AMEN

 

Remember, whenever God gives us a revelation, the devil tries to steal it from us. Guard your hearts and meditate on what you've learned! And put it into practice.

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*Quotes from "Under Persecution: Courageous Christians proclaim their faith", Jan. 12, 1999 Feature Story, by Todd Nettleton
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Original lesson 1/22/99
Revised: May 02, 2001