Perfected Through Suffering

The writer of Hebrews made this statement:  For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. 

Jesus, of course, is He Who was perfected through His suffering in order to provide the blood that washes away sins. There can be no more encouraging word than that.  We have an opportunity to no longer be guilty of sin and can have the hope of eternal life!

How does that apply to the things I suffer on a daily basis?  Could it be that if Jesus was willing to suffer innocently in order to provide such hope for me, I ought to be willing to suffer the consequences of my own actions?  And if I suffer innocently, at the hands of someone else, can I not endure as did He?

Jesus is our Great Example of how to go through this life.  Life, even in suffering, will be easier if I follow His example. Remember, He loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

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This Grace Given

In Ephesians 3 the apostle Paul makes an extraordinary statement.  Read verse 8:  To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ…  I completely understand that view of preaching.  However, there is more, much more, in this context.

After noting the eternal purpose of the church, that the church was always God’s plan for the salvation of mankind, Paul says:  Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory (Ephesians 3:13).  Why would he say that here?

When all of this context is put together, it becomes clear that Paul was suffering tribulation as a result of his ministry.  Ephesians is one of the “Prison Epistles,” written from a prison cell.  And his readers were obviously upset and concerned for his welfare.

Paul’s word of encouragement was: “Don’t worry about me!  What landed me in prison is something I consider to be a grace given unto me!!”  Wow!  What an attitude!

What if you and I approached our tribulations in life with this attitude?  The same God Who was with Paul will be with us.  Remember, He loves you and so do I!

Donnie Bates

In This House We Groan

2 Corinthians 5:2:  For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven…  The apostle Paul as much as says, “The sad fact of the matter is, in this life we suffer!”  Every one of us knows the truth of that statement.  We can also make the vastly oversimplified observation that we suffer in this life because it is this life and not the next.

So, what is our word of encouragement here?

First, we are encouraged to know that God is He Who prepared us for this life, meaning He gave us the ability to exist in this life in the way He wants us to live (verse 5).  So, as Paul says, we have as our ambition to be pleasing to God no matter what (verse 9).

Ultimately, no matter what happens in this life, we must be content to be controlled by the love of Christ (verse 14), which means looking at the suffering in this life not as something that overcomes us, but which we can overcome; something that, with the right attitude, can actually make us stronger (James 1:2-4).

Remember, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

I Am Not Ashamed

In Paul’s second epistle to Timothy, the apostle begins with some encouraging words for the young preacher.  Later in the epistle he will tell Timothy to expect persecution; in fact, his words are that all who desire to serve the Lord, or live Godly, will suffer persecution (3:12).  Here, at the beginning of the letter, Paul encourages us to stand firm.

God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but of power, love and discipline (1:7).  That means we have all we need to remain firm.  The point Paul is aiming at is to discourage fear or retreat in the face of persecution.  He says not to be ashamed of suffering, but take the suffering head on; “join me,” he says (1:8).

Read 1:12 with me:  For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.  I grew up singing the song taken from this verse.  What a powerfully encouraging thing to say!

Do you know Him?  He knows you and what you need, and He loves you, and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Hope in the Lord Jesus

Permit me to use a verse of Scripture out of context in order to make a point, before re-inserting it into its rightful place.  In Philippians 2:19 we read:  But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition.

Reading the title of this post one may be tempted to think the phrase “hope in the Lord Jesus” refers to the hope we have of salvation, or of just getting through the day.  Well, that would indeed be taking it out of context.  However, the apostle Paul’s point is not lost on those of us seeking encouragement from friend Barnabas.

The phrase “in the Lord Jesus” is literally “trusting in the Lord Jesus.”  In other words, we must trust in Him not just for the “big things” (e.g. salvation, protection from the evil one, etc.), but in our daily lives.  We live our lives the best we can according to His will and we trust Him to get us through.

Paul’s motive was to be encouraged by news from Timothy.  Our motives should be to be encouraged to know that God loves us.  I love you, too, by the way.

Donnie Bates

A Need for Endurance

The book of Hebrews seems to have been written to a body of Christians who were tired and discouraged and who may have been considering giving up in the face of it.  The writer of this great book spent a great bit of time reminding his readers of the blessings and benefits of remaining faithful to Christ.  However, in 10:32-34 he also reminded them of the other side.

The suffering weighing down the spirits of the Hebrew Christians wasn’t something new.  When they had first become Christians they had suffered and they had endured.  It was necessary to remember that victory.  That will work for you and me, too.

Hebrews 10:35, 36 says:  Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.  For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. 

Don’t throw away your confidence!  Remember past victories and hang in there!!  You are not alone.  God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

My Confidence in You

Clearly, as with all close relationships, there was conflict at times in the relationship between Paul and the Corinthians (see 2 Corinthians 10-12).  However, consider the opening verses of 2 Corinthians 7.  After encouraging them to put aside all defilement, Paul asks for acceptance, basing that on his innocence before them, alluding to a conflict of some kind.  However, rather than dwelling on that, Paul immediately compliments the Corinthians for their love and concern.

Notice verse 4:  Great is my confidence in you; great is my boasting on your behalf.  I am filled with comfort; I am overflowing with joy in all our affliction.  Paul goes on to give the example of how the coming of Titus not only comforted him, but so did their treatment of Titus.

What does this have to do with us?  Friends, we need each other.  God created His family (the church) just this way.  Folks being folks, conflict will come, but let us never lose sight of the fact that God gave us each other to comfort one another.  And He did so because He loves you and I wanted to tell you that because, so do I.

Donnie Bates