Australia Kneels : Week 4 – Day 3

Working with the Lord in Removing the Blockages in my Heart + Mindsets of Wrong Beliefs

The Garden Catalogue For Today

I AM STATEMENT FOR THE WEEK: 

I AM The Light of the World,

He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the Light of Life (John 8:12)

What was Christ’s Victory won at the cross? 

To Raise us up to be Kings in His Kingdom to rule and reign in Him:

5‘From Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Revelation 1:5-6 And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, 10 And have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:9-10

. . . . . . .

Another of the 6 core things Christ accomplished by His death on the cross was:  The Removal of our alienation  from God. Referring to: Matt Perman – the 6 things Christ Accomplished at His Death Reconciliation Whereas expiation refers to the removal of our sins, and propitiation refers to the removal of God’s wrath, reconciliation refers to the removal of our alienation from God. Because of our sins, we were alienated — separated — from God. Christ’s death removed this alienation and thus reconciled us to God. We see this, for example: In Romans 5:10-11: “For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” In 2 Corinthians 5:17-20  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” In Ps 45:15-17:  With gladness and rejoicing they shall be brought; they shall enter the King’s palace. 16 Instead of Your fathers shall be Your sons, whom You shall make princes in all the earth. 17 I will make Your name to be remembered in all generations; therefore the people shall praise You forever and ever.

Theme for the week:

Discover Jesus IS the True Light and sovereign King and creator from the beginning, Jn 1:1-7

JESUS came as the LOGOS – The Eternal Word of God – THE LIGHT – THE TRUTH   

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

John’s Witness: The True Light   

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

The Word Becomes Flesh

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Without Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit, nothing was created from the beginning – Genesis 1:1-2

 1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Gen 1:3-4 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.

When God spoke on the first day of creation, LIGHT manifested and darkness was separated. On the sixth day, God created us humans to be His ‘image bearers’, the carriers of His light and glory to His creation. However, in the garden of Eden through Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God, with their coming into agreement with Satan’s deception and darkness, they broke covenant with God. Through eating of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and evil, they handed over their God given dominion into Satan’s authority of darkness.  Jesus came into the world as the Son of man and the Son of God, demonstrating God’s Kingdom of True Light and Life, dying to take back full dominion authority after living a sinless life. The Lord Jesus spoke His Word of Life and Truth that brought Light to the hearts whose ears were open to hear His voice by the Spirit.

In Jn 8:12 Jesus declares Himself to the Jewish religious leaders to be the “‘I AM’ (YHWH) The Light of the world.” This was after they had challenged Him about His protecting the women ‘caught in adultery’, who they had charged and brought to Jesus, hoping to accuse Him about His teaching and authority. To fulfil ‘The Law’ adulterers had to be stoned to death. But Jesus stood between the women and those who condemned her, who were ready to throw stones at her. (It is notable that it was only the woman not the man that they had been brought and charged.)

Jesus challenged the ‘darkness’ of the heart motives of the Scribes and the Pharisees and the hypocrisy of the religious system. He had stooped and was writing in the sand. Could He have been writing their sins? Then He stood up righteousness, truth, and justice and Jesus protected the woman and said to those wanting to kill her;

Jn 8:7-12 “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had raised Himself up]and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
11 She said, “No one, Lord.”
And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” Jesus was commanding the woman to stay in purity and holiness, to stop her lifestyle that opened her to darkness.

12 Then Jesus spoke to the religious leaders again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life.  So often He gave people a second chance to choose His Truth.

In Jn 9:5 Jesus spoke to His disciples:  As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

Isa 9:2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined. Jesus

God intended His people Israel to be a Light to the Nations and Jesus (Yeshua) was born as a light to the Gentiles and the Glory of His people Israel. He fulfilled the Messianic prophecy from 700 years before His birth, spoken by the prophet Isaiah 49:6  ……. My Servant (sent) to raise up the tribes of Jacob, is to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”

In Luke 2:32, Simeon speaks of this Messianic prophecy’s fulfilment holding the baby Jesus in Jerusalem.
27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, 28 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:  29 “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; 30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation31 which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, 32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” 33 And Joseph and His mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of Him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against 35 (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

This reality is written in Jer 17:9 and Rev 2:23. Jesus said that He had come to set the captives free, whoever would believe in Him, and to bring the devil’s work to nought.

In Luke 8:16-18 16 “No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lampstand, that those who enter may see the light. 17 For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light. 18 Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he [a]seems to have will be taken from him.”

In 1 Jn 3:8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.

Jesus speaks to us today, just as He challenged His own people and all who would follow Him to be His disciples in His Sermon on the Mount. Jesus soke in:

Matt 5:14-16: 14 You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matt 6:22-24 22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
You Cannot Serve God and Riches 24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

Jn 12:36 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them.

In 2 Cor 11:14 Paul is warning of the devil’s counterfeit false angel of light

14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.

The Light of the Holy Spirit in us brings revelation, conviction of sinful thoughts and the truth of our heart motives and God’s arms are open wide to all who Hear the True Gospel of the Kingdom of God preached and awaken to God’s truth and righteousness. But, we need to decide to walk in relationship with the Father as followers of Jesus, to let go of the lusts of the eyes and the flesh and the pride of life. We cry out to God for His Mercy wholeheartedly, to come out of addictions and darkness into the Kingdom of Light. Peter understood this reality when Jesus restored him.

1 Peter 2:9b (You are) His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light;

In Acts 26, the Apostle Paul testifies of his earlier deliverance from darkness into the Kingdom of Light that happened during His conversion experience when he was ‘Saul’ travelling with evil intent on the Road to Damascus. In Acts 9, Luke records when Jesus came and encountered him as Saul was on an assignment to murder more Christians.

Acts 9:2-19  2As he (Saul)  journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

And he said, “Who are You, Lord?”    Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”

So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

Ananias Baptizes Saul 10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. 12 And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.”
13 Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much 
harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”
15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for 
he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”
17 And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized. 19 So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.

Acts 26:15-18  (Paul Testifies before King Agrippa) 15 So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He (Jesus) said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. 17 I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’

Col 1:13-14 (From his testimony, Paul writes to the people in Colossae who were caught in false deceptions):
13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

 

This surely is the good news of the Gospel. But we need to live a self-disciplined life through the help and wisdom of the Holy Spirit in order to stay in the Holy Spirit’s life and light. God is healing the emotions in many hearts at present.

1 Jn 1:6-7 If we say that we have fellowship with Him (Jesus), and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Eph 5:8- 11For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.

Jesus speaks to His followers being ‘kings’ establishing His Kingdom of Heaven government on earth as it is in Heaven. not those who walk in darkness but those who walk in the Light – we confess who He is in His authority confessing that He is the Light and we shine as His light in the midst of this crooked generation

Phil 2: 14-16 Light Bearers 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or laboured in vain.

Dan 12:3 Those who are wise shall shinelike the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever. 

In the BE – ATTITUDES in Matt 5:3-10, Jesus Decrees the heart motives and mind attitudes of His followers to be blessed to demonstrate His Kingdom Truth and values, as examples of His Father’s nature of goodness, faithfulness and desire for oneness, unity and reconciliation with us and between all peoples, Jesus’ ways.

Numbers 6:23-26  27 “So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.

“Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them:
24 “The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
26 The Lord 
lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” ’

How encouraging to discover the deeper meaning of God’s face ‘shining’ on and towards us, being God’s loving Compassionate gaze of love, light and life pouring into our hungry hearts through His passionate love for each one of us. What a Blessing it is to realise in God’s presence His nearness and capacity to receive revelation and to see in the Spirit what He wants to show us as we talk and commune with Him or meditate on His word.

Ps 36:7 How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures. For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.

Ps 119: 105  Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Ps 119:130 ‘The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.’

Ps 27: 1The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life;

11 Teach me Your way, O Lord, and lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.
13 I would have lost heart, unless I had believed, that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 14 Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

Let us be encouraged by Ps 27:1, how David, despite the aggression of his enemies, completely put his trust in the Lord. He overcame any fear in his circumstances as his focus and trust was in the faithfulness of God who had protected him so many times.

. . . . . . .

Let’s listen now to Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel is responding to a terrifying attack with Christ’s love demonstrating the nature of Jesus Christ – being His Light in the midst of darkness. He was stabbed several times while running his church service, but the blade didn’t cut any vital organs.

He is recovering well…

Let us Discover Who the Father says He is, and how we can relate to Him.

God’s  Orchard – Fruitfulness & the Flourishing Vege patch

By Hilary and C-HOP Team

Welcome to your Discipleship Journey. You are about to embark on an intentional season of healing the wounds of your heart. As you heal, obstacles to intimacy with God will be removed. You will find that not only will you receive healing, but you will also experience a real deepening of your relationship with the Lord. Each week we will look specifically at God’s Word in the light of different issues.

Week 4: The Truth about FEAR  – “I am not alone” 

We will be drawing from Thom Gardner’s Book ‘Healing Journey’ p31-51

Check out the Truth of God’s Word below.

We suggest you repeat these Truths aloud, close your eyes & rest a moment in each truth, then speak out loud these scriptures below and rest a moment in each of these truths – repeat them through the week.

In this season, God is the Gardner of our hearts to set us free from the many lies we believed due to our past experiences. In the previous 42-Day Banqueting journey, each week, we explored a particular area of mindsets of Hopelessness that have blocked our capacity to believe in the Goodness and the Truth of who God is.

This week, let us refresh our understanding about the lies of the issue of FEAR, such as where we have believed “I’m all alone, there’s no one to help me or protect me from huge danger”. Please Click Here to  refresh your mind from Part 1 of the 42 Days Banqueting Journey – Week 4 – Day 3  

Now, in this 50 days Journey we will invite you to intentionally declare God’s Word into your spirit with His Truths, to replace the lies we’ve believed. In John 8:31-32 “[31] …Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.  [32] And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Let us focus on abiding in God’s Word and opening our hearts to receive our Father’s Love towards us as His sons and daughters, to discover how He sees us, and to believe His promises in His Word.

Truth: My Father is always with me. He will never leave me.  

Matt 28:20 “…surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” 

Truth: My Father wants to hold and comfort me when I am afraid.

Isa 66:13As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you;  and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”

Truth: My Father is lovingly and faithfully watching over me.

Ps 121:8The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”

Truth: My Father provides everything I need in every situation

Phil 4:13I can do all things through him who gives me strength.”

Truth: I can rest in the strong and capable arms of my Father

Deut 33:27 The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.

Truth: My Father is always there for me. He wants me to trust Him.

Prov 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart  and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
   and he will make your paths straight.”

Truth: The Father is always present to help me.

Isa 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

 

What does it mean or look like to stand as a King or Leader in the Kingdom of God as opposed to the world’s definitions? 

What sort of King did Jesus model for us? The Nature of His Father and Holy Spirit. He was a Holy, pure, suffering, servant, shepherd King who washed hIs disciples feet. He had compassion on the sick, was merciful and generous and kind to the lowly and hurting – He came to set the captives free. Isa 61

He also confronted deception and challenged ‘darkness‘ with His Light and Truth and complete authority. He was a revolutionary and brought the devil’s work to nothing. He confronted worldly systems of religious power and  institutions. He preached the True Gospel of the Kingdom of God and called people to Repent and to be converted in their hearts, to turn from their sin and be Born Again to see God and to enter into His Kingdom of God. He came to take back His dominion from satan and to establish His rule and reign of righteousness through His Disciples going out into all the earth. 

Right to the end his disciples were competing as to who was going to sit on the right or left Him when He ruled as King on His throne. They’d hoped that as the King He would summon His powers and prevail over the cruelty of the Roman Empire and deliver the Jews from oppression. Jesus sought to do this through healing each human heart, body and soul in those who believed in Him. When demons were evicted, Jesus declared the Kingdom of God had entered into a soul by His spirit. Jesus did rule through political means of power with self promotion, competition and desire for self advancement.

The following is and extract from Peter Scazzero’s book ‘Emotionally Healthy Discipleship’ ch 4

‘As pastors immersed in Western culture, it’s difficult to disentangle our view of Jesus from the Americanized identity we value—an identity measured mostly in terms of what looks good, feels good, and does good. The question arises: What does it mean for us to be cross-centered and follow the crucified Jesus in our context? What are the distinctions between the world’s discipleship and Jesus’ discipleship?

Four vices of worldly discipleship are deeply ingrained in the church. Just as Jesus taught the Twelve, we too must reject these four things categorically, not only because they are illusory and temporary, but because they damage us and the people we lead.

The temptation of popularity

Who doesn’t want to be popular? The problem is that our desire for popularity leads us to do and say things solely to impress other people. Jesus publicly called out the Pharisees and teachers of the law, saying, “Everything they do is done for people to see” (Matt. …

In  ch 4 of Peter Scazzero’s book Emotionally Healthy Discipleship he describes how in our flesh as ‘Christian leaders’ we tend to desire position and power, to:

Be Popular,

Be Great,

Be Successful,

Avoid Suffering.

Click HERE for a pdf that is a helpful Discussion Guide for Emotionally Healthy Discipleship – New wineskin – Transformed lives in Christ – Disciples of Jesus, not just Christian workers !

Preparing to Know Christ Deeply Through Suffering

Philippians 3:1–14,

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you. Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the law, found blameless.

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

The Bible Promises Suffering for God’s People 

We are focusing in this message on the need to prepare for suffering. The reason for this is not just my sense that the days are evil and the path of righteousness costly, but the promise of the Bible that God’s people will suffer.

For example, Acts 14:22 says that Paul told all his young churches, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom.” And Jesus said, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you” (John 15:20). And Peter said, “Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12). In other words it is not strange; it is to be expected. And Paul said (in 2 Timothy 3:12), “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

So I take it to be a biblical truth that the more earnest we become about being the salt of the earth and the light of the world, and reaching the unreached peoples of the world, and exposing the works of darkness, and loosing the bonds of sin and Satan, the more we will suffer. That’s why we should prepare. And that’s why I am preaching in these weeks from texts that will help us prepare.

The messages deal with four purposes that God has in our suffering in his service. One is the moral or spiritual purpose: in suffering we come to hope more fully in God and put less confidence in the things of the world. Second, there is the intimacy purpose: we come to know Christ better when we share his sufferings. That is our focus today.

The Purpose of Greater Intimacy with Christ

God helps us prepare for suffering by teaching us and showing us that through suffering we are meant to go deeper in our relationship with Christ. You get to know him better when you share his pain. The people who write most deeply and sweetly about the preciousness of Christ are people who have suffered with him deeply.

Suffering in the Life of Jerry Bridges

For example, Jerry Bridges’s book, Trusting God, Even When Life Hurts, is a deep and helpful book about suffering and going deep with God through affliction. And so it’s not surprising to learn that when he was 14 years old, he heard his mother call out in the next room, totally unexpectedly, and arrived to see her take her last breath. He also has physical conditions that keep him from normal sports. And just a few years ago his wife died of cancer. Serving God with the Navigators has not spared him pain. He writes with depth about suffering because he has gone deep with Christ in suffering.

Suffering in the Life of Horatius Bonar

Over a hundred years ago Horatius Bonar, the Scottish pastor and hymn-writer, wrote a little book called Night of Weeping, or, When God’s Children Suffer. In it he said his goal was, “to minister to the saints . . . to seek to bear their burdens, to bind up their wounds, and to dry up at least some of their many tears.” It is a tender and deep and wise book. So it’s not surprising to hear him say,

It is written by one who is seeking himself to profit by trial, and trembles lest it should pass by as the wind over the rock, leaving it as hard as ever; by one who would in every sorrow draw near to God that he may know Him more, and who is not unwilling to confess that as yet he knows but little.

Bridges and Bonar show us that suffering is a path deep into the heart of God. God has special revelations of his glory for his suffering children.

The Words of Job, Stephen, and Peter

After months of suffering, Job finally says to God, “I had heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees thee” (Job 42:5). Job had been a godly and upright man, pleasing to God, but the difference between what he knew of God in prosperity and what he knew of him through adversity was the difference between hearing about and seeing.

When Stephen was arrested and put on trial for his faith and given a chance to preach, the upshot was that the religious leaders were enraged and ground their teeth at him. They were just about to drag him out of the city and kill him. At just that moment, Luke tells us, “Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit and gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55). There is a special revelation, a special intimacy, prepared for those who suffer with Christ.

Peter put it this way, “If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Peter 4:14). In other words God reserves a special coming and resting of his Spirit and his glory on his children who suffer for his name.

Three Observations from the Text 

So the focus of today’s message is on this intimacy factor in suffering. One of the purposes of the suffering of the saints is that their relationship with God might become less formal and less artificial and less distant, and become more personal and more real and more intimate and close and deep.

In our text (Philippians 3:5–11) I want us to see at least three things:

  1. First, Paul’s preparation to suffer by reversing his values;
  2. Second, Paul’s experience of suffering and loss as the cost of his obedience to Christ;
  3. Third, Paul’s aim in all of this; namely, to gain Christ: to know him and be in him and fellowship with more intimacy and reality than he knew with his best friends, Barnabas and Silas.

1. Paul’s Preparation to Suffer

In verses 5 and 6 Paul lists the distinctives he enjoyed before he became a Christian. He gives his ethnic pedigree as a thoroughbred child of Abraham, a Hebrew of Hebrews. This brought him great gain, a great sense of significance and assurance. He was an Israelite. Then he mentions three things that go right to the heart of Paul’s life before he was a Christian (at the end of verse 5): “as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the law, found blameless.”

Paul’s Values Before He Met Christ

This was Paul’s life. This was what gave him meaning and significance. This was his gain, his fortune, his joy. Different strokes for different folks — and Paul’s was that he belonged to the upper-echelon of law-keepers, the Pharisees, and that among them he was so zealous that he led the way in persecuting the enemies of God, the church of Jesus, and that he kept the law meticulously. He got strokes from belonging, he got strokes from excelling, he got strokes from God — or so he thought — for his blameless law-keeping.

And then he met Christ, the Son of the living God, on the Damascus road. Christ told him how much he would have to suffer (Acts 9:16). And Paul prepared himself.

Paul Counted His Prior Values as Loss

The way he prepared himself is described in verse 7. “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.” Paul looks at his standing in the upper-echelons of religious society, the Pharisees; he looks at the glory of being at the very top of that group with all its strokes and applause; he looks at the rigor of his law-keeping and the sense of moral pride he enjoyed; and he prepares to suffer by taking his whole world and turning it upside down, by reversing his values: “Whatever things were gain to me [that’s verses 5–6], those things I have counted as loss.”

Before he was a Christian he had a ledger with two columns: one that said, gains, and another that said, losses. On the gain side was the human glory of verses 5–6. On the loss side was the terrible prospect that this Jesus movement might get out of hand and Jesus prove real and win the day. When he met the living Christ on the Damascus road, Paul took a big red pencil and wrote “LOSS” in big red letters across his gains column. And he wrote “GAIN” in big letters over the loss column that only had one name in it: Christ.

And not only that, the more Paul thought about the relative values of life in the world and the greatness of Christ, he moved beyond the few things mentioned in verses 5–6 and put everything but Christ in that first column. Verse 8 says, “More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” He started by counting his most precious accomplishments as loss, and he ended by counting everything as loss, except Christ.

Normal Christianity

That’s what it meant for Paul to become a Christian. And lest anyone of us think he was unique or peculiar, notice that in verse 17 he says with his full apostolic authority, “Brethren, join in following my example.” This is normal Christianity.

What Paul is doing here is showing how the teaching of Jesus is to be lived out. For example, Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field” (Matthew 13:44). Becoming a Christian means discovering that Christ (the King) is a Treasure Chest of holy joy and writing “LOSS” over everything else in the world in order to gain him. “He sold all that he had to buy that field.”

Or again in Luke 14:33 Jesus said, “No one of you can be my disciple who does not take leave of all his own possessions.” In other words, becoming a disciple of Jesus means writing “LOSS” in big red letters over all your possessions — and everything else this world offers.

What This Means Practically

Now what does that mean practically? I think it means four things:

  1. It means that whenever I am called upon to choose between anything in this world and Christ, I choose Christ.
  2. It means that I will deal with the things of this world in ways that draw me nearer to Christ so that I gain more of Christ and enjoy more of him by the way I use the world.
  3. It means that I will always deal with the things of this world in ways that show that they are not my treasure, but rather show that Christ is my treasure.
  4. It means that if I lose any or all the things this world can offer, I will not lose my joy or my treasure or my life, because Christ is all.

Now that was the reckoning that Paul reckoned in his soul (v. 8): “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Christ is all and all else is loss.

Why Is This a Way of Preparing to Suffer?

Now let’s stand back a minute and get our bearings. I am still dealing with the first point; namely, that this is Paul’s way of preparing to suffer. Why do I say that? Why is becoming a Christian, and writing “LOSS” across everything in your life but Christ, a way of preparing to suffer?

The answer is that suffering is nothing more than the taking away of bad things or good things that the world offers for our enjoyment — reputation, esteem among peers, job, money, spouse, sexual life, children, friends, health, strength, sight, hearing, success, etc. When these things are taken away (by force or by circumstance or by choice), we suffer. But if we have followed Paul and the teaching of Jesus and have already counted them as loss for the surpassing value of gaining Christ, then we are prepared to suffer.

If when you become a Christian you write a big red “LOSS” across all the things in the world except Christ, then when Christ calls you to forfeit some of those things, it is not strange or unexpected. The pain and the sorrow may be great. The tears may be many, as they were for Jesus in Gethsemane. But we will be prepared. We will know that the value of Christ surpasses all the things the world can offer and that in losing them we gain more of Christ.

2. Paul’s Experience of Suffering

So in the second half of verse 8 Paul moves from preparing for suffering to actual suffering. He moves from counting all things as loss in the first half of verse 8 to actually suffering the loss of all things in the second half of the verse. “ . . . for whom [that is, Christ] I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish in order that I might gain Christ.” We are going to see this next week: Paul had experienced so much actual loss of the normal benefits and comforts of the world that he could say that he was not merely counting things loss; he was suffering loss. He had prepared by turning his values upside down, and now he was being tested. Did he value Christ above all?

3. Paul’s Goal (and God’s Purpose) in Suffering 

So let me close by riveting our attention on Paul’s goal and God’s purpose in this suffering. Why did God ordain and Paul accept the losses that it meant for him to be a Christian?

Paul gives the answer again and again in these verses so that we cannot miss the point. He is not passive in this suffering loss. He is purposive. And his purpose is to gain Christ.

  • Verse 7: “I counted them loss for the sake of Christ.”
  • Verse 8a: “I count all things to be loss for the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
  • Verse 8b: “For him I have suffered the loss of all things.”
  • Verse 8c: “And I count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ . . . ”
  • Verse 9: “ . . . and that I may be found in him [so as to have God’s righteousness, not my own] . . . ”
  • Verse 10a: (still giving his aim in accepting the loss of all things) “ . . . that I may know him”
  • Verses 10b–11: (followed by four specifics of what it means to know Christ)
    1. “ . . . [to know] the power of his resurrection”; and
    2. “the fellowship of his sufferings”;
    3. “being conformed to his death”;
    4. “in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

In other words, what sustains Paul in suffering the loss of all things is the confidence that in his losing precious things in the world he is gaining something more precious: Christ.

And two times that gaining is called a knowing — verse 8a: “ . . . in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Verse 10: “That I might know him.” This is the intimacy factor in suffering. Do we want to know him? Do we want to be more personal with him and deep with him and real with him and intimate with him — so much so that we count everything as loss to gain this greatest of all treasures?

If we do, we will be ready to suffer. If we don’t, it will take us by surprise and we will rebel. May the Lord open our eyes to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ!

. . . . . . .

 (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist and most recently Foundations for Lifelong Learning: Education in Serious Joy.

 

Our Worship Song for the Week:

King of Kings   (Hillsong)

In the darkness we were waiting
Without hope, without light
‘Til from Heaven You came running
There was mercy in Your eyes
To fulfill the law and prophets
To a virgin came the word
From a throne of endless glory
To a cradle in the dirt
  
Praise the Father, praise the Son
Praise the Spirit, three in one
God of glory, Majesty
Praise forever to the King of Kings
  
To reveal the kingdom coming
And to reconcile the lost
To redeem the whole creation
You did not despise the cross
For even in your suffering
You saw to the other side
Knowing this was our salvation
Jesus for our sake you died
  
Praise the Father, praise the Son
Praise the Spirit, three in one
God of glory, Majesty
Praise forever to the King of Kings
  
And the morning that You rose
All of Heaven held its breath
‘Til that stone was moved for good
For the Lamb had conquered death
And the dead rose from their tombs
And the angels stood in awe
For the souls of all who’d come
To the Father are restored
  
And the church of Christ was born
Then the Spirit lit the flame
Now this gospel truth of old
Shall not kneel, shall not faint
By His blood and in His name
In His freedom I am free
For the love of Jesus Christ
Who has resurrected me
  
Praise the Father, praise the Son
Praise the Spirit, three in one
God of glory, Majesty
Praise forever to the King of Kings
Praise forever to the King of Kings
  
  
Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Jason Ingram / Scott Ligertwood / Brooke Gabrielle Fraser
King Of Kings lyrics © So Essential Tunes, Shout! Music Publishing, Hillsong Music Publishing Australia

There’s a Man goin’ ’round takin’ names

YHVH has a long memory. He remembers His friends and makes note of His enemies:

  • But Zion said, “YHVH has abandoned me, and Adonai has forgotten me.” Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you! Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands! Your walls are continually before Me! (Isaiah 49:14-16).

God’s long memory also extends to those nations who attempt to weaken or destroy the Jewish people. He swears on His own holy Name to take vengeance on Israel’s enemies:

  • “And Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. Then YHVH said to Moses, ‘Write this in a book as a memorial and recite it to Joshua, that I will utterly wipe out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.’ And Moses built an altar and named it YHVH is My Banner; and he said, ‘Because YAH has sworn [literally, with His own hand placed on His divine throne], YHVH will have war against Amalek from generation to generation’” (Exodus 17:13-16).

The Feast of Esther (also known as Purim) lays out this divine game-plan. Persia, then the world’s chief super-power, was influenced by Haman (a deep-state actor) to wreak havoc and genocide against the Jewish people. Yet the God of Jacob (whose name is never even mentioned in the Scroll of Esther) moves silently behind the scenes, morphing anti-Jewish conspiracy into Jewish victory:

  • “YHVH nullifies the plan of nations. He frustrates the plans of peoples. The plan of YHVH stands forever – the plans of His heart from generation to generation. Blessed is the nation whose God is YHVH, the people He has chosen for His own inheritance” (Psalm 33:10-12).

This international principle (that haters of Israel will be hoisted on the gallows they have built against Israel) is how the Bible fleshes out Genesis 12:3 (i.e., those who disdain Israel will be cursed by YHVH’s own hand)”

  • “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a person sows, this he will also reap!” (Galatians 6:7).

 

The prophetic principle of Persian Purim

Haman pulled the strings controlling King Ahasuerus, taking a full Persian calendar year to choose the most astrologically suitable date for destroying the entire Jewish nation living under the control of the Persian Empire. With deadly calm, similar to how the Nazis planned the Final Solution at Wannsee on January 20, 1942, Haman set his genocidal plan into motion:

  • “In the first month, which is the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, Pur (that is, the ‘lot’) was cast before Haman from day to day and from month to month, until the twelfth month, that is the month Adar. Then Haman said . . . ‘There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom. Their laws are different from those of all other people and they do not comply with the king’s laws. So it is not in the king’s interest to let them remain. If it is pleasing to the king, let it be decreed that they be eliminated’” (Esther 3:7-9).

The response of the God of Jacob was not long in coming. He granted favor to Queen Esther, brought Mordechai into the King’s council, and gave carte blanche to the nation of Israel to defeat their anti-Semitic enemies:

  • Now in the twelfth month (that is, the month Adar), on the thirteenth day, when the king’s command and edict were to be put into effect, on the day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain the mastery over them, it turned out to the contrary so that the Jews themselves gained mastery over those who hated them. The Jews assembled in their cities throughout the provinces of King Ahasuerus to attack those who sought to harm them; and no one could stand against them, because the dread of them had fallen on all the peoples . . .  So the Jews struck all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying; and they did as they pleased to those who hated them. At the citadel in Susa the Jews killed and eliminated five hundred men, and they killed . . . the ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Jews’ enemy . . . So the king commanded that it was to be done so, . . . and [the bodies of] Haman’s ten sons were hanged [on the public gallows]. The Jews who were in Susa assembled also on the fourteenth day of the month Adar and killed three hundred men in Susa . . . Now the rest of the Jews who were in the king’s provinces assembled, to defend their lives and rid themselves of their enemies, and to kill 75,000 of those who hated them . . . This was done on the thirteenth day of the month Adar, and on the fourteenth day they rested and made it a day of feasting and rejoicing. But the Jews who were in Susa assembled on the thirteenth and the fourteenth of the same month, and they rested on the fifteenth day and made it a day of feasting and rejoicing . . . Then Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far, obliging them to celebrate the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same month, annually, because on those days the Jews rid themselves of their enemies, and it was a month which was turned for them from grief into joy, and from mourning into a holiday . . . Therefore they called these days Purim after the name of Pur. And because of the instructions in this letter, both what they had seen in this regard and what had happened to them, the Jews established and made a custom for themselves, their descendants, and for all those who allied themselves with them, so that they would not fail to celebrate these two days according to their regulation and according to their appointed time annually. So these days were to be remembered and celebrated throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and these days of Purim were not to be neglected by the Jews, or their memory fade from their descendants (Esther 9:1-28)

God established the Feast of Purim as a day for Jews to remember and celebrate for the rest of Jewish history. God’s response to Haman’s planned genocide – even though at that time no Jews had yet been slaughtered – was the annihilation of 75,800 citizens of the Persian Empire. What would the God of Israel’s response be to the Gazan pogroms of October 7 – Hamas’ planned genocide of the Jewish people? And which side would you be on in such a clash – on the side of Haman/Hamas or on the side of those Persians who supported the Jewish people (as it says in Esther 9:27: “The Jews established and made a custom for themselves, their descendants, and for all those who allied themselves with them”)? God remembers and takes note.

Johnny Cash said it well in one of the last songs he penned, titled ‘When the Man comes around’:

“There’s a man goin’ round takin’ names, and He decides who to free and who to blame. Everybody won’t be treated all the same.

There’ll be a golden ladder reachin’ down when the Man comes around.

Whoever is unjust, let him be unjust still. Whoever is righteous, let him be righteous still.

Whoever is filthy, let him be filthy still. Listen to the words long written down when the Man comes around.”

(American IV: The Man Comes Around; May 24, 2002; John Cash; BMG Rights Management)

 

In every generation

It’s not surprising that Jewish holidays often center around attempts to destroy the Jewish people. There’s “nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). The famous Hebrew Passover song ‘V’hi she’amda’ graphically charts this biblical and historical principle: “For not only has one nation risen up to annihilate us, but actually in every generation they rise up to destroy us. But the Holy One blessed be He, rescues us from out of their hand!” The Jewish nation may sometimes be paranoid, but even paranoid people can have real enemies.

The modern State of Israel has enemies, and some allies who sometimes act like enemies. See Melanie Phillips’ sizzling article ‘The American Betrayal of Israel’ for more. Each time enemies of the Jewish state gathered to attack Israel, declaring that they would wipe her out à la Psalm 83:2-5:

  • For behold, Your enemies make an uproar, and those who hate You have exalted themselves. They make shrewd plans against Your people and conspire together against Your treasured ones. They have said, “Come, and let’s wipe them out as a nation, so that the name of Israel will no longer be remembered.” For they have conspired together with one mind; They make a covenant against You.

It has happened so many times that, as a result of enemy attacks against Jerusalem, the situation plays out with the Jewish state decisively vanquishing their enemies – massive losses for enemy forces in both ordnance and fatalities; Israel becoming stronger on the geo-political playing field, etc. Here are a few examples:

  • the Sinai Campaign in October 1956 against Egypt, where a combined army of Israeli, British and French troops conquered Sinai from Nasser’s forces
  • the 1967 Six Day War against Egypt, Syria and Jordan, where the entire Sinai, West Bank, Jerusalem and most of the Golan were returned to Israel
  • the 1973 Yom Kippur War, where IDF troops encircled the entire Egyptian Third Army in the Sinai and moved to within 62 miles of Cairo and 18 miles from Damascus
  • the 1982 Operation Grapes of Wrath against PLO and Lebanese forces, resulting in the expulsion of Yasser Arafat and the PLO from Beirut
  • the 2023-2024 war with Hamas, resulting in the IDF re-occupying nearly all of the Gaza Strip, destroying 75% of Hamas tunnel networks and jihadi operatives, as well as eliminating two of Hamas’ top commanders.

In 1956 and 1973, it was American pressure which held Israel back from decisively defeating Arab armies. It remains to be seen what the American role will accomplish in the current conflict. Current US administration and State Department moves at the moment do not look good for those who seek the good of Jerusalem. For further historical context, see:

As a weakened America staggers across the international stage, surrounding ‘hyena’ nations who see the US as a big brother – like CanadaFranceNetherlands and the UK – have been emboldened to circle the Jewish state, looking for just that right moment to lunge at the throat of the Daughter of Zion.

  • “Now these things happened . . . as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let the one who thinks he stands watch out that he does not fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:11-12)
  • “Sing praises to YHVH, who dwells in Zion! Declare His deeds among the peoples! For He who requires blood remembers them; He does not forget the cry of the needy. Be gracious to me, YHVH! See my oppression from those who hate me, You who lift me up from the gates of death” (Psalm 9:11-13)

 

Happy Purim!

How should we then pray?

  • Pray for the protection and deliverance of the Jewish people and their state from all Haman-like enemies
  • Pray for the physical rescue of the approximately 136 Israelis (including babies) kidnapped by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and PFLP/PLO.  At this moment some hostages are being tortured, raped and starved (this based on testimonies of recently released hostages). Hamas is also holding onto many corpses as bargaining chips
  • Pray for Hamas’ cruel terror dictatorship in Gaza to be decisively shattered and for all chains broken off the Palestinians living there, and for Iran’s role in jihadi deception, dissimulation and anti-Semitism to be exposed and opposed by world leaders
  • Pray that Israel’s leadership be granted justice, clarity, moral courage, discernment and divine strategies in utterly destroying the jihadi threat in all of its aspects, and for minimal loss of life for Israel’s defense forces and for those Gazans who are truly innocent
  • Pray for the raising up of Ezekiel’s prophetic Jewish army throughout the earth

Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the very practical enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do.

In Messiah Yeshua,

Avner Boskey

www.davidstent.org 

Ps Jeff’s Special Today: “Inability to forgive” 

Today’s issue is inability to forgive. The Model Prayer and the Word in Matthew 6:12,14,15 could not be more clear: ” Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors………For if you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you don’t forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” This is then reinforced in 2 Corinthians 2: 3-11: you and I are to forgive the offender lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him.” (2 Corinthians 2:7,8).

Being candid with yourself and the Holy Spirit, is this issue of unforgiveness blocking your serving your Almighty Creator today? Is there any remnant of this old pattern needing to be confessed? Are there any old vows you made in this area that now need to be removed? Do you think this is only applicable to the disciples 2,000 years ago? Do you have any residue of a residue of this issue for such a time as this? Was it connected to your upbringing as a child? Was it a family pattern in any way?

God bless you as you seek His Holy Spirit Wisdom on that issue. 

May you go forward on His path, “perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1).

 

 

WHAT’S ON…

Canberra HOPFAN DISCIPLESHIP

JESUS SAID - FOLLOW ME! at C-HOP - from Australia for Jesusafj videos on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/@afj.videos Join together to WORSHIP GOD and hear His call to share the Gospel of...

Embassy Prayer Tour

Pray from the Nation’s Capital and visit the Federal Parliament Pray for the Nation's of the World, and go on an Embassy Prayer Tour Stay at the Canberra House of Prayer for All Nations ...

Discipleship at C-HOP Weekly TBC

Every Tuesday night 7-9pm next meeting to be advised - Bring your Bible, Notebook and pen Jesus said: "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you[a] will ask what...

Coming Up

  • No events

Bible Verse of the Day

But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.