Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Think It Not Strange

All scripture references are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible.

1st Peter 4:12-16 "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf."

I well remember when I first turned to the Lord Jesus my desire was for all of my family to be saved. I witnessed to my mother (a backslidden Pentecostal) and my stepfather.  My stepfather would have nothing to do with my conversion. I wanted all my family saved. My stepfather coldly advised me that he was born a Lutheran and would die a Lutheran, (he was a confirmed Lutheran who had rarely been to church since he was confirmed as a child). When I tried to testify to my brother and his family, I just made his wife angry. He told me that I was being to pushy! At the time, although I had not suffered any physical abuse, I remember going into the bathroom and talking to the Lord Jesus about my sorrow and the above scriptures came into my mind, "think it not strange  concerning the fiery trial which is to try you,... But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings..."

I also recall when we were pastoring in the Mid-West, several of the church elders came into where I had my office and upbraided me for a position I had taken. (I won't go into the whole account) I remember going into our apartment and collapsing on our couch and asking the Lord Jesus to please release me from that situation.  The Lord very tenderly said to me that He was allowing me to be a partaker with Him of His sufferings. I don't think I had ever felt the tenderness of the presence of God like that before. If you have ever suffered for the Lord Jesus, let me assure you that He appreciates it.

Now I know that over the years, (it is going up on 48 years that I have served the Lord Jesus), I have made many mistakes and done things I have had to ask God's forgiveness for. But not one time has He failed to comfort my heart and keep me true to Him. I can truly say that never in my Christian walk have I ever wanted to go back to the "weak and beggarly elements" of the world. (See Galatians 4:9) I can truly say with David of old, "my heart is fixed" on making heaven my home when Jesus comes back. (See Psalms 57:7 and 108:1)

My friends, "If ye be reproached for the name of Christ," be happy about it. God has promised you and I that "in heaven (we will have)  a better and an enduring substance," more than all that this world has to offer. Don't give up now. The Bible says in Hebrews 10:35-39, "Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

With the help of God, and as the Apostle Peter said in Acts 15:11, "we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved..."  No, "we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul." I like what Bro. Melvin Wagner, the assistant pastor where I first went to church, used to say, "You've got to keep on keeping on," and to "Believe your beliefs and doubt your doubts, not believe your doubts and doubt your beliefs." So I say to you now, just keep on keeping on. And as I used to say to the church in Tigard Oregon, if you want to make it to heaven, turn your face toward the Lord Jesus and start walking, one step at a time.

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