small group studies
“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have” Philippians 1:29-30
Freedom of consequence does not mean freedom of trial.
Y’all Paul is in jail, remember? It’s not his first time either. Suffer for him. I think this is where the church falls a little short. We go to revivals and discipleship weekends and conferences and the message is almost always the same: Jesus is good. And y’all He is good.. but the world isn’t. And so people are left with this false expectation that when you’ve been saved, that’s just it. It’s all good because Jesus is good. Then one day someone wakes up and a family member has died, a house has burned down, or someone has cancer. Or maybe it’s the little things that add up to feel like big things; the rumors or the flat tire, the broken air conditioner or the little fender bender with a not so little repair fee.
We’re left feeling defeated and kicked around because it’s always something, and just what kind of God constantly puts these things on me? I thought saved meant safe? I mean isn’t that the same word? And so the picture the church painted failed me. I didn’t understand.
We talked about the cross being a one way street in Jesus’s day and y’all, the cross still is. The cross means life but more importantly death. Our own death. When you chose Jesus, you commit to stop choosing you.
And that’s kind of the problem. We killed a man. A man literally died for you and for me and as guilty as we are, Jesus said we’re not. The difference is.. when Jesus was nailed to that cross He meant it… and sometimes, when we die… we dont.
We die on Sundays at church; we make sure to wear our biggest smiles and speak to everybody- even “those people” when it needs to look good. We die on our social media accounts leaving only the shiny exposed, maybe throw in a few cute photos of the kids crying too- you know, to rule out complete perfection but to paint a picture close enough. We let ourselves die long enough to watch our mouths in front of our kids because we want to set the right example.. but what about Mondays? The only piece of that long death story that’s consistent is pretending we and our lives are perfect when we know well and good they’re not. What about when church is over? we don’t speak to those people in walmart, our attitudes stand unadjusted at work, and our mouths need more than a piece of orbit to clean it up. We don’t mean it when we make the commitment. We move on and off of our cross all week long and then get upset when something moves in our paths between points A and B.
Y’all it’s always going to be something- A broken part or a broken path. Jesus saved you; He didn’t kill Satan so be careful. Moving between places is dangerous to your faith. I’ve lived in the same town for 5 years and I’m not kidding when I tell you I still get lost some days trying to get groceries. But I don’t get lost at home…We have to stop moving on and off of the cross. You cannot get lost if you do not move. The further we move from the home of Jesus, the more room Satan has to wedge between us. So stay. Even when it means suffering, stay with the cross. Stay with Jesus.
James 1:2-4 says not if you have trials but when
1 Peter 1 says though for a little while you may suffer
Psalms 34 says many troubles but the Lord delivers them all
But John 16:33 says there have been many trials on earth but I’ve overcome the world.
2nd Corinthians chapter 1 tells us that sometimes our suffering will be so great that it will feel like we’re dying, far beyond our ability to endure. It goes on to say that this is on purpose so that we may not rely on ourselves but on God. He deliberately engineers debilitating circumstances into our lives so that we are in constant, total dependence on Him. The only true consolation is found in Christ, not in a change of circumstance. Yes, we will suffer, but as long as we stay in the same spot- quit moving away from home and stay on our cross, it’s going to be fine. God promises us rainbows, but they always come after storms. Paul was one of Jesus’s #1 men and look at his life? He was unattractive, unweathly, and completely unashamed because he was also unbelievably blessed…even when he suffered.. even when he suffered again. He suffered and we will too, but the result for all of us is the same. When it’s over there’s a rainbow at the end… even if we only have a few in the middle.
Hugs and Tuesdays,