To Suffer With Christ, Part 1
We’re going to begin to look at how we are to be a people that are suffering with Jesus Christ. To suffer with Jesus is really a blessing that a lot of people miss or a lot of people don’t think is a blessing in Christ Jesus. But to suffer with Jesus is one of the joys that comes from being a Christian. That’s why James says, “Consider it pure joy, whenever you face trials of many kinds (James 1:2). Just ask a Christian what gives him pleasure or what gives him joy. Their first response ought to be, “To face many trials and many kinds of trials and hardships for Jesus Christ.” And that’s not usually the response you hear. Very seldom would you hear, if you took a poll in a room at a revival or a camp meeting or a seminar and ask people, “What gives you joy?” Most people would say “God,” most people say “Jesus Christ.” And if you ask them what aspect of Jesus Christ gives you joy, they talk about the peace. Very few people would say, “I consider it my pure joy to face trials of many kinds and to suffer with Jesus Christ.” And these are people who have asked Jesus into their hearts. They are people that have been baptized. And all that can be good if they are suffering with Jesus Christ. If you don’t suffer with Jesus Christ then you’re not a child of God. If you’re living a Christian life in such a way that you’re not suffering or participating in the sufferings of Jesus you don’t belong to Jesus. Romans 8:17 says:
Romans 8:17 – Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
If we’re children, we’re going to inherit the things of the kingdom of God. We’re going to inherit those along with Jesus Christ. But there’s a condition connected with that. There’s something that shows we belong to Jesus Christ. There’s a sign, there’s an indication that says, “That person belongs to Jesus. That person is really a child.” Well what is it about my life that’s going to show that I’m a child? Now most people will quote John where Jesus says, “If you love one another, people will know that you’re My disciples.” And that’s true but there’s an aspect of loving each other that causes the sufferings of Jesus to come about in the church or in a person’s life. But the way I know that a person belongs to Jesus is this very last sentence: “If indeed we share in his sufferings.” There is no “maybe” you’ll share in the sufferings if you belong to Jesus. It’s “if indeed” you share in those sufferings that belong to Jesus then you belong to Jesus. Then you are co-heirs with Christ. Then you have the hope of eternal life. It says, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may share in His glory. No one is privileged enough to experience the glories of God until they have first experienced the sufferings of Jesus. You will not get one piece of property in heaven until you’ve suffered for Jesus Christ. You won’t get an ounce of Jesus’ glory until you’ve suffered with Jesus Christ because if you die and Jesus lives within you you’re going to begin to experience the sufferings of Jesus in your life. And the sufferings of Jesus are multitude. We’re not talking just about persecution. We’re not talking about just people rejecting us although that’s going to be a part of it. Next week we’re going to get in and just go through the book of Mark and see how Jesus suffered and how we too, are going to suffer in our bodies if we belong to Jesus Christ. And so when you look at someone’s life and you ask yourself, “Are they an heir with Jesus? Are they a Christian?” the thing to look for is not whether they’ve been water baptized or whether they can speak in tongues or whether they have the Holy Spirit or whether they have a great deal of wisdom or if they have any spiritual gifts in Christ. Ask yourself how much are they suffering in Jesus? Isn’t it amazing how many things we look at to judge whether someone is a Christian or not and we totally miss whether they hate their father or mother, their own life, and we totally miss whether they’re participating in the sufferings of Jesus. We look out here at all these other things. Now why is it that we do that? Somebody tell me why? Why do we look out here at these other things? Why? Because we’re not suffering for Jesus. If you suffer for Jesus you’re going to look for it in other people’s lives. The joy is automatic if you’re suffering for Jesus, at least the joy that really comes from the Holy Spirit.
And I want to tell you about the Holy Spirit tonight, that a person really doesn’t have the joy that comes from the Holy Spirit unless they’re suffering for Jesus at the same time. You cannot really have the joy that comes from God’s Holy Spirit unless you’re really suffering in the sufferings that come from Jesus Christ. A person who is “slain in the Spirit” or filled with the Spirit and they’re just full of joy, they don’t really have the joy of the Holy Spirit until they are in the process of suffering for Jesus Christ somewhere in their life.
Let’s look at 2 Corinthians 1. The very fact that you ask yourself if you’re suffering or the very fact that you ask yourself whether you are participating in the sufferings of Christ or not shows how little you’re suffering. If you have to ask yourself, “Am I suffering in the sufferings of Jesus Christ?” shows that you’re not. You know if you’re suffering. You know if your joy is in the Lord and if you have to ask yourself then you’re not participating in those things. And then you have to ask yourself, “Am I an heir with Jesus Christ? Am I co-heir with Christ? Do I belong to You? Do I belong to the kingdom?” Because without suffering no one belongs to the kingdom. Without persecution, without hardship, without denial of self, without saying no to the flesh, without knowing the ways that Jesus suffered and you experience those in your own life, you don’t belong to heaven. You don’t belong to the things that belong to the kingdom of God. Anyone who follows Christ Jesus will participate in the sufferings of Jesus or you don’t belong to Jesus. 2 Corinthians 1:5 says:
2 Corinthians 1:5 – For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.
Now the reason why the Lord is leading us to look at the sufferings of Jesus is because most people emphasize the comforts of Christ. If it looks like we’re over-emphasizing the sufferings it’s because people over-emphasize the comforts. If you participate in the sufferings of Jesus you’ll have the comfort. But notice what comes first. What does he say come first in verse 5? “For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over…” He doesn’t say, “First of all the comforts.” The very first thing that Paul mentions is the sufferings. He basically says, “Now if you suffer you experience comfort.” Most people want to experience the comfort before they suffer. And it will never happen. If you come to Jesus Christ and you’re filled with His Spirit, if He dwells within you then you’re going to suffer first and be comforted later. Or comforted at the same time in the midst of that suffering. Do you fit the description? Are you experiencing the sufferings of Jesus? Do you feel like Jesus’ sufferings are just overflowing in your life and just taking you over? You know, like a wave that would just break over you and pull you under. Do you feel like “All I’m doing is living a holy and righteous life. All I’m doing is proclaiming the truth and these sufferings just come on me for no reason at all. All I’m doing is reaching out to love people and what happens when I love them, when I speak the truth to them, is that these sufferings come on me and I don’t understand why”? Are you just pulled in under that suffering to the degree that Jesus’ sufferings overflow on you so will the comfort overflow on you? But to really have the joy that comes from the Spirit means you must participate in the sufferings of Jesus Christ. And to those who know Jesus participating in the sufferings is a joy. It’s one of the blessings that come with Christ Jesus. This is one of the elementary teachings of Christ Jesus, to suffer with Him. This is one of the most basic things that you can teach anybody.
You know, true lovers of God love spiritual warfare—they really do. True lovers of God really love warfare. They thrive on winning a battle. They love seeing someone simple, someone gross and ugly and taking them captive for Jesus Christ. They love wrestling in prayer, they love sending scriptures, they love talking to that person. They love calling, they love going boldly to that person, they love going in humility, they love serving them. They love taking the sword out and piercing the heart and taking them captive for Christ. They enjoy doing that. That’s what Jesus came to do. He came to take men captive for God and those who love God and those who have Jesus in them love to go do battle. And you get wounded and you get flaming arrows at you and you get all kinds of verbal abuse and you get people that misunderstand you. You have to be up late at night, you have to be traveling when God tells you to travel. You have to be sleeping when He tells you to sleep. You have to be doing things as Jesus would do them through you, but yet, people who love God thrive on that. They love the battle. They love to get in a wrestling match with men in order to take them captive for God. They don’t have to be pushed into the battle, they long for it. Oh, they might be timid, they might be afraid, but they can’t wait until God gives them enough grace to get out there in the middle of that battle. They can’t wait until they’re fully trained to be out there doing warfare for Jesus Christ. Those who really love God love to draw the line between the wicked and the righteous. Those who love God like to take whitewash and peel it down and show it for what it is. They love the truth, they love to get in there and get in the thick of things and fight and wrestle with men and with God in order that God can be glorified. If Jesus’ food was to do the will of God then we love to get in and do battle, we love to get in and love men in spite of the way they treat us. Suffering with Jesus is a pure joy because we’re soldiers in Christ. And a soldier who spends all of his time studying how to do warfare does not like to sit in the barracks. He doesn’t like to sit there. You put a group of soldiers in a barracks and they’re going to start fighting each other. They’re going to start battling each other; they just love the fight, that’s what they’ve been trained for. That’s what they’re geared for. That’s all they’ve been taught and programmed to do. That’s all they’ve been instructed to do. They know how to fight. They’ve been given the weapons—everything’s ready. You know the army can’t stand peace time. How do you train an army for war during peace time? It’s pretty hard to do and then tell them to sit down until there’s a war. I mean all you’re doing is gearing them up to go do battle. And so we become soldiers in Christ, we come with the Spirit of Christ and so we’re supposed to sit down in our living rooms and enjoy Jesus? That ought to be foreign to us. That ought to be something really strange to us. Jesus didn’t come to this earth and sit down and relax. He came to serve other men. So it’s strange for a Christian not to want to serve other people. Ever walk around in your heart saying, “What can I do next, Lord? What can I do next?” I long for an increase in the harvest and my money to give more to the poor. I long just for more righteousness to be in my life in order that I can give to other people. For people to be made well, or for people’s eyes to be opened, or for some people to be blinded so they can see. But a Christian loves to be out there doing the things that Jesus would do and so the sufferings for them are part of the joy.
Let’s look at Colossians 1. And yet as we look at the churches around us, do we see a suffering church? Do we see a people suffering for Jesus? Do we see a celebrating church? A relaxed church? We see a joyful church, we see a praising church, but do we see a suffering church, at least in this land and this culture? Do we see a suffering church in Springfield, Missouri? The obvious answer is no. If you preach this kind of message is received well? Are they excited about hearing this kind of thing or is this a harsh message? They think it’s a cruel message. They think you’re making the message hard and difficult for people to accept. Colossians 1:24 Paul says:
Colossians 1:24 – Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.
Paul says, “I rejoice, I rejoice in what was suffered for you. I rejoice in that suffering. I’m excited about suffering. I’m excited about having the sufferings of Jesus overflow in my life.” Now are you excited about that? If we were to ask everybody in the church tonight, “How many people want to be blessed?” everyone would raise their hand. You’d say the blessing that I want you to have tonight is to come and suffer for Jesus Christ for somebody else. You don’t get a thing out of it except to suffer, how many hands would go down? How many would regret that they ever raised their hand and declared before God that they want the sufferings of Jesus Christ in their life and yet Paul’s attitude isn’t one, “Oh, Lord, if you give me the sufferings I’ll take it.” Paul isn’t sitting back and saying, “Oh, Lord, if You pour out Your sufferings I’ll endure it, I’ll take it.” He says, “No, I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions.” Now I’m talking about a suffering that hits your flesh. Not a suffering just of the heart and the mind, but a suffering that hits to your flesh, you feel that suffering, you know that it’s in your life. And anybody who tells you, “Oh, I experienced the sufferings of Christ in my heart,” is a liar because experiencing sufferings of Christ overflows into the flesh. Paul doesn’t say, “Just in my heart,” or “Just in my mind.” He says, “I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s affliction.” Now all of us have more sufferings to endure in Jesus. Some of us haven’t suffered anything for Jesus yet. Some of us have suffered a little. But let’s be filling up, let’s be longing for the battle, let’s be pleading before God to put us in situations where we can’t stand it, it’s got to be His Spirit. Let’s ask God to place this in people’s houses where we don’t want to go and to parties we don’t want to be at. Situations we dread in our flesh that does not care to be there. Let’s sit down at the dinner table where people are just so ungodly and gross. Let’s love them and serve them. Let’s speak words of kindness and life to them. Let’s go where the tax collectors are. Jesus didn’t want to sit in all that sin. He didn’t want to be there with all those corrupt tax collectors, not in the flesh anyhow but in His heart, in the love that comes from God. He’d rather be in glory. Wouldn’t He rather be with the holy angels than be with them just as you and I would have? Those are the sufferings of Jesus; He left His home in heaven, that’s where He belonged, that’s where His kingdom was, and He left that in order to sit with you. And you were corrupt and you were vile and your talk was terrible and your life was ugly and gross and Jesus barely tolerated you. Now you go and do the same thing to other people. Oh, let us fill up within ourselves the sufferings of Jesus.
He says, “For the sake of his body, which is the church.” Are we working for Jesus? Are we up for Jesus in the morning? Are we sharing Jesus with other people? And are we giving to other people because of Jesus, for the sake of the body, for the church. Are we giving ourselves to the church and counting that as a cause for rejoicing? Are we saying, “Oh, I rejoice in what I suffer for You. I rejoice in the fact that the house is full and things are torn up. I rejoice in the fact that things are gone. I rejoice in the sufferings for whatever benefits You?” And that suffering strikes again to the flesh. You’re going to feel it and know it’s there. But you’re going to count every single ounce of pain a joy. Because it’s for Jesus and you’re pleasing Him and you can see His smiling face. And when you suffer for Him, He puts in the comfort there, He puts in the joy there, a real joy, a solid joy, not an emotional kind of joy that comes and goes. There are times when I weep and pray before God and cry. There are times when I’m dry and in the pits. It doesn’t matter if I’m suffering because the comfort is there no matter where I’m at. It’s not an emotional kind of thing; it’s a peace that passes understanding. It goes way beyond the emotions.
How few people find this joy. How few people can say with Paul, “I rejoice in what I suffered and I long to be filled up with the sufferings of Jesus in my life.” How few people really love this man called Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth? How can people really love Him? Because if you love Him you suffer with Him. You value the things He values. And what does He value? He values you. And He went out and He suffered for you. How few givers there are of heavenly blessing. How few people really give of Jesus. Most people are lazy servants that just sit there and take. There are plenty of people that will take the things that God has to offer but how many people actively give until you’re drained out? Until you have to go back in and say, “Fill me up, O God. I can’t preach another sermon, I can’t teach another person. I’m tired of planting seeds. I’m weary in this battle. I’ve done everything I know to do and there’s no response.” And the only reason you keep going is because God refreshes you. How few Abrahams there are that offer Isaacs up to God. How few mothers there are who give their children to God. And how few fathers there are who have longed for their children to be sacrificed to God; to see their children suffer and participate in the sufferings of Jesus. Let us tell our children that the joys in Jesus are suffering for Jesus. Let us remind them and tell them and let them see it in your life that to suffer with Jesus is a great joy and a great privilege. Very few people are allowed it.
Let’s look at Philippians 3:10. Notice how few people ask to suffer with Jesus. Most people’s attitude is, “Well, God, if You put the sufferings in my life I’ll endure it for You.” “Oh, God, if You bring sickness or hardship or if somebody knocks at my door and they have to be fed I’ll do it, Lord, for Your name.” I mean that’s their attitude and that’s their life. Have you ever heard anybody say to you, “Well, if you need anything, give me a call”? Our whole life is that way. “Lord, if You need anything, give me a call.” Instead of looking for the needs that need to be met, looking for the avenue where God has allowed you to share in the sufferings, to get out of bed and go be with that person, talk to them, I don’t know what it is, but whatever God will show you. How few people ask God to put the sufferings in their life, who plead with Him and say, “Lord, that’s our privilege to suffer with You, and I want those sufferings. I want a taste of them. I want to participate in them. I want those more than I want life itself.” Oh, a lot of people endure it when it’s forced on them but let me tell you, God will never force it on. God will never force the sufferings of Jesus Christ on your life. You may be disciplined by God but you may not be suffering for Jesus. You may endure the pain of this world but it may not be the sufferings of Christ. Philippians 3:10 Paul gives us an idea of what kind of heart he has. He says:
Philippians 3:10 – I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
Paul says, “I want. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings. I want to know what it is to suffer with Jesus.” I want to know. Do you want to know? Do you want to know what it is to give up everything and follow God? It says becoming like him in His death—
Philippians 3:11 – and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Paul says, “I want to know that resurrection power, I want to know a life that is only lived by the power of the Holy Spirit. I want to know that life that only knows God’s voice. I want to know that light that can look at men and not judge by outward appearance but see the heart.” Paul says, “I want to know what it is to be in jail for Jesus. I want to know what it is to be lowered over in a basket over a wall in order to escape evil men. I want to know what it is to be run out of town. I want to know the sufferings of Jesus. I want to know what it is when people misunderstand me. I want to know what it is, God, when I speak to people about the truth of their life and they rebuke me for it. I want to know what it is when people speak worldly things and I tell them they have the things of earth in mind and not the things of God. I want to know what that suffering is. I want to be misunderstood.” Paul says, “I want to know what the sufferings of Christ are. I want to share in those sufferings, to become like Him in His death.” Now has that been your prayer? “Oh, Lord, please bless me.” “Oh, Lord, get me through the afternoon.” “Oh, God, give me more of Your Holy Spirit.” “Oh, God, give me the words.” “Lord, deliver me from this turmoil.” “Oh, Lord, I don’t know whether You’re going to get me out of this situation or not.” “Oh, Lord, please bless my life.” Say, “Oh, Lord, please bless my life by giving me the sufferings of Jesus.” When you suffer with Jesus you don’t care whether you’re being paid on Friday or not. You don’t care whether everything’s going fine in your life. You’ve got more important things to do than to be praying about all those simple mundane things in your life. And if you need to know those things God will tell you because you’re suffering in the large things. Let’s get on with the kingdom. Don’t worry about manna and don’t worry about the money of this world. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, the sufferings of Jesus, and then you’ll know everything else. Oh how we care about the little things. We don’t care about, we’re not heavenly minded. We pray about our own little petty spiritual lives. If you’ll ask God for the sufferings of Jesus, to pour out your life for other people, He’ll take care of your spiritual life. He will. He’ll take care of it. If you give yourself for other people, if you say, “Jesus, I give myself to You as a living sacrifice,” He’ll see that the pride is gone in your life. The workers are few, the preachers are few, the elders are few, that are really strong in Christ Jesus. And if you’ll say, “Dear God, I want to be made worthy to serve You in that, and I want to know those sufferings,” He will deal with your sinful nature. But as long as you’re saying, “God, I’m in sin. God, I’m in sin, please deal with my sin. I can’t get out of this sin,” and just keep wallowing in it He can’t ever deal with it. You can’t ever see that the reason God wants to deal with your sins is not just for the purity in your own life, but so that He can use you for other people. And you will never suffer with Christ as long as you’re in that self, selfish eyes that look at your own life and cares nothing about the things of the kingdom of God.
To suffer with Jesus will never be forced on you. It’s only a privilege that comes to those who ask. When Paul says, “I want” he’s praying, he’s asking. And he’s not asking mildly. You know what Paul is asking for? He says, “I want to know the resurrection.” Now how many people want to know the resurrection of Jesus Christ? How many people cry and moan and pray and agonize because they want to know the resurrection power of Jesus Christ? To the same degree he says, “I want to know the resurrection power,” he says, “I want to know sufferings.” To the same degree that he cries out and says, “Oh, God, give me the resurrection power that’s in Christ Jesus. Give me the power to overcome my sin,” this is to the same degree he cries out and says, “God, I want to know the sufferings of Jesus.”
I can remember a time in my own life when I was on the floor, pounding the floor, saying, “Dear God, I want to be used for Christ Jesus. I want to know what that is to suffer.” You’ve got to ask; it’s a privilege, it’s a joy, it’s held out for you as a prize to grab on to. But we’re so self-centered, we’re so concerned about our own petty little lives in Christ Jesus, we don’t know enough to ask for the sufferings of Jesus. Why? Because we don’t love Him. We don’t love Him. Paul says in verse 10, “I want to know” what? Christ. “I want to know Christ. I don’t want to know my own life.” Paul’s saying, “I don’t want to know all the victorious things that are in Jesus. It doesn’t really matter to me if I have every spiritual gift, I want to know Christ. If I know Christ then I know all the gifts. If I know Christ I know all the good things that are in Jesus. I want to know Christ.” Oh, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. The righteousness is Jesus, not a law, not a self-disciplined life, but Jesus Himself.
Let’s look at Judges 6. God comes to all of us. I really believe that God comes to all of us and He comes to us and He says, “Here’s grace, here’s mercy.” You know what some of us do? We yawn and we say, “Thank You, Lord.” We say, “Thanks, Lord,” but it’s really the ring of an indifferent cry. We don’t have the heart of Gideon here. God comes and visits us. He sits in our room, He comes and knocks. “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). God comes and visits and He stands before us and He says, “These are the things of heaven. These are the things of glory.” We’re talking about a majestic blood. We’re talking about a holy life. We’re talking about a flesh that is sanctified and glorified in God. He says, “You can participate in those things. You can have those heavenly things in your life.” And we yawn or we spit in His face, or we weave a brand new crown of thorns and we place it on His head. Or we take out our nails and we put them in His hands. And we trample the blood again. How do we do it? By not praying to know the sufferings of Jesus. Every time we let a day go by and we say, “I don’t want to know the sufferings,” and we don’t even pray, we don’t even ask, we’re just indifferent about the whole thing. We put new nails in His hands and in His feet. We slap Him in the face.
Judges 6:17-18 – Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.” And the Lord said, “I will wait until you return.”
Well what’s the situation? Gideon was in a winepress and there was some wheat down in there and he was running around or walking around in the winepress separating the chaff from the wheat or the outer shell, I don’t know what you call it. Now the reason he was in a winepress was because there were marauders that kept coming down where the Israelites were and destroying all the crops and lands. So he had to hide in the winepress and it was hot in there and there was no air and the chaff and the dust would be in there. And he was walking around in this sweat and he was probably crying due to the dust that was getting into his eyes. And an angel comes and sits down before him and look at verse 12, it says:
Judges 6:12 – When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
Now the truth is Gideon is the least of everyone in his family. Now the angel appeared before God and let me tell you, God appears before each one of you tonight. He appears before each one of you and you know what He says? He says, “Greetings mighty warrior. The victory is yours in Christ Jesus. The sufferings are yours. The glorious things of heaven belong to you; Greetings mighty warrior in Christ Jesus.” God comes to you and He speaks those things to you. He sends His angels to you. Paul says you have ten thousands guardians in Christ Jesus. Now one of those had to have visited you and said those words to you. It comes to every Christian, every man who turns toward God. I think that angel comes there and says, “Greetings mighty warrior.” Now they may not perceive it, they may be asleep, they may pour contempt upon it. They may say, “Well, thank You, give me the blessings. I really appreciate Your good word toward me. Thank You for the healing, thank You for the blessing, thank You for answering my prayers.”
But Gideon does something much different. Look again at verse 17: Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in Your eyes, give me a sign that it is really You talking to me. Please don’t go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before You.” And the Lord said, “I will wait until you return.” Oh, what a blessed thing to hear from God. “I will wait for you.” “I will wait for you to go and get the offering ready.” Now you’re the offering, you’re the living sacrifice, you’re saying, “God, you’re telling me I’m a mighty warrior. Let me go back and get ready for Your kingdom.” And God says, “I’ll wait. And when you’re ready I’ll light that lamp and I won’t put it under a bushel. I’ll put it up where everybody can see it. And I’ll put you in the battle.” But do we go and get and offer the sacrifice? Verse 19:
Judges 6:19 – Gideon went in, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah of flour he made bread without yeast. Putting the meat in a basket and it’s broth in a pot, he brought them out and offered them to him under the oak.
Gideon went in and prepared a young goat. Prepared, put forth effort. Now Gideon and his family have very little food. That’s why he’s in a winepress treading out this wheat. What he is sacrificing to God is the most valuable thing he has, probably the only valuable thing he has. He takes a little bit of flour, he takes a young goat, he takes bread without yeast which is, of course, purity. And “Putting the meat in a basket and its broth in a pot, he brought them out and offered them to him under the oak.”
Judges 6:20: – The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And Gideon did so.
Of course, obedience. Sacrifice always comes with obedience. A heart that longs to pour out everything before God. How many of us would be thinking about our stomachs and saying, “What a waste?” O how God comes to us with grace. He wants to show us sin, He wants to pulverize us, and we think we’re going to die in the midst of it. And all He wants to do is bless us. God will be with you in everything. You could see an angel face to face, you could see a demon face to face, you could see Satan face to face, you can do battle for Jesus Christ. You can get out and serve your neighbor that you don’t like to be around and you will not die. God will be with you in whatever it is that you do. And your name will be mighty warrior, mighty warrior, even in the midst of your stumbling. Or do we really say, “I want to know the sufferings”? If you do, you’re going to see the fire come out of that rock. I guarantee you’ll know it because there’s too few people that want to know it. Most people don’t want to know it. And if you ask you’ll have it, it’ll be yours. Are we going to join in suffering with Jesus? I don’t know. But you moan, “How can I suffer with Jesus?” How do I live in a land where we’re being persecuted, where we’re being put in jail? You might say, “Well, it’s not my fault I don’t suffer with Jesus. I don’t live in a culture and a land that knows those sufferings.” We’re not just talking about persecution. I don’t live in a land where I’m hungry. You’re talking to the wrong person if you say, “How can I know the sufferings of Jesus?” I don’t begin to compare myself with Paul. I was forced out of two jobs. Why? Because of the sufferings of Jesus Christ. In this land, the reason people aren’t suffering is they’re not speaking the truth. They’re not doing it in love. We’re rejected by the whole Church of Christ. There wasn’t hardly a brother or sister left out of the church that we came out of that respected us at all. Maybe three or four brothers at the most. Or sisters, I shouldn’t even say brothers. Rejected in three towns. Forced out of one church. One set of parents we haven’t heard from in six months. Another set of parents I’ve seen but haven’t heard from them in three years. There’s no relationship there, there’s nothing left there, all because of Jesus Christ. All because you pray one thing: I want to know Christ. And I’m not sharing these things to boast, I’m sharing with you in the spirit of Scripture as Paul writes. He says, “It was good for you to know the sufferings we endured.” I’ve been called a cult leader and a brain washer. I’m greedy and after money, of the devil. And you’ll be called the same thing. Why aren’t you participating in those things? Because you’re not asking to suffer with Jesus Christ. They’ve said I’m prideful and an egomaniac and taking weak-willed women captive. It’s called “bad report” in 2 Corinthians. We’ve had to eat beans for months on end, been without a job, without money, and Carla eight months pregnant. People falling away in this body accused us of gross injustices and all we did is try to love them and bring the truth. All we did is lay down our lives. All we did is try to point out sin. There wasn’t anything we did to harm them in any way. All we did is try to rid them of legalism and doctrine that they had grown up with that is dead. Some of them had lived here and taken advantage of everything that we had. I’ve been threatened with multiple contusions and fractures. I haven’t had them yet. I’ve been told the sheriff would greet me at the door before I ever got there. My tracts have lined more trash cans than have been read and worked day and night for the body. I share this again in the attitude of Philippians 4:14 where Paul says:
Philippians 4:14 – Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.
I’ve been accused of being a trouble-maker, always looking on the bad side of things and never talking about what is good in people. When it’s good I’ll call it for what it is. I’m told I’ve been unloving and uncaring and hard. I say, “You’re talking to the wrong person when you say, ‘we live in a culture where we’re not going to suffer.’” You just haven’t spoken. You just haven’t loved in gentleness. If you’ll just live a godly life in Christ Jesus you’ll get it.
Let’s look at 2 Timothy 1 and I’ll show you another reason why I shared this. Paul says something very interesting. He says:
2 Timothy 1:8 – So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God,
Now wait a minute, is it Timothy’s choice to suffer with Christ Jesus and with Paul? The overwhelming answer is yes. God is saying to each one of you, “You join in the sufferings that are in Paul and in Christ Jesus. You lose your job. You be forced out of the situation. You be accused of being a cult leader and don’t be ashamed to testify of what we’ve learned here.” Some of you have been ashamed to testify concerning me in situations. I don’t hold that against anybody at all. I’ve been afraid to testify about myself, afraid to testify about Jesus Christ, but that’s what Paul is saying. Why aren’t we participating? You’re afraid to testify. Verse 8, “So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord.” Don’t be ashamed of coverage, don’t be ashamed at Christmas. My God, when did it become a sin to give to the poor? What happened to the church that somehow we fell into sin with the whole business? That we somehow ran overboard into legalism and we’re just going to give everything to the poor. We’re so drastic about that. Don’t be ashamed to testify about the truth and to point out sin that’s in other people’s lives in order that they can repent. The reason we don’t suffer, the reason people don’t accuse you of being a brain-washer or a cult leader is because you’re not testifying to what the truth is. You’re ashamed of what the gospel is really about. We’re ashamed to tell people, “Well, you have to hate your father and mother,” and then we try to justify and sugar-coat it and make it sound good without putting out the truth. But he says, “Join with me in suffering for the gospel.” You have a choice. If we look at the sufferings of Jesus you have a choice of participating in those. Again, you’re going to have to ask, but God will give it to you. Are you going to join with the rest of us? If I pass out tracts and they throw them in the trash can, why don’t you join with me in that? How many times has everybody here complained that they’re just going to throw it away? Or they’re not going to listen to it? Nobody asked you for quick results. Nobody asked you if it was your idea or not to send the tracts, you just did what Jesus called you to do. They can get mad at every one they get in the mail. They’re going to tell you that they throw them away. But it’s the Spirit of the Lord that does the work, not the tract. Not the tape. Not even your own life.
Now you do this by the very last five words—by the power of God. You can suffer for the gospel but not by the power of God. You can be obnoxious with this Bible and this word. You can be self-righteous, you can be unloving, you can be unserving, you can be unkind. And you can suffer because of that. My goodness, the Churches of Christ and Assembly of God battle each other. The Baptist battle each other. People battle each other all the time but it doesn’t have anything to do with the power of God. You see, when you’re suffering for Jesus it’s overflowing in your life, there’s nothing you can do about it. Now if you set out to endure persecution or to get flack, that’s your own fault and you deserve every beating you get and you deserve every imprisonment you get, you deserve every piece of slander you get. But when Jesus is overflowing in your life leap in that day because great is your reward in heaven. You can leap in that day.
In 2 Timothy 2:3 Paul says:
2 Timothy 2:3 – Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
“Endure hardship with us like a good solder of Christ Jesus.” You have a choice. Are you going to be a good soldier or not? Look at this, this is an invitation. Right now you’ve received an invitation for blessings. Brother, join with me in suffering for the Gospel. Sister, join with me in the flack. Don’t have me write your folks, and then say, “There you go, Tim, nice job, keep doing it.” Join with me in that suffering by the power of God. Endure that hardship like a good soldier. Don’t send everybody over here to live. You take people in and let them live at your house. You endure a hardship and inconvenience. You rearrange your furniture every three months and count it joy. You let your garage be full of everybody’s stuff but yours. Who knows, half the time I don’t want anybody to take anything out because they’ll be taking that boast away. I want everything used up for God. “Endure hardship with us like a good solder in Christ Jesus.” Give yourself for the sake of the church. Give yourself to know Jesus. It’s time some of you started enduring with us and not watching us. It’s time you start suffering with us instead of just watching us suffer. Don’t be ashamed to testify about anybody in this body. Oh, don’t defend them if they’re not righteous but don’t be afraid to testify to the message.
Begin to talk to people and to pray for them. Love the things that pertain to the kingdom of God. Why is your job in jeopardy right now? Probably because you’re not sharing the message. Please, don’t rush out here and just in one week do it in self-effort. Do it by the power of God. Do it by the power of God. Not everybody will lose their job. Somebody is going to come to repentance somewhere. But you’re going to endure some flack from that and you’re going to speak when you don’t want to speak. Part of the sufferings of Christ isn’t just being run out of town; some towns do accept the message. But how few people really want to do that? How many of you are really willing to lose your best friend for a season? How many of you are willing to lose your brothers and sisters for a while because you spoke the truth to them? Most of us are way too slow to speak, way too slow to give tracts out, tapes, and my goodness, we have tools in abundance here. We are not lacking in the tools to share the message. We can be so busy right now. Ask God to make you so busy you don’t have time to sin.
You know, Satan laughs sometimes I think at our feeble speeches that we give to our parents. I think he just kind of mocks us when we go home and we serve them with a half-way serving attitude. The demon possessed really don’t need to tremble when we come into their presence. We’re usually the ones doing the trembling. The false teachers don’t need to fear you coming into their church—they like you being there. They don’t have this hatred and this dislike for you in their hearts. You never speak the truth to them. You never warn other people to stay away from them. Get down on your knees and beg them to get away from you. Do brothers and sisters, when you come into their presence, know that you’re aiming for perfection? Some brother and sisters don’t like you aiming for perfection. What are the sufferings for Jesus? Let’s get out there and begin to suffer for Jesus. Hebrews 13:13 says:
Hebrews 13:13 -Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore.
Go to who? To Jesus. Jesus isn’t just in this church building, He’s outside the church building. Let us go to Him outside the camp, outside where Jesus is, bearing the disgrace He bore. Get outside and get out there and suffer. Stay up late writing letters, stay up late calling, put forth effort. I long for a time when people will turn to me and say, “Have you called, have you written, have you done this?” How many times do I come to some of you and say, “Look, I don’t want to be harping on you,” yet the truth is I really am harping on you, but I don’t want to seem that way? “Have you called, have you checked, have you gone back, have you prayed? What are you doing about it?” Join and suffer for Jesus Christ. “Let us, then, go outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore.” People are going to reject you. Forget it. Don’t worry about it. Share the message. Verse 14 tells us why we can endure that.
Hebrews 13:14 – For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.
We are so heavenly minded that we’re busy down here trying to get people up there. If we can’t go grocery shopping this week, no big deal. If we’re up all night and we have to go to work at eight o’clock in the morning, no big deal. If we stay up until eleven o’clock or twelve o’clock tonight and leave at three o’clock in the morning, no big deal. We have a heavenly city, we have things up there, down here doesn’t matter. A little sleep and yet this body is laid to rest, permanently at rest and I’ll be given strength that is in Jesus Christ. I’ll know that resurrection power. How few people are really looking for the heavenly city.
Again, let’s go back to Philippians 1. How few people really want Jesus. How few people are really lovers of God and the things of God. There are a lot of cowards that are sitting in pews today. And Revelation tells us that the very first people in hell, the leaders into hell, are cowards. The coward doesn’t pray to know the sufferings of Jesus. The coward loves his own lies. How many people say they know Jesus and you look at their life and you don’t see one ounce of suffering that belongs to Jesus? Philippians 1:27 says:
Philippians 1:27 – Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel
See, Paul is saying to Timothy, “You join with me,” and Timothy is telling his church, “You join with me,” and let’s all suffer as one man for one gospel for one message as the Spirit works it because it’s all the sufferings of Jesus. Contending as one man for the faith of the gospel—what’s contending mean? It means kind of a wrestling. It means putting forth effort, not waiting for the sufferings to come your way.
There’s a song by Don Francisco I love, he says, “I want to run a mission a yard from the gate of hell.” That’s where I want to be, a yard from the gate of hell. I want the hard fields, I want the tough areas. Anybody can walk the full fields. I want where baptisms are hard, where it takes years to plow up a ground and it makes it difficult. I want the low road; I want the most difficult path I can take in this land. I don’t mean just having my head chopped off. I mean when you have to spend years praying and wrestling and looking for revival and then they get more stubborn and you just keep speaking. And it’s just a contest and you just keep contending back and forth and things are really getting difficult and just don’t say one day, “They’re hard, I’m not going to take the message to them.” I want the areas where I’ve got to plow ground up, where it’s got to be destroyed. Give me a religious town, a town where it’s small. Contending as one man for the faith of the gospel and look at verse 28. Oh, I love it:
Philippians 1:28 – without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God.
“Without being frightened in any way.” Without being frightened, not an even an ounce, no way, not frightened at all, by those who oppose you. Preach the gospel and they’re going to oppose you but just slough it off. Ha, big deal, they oppose me. It’s interesting Paul says we went into town and many opposed us and we stayed there and preached the gospel. “Without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.” See, not only will you be saved, but you’ll be saved by the very power and the hand of God. That’s a sign to them. Your fearlessness is a sign to them that they will be destroyed. So if you’re fearful, if you’re hating the sufferings of Christ, guess who’s going to be destroyed? Verse 29:
Philippians 1:29 – For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him,
“For it has been granted.” It’s been granted, it’s a privilege to suffer with Jesus. It has to come from heaven. Don’t go out and try it yourself, you know the folly of self-effort. You have to ask Jesus to give you the sufferings of Jesus. You have to ask God to put you in the battlefield. “For it has been granted.” Here, it’s a privilege, a blessing, it belongs to you. “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.” You really want to be granted that privilege? Everybody wants to be granted to believe in Jesus. Everybody says they believe in Jesus. But to be given the grace to believe in Jesus is to be granted also the sufferings of Jesus, to be able to suffer for Him. Verse 30:
Philippians 1:30 – since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
That’s why when I shared those things that Carla and I endured, we just went over the servanthood of those things, that wasn’t to puff us up at all. It’s just to say that those are the things that are in Christ Jesus. Listen, I’m nothing, that’s very minor. I haven’t really suffered. I’ve never even been physically hit yet. The closest I ever got was a little push. I have absolutely nothing to boast of in Christ Jesus. In Acts, the time the disciples are rejoicing is when they’ve been flogged for the sake of the gospel. A little verbal abuse is nothing in Christ Jesus. Or to reject somebody, your parents, that’s every day things in Christ Jesus.
“Since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I have.” Let’s pray verse 29. Let’s say, “God, please grant that not only can I believe in Jesus but that I can also suffer for Him.” Are we going to join with the true saints of God and suffer for Him? Let us pray that God will reveal to us in the coming week what it really means to suffer with Him, to pray for those who are in prison. You know, Hebrews says, “When you pray remember those in prison as if you were there yourself.” Now how do you do that? How do you conjure up that kind of emotion and empathy? Because the only way you can do that is you have to be facing some of that yourself. You really do. Let’s begin to find out what it is to suffer with Jesus and let’s ask Him to put it into our lives.
This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.