Monday, September 13, 2010

Lord Teach Us

"Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples" (Luke 11:1).

Oh, what precious words those are to me, for they show me that prayer is a skill that can be learned. If prayer is a skill, then it is something I can develop with time and practice.

I think we often become absolutely overwhelmed when we hear of the faith and prayer life of others. We think, "I could never attain that." So we become defeated before we ever start. Or we compare ourselves with others. We read of saints who spent hours, days, nights in prayer, and we cannot even pray for ten, twenty, or thirty minutes. How then could we ever pray for hours each day, let alone whole days or nights? We feel we will never make it, so we give up before we ever begin.

But you can attain! Just know that it will only come little by little with knowledge, with application, with time, with experience. The disciples knew this, and so they began where we each must begin if we are ever to learn-- with a hunger to be taught. They had seen Jesus praying (Luke 11:1), and they knew He understood how to pray. They had a hunger to know how to pray, so they went to the Expert.

Lord Teach Me to Pray in 28 Days by Kay Arthur

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Shut Up and Pray

There is a time for everything, it says in the Bible. And it is never more true than in a marriage, especially when it comes to the words we say. There is a time to speak and a time not to speak, and happy is the man whose wife can discern between the two. Anyone who has been married for any lenght of time realizes that there are things that are better left unsaid. A wife has the ability to hurt her husband more deeply than anyone else can, and he can do the same to her. No matter how much apology, the words can not be erased. They can only be forgiven and that is not always easy. Sometimes anything we say will only hinder the flow of what God wants to do, so its best to well, shut up and pray.

The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Prayer Must Be Learned

At first nothing appears so simple; later on, nothing that is more difficult; and the confession is forced from us: We do not know how to pray as we ought. It is true we have God's Word, with its clear and sure promises; but sin has so darkened our mind that we do not know always how to apply the Word. In temperal things we are still less able to avail ourselves of the wonderful liberty our Father has given us to ask what we need. and even when we know what to ask, how much there is still needed to make prayer acceptable. It must be to the glory of God, in full surrender to His will, in full assurance of faith, in the name of Jesus, and with a perseverence that, if need be, refuses to be denied. All this must be learned. It can only be learned in the school of much prayer, for practice makes perfect. Amid the painful consciousness of ignorance and unworthiness, in the struggle between believing and doubting, the heavenly art of effectual prayer is learned.

With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lord Teach Us To Pray

And it came to pass, as he was praying in a certain place, that when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, Lord, teach us to pray. Luke 11:1

The disciples had been with Christ, and had seen Him pray. They had learned to understand something of the connection between His wondrous life in public, and His secret life of prayer. they had learned to believe in Him as a Master in the art of prayer -- none could pray like Him. And so they came to Him with the request, "Lord, teach us to pray." And later they would have told us that there were few things more wonderful or blessed that He taughtthem than His lessons on prayer.

"Lord, teach us to pray." Yes, to pray. This is what we need to be taught. Though in its beginnings paryer is so simple that the feeble child can pray, yet it is at the same time the highest and holiest work to which we can rise. It is fellowship with the Unseen and the Most Holy One. It is to prayer that God has given the right to take hold of Him and His strength.

Jesus has opened a school in which He trains His redeemed ones, who especially desire it, to have power in prayer. Shall we not enter it with the petition, Lord! it is just this we need to be taught! O teach us to pray! To us too You have entrusted Your work, on our prayer too the coming of Your kingdom depends, in our prayer too You can glorify Your name; "Lord, teach us to pray." Yes, us, Lord: we offer ourselves as learners; we would indeed be taught of You.

With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray

Monday, September 6, 2010

I Am Not In Control

"I have learned that just because someone makes a bad decision, they are not a bad person -- and they need grace and mercy, rather than condemnation and judgment. Most of all I have learned that, despite what I sometimes think, I am not in control of my children's journey toward God -- but God is."

Friday, September 3, 2010

Praying For Our Children

If you know anything about Israel's history, you know that the Philistines were a constant source of trouble. The Israelites had been battling them on and off for years before Samuel came on the scene, and then for years afterward -- they are the guys who produced Goliath, the defiant giant whose death catapulted David into the national spotlight. When Samuel set up his Ebenezer stone, he certainly had no illusions that the Philistines had been banished forever.

But did that stop him from thanking God, or from giving him public glory? Not at all! Samuel set up the stone as a marker -- a sign of remembrance -- so that in the years and generations to come, all of Israel would be able to look at it and say, "Thus far has the Lord helped us."

As praying parents, this is the attitude that we need to take. Rather than cowering in worry or fear over the Philistines that lurk around our next corner, we need to stop and thank God for what he has already done in our teenagers' lives. When God works in answer to our prayers, we need to raise our own Ebenezers, giving him credit and honor for what he has done "thus far" --and knowing that he will be there for us in the future.

Praying the Scriptures for your Teenagers by Jodie Berndt

Thursday, September 2, 2010

John 15:7

"If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you."
John 15:7

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Christianity is not a Religion. It is a Relationship.

The Word of God is the foundation for everything else in our lives. When God speaks on any given issue, what He speaks is truth. What He commands is to be obeyed. God has spoken, and it stands. We are to believe and obey.

Yet Christianity is more than merely believing and obeying commands and promises. Christianity is not a religion; it is a relationship. And a relationship requires communication. Therefore, prayer is essential, because it is through prayer that you and I communicate with our heavenly Father. There are countless decisions to be made, wisdom to be sought, resources that are needed, transgressions to be mended, love and appreciation to be communicated. Thus, we are told to pray without ceasing. The aspects of our daily living may be found int he Word of God in principle but not necessarily in practical detail. Therefore, we need to talk with and listen to our heavenly Father. This is prayer.

Lord Teach Me To Pray by Kay Arthur

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Word of God and Prayer

When the apostles of the early church suddenly found themselves embroiled in a controversy that consumed both their time and energy, they had enough spiritual presence of mind to know that something had to be done. they were in danger of missing the priority of their calling --the Word of God and prayer! Thus they summoned "the congregation of the disciples and said, 'It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. But select from among you, brethren, seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. But we will devote ourselves to prayer, and to the ministry of the word'" (Acts 6:2-4).

This is where each child of God should be the strongest: in the word of God and in prayer. Why the Word of God? Because according to Jesus, man lives by every word which comes out fo the mouth of God, and that's what the Word of God is (Matthew 4:4). It is God-breathed. The word inspiration in 2 Timothy 3:16 comes from the Greek word theopneustos which means "God-breathed." We exist in order to establish God's people in His Word as that which produces a life lived in reverence toward God.

Lord Teach Me To Pray by Kay Arthur

Friday, August 27, 2010

Love-Motivated Prayer

Every day. Whenever we acknowledge that we need a fresh flow of God's power working in us and ask for God's Holy Spirt to flow through us as we pray, we will see His power move in our lives. But He wants us to recognize that His Spirit is love. And if we want demonstration of God's power, then God's love must be the motivating force behind everything we do and each prayer we pray.

In order to move into that kind of love-motivated praying, however, our first step must be to submit ourselves to God and wait at His feet in prayer. It's not that He is trying to keep His power from us, it's that He wants us to depend on Him for it.

The Power of Praying Together by Stormie Omartian

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Gods Power For You

People often hesitate to pray because they do not understand the power of the Holy Spirit working through them when they do. Or they don't believe that God's power is there for them. Too ofthen we think the power in prayer is not attainable for the average person like us. But God says it is available to all who love Him with their whole being and love others as themselves.

The Power of Praying Together by Stormie Omartian

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What Right Do You Have To Challenge Government Leader?

I am sometimes asked, “What right do you have to challenge government leaders?” John the Baptist boldly and publicly denounced King Herod for taking his brother’s wife. It cost John the Baptist his life. Jesus, Himself, had not yet met Herod when he publicly called him “that fox.” (Luke 13:32).

Proverbs 28:4 says, “Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but such as keep the law contend with them.” There are only two positions. Either we are praising the wicked who have abandoned God’s laws or we are contending with them.

King David wrote, “You who love the Lord hate evil.” Psalm 92:10

Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.” Matthew 12:30

James writes, “Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” James 4:4

God’s position is very clear. You are either wheat or tares, sheep or goats, light or darkness, saved or lost.

Jeremiah was all alone in boldly denouncing the policies of king Zedekiah whom he had never met. Even the religious leaders told him, “You are a trouble maker. You are disrespectful to authority. Your words are unfair.” Yet Israel was deceived, even though it was heading for destruction and the signs ere there for anyone to see. Jeremiah was ridiculed and harassed. He was called the “weeping prophet” because he so despaired over the unpopular message he had to deliver. Eventually, Jeremiah was thrown into a deep pit of miry clay where he was left to die in his own human waste – but God brought him out.

Day of Deception by John Hagee

Monday, August 23, 2010

Picked For A Purpose

Acts 13:22 reveals why God selected David to accomplish His purposes.

God is still looking for men and women whose hearts will reflect His passions. He has a divine search party going. He is seeking "to show Himself strong for those whose hearts are completely His" (2 Chron. 16:9,). I sure want to see God in my everyday living, dont you? Turns out He desires to show up in my everyday living and in yours too. He desires and delights to make Himself known, but He desires first to find someone in whom He sees a holy boldness by His Spirit to live fully committed and passionately for Him like David did.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Just Keep On Walking

"Don't go there!" Psalm 1 opens with these ominous words to all walkers, warning against the danger of walking a path recommended by the counsel of the ungodly. "Don't even stand there" the warnings continue, or "sit in the park bench nearby." That is not the road to happiness.

According to Psalm 82:5, the unrighteous "know nothing, they understand nothing. They walk about in darkness." Wrong information leads to moral and spiritual darkness. They have taken the wrong road, ignoring the warnings of Psalm 1.

By contrast, the righteous person walks in light and truth. The psalmist says: "You have feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life" (Psalm 56:13, NIV). We learn in Psalm 89:15 that the light we walk in is "the light of [His] presence." We do not walk this road alone, for He is with us.

The psalmist not only walks in light, but he has accurate information - he walks in truth (Psalm 26:3). When we walk in the truth of God's Word, we know we are on the right road. Our challenge is to study the road map clearly so we don't take any wrong turns.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Portrait of a Woman Used By God

Lessons from the Life of Mary of Nazareth

1. An ordinary woman (Luke 1:26-50) What is it that gives my life significance? Do I believe that God can use my life to make a difference in this world?

2. A pure woman Am I a pure woman? Am I pure in my behavior, my relationships, what I watch, read, and listen to, the way I dress? Am I pure in my motives, thoughts, and private habits?

3. An undeserving woman Am I conscious that anything good or useful about my life is the result of His undeserved grace poured out on me?

4. A chosen woman Am I conscious of having been chosen by God to fulfill a specific purpose in my generation?

5. A Spirit-filled woman Am I depending on the power of the Holy Spirit to be and to do that for which God has chosen me? Do I seek a fresh, daily filling of His Holy Spirit in my life?

6. An available woman Have I made myself fully available to God, for whatever purposes He might want to use my life? Am I willing for Him to use my life, at any price?

7. A believing woman Am I exercising faith in the promises of God? What am I believing God for that is impossible apart from His power? How does my life demonstrate faith in the power of God?

8. A praising woman Is my life characterized by a spirit of praise? Do I respond to the circumstances and challenges of each day by expressing gratitude for the greatness and mercy of God? Do my responses to life give the world a proper estimation of God?

9. A woman of the Word Do I love the Word of God? Do I read it, memorize it, meditate on it, and share it with others? Do I use the Word in the midst of real-life situations?

10. A humble woman (John 3:30) Am I content not to be recognized for my role in ministry? Is it my goal that? He might increase and I might decrease?

11. A trusting woman (Matt. 1:18-21) Do I trust God to fulfill His purposes in my life and in the lives of those I love? Is there any area of my life where I am trying to work things out on my own, rather than trusting God to do what needs to be done?

12. A submissive woman (Matt. 2:13, 19-21) Am I willing to wait for God to work in and through the authorities that He has placed in my life?

13. An influencing woman (John 2:5) Does my life draw attention away from myself and toward Jesus? How is my life influencing others to love, worship, and obey the Lord Jesus?

14. A praying woman (Acts 1:14) Am I a woman of prayer? Do I consistently join with other believers in praying for the revival of the church and the evangelization of the world?

15. A devoted woman (John 19:25-27) Am I a faithful follower of the Lord Jesus in the good times and in the bad? Am I committed to follow Him even when it is costly or when others fail to do so?

16. A loved woman Am I letting Jesus love me, care for me, and meet my needs? Am I receiving the provision He has made to meet my needs?

17. A wounded woman (Luke 2:35) Am I willing to suffer in order that Jesus? redeeming life may be experienced by others?

© Revive Our Hearts

Friday, August 20, 2010

Keep in mind that you are imperfect people. Only the Lord is perfect. Look to God as the source of all you want to see happen. Dont worry about how it will happen. It's your responsibility to pray. It's God's job to answer. Leave it in His hands. by Stormie Omartian

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Our Savior kneels down and gazes upon the darkest acts of our lives. But rather than recoil in horror, He reaches out in kindness and says, "I can clean that if you want." And He washes away our sin. by Max Lucado

Friday, May 21, 2010

Christian Suffering - Part 6

But Also to Suffer

Amy Carmichael once spent a day in solitude in a cave in Japan, wrestling in a prayer over some secret matter which she never revealed to anyone. It seems she feared loneliness. The words which were given to her then in answer to her cry were Paul’s to the Philippians when he was in prison and they were being persecuted: “Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake” (Philippians 1:29). She understood then that the Lord was not promising escape from the thing she feared, but assurance that whatever He might allow of suffering in her life would be a privilege and a gift – a thing given to her to give to Him, something which she could expect would accompany her faith. To believe in Christ is to suffer for Him.

In Jesus’ last discourse with His disciples He explained the same truth. John 14 records His wonderfully comforting words, “Set your troubled hearts at rest”, His description of where He was going and why, His clear teaching on obedience as the only proof of love, and the promise of His gift of peace. In the next two chapters we find His prediction of the suffering His disciples should expect – hatred, persecution, their words ignored, their entrance into the synagogues refused, even death.” A servant is not greater than his master,” He said. “It is on my account that they will treat you thus” (15:20,21).

Some newsletter readers will be suffering on the very day that this arrives in the mail. The message it brings is not a new one. Jesus knew that His disciples would often need reminders of the things He had taught them while He was with them. Suffering would tempt them to wonder if the whole thing had been for nothing –their original decision to follow Him, the three years of listening and trying to learn, the price they had paid to be disciples. Amy Carmichael, alone in that cave, must have been filled with similar questions, although her suffering was of a different kind from the disciples’. Had she missed His call? Was her work for nothing? What to do with this fear that haunted her?

Don’t be afraid to bring your questions to the Lord and hear His loving assurances: “Your grief will be turned into joy…For the moment, you are sad at heart; but I shall see you again and then you will be joyful and no one shall rob you of your joy….I have told you all this so that in me you may find peace. In the world you will have trouble. But courage! The victory is mine; I have conquered the world” (John 16:20, 22, 33). Peace is to be found in Him who entered into all our sorrow, knows it from the inside, and asks us to accept the hardest thing as a privilege, a gift, yes, even as an honor – because we have put our trust in Him.

The Elisabeth Elliot Newsletter July/August 1985

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Christian Suffering - Part 5

Our Share of Suffering

Most of us know next to nothing about real persecution or what it’s like to be in chains. When Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians, they were being severely persecuted, and he himself was actually chained between two guards in a Roman prison, somewhere between 61 and 63 A.D. Even though we may not know the first thing about that kind of suffering, what the apostle has to say about the subject applies to our kind, too, whatever it may be. For, you see, we have been given two gifts: the privilege of believing in Christ, and (here’s that mystery again) the privilege of suffering. Amy Carmichael, missionary to India, told of how God had impressed on her mind those two phrases from Philippians 1:29, “not only… but also.” She was in anguish over some matter which she did not reveal, but she was given eyes to see this truth: that everyone who believes must also suffer for Christ.

“For Him?” you say, “But this thing I’m going through –what has that got to do with what Paul meant? I’m not in prison for speaking the truth. I’m not being ‘persecuted for Christ’s sake.’” Not all are given those privileges, of course, but it seems to me that any kind of suffering, if accepted for Christ and from Christ, may be seen as our share. In Colossians 1:24 there is a hint that there is some sort of “quota” of suffering that must be endured, and each of us may bear a part of that if we’re willing to take it from Christ’s hand.” It is now my happiness to suffer for you,” Paul wrote. “This is my way of helping to complete, in my poor human flesh, the full tale of Christ’s afflictions still to be endured, for the sake of His body which is the Church.” It isn’t that we add to the redemptive work of Christ. Not that at all. But in some unexplained way we are allowed to “fill up” His suffering on behalf of His Body. I don’t pretend to understand it. It’s enough for me to know that suffering is a part of belonging to Christ, part of what it means to be a true believer, and a high privilege to be received with joy because, in ways we can’t even imagine now, it matters to all the rest of the glorious company of God’s people.

The Elisabeth Elliot Newsletter January/February 1985

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Christian Suffering - Part 4

Does God Allow His Children to Be Poor?

God allows both Christians and non-Christians to experience every form of suffering known to the human race, just as He allows His blessings to fall on both. Poverty, like other forms of suffering, is relative, as Lars and I were reminded while we were in India. Our country’s definition of the “poverty level” would mean unimaginable affluence to the girls we saw working next to our hotel. For nine hours a day they carried wet concrete in wooden basins on their heads, pouring it into the forms for the foundation of a large building. They were paid thirty cents a day.

On my list of scriptures which give clues to some of God’s reasons for allowing His children to suffer is 2 Corinthians 8:2: “Somehow, in most difficult circumstances, their joy and the fact of being down to their last penny themselves, produced a magnificent concern for other people.” It was the Macedonian churches that Paul was talking about, living proof that it is not poverty or riches that determine generosity, and sometimes those who suffer the most financially are the ones most ready to share what they have. “They simply begged us to accept their gifts and so let them share the honors of supporting their brothers in Christ.”

Money holds terrible power when it is loved. It can blind us, shackle us, fill us with anxiety and fear, torment our days and nights with misery, wear us out with chasing it. The Macedonian Christians, possessing little of it, accepted their lot with faith and trust. Their eyes were opened to see past their own misery. They saw what mattered far more than a bank account, and, out of “magnificent concern,” contributed to the needs of their brothers.

If through losing what this world prizes we are enabled to gain what it despises—treasure in heaven, invisible and incorruptible—isn’t it worth any kind of suffering? What is it worth to us to learn a little bit more of what the Cross means—life out of death, the transformation of earth’s losses and heartbreaks and tragedies?

Poverty has not been my experience, but God has allowed in the lives of each of us some sort of loss, the withdrawal of something we valued, in order that we may learn to offer ourselves a little more willingly, to allow the touch of death on one more thing we have clutched so tightly, and thus know fullness and freedom and joy that much sooner. We’re not naturally inclined to love God and seek His kingdom. Trouble may help to incline us—that is, it may tip us over, put some pressure on us, lean us in the right direction.

The Elisabeth Elliot Newsletters July/August 1984

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Christian Suffering - Part 3

Strength Out of Weakness - Why

Corrie ten Boom was a woman of strong faith and a radiant face. Why? She had suffered as most of us Americans can hardly imagine. She had responded to that suffering (in a concentration camp during World War II) with trust. Learning the depth of human helplessness and weakness, she turned to the only One who could be to her a strong tower. He was faithful to His promises. One of the most soul-fortifying pictures I have of her in my mind is of her getting up in the morning, standing up in her cell, and singing in a loud voice so that other prisoners could hear, “Stand up, Stand up for Jesus!”

“Oh, I could never have survived!” we say. The truth is that we could if the Lord allowed us to be put in her position, and if we looked to Him for the strength needed. I mean that we could “survive” spiritually. As Martin Luther wrote, “The body they may kill, God’s truth abideth still.”

It is the experience of weakness that puts us in the position of seeking another’s strength. Paul had a “sharp physical pain which came as Satan’s messenger to bruise” him. “This was to save me from being unduly elated. Three times I begged the Lord to rid me of it, but his answer was: “My grace is all you need; power comes to its full strength in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:7-9 New English Bible)

The refusal of grace is what causes breakdown. Acknowledge weakness, confess need, and come in humility to Him who promises to supply plenty of grace. It's all we need.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Why Christians Suffer - Part 2

Steadfastness, Soundness, Hope

Suffering is the Christian’s boot camp. Those who are preparing to be soldiers must give evidence that they’ve got what it takes. A grueling course of endurance tests is set for them which some survive and some don’t. Some decide early in the game that it’s not really worth it, and drop out.

In his wonderful “Grace Chapter,” Romans 5, Paul tells us that we’ve entered the sphere of God’s grace and can therefore exult in the hope of the divine splendor that is to be ours. “More than this, let us even exult in our present sufferings, because we know that suffering trains us to endure” (vs.3).

No normal person enjoys suffering. To “exult,” however, is an action verb. It means to leap for joy, to be jubilant. It is said that when St. Francis of Assisi was persecuted he literally danced in the street for joy. He was simply being obedient to Jesus’ command to rejoice when men revile you and persecute you. You can only rejoice if you take the long view, however, --the view which sees the great reward in heaven. You certainly don’t rejoice if all you can see is the persecution.

I’ve never been in an army boot camp. I’ve seen pictures and it looks awful and I can’t imagine anybody enjoying some of the endurance tests that are required, except as the goal is kept in mind: I’m going to be a soldier. I’m going to prove myself. I’ll like this thing if it kills me.

“Endurance brings proof that we have stood the test, and this proof is the ground of hope. Such a hope is no mockery because God’s love has flooded our inmost heart through the Holy Spirit he has given us.” (Rom. 5:4-5, New English Bible).

My father took us mountain-climbing when we were growing up; we were thrilled with the chance to stand the test. My brothers were certainly not going to beat me at it, nor would I dream of letting them slow down just for me. There is an exhilaration in endurance. Often I see it on the face of small boys in airports. They’ve just met Daddy at the plane, and insist on lugging his attache case or even his suitcase. “Sure I can, Dad!” they say, and their faces shine.

We are under the mercy of an infinitely loving Father. He will never allow us to suffer beyond what He knows is the proper measure. In the middle of it the suffering is real, not to be compared, of course, with the small boy with the suitcase. I think of those, for example, who are tortured because of their faith, or tortured by cancer. At such a time one desperately needs the Everlasting Word to fall back on –the Word which stands forever, which nothing on earth or in heaven can ever change: Divine splendor is to be ours. The soldier thinks of pleasing his commanding officer, receiving a commission, perhaps, and some day winning a victory. “Such a hope is no mockery” for the Christian who suffers. He can be absolutely sure there is reason and purpose behind it all. Phillips’ translation of the passage has steadfastness, soundness, and hope as the reasons. In that the soldier can legitimately exult.

The Elisabeth Elliot Newsletter March/April 1984

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Why Christians Suffer - Part 1

So often people make remarks such as, “Isn’t it strange how God allows such awful things to happen – and she ‘s such a good person.” So far I’ve found twelve explanations in scripture. It isn’t all mystery, though of course God’s permission of evil in the world is fathomless to us mortals. He has told us all we need to know, however, about the why’s, and I hope to write about each of the answers in forthcoming issues.

The apostle Peter writes, “My friends, do not be bewildered by the fiery ordeal that is upon you, as though it were something extraordinary. It gives you a share in Christ’s sufferings, and that is cause for joy.” (1 Peter 4:12-13 New English Bible)

When we remember that Peter was writing his letter to exiles, we can try to imagine all the various kinds of suffering that involved. Peter had been through a few mills himself, and understood deeply how they were feeling, and the quite natural human tendency to be bewildered when you’re in the middle of trouble. Don’t be, he says. He does not deny that it is “fiery.” He calls it an ordeal. That’s honest. But he tells them it’s nothing out of the ordinary. It is what all of us ought to expect, in one form or another, as long as we’re following Christ. What else should we expect? He said we would have to give up the right to ourselves, take up His cross, and follow. He said we would have to enter the Kingdom “through much tribulation.” We bargained for a steep and narrow road – why should we be bewildered to find it steep and narrow? The thrilling heart-lifting truth which Peter speaks of is that in this very “ordeal,” whatever it is, we are being granted an unspeakably high privilege: a share in Christ’s sufferings, and that, Peter says, is cause for joy.

Sometimes people wonder how on earth their kind of trouble can possibly have anything to do with Christ’s sufferings. Ours are certainly nothing in comparison with His. We are not being crucified. Our burden is certainly not the weight of the sins of the world. No. But in all our afflictions He is afflicted. We are together in them. If we receive them in faith – faith that they are permitted by a Father who loves us, faith that He has an eternal purpose in them – we can offer them back to Him for His transforming. If, like Paul, we want to know Him and the power of His resurrection, we must also know the fellowship of His sufferings. The only way to enter that fellowship is to suffer.

Can we say Yes, Lord – even to that?

Elisabeth Elliot’s Newsletter January/February 1984