The Cost of Discipleship

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Would you be my disciples? Consider again:
Can you follow my footsteps through trial and pain?
Can you throw away pleasure, and glory, and fame,
And live but to honor my cause and my name?

Can you turn from the glitter of fashion and mirth,
And dwell like a pilgrim and stranger on the earth.
Despising earth’s riches, and living to bless?
Can you follow the feet of the shelterless?

Can you ask from your heart the forgiveness of men?
Can you list to reproaches, nor answer again?
Can you pray that repentance to life may be theirs
Who have watched for your falling, who have set for you snares?

When you hear I am come, then can you arise,
The joy of your heart springing up in your eyes?
Can you come out to meet me whatever the cost be,
Though you come on the waves of a storm-crested sea?

When I call, can you turn and in gladness “come out”
From the home of your childhood, the friends of your heart?
With naught but my promise on which to rely,
Afar from their love — can ye lie down and die?

Yes! We’ll take up the cross and in faith follow you
And bear your reproach, your disciples to be.
Blest Savior, for courage to you we will fly;
Of grace you has promised abundant supply.

This poem is from “Poems of Dawn.”

*******

Hebrews 12:1-12 (KJV)

1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Looking unto 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.

For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:

For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?

10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.

11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;

 

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Stay in the Race

“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1, NAS).

Stay In the Race. Loni Boyd..png

The first few steps felt easy, and my way was clear and bright.
I felt strong and energetic and my pace was quick and light.
Hesitation or fear? There was not a single trace
When I boldly decided to enter in this race.

I don’t know how much longer for I can’t really see the end;
Just another hill to climb around each and every bend!
I anxiously lift my eyes, and begin to plead my case.
An unexpected answer comes: “Just stay in the race.”

Discouragement sets in when I stumble and I fall.
I had been doing so well, but now all I can do is crawl.
Angry and ashamed; bitter tears stream across my face.
Then comes a gentle whisper: “Just stay in the race.”

The hills seem impossible and the pathway far too rough.
I am exhausted and weary and convinced I’ve had enough.
Now more than ever I need my Father’s grace.
Other runners pass me by, and I know I cannot win.

And this is what He tells me: “Just stay in the race.”
I want to give up…just stop and sit, and throw the towel in.
But then I remember it is not about the finishing place.
What really matters most is that I just stay in the race.

I look up and see before me a fellow runner’s hand.
He has sacrificed his time to stop and help me stand!
I press on with renewed and steadfast pace,
Faithfully determined to just stay in the race!

This way is rough and narrow and there are no guarantees.
For God never promised a course of rich and pleasant ease.
But even when I feel I’m lost without a trace,
God will guide me back, as long as I just stay in the race.

For this He promises them who proceed faithfully:
Joy and rest, to be loved and blessed for all eternity.
So carry on until you feel God’s almighty embrace,
And hear him say, “Well done; you have finished your race!”

Sr. Loni Boyd

https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/12/01/stay-in-the-race/

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How Can we Handle Our Sufferings in Christ, in a Jesus Way?

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Let us begin with a zap of JOY … that Jesus kind of joy that a child of God can feel from the words of Hebrews 12:11, which provide great reassurance that any painful experience allowed by God (which may include the pain endured from the sufferings in Christ), will actually NOT HARM the New Creature in Christ begotten within us, but rather, it will work out something wonderfully beneficial to the Old Mind (i.e. it will destroy it even more) and to the New Mind it will actually be a stepping stone to maturity and growth in Christ.

So here are the apostle Paul’s edifying words to us from Hebrew 12:11:

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

How positively encouraging!

Do we suffer for preaching about Christ’s Gospel?

Are we ridiculed at work for speaking up for the Truth?

Perhaps we have lost our job because of it?

Do we fear standing up for Jesus?

Do we fear being ridiculed by what others think of our interpretation of Bible Scriptures, hence we remain the quiet ones to keep in a comfort zone?

Are we embarrassed to be seen by all as Christ’s representatives?

Are we laughed at and labelled as “crazy” or “brainwashed” or “unbalanced” when we speak of the Gospel of Christ?

Or perhaps we are labelled by names from our past failures which we later recognized, grew from and changed our course of behaviour?

Do we fear being passionate about the Truth because of feeling we won’t cope when told we are going overboard or that we spend too much time on studying the Bible?

Do we too, not experience attacks from the Adversary? 

Do we not all experience the works of ignorance. Because of our imperfections of the flesh, we are not able to perfectly understand nor perfectly be understood.

Would you all not agree, that if we could read the hearts of each other, much unkind judgment would be prevented.

Since we cannot read the heart, it is good to err on the side of love between our brethren and pray (even more perhaps than use words) about the details which only the Heavenly Father perfectly understand and will never distort.

God is the perfect judge as we are not perfect yet in the full sense of the word “perfect;” only “reckoned” as righteous through Christ’s robe of imputed righteousness (Romans 4:22, 23).

Often the scripture is quoted “you will recognize them by their fruit” (Matthew 7:16), but have you experienced a situation where we in all sincerity of heart, give a testimony about the Gospel of Christ, yet it would seem that one, perhaps in an ecclesia meeting cannot see the fruits of God’s character in us and we are told to stop speaking?

If we prayerfully and patiently endure with a sincere purity of heart intention, in seeking for righteous communication and to share the joys of the gospel, then GOD OPENS A DOOR OF BLESSINGS TOO NUMEROUS TO COUNT, (even if the flesh does experience sufferings for righteousness sake) from which the new mind in Christ rejoices in, thanking the Heavenly Father for each test of our faith, obedience and loyalty to Him.

In Hebrews 5:7-10 we read,

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.”

Let us not think that the comments of others are to intentionally harm us.

It is good to remember that WE HAVE ALL SINNED (Romans 3:23) and to remove first the plank in our own eyes before we try to remove it in our brothers.

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).

“Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20).

If we feel wronged by our brother’s words, let us not retaliate with words of defense, but after taking it to our Heavenly Father in prayer, silently watch our Heavenly Father work things out PERFECTLY, praying for their victory and ours, in Christ—since we each have professed to belong ONLY to Christ, and wish ONLY THE BEST towards all our brethren in Christ, knowing that each of our beloved brethren struggle in their own unique ways to more than overcome the flesh, the world, and the adversary.

GOD is our best defender who can read the hearts of all, and allows each experience to work out perfectly what He so desires, in us.

The apostle Paul encourages our thoughts to be on “whatever is TRUE, whatever is HONORABLE, whatever is JUST, whatever is PURE, whatever is LOVELY, whatever is COMMENDABLE, on that which is EXCELLENT and on anything WORTHY OF PRAISE” (Philippians 4:8).

The above verse is a wonderfully perfect tool to remember using to clean out our minds from any negative thoughts!

Something about Fault-Finders

Are we fault finders?

In Titus 1:15,16 we are given a description of such.

“Unto the pure all things are pure; but unto them that are defiled and unfaithful is nothing pure; but both their mind and conscience are defiled. They profess to have known God, but by their works they renounce Him, being abominable and disobedient, and to every good work worthless” (Titus 1:15,16).

The “pure” can see the true, pure hearts of God’s sincere “little ones,” in spite of the weaknesses of the fallen flesh. They can see righteousness in the Divine law and arrangement. While “the defiled” may identify with the cause of God, but whose doctrines and manner of life are in conflict with the gospel because they are fault-finders and unbelieving — “and unfaithful” (Diaglott).

Can we ever fall into a fault-finder category and be labelled as unfaithful too?

We sure can, IF our consciences become perverted, where we end up being unable to see anything or anybody in a proper light. This leads to losing the spirit of love which thinketh no evil!

In Reprint 5746 of “The Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence,” Brother Charles Taze Russell describes these fault-finders in the following words:

They could find fault with everything–nobody could do anything just right, no doctrines were right. We have all met people of this character—people who see nothing pure, nothing good, anywhere, and who are denouncing others all the time and this is how their consciences become defiled. At first the conscience of such would to some extent reprove them. But gradually, if they yield to this wrong heart attitude, their consciences become corrupt and hardened, so that they do not realize that they are prevaricating, misjudging, do not see how unjust, impure and blind they have become. “They profess to have known God,” says the Apostle—knowing something in an intellectual way about His Plan and Word—”but by their works they deny Him.” Their works are contrary to God’s Word, which instructs that all should seek to do all the good they can, to see all the good they can, and to give generous judgment to others.

The Apostle is not saying here that such have necessarily become immoral and vile in that they have become delvers into all kinds of sin and vice. We are not to read into his words anything that is not there. But he does say that so far as any good work is concerned they will defile it, injure it. Better would it be that they keep away from the Lord’s work entirely. They have allowed the bitter spirit to work in them until everything takes on the color of their own minds. They do not recognize to what an extent they are unjust, unrighteous, in their thoughts, their words, their conduct. They are injurious to every good work.

There are lessons of warning here for all of us, lest we should be led astray by the spirit of the Wicked One and become mere fault-finders, accusers of the brethren—not giving our time, our hands, our feet, our tongues, to doing good, to blessing and UPBUILDING the brethren, but rather to tearing down. In proportion as any one does this, he is worthless, yea, worse than worthless, to the Lord and to His Cause!”

The above words by Pastor Charles Russell are truly a GREAT WAKE UP CALL to every true Christian. They are humbling thoughts and truths to apply to each of us as we ALL fall into the trap at one time or another with thoughts that should rather be positive towards all our brethren in Christ, but which the flesh often prefers to ignore.

Here is also a lovely verse about our beloved Elders in Christ :-

“Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labour in preaching and teaching(1 Timothy 5:17).

Here are a list of suggestions in preventing and overcoming the evil surrounding fault-finding:

1. Thank our Heavenly Father for the experience as it is the “fiery trials” that test our loyalty to God best and develop AGAPE love most. (See text for “Songs in the Night,” March 12th.)

2. Focus on the Christ-like qualities we see in our brethren, just like we would wish others to focus on the Christ-likeness they see in us (Philippians 2:3; 4:8).

3. ListenJesus also remained silent when Pilate questioned him (Matthew 26:63).

4. Continually ask God for His help (Psalm 121).

5. Wait for God. Trust in God to deliver and bring justice (Exodus 14:14; 2 Chronicles 20:17).

6. If God inspires the conscience to do so, reply using gentle, kind words (Isaiah 30:21).

“Speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people” (Titus 3:2).

A beneficial reply to criticism:

“Thank you Sister/ Brother. Please pray for me.”

This statement shows not only our appreciation for our fellow brethren in Christ communicating their best interests for our highest spiritual welfare, it also reflects our faith in God’s power through prayer as well our joy and gratefulness in the sacrificial offerings of our fellow yoke-bearers in Christ, keeping them also in our fervent prayer (1 Peter 3:17).

7. Let us ask ourselves what would bring our Heavenly Father grandest JOY? What words and what actions would best represent our Head–the Captain of our Salvation? (Hebrews 12:2).

8. Saturate our mind with spiritually edifying and positive Scriptures, which are filled with the precious promises of God so that we continuously seek the highest welfare of our co-laborers in the Vineyard of our Master and Head, our Lord Jesus. Some wonderfully beneficial Holy Scriptures to meditate upon, include:

  • “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Mark 12:31).
  • “Think of others as better than yourself” (Philippians 2:3).
  • “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor” (1 Corinthians 10:24).
  • “Pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

9. Consider our Brethren in Christ as are “our joy”, “our crown” and “our hope” as did the apostle Paul (1 Thessalonians 2:19).

10. Realize our own shortcomings (Matthew 7:1-5), and copy the forgiveness that our Lord, Jesus Christ had towards all (Ephesians 4:32).

We “ALL fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

May we rest in the assurance that if we do our very best to keep a pure conscience before God and seek to only do what is righteous and pure and loving and just, GOD will deliver us in due time.

It is far better to boast about one’s own weaknesses (2 Corinthians 11:30) and make the strengths in our brethren shine out gloriously if in their presence.

With kind and gentle words, prayers, patience and even at times silence towards those who may attack us for Truth sake, let our confidence be in our trust in the LORD’s strength which HE DOES gives us, and let us defend the Truth where it warrants this, just like Christ Jesus did.

May we not let our hearts turn bitter or cold.

“A soft [gentle] answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).

The fallen angels know if they cannot harm us by using those in the world, they surely will try to plant discord amongst our closest within the Church. Our prayers for each other is so important.

Having agape love towards all our brethren in Christ is necessary to be of the body of Christ. Our Lord Jesus is the best example of this, laying down his life as a ransom for ALL; being crucified by the ignorant actions of his very own (John 1:11).

We all need encouragement from each other.

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

By asking God to daily show us His will, we may be lead to glorious faith-building and faith strengthening experiences. Here are some examples of how we may edify each other:

  • Share Scriptures from the Word of God with those in your own home;
  • Send an email or card sharing some of the precious promises of God in it from Scripture;
  • Volunteer your time in the gospel witnessing work;
  • Write a poem and share it at the next Testimony Meeting in your ecclesia to edify those present;
  • Go to the local supermarket and hand out some tracts or booklets sharing the Good News about the Kingdom and God’s divine plan for mankind;
  • Be a Daniel. Dare to stand alone. Dare to start a project and finish it which would be spiritually edifying those who have a listening ear to the Word of God.

All for Jesus! The time is short!

The more tests that are overcome now, the grander the shine! To become the shiniest diamonds in character then the tests of character development in Christ are to be passed in often unfavourable conditions for the flesh. The members of the high calling are in training to be kings and priests who belong to their head—Christ Jesus, and they will help the world of mankind up the highway of holiness so each lesson learned now and each experience that is overcome now, is a lesson that will be most beneficial for the future.

May our presence have a most pleasantly refreshing, calm, soothing effect on all in Christ who would be in our midst so that Jesus’ presence may be what is felt by all.

Suffering – Learning from our Savior

Since Christ suffered for us (1 Peter 2:18-25), the saints are also exhorted to suffer and accept trials with the same spirit as did Jesus. Our Lord, who committed no sin, was in all respects perfectly holy. He was entirely innocent and suffered without having committed any crime. As Jesus suffered unjustly, his body members should regard it as being no strange thing when they too undergo similar sufferings and persecutions.

The scriptures tell us that there was no guile, deceit, hypocrisy or insincerity found in Jesus’ mouth, for he was in all respects what he professed to be. Though he was condemned as an impostor, that charge was wholly untrue. Jesus was reviled and spoken of as a deceiver, charged with being in league with Beelzebub, “the prince of devils,” and accused as a blasphemer against God (Luke 11:15). Although he was falsely accused by his malefactors, Jesus did not revile those who reproached him.

Jesus seldom used harsh language and showed no anger. He calmly stood and bore it all, for he came to endure all kinds of sufferings in order that he might set an example for us and make an atonement for our sins. Such should be our course as well when faced with similar attacks.

The words in 1 Peter 2:25“Ye were as sheep going astray,” alludes us to the words in Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” This thought in a broader sense expresses the condition of the human race before God recovers them through the plan of salvation. A flock wandering without a shepherd or guide is in a pathetic condition, and so was it for the prospective body of Christ before being sought out and brought into the true fold by accepting the value of the shed blood of the Good Shepherd.
In 1 Peter 4:12-17, the apostle warned his readers about the coming of a more intense period of persecution, stressing the importance of patience and mental readiness.

Peter intimates that the Church should not regard it as being strange or unusual for the people of God to suffer as did Christ, because later they will be glorified together with him in God’s coming kingdom. He also admonishes the Church not to become perturbed concerning matters unrelated to Christ, but to rejoice in their afflictions, knowing they will be counted as a blessing.

The people of God should always place their lives completely in God’s hand, believing that because God is their Creator, He will be their preserver.

God withholds no good thing from those who love Him and walk uprightly. He who is employed in God’s service will always have God’s protection.

This post’s URL: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/05/30/how-do-we-handle-sufferings-in-christ-in-a-jesus-way/

TIS SO SWEET TO TRUST IN JESUS

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