The Lord is working in me these days about being obedient. He is making me very aware of how many times He speaks to me about things I should or should not do in my life and I just ignore Him. Are you aware of this happening in your spirit life?
He led me to get Foxe's Book of Martyrs at the library last week; today I picked it up and so I started reading it. I was, needless to say, shocked (and ashamed of myself) to what extent believers in Christ have been tortured through the centuries since He came and was crucified for us. I always knew about martyrdom, but I guess I never thought about how many died long, slow, torturous deaths. Were you aware that the Apostle John was put into boiling oil and came out unscathed? Also, he is the only original disciple/Apostle who died without being a martyr.
Many died in ways, that when I picture myself going through it, that I'm just not sure I would be able to stand.
The Lord woke me out of a deep, dream-filled sleep tonight, and He brought this to my mind. He told me that this is why He has been telling me to do the things I have been ignoring. It is to prepare me for things that I may someday have to suffer. Have you, too, noticed how unpopular it is becoming to be a true follower of Christ: One who does not take part in pagan, babylonian-inspired traditions; one who does not follow the prosperity gospel preachers and teachers; one who lets Christ lead his or her life and dies to him- or herself and stands up for things that are godly and against things that are not? I have.
Have you ever made a decision to go against the mainstream? Let's say, for example, that you had been diagnosed with a progressive disease which required you to take a medication in order to function properly for the rest of your life. And then, let's say that God told you not to take anymore in order to build your faith. Do you know how many people would look at you like you were crazy; especially if it kept you from living a normal life? Do you think your husband or wife might actually resent it and lose respect for you? Would you be able to do it anyway? I think God wants me to prepare my faith for a time when I may have to experience hardship and who knows maybe some kind extra hard circumstances because of my christianity and this is how I need to practice to build my faith.
Think about this...What if God began to tell you to think about every morsel of food you put into your mouth? What if He told you that a time was coming when food would not be readily available and that you needed to train yourself to eat less and not to expect three square meals and a few snacks to get you through a day. What if He told you to fast and pray for a day or two or three instead of eating, could you do it?
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah, Redeemer and Reconciler of Mankind, came to do the will of his Father God. He said that He did nothing of His own initiative but only the things His father told Him to do. Imagine that. His Father told Him to heal people, to teach, to clean out the Temple, to cast out demons, to take that beating without a word, to carry His cross without complaint, to be nailed to a cross and to die. While I'm sure it was not difficult to heal and teach and cast out demons, walking through life, your whole life knowing that you were going to be beaten almost to death, then nailed to a cross, pierced and die separated from God must have been enough to cause Him to sweat drops of blood.
On this Good Friday, let us keep these things in mind and focus on Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).
That's the message I am hearing from the Lord these days: build your faith, endure, trust Him, obey what He tells me no matter what anyone else thinks, prepare for difficult times when I will be called to show forth my faith and trust in Him. And then I hear, "and people won't understand or agree, Kim" and "but it's for your own good".
Lord, my prayer tonight for myself and for my brothers and sisters who love you is that you give us a fresh revelation of who you are and that you would give us a fresh filling of your holy spirit. I ask that you enable us to endure hardship with a true faith in your provision for strength and the ability to do all things with your help because you know how hard it is, Lord. We cannot do it without you. I ask that we would desire truth above all else and that we would minister to each other in true brotherly love. I ask this in your name, Jesus, and for your glory and honor. amen