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I AM NOT ASHAMED

2 Timothy 1:12 – For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.

Paul, more than most, knew the sufferings of Christ. Jesus had brought Paul from being one of the chief persecutors of His church, to one of the most persecuted for the gospel’s sake. Paul, who had been known as Saul, encountered the “Living Christ” on his way to put the Disciples of Christ in jail at Damascus (Acts 9:1-9). On the Damascus road, his life was suddenly interrupted by the King of the entire creation. The Lord Jesus Christ had only one question for Saul, “Why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:4).

Acts 9:15 tells us, Jesus sent Ananias to Saul to give him instructions saying, “He is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” Saul, whose name was changed to Paul, was appointed by Jesus to suffer for His name’s sake. Suffering is part of the normal Christian experience. We are called to make up what was lacking in the sufferings of Christ. “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions” (Colossians 1:24). Paul identifies with the sufferings of Christ to the point that he sees his sufferings as part of being a member of Christ’s body.

When we suffer affliction for Christ’s sake, we are partakers with Him in suffering. In eternity, our suffering will become part of His glory that is to be revealed. Paul said, “I rejoice in my sufferings.” Do we have an attitude of “rejoicing” when we suffer for Jesus? It is hard to imagine the sufferings that some believers have experienced for Christ’s sake. In contemporary Christianity there is still a great deal of suffering. Those believers that live under communism have suffered a great deal. Those in Islamic lands have unimaginable hardships because they are identified with Christ. I think of committed Christians seeking a University Education who are persecuted by the proponents of Secular Humanism.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). “Just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:5). When we go through sufferings, let us be reminded of all those who have suffered before us. I choose to trust in Christ when suffering, knowing it does not compare to the “glory” God has planned for us.

Thank You Father, for “abundant comfort” that You have promised through Christ, when we experience “abundant sufferings.” My hope is steadfast in You and all Your promises. I am not ashamed of all You have done on my behalf.

I WAS APPOINTED A PREACHER

2 Timothy 1:11-12 – I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher.

Paul is instructing a young minister named Timothy. Previously Paul had taught Timothy to not be ashamed of his testimony of Christ or of Paul who was totally dedicated to Christ through his sufferings. Paul states, “Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity” (2 Timothy 1:9).

We are included in the “us” to which Paul is referring. Jesus saved you and me. Jesus called you and me with a holy calling. That means we have been separated to God’s eternal purposes and His grace. Relax, for only in Christ Jesus can we accomplish what God wants done. Paul realizes he was “appointed.” Timothy was being reminded by Paul that he too had been appointed. The Scriptures remind us as well of our appointment. Paul and Timothy took responsibility for their appointment. We too must take responsibility for His assignment in our lives. This is done through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Paul further tells Timothy, “By the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10). Every revelation we receive from God comes as a result of what Jesus did through His earthly ministry. Faith tells us that death has been abolished. Faith tells us that life and immortality have been granted. Faith operates because of the light which came through the gospel. Paul, in verse 11 says, “I have been made a preacher and an apostle and a teacher.” Paul is describing that he was called in three specific areas of the gospel. First, he was called to proclaim the good news (Romans 10:14). Secondly, as an apostle, Paul is a builder. “According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it” (1 Corinthians 3:10-11).  Finally, Paul is called as a teacher. “For this I was appointed . . . as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth (1 Timothy 2:7).

We, as Paul, need to know what God has called us to in the body of Christ. We all have a responsibility to proclaim the good news. We are to be a consistent witness to others daily. We are all called to build our lives upon the Lord Jesus Christ. We are then to help others build strong Christian lives. Finally, we need to know God’s Word and be available to instruct others in the admonition of the Scriptures.

Father, I ask for divine appointments to share with others Your eternal truths.

HE WAS RECEIVED UP INTO HEAVEN

Mark 16:19 – When the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere.

Jesus prepared His disciples for three and a half years. He gave them some final instructions and then was “received up into heaven” to be seated next to His Father. Please notice that Jesus was “received.” As believers, we have been received as well. “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3).  Both Jesus and His Father had worked (John 5:17). Now it was time for the disciples to go to work. Our work must come out of what the Father and the Son have done. It comes from their resting position, seated in heaven.

The “Work” is finished, but as His disciples, we are cleaning up the mess in the lives of those for whom Jesus died and rose again. We are His “workers”! The starting point for our work is to be His witnesses. “You will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning” (John 15:27). It started with the apostles testifying of the Lord’s finished work for Israel. Paul took the message to the Gentiles as a result of the revelation that God had extended salvation to all peoples in the earth. We have received the “witness” of the apostles if we have put our faith in God’s finished work in Christ Jesus, the Lord. We not only have received salvation, but are on assignment to declare to others that, Christ is alive and He reigns over the nations.

Receiving the Lord implies a sense of responsibility. His salvation is free in the sense that God purchased us with the shed blood of His Son. Jesus freely gave His life for the sins of the world. In receiving God’s salvation, we are submitting ourselves to His authority over our lives. He is now our King! His mandate to the apostles now applies to us, “Go” into the entire world.  “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). The Gospel of Mark says they “preached everywhere” (Mark 16:19).

Father, I thank You for my salvation in Christ Jesus. Help me to be faithful in my responsibility to share with others what You have accomplished through Your Son. Thank You for the authority I have received because of Your finished work. I commit myself to finish the work You have called me to accomplish. I rest in Your power and not my own strength!

HIS LORDSHIP, THE CENTER OF OUR AUTHORITY

Matthew 16:18 – I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church.

Jesus came to build His church. He did not come to start a church, but to build a church. Building requires a sure footing on which a foundation can be laid. Once the foundation is laid, then the building can begin. As Jesus is talking with His disciples in Matthew 16, He asks them what the general consensus is among the people about His identity. He then got more specific with them and asked, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter boldly states, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Upon Peter’s statement, Jesus goes on to tell His disciples that “upon this rock I will build My church.” What rock? The eternal truth that Peter had stated!

The name Christ means, “The Anointed One” or “Messiah.” He is not only “God’s Anointed One,” but the living Son of God. The Christian faith is rooted in this eternal truth. If any one does not believe this, they are not Christian. Jesus gave up His human life on the cross, in order to build a “new building” from His resurrected life. His whole spirit, soul, and body were raised from the dead on the third day by the power of the Holy Spirit.

“You are no longer strangers and aliens, but follow-citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22).

Jesus the Rock, Jesus the Builder, Jesus who laid the foundation in both His Apostles and Prophets is building by using people as the stones of His church building. “Coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:4-6). The Church is not mortar or brick. The Church is not an ecclesiastical system. The Church is a people made alive by the Holy Spirit. The Church is not “static,” but “dynamic” in its spiritual core. In other words, The Church is alive on earth. Another metaphor which Jesus used in John 15 is that we are branches which are attached to Him, a fruit-bearing Vine. Today, celebrate your life in Christ as a living stone and a fruit-bearing branch for His glory!

Father, I thank You for raising me up from the dead in Christ. Thank You for the breath of Your Holy Spirit who causes me to be a living stone in the building You are building in the earth by Your Son Jesus, the Christ. Cause me to be a dynamic force for Your glory in my sphere of influence. 

THE COMING KINGDOM

Matthew 6:10 – Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

For the believer in Christ, there should be no question about the ultimate fulfillment of God’s government. E. Stanly Jones said, “Every man is built for the Kingdom. Even the most hardened sinner, and intransigent violator of God’s law is constitutionally structured to relate to God’s Kingdom,” (What on Earth Is the Kingdom of God? by W.A. Young, Jr., page 115). Because we were created in the image of God, there is no rest outside of His Kingdom or Government. Saint Augustine said, “You made us for Yourself, and our hearts find no peace until they rest in You.”

In Matthew 6:10, Jesus was helping His disciples understand the centrality of His message concerning the kingdom of God. “Your kingdom come” is not a request for some future event, but it is what the Father had begun in Christ during His earthly life. The disciples were seeing the kingdom of God beginning to be established in the Earth as they experienced life with Jesus. God’s will was realized in the cross as the Lord freely gave His life for lost humanity. The Day of Pentecost brought the fulfillment of what the Prophets had been looking for, God living in the person of a human being on earth. It was what Nebuchadnezzar saw in his forgotten dream which Daniel revealed, described, and interpreted. He saw a stone cut out of the mountain. A stone which grew until it became large and smashed the feet of the image. This was a prophetic picture of God’s kingdom being established in the earth and overcoming all other kingdoms on earth (Daniel 2:44-45).

The kingdom of God came in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The kingdom of God grew as believers received the Holy Spirit. The kingdom of God continues to grow in the earth as believers surrender to God’s will and to His kingdom purposes. The nations are hearing the message today. God’s kingdom is growing in the earth. Repent and submit to the king. If you do, the blessing of heaven will come. If you refuse, God’s judgment will overcome your plans.

The emerging of the kingdom of God and the will of God being done in the earth is the future for all humanity. God’s kingdom will not be overcome by any other kingdom, as has been the experience of the nations throughout history. Will you permit the Holy Spirit to rule in your life today and walk in His favor?

Father, I choose to live under Your kingdom purposes. I thank You for Your grace that has led me to surrender to Your appointed King, the Lord Jesus Christ. Please use me to declare Your governmental rule in the earth.

HONOR AUTHORITY

1 Peter 2:13-14 – Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evil doers and the praise of those who do right.

The Lord set us free from the dominion of sin and Satan’s kingdom. Our “independence,” does not mean we are free to do anything we want or to be independent of God ordained authority. Jesus redeemed us to the Father’s divine order. The government of God, must start in our personal life. It must start with our personal submission to authority. It must start with our understanding that the government of God is imperative in our lives. When we were born again, we were born into government. We were born into a kingdom; we were born into the realm of King Jesus and His delegated authorities. To fully recognize King Jesus, we must also recognize His delegated authorities.

We need to grasp that the government of God in the earth is the realm of our highest joy (The Government of God by Ern Baxter, page 15). True joy is not found in one’s “independence” but in submission to God’s government under Jesus in the Holy Spirit. God the Father governs our lives through His settled Word, through our personal relationship with the Holy Spirit, through submission to His delegated spiritual leaders, and the authority structures in the earth as stated by Peter in our verses for today.

Many of God’s people try to walk independent of the authority that others carry. True joy comes when we submit to the laws of the land (see Romans 13:1-7), when we learn how to submit to one another in the Lord (see Ephesians 5:21), and when we receive God’s true leadership (see Hebrews 13:17). Paul establishes that “Righteousness, peace, and joy is in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). For many, independence means “I am in complete control of my life.” Each one must take responsibility for their choices in life and then deal with the outcome of those choices. For the kingdom of the God-minded person, submission to God’s appointed authorities brings true and lasting peace and joy established in righteousness.

Father, I confess that my life belongs to You. Your King, the Lord Jesus Christ purchased my salvation and set me in Your kingdom. I choose to submit to Your will and to the order of Your kingdom in the earth. Holy Spirit, guide me and establish me in Your government.