Jesus Learned Obedience through Suffering

I wrote a book on suffering. I believe I know something about suffering. But someone who has suffered more than me may feel I don’t know as much as they do. Suffering, God’s secret weapon. God is building souls in us and God exercises tough love for us to build those souls to prepare us for eternity. God understands the value of what suffering does to us. We, as humans, don’t want to suffer. We don’t want to be inconvenienced at all. But God is always looking at the larger picture.

But it’s always good to read about suffering for me. It helps understand why we have it in our lives. I used to say that the people who don’t suffer may not have the stuff in them God is looking for. But I have come to see that we all suffer to some degree. No one escapes it. Everyone in the world suffers. You might not know of their suffering or see it but it’s there. Some people see the suffering and fight against it and this brings more suffering. Some people see their own suffering and rest, yes they do all they can to aid themselves, but all the while they rest and trust God. This brings them through the suffering in the way God wants and brings them through a better person, with the gold refined.

Below is an excerpt from my friend Tom Adcox’s devotion condensed over the last couple days. This is similar to the testimony I give when speaking. Please enjoy this read:

For it was fitting for him, because of whom are all things and through whom are all things, having brought many sons to glory, to mature the originator of their salvation through sufferings. (Heb. 2.10) He, though being a Son, learned obedience from the things he suffered. (Heb. 5.8)
The Lord Jesus was God in the flesh during his days on earth, yet he had to be matured through suffering. He was sinless, but he had to learn obedience through suffering. How could God in the flesh and a sinless man need to be matured and to learn obedience? I would say that it is because he chose to become a human being and live as we do, and we have to be matured and to learn obedience through suffering. If God in the flesh had to be matured and to learn obedience through suffering, how much more do we? We all tend, I think, to try to wriggle out of our trials or to ask God the get us out of them. His answer is that he got us into the trial for a reason. He is trying to mature us and to teach us obedience so that we will be prepared for his kingdom. There are rewards beyond salvation, and those rewards can be lost. If you have trusted Christ as your Savior, you have eternal life and will never lose it, but you can forfeit rewards that you might have gained. See, for example, Rev. 3.11, written to the model church of Philadelphia.
We are living in a time of trial, all the way from minor inconvenience to losing income, being sick, or losing loved ones and facing death ourselves. In this time, realize that God is trying to mature you and teach you obedience, just as he did his Son, so that as he will reign eternally, so may you reign with him (Rom. 8.17, 2 Tim. 2.12).
For the momentary light burden of our affliction is working for us an eternal weight of glory from hyperbole to hyperbole, we not looking at the things being seen, but the things not being seen. For the things being seen are temporary, but the things not being seen are eternal. (2 Cor. 4.17-18)
It is human nature to have our eyes on the things we can see, and right now we can see a crisis that threatens life and financial security. It is easy to get wrapped up in that. But God is much more concerned with what is unseen, the spiritual world and the coming new age. He does want us to have a good life now, but there will be hardships in this world. We all suffer losses and grief because of this present evil age (Gal. 1.4) which has an end, and our lives here are temporary. God is concerned to prepare us for his millennial kingdom and eternity. One will last a thousand years and the other forever! While what we are dealing with now seems to be a very heavy burden, it is working for us who are the Lord’s and are trusting in him an eternal weight of glory to which this momentary light affliction has no comparison. That eternal weight of glory goes from hyperbole to hyperbole.
Do you know what hyperbole is? It is the same word in both Greek and English. It is often used in poetry. It is a gross exaggeration designed to make a point or emphasize something. We often use hyperbole in our everyday speech: I’m so hungry I could eat a horse. No I can’t! But I am trying to convey how hungry I am, or think I am. God is telling us that the eternal weight of glory awaiting us is a gross exaggeration of the hardships we go through now. Take comfort in knowing what awaits us, and in knowing that it will never end, as the difficulties of this age will.

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How to be Saved and Have a Redeemer

If you are like me you love to tell others about Jesus. I always come away perplexed when I tell them about Jesus and they don’t want to be a part of His offer of redemption. This used to bother me until I read up on it and saw that some people “cannot” see it. That’s right, they “cannot” see it. They cannot see it because God has placed them under a powerful delusion. 2 Thessalonians 2: 9- 12 “9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason, God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.”
Wow, that should get your attention. So it appears that being a “truth seeker” is a prerequisite for knowing God and seeing the way to enter the Kingdom of God. So when you witness to others and they cannot seem to see the way to disagree with you to the point of hostility don’t let it bother you, as not everyone wants to know the truth.
When Paul and Silas were jailed the jailer saw the men praising God after they were beaten. Acts 16 is a beautiful chapter to read. The jailer saw how that even though Paul and Silas were beaten and shackled they praised God. Shackles and jail could not stop Paul and Silas from the joy of the Lord. How many of us lose the Joy of the Lord when you can’t find a parking place? Never forget Joy is a spiritual force! Nevertheless, through all of this when the earthquake came at midnight the shackles fell off and the prison doors opened. The jailer knew he’d be killed by their escape and stated to kill himself out of fear. But Paul said to him not to do that because they would not leave.
The jailer was overwhelmed with all this and had never been around these kinds of Godly men before, and so he was desperate to know God and asked, “what must I do to be saved?” I always thought it noteworthy that Paul didn’t go into some long convoluted theology. No, he just said, in verse 31 “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night, the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.
How are you saved? “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” It’s that simple.

 

 

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A Memory

I am fortunate to have this memory. When I was 11 years old Donald Adcox came to our church. He was with the Lay Witness Team that a group of businessmen went to churches for a Wednesday through Sunday revival. Donald stayed at our house and he and I made lifelong friends. We often fell into long discussions about God. This 1968 revival at our church wasn’t going so well and I, as a young boy, had a front-row seat watching those men in action. They included me as though I was much older, and I never forgot that. Finley Beard a doctor in Louisville. Frank Dorato the Asheville NC Dodge dealer. Sam Hargett a Rutherton, NC businessman. And then Donald, who covered the market on polyester in the 70′s. The revival was not going well and the men said they had never been in a more cold church than ours. The people were made of granite they said. Not one person had come down to accept Jesus or rededicate their life and it was Sunday morning now. I heard their concerns and I watched them very closely. We met in Brother Tayor’s office before the Sunday service. The men desperately prayed and they felt defeated I could tell. They felt they had failed. They went around a big circle of men to pray and then it got to me. I felt way too intimidated but Donald urged me to pray and treated me with more respect than I had ever known before, so I prayed and knowing these men’s frustration I said, ” God these men have done their job now you do yours.” Some of the men raised an eyebrow. But there, I had said it. After the service that morning 100 people came down and the service lasted until 1:00 PM.
I never will forget and this is a cherished memory I carry with me, and after the service, the men all came up to me and said, ” It was the child’s prayer.”
Donald invited me to go home with him and I stayed for the rest of the summer with him. I would go back many times and we were best of friends until he passed in 2009. I sure do miss him and am very grateful for all the years with him and our deep discussion about God, the Bible, and Heaven. God placed him in my life and his influence has stayed with me and always will.
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Learn Psalms 23

With all the worry in the world, it reminds me of when I got horses. When it got tough sometimes caring for them, I said I knew I couldn’t save the world but I could take care of three horses. All this fear around and the threat of the coronavirus reminds me when my son was killed Patti and I would walk three miles a day. During that three-mile walk each morning before I would go to work I started to memorize the 23rd Psalms. I said I can’t learn the entire Bible but I can learn the 23rd Psalms. So each and every morning I’d go out for my morning walk before going into my office and Patti and I would recite the 23rd Psalms until we could easily say it from memory.

You never know when you might need to say the 23rd Psalms and during this coronavirus pandemic, it’s a good thing to say and dwell on. It’s a good thing to listen to and ponder in your heart. The words are soothing and they will stimulate faith in your soul and cause fear to subside and dissipate. Knowing that we have no reason to fear is a good thing to dwell on. Listening to David’s words and knowing that regardless of what happens to us, nothing can separate us from God and His big far-reaching love. Nothing that can happen to us in this life is bigger than our God. And in the end, we will live in Heaven with Him forever. “We will dwell in the house of the Lord forever!”

During this time in my life as I learned the 23rd Psalms, I recalled that when I was about 21 years old my great grandmother died. We called her Granny. She died in the really bad winter and we could not bury her in the Richmond, KY Cemetery until the ground thawed some so we had to go there a week or so after he funeral and bury her. My Grandmother, in all the confusion, didn’t think to call her minister to go with us for the burial. There at the cemetery all of us together, I suggested we all say the 23rd Psalms. It didn’t go over too well because we messed it up. Nobody there could say it without making a mistake. We simply couldn’t get through it completely. This was in 1977.

So while I was learning this 23rd Psalms on my walks with God, I decided I needed to go back to Granny’s grave and make it right. I called a couple friends and Patti and I drove over to the Richmond Cemetery in 2012, some 35 years later after Granny died, and did Granny right. I could recall 35 years ago the day we buried Granny and I told Granny I had come back to honor her properly. We prayed and said the 23rd Psalm. I felt like we had completed Granny’s service the right way this time, albeit late.

You never know when you might need to say the 23rd Psalms.

Psalm 23 Amplified Bible (AMP)
The Lord, the Psalmist’s Shepherd.
A Psalm of David.
23 The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, to guide and to shield me],
I shall not want.
2
He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still and quiet waters.
3
He refreshes and restores my soul (life);
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
for His name’s sake.

4
Even though I walk through the [sunless] [a]valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me.
5
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You have anointed and refreshed my head with [b]oil;
My cup overflows.
6
Surely goodness and mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell forever [throughout all my days] in the house and in the presence of the Lord.

 

 

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Fear Not

It has been said that the only constant is change, that everything flows and nothing stands still, just like the universe. We look around us and that seems to be true. Seasons change. People age. Civilizations rise and fall. Threats everywhere as we live. Is there anything truly consistent? Is there any firm Truth we can hold on to in a world that is always shifting? Yes! God Himself tells us that He does not change (Malachi 3:6: 6 For I am the Lord, I change not; ) and will always do what He says He will do (Numbers 23:19: God is not human, that he should lie,
not a human being, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
Does he promise and not fulfill?). God is the great constant in our lives whether we acknowledge Him or not. He’s still active in your life whether you have a relationship with Him or not. Time does not affect God. God lives outside of time. All we have ever known is being in a place and a time. Earth is the only reality we know, though it is certainly not the only reality there is. We know there is the reality of the spirit world and we also know there is the reality of Heaven and Hell. God is still the same holy, amazing, kind God He was when He created the world. No matter how uncertain your life looks, you can trust in God’s constant love and faithfulness (Psalm 100:5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.). He has always been here and He always will be. He gives us wonderful assurances to this fact: Deuteronomy 31:6 New International Version (NIV)
“6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Matthew 10:28-30 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
28 And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; but rather be afraid of Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Gehenna).
29 Are not two [a]little sparrows sold for a penny? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s leave (consent) and notice.
30 But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Jesus gave us insight into His concern for us as he said that not one sparrow falls to the ground outside of the will of your father. Jesus wants us to trust Him in the face of fear. The faith we have in Jesus should be greater than the fear the world can bring. Often we will be shaken to our core in this life. We can suffer the loss of a loved one and be stunned. People get diagnosis all the time and have to come to terms to the threat that has on their lives. Now, we live in a world where we are being bombarded with news every day where we see the count of the deaths and cases of the coronavirus. The bad things that happen to us are not an indication of God’s love for us nor or His ability to deliver us out of a thing. Again, we will often be shaken to our core and our faith tested. This is part of the path we walk as Christians, as we know that God will be with us through the fiery ordeal of whatever the circumstances may be we are walking through on any given day. One day we will stand with God and Hid angels and see the plan of our lives. Until then we must trust.
We are faced with a choice. Do we believe God or give in to fear? The worst that can happen to us here on this earth is to die. We are all going to die and there is nothing that can stop that. Hebrews 9:27 King James Version (KJV)
27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” But for the people of God who have chosen Jesus Christ as their savior, there will be no judgment for us. Our lives are a gift from God and we should live our lives realizing each day is a gift. One day we will leave here and be taken to our eternal home. The threats of today about the coronavirus serve to wake us up to see this reality of death. But it also serves to wake us up to the reality of God’s promises that He will never leave or forsake us. If death should come today, as it will one day, we have the assurance of eternal life and having a place to live with God forever. John 14:1-3 English Standard Version (ESV)
I Am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life
14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God;[a] believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?[b] 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
We can be joyful in the face of trials, challenges and adversity because our God loves us and provided a way back home. Fear not! Isaiah 43:1 “Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine.”
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The Coronavirus Reaction

I can’t put my finger on it but there’s something more than meets the eye on this virus crisis. Judge Napolitano says is a gross overreach on the United States Constitution. The government cannot tell you what to do when it comes to restricting our freedoms I don’t think unless it’s in the constitution or Bill of Rights. If so then guns kill far more people than coronavirus why not ban guns? Cigarettes kill far more why not ban cigarettes? The flu kills 12-15 thousand people a year. We never acted like this before? Used to a virus would just do what it’ll do. People can open their business and people can go eat if they want. It’s your chance to take.

Now they’re talking about doing away with cash because it can spread the coronavirus. It’s just a seemingly over the top reaction somewhat. Where will it lead? What changes will result in it? There’s definitely an eerie feeling about the reaction to it. To crash the world’s economy and it doesn’t really hurt 80% of all people? 15% get a little achy? 3% might die? It seems tremendously overkill and overreaching to me. Our constitutional rights should be more important than governmental control. It should shake out however it’d shake out but our lives should not be disrupted by such force of government nor our rights trampled over in The name of what’s best for us. If that’s the case why can we buy cigarettes, guns, alcohol, and automobiles? Each one of those things kill more than the coronavirus has potential. I’m just thinking here. What’s the bigger picture?

 

The freedoms that were just taken away from us this week to go out to eat dinner, to get a hair cut and to go to church; remember the millions of people who fought and died for us to have those freedoms, and just like that they were taken away in one week. This sounds like Russia or Cuba, but not the USA.

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God Can Get our Attention

2 Chronicles 7:14 King James Version (KJV)
14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

When you have a society that rages with the slaughter of unborn babies, who New York State recently has now allowed late-term abortions all the way up to birth, and the people of the land didn’t cry out for those lives, and revolt and show a disdain for this murderous sin by protest in the streets, then maybe God has moved in a way to get the attention of this slaughter. Next, it could rain fire and brimstone as in the day of Sodom and Gomorrah. A perfectly healthy baby who could survive outside the womb if delivered can be murdered in New York state. Killed, chopped up and removed from the womb. Who got livid and outraged over that?

If God wants to get our attention He sure can and fast. It’s like having the Holocaust in our backyards and us not saying anything about it. Only the numbers are far greater than the Holocaust.

The people of God should begin to wake up and make a stand for justice for those unborn children. Don’t let the few unbelievers set a standard of justice for us all. Maybe it’s time to speak up as Christians. Maybe that’s all God wants from us at this time?

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Choose Life

John 3: 5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit.
Notice how Jesus phrases that. The flesh gives birth to the flesh; but the spirit gives birth to the spirit. What does the flesh give? Well. you can hear the flesh loudly right now. The flesh worries, frets, fears and has anxiety. The Spirit gives peace, calm, confidence, faith and love. The Bible says, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
If the heart is full of fear and unbelief the mouth will speak worry. If the heart is full of faith the mouth will speak peace and will remain calm though the world around them is in turmoil. If we are born again in the spirit of God we will have the fruits of the spirit and be at peace whilst in the midst of the threat. It is also noteworthy to say that the word says this is a “choice” for us to make.
The Bible says in Deuteronomy 30: 19 “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.”
Let us all choose life and walk in the spirit.
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In Crisis The Word of God is Powerful for You

I wanted to elaborate on this more: How can God’s Word become one thing for one person and something else for another? Because it is alive! The Word of God is full of life. Full! Therefore, it administers life wherever it is applied. It doesn’t matter how dark and deadly your circumstances may be. There is enough life in God’s Word to totally overwhelm all the death that the world, the devil or circumstances can bring you. Speak God’s word, not your problem.

The Bible says that: Hebrews 4:12; “12 For the Word of God is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the [g]breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.”

In a crisis, our “human nature” will shrink to fear. We as humans are afraid. We know we have no power over the elements, disease, death [ that's for sure] and natural disasters. We are little and vulnerable and without God, we were doomed to Hell. We don’t have any power, not until the day that God said we could use The power of His word. No, we don’t have power in ourselves, but God does. He invites us to believe in Him and to speak His words. If we do we don’t have to be afraid anymore. If we do then God’s great big power starts to activate in our lives. If we start to practice to use His words and give His word first place in our lives then that word begins a life of its own in our lives. His word will trump any disaster. When you see the world collapsing around you, you may know that the rest of the world may not be speaking God’s word. But you speak it. They may not know God’s word. But you know it. As we speak God’s word over our lives then we have the Word of God as our protection.

Don’t speak fear. Speak Faith! Speak God’s word over you and your family. What’s that? You didn’t think that in this life you’d be put to the test? Well, surprise! You are put to the test and tests come so God can see where you are. Are you a believer or a doubter? You can’t be both, you are either one or the other. Which one are you? Choose to believe God and have faith. Don’t let the big old world scare you. God is bigger! He’s watching to see where your true heart is. Make Him proud!

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The Secret to Believing God and Its Benefits Package

The current set of circumstances in the world can sure make you think. I hope it is making you think about faith. It certainly is me. I thought about this: Say the president of State Farm came to your house this morning and wanted to make sure you knew that because you had been faithful to pay your insurance premiums if you suffered a loss he promised to pay. You knew you had an insurance policy and you had every right to expect payment on a loss and it is the law that insurance companies have to pay for losses, or the State Insurance Commission would step in and they would make you whole if State Farm failed to do that, but knowing all that, you had now the extra comfort of the president of State Farm stopping by your house to give you the assurance that you were protected over that loss. You would be so impressed by that president doing that. You’d walk around all day saying “the President of State Farm stopped to see me today isn’t he such a nice man? Can you believe the President of State Farm stopped to see us?”

That’s the same way we should view Psalms 91. The first two verses of Psalms 91 says if you do something: 1 He who [a]dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand].

2 I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust!

The next verses tell us that IF we do that in verse 1 and 2 then verse 3 onward through the chapter tells us OUR BENEFITS of doing that. Notice how verse 3 starts with “then” [ then see your benefits of verse 1 and 2

They are:

3 For [then] He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.

4 [Then] He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings shall you trust and find refuge; His truth and His faithfulness are a shield and a buckler.

5 You shall not be afraid of the terror of the night, nor of the arrow (the evil plots and slanders of the wicked) that flies by day,

6 Nor of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor of the destruction and sudden death that surprise and lay waste at noonday.

7 A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not come near you.

8 Only a spectator shall you be [yourself inaccessible in the secret place of the Most High] as you witness the reward of the wicked.

9 Because you have made the Lord your refuge, and the Most High your dwelling place,

10 There shall no evil befall you, nor any plague or calamity come near your tent.

11 For He will give His angels [especial] charge over you to accompany and defend and preserve you in all your ways [of obedience and service].

12 They shall bear you up on their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone.

13 You shall tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the serpent shall you trample underfoot.

14 Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he knows and understands My name [has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love, and kindness—trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no, never].

15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.

16 With long life will I satisfy him and show him My salvation.

God gave us his word for us to believe and have faith in. You would certainly believe God more than the president of State Farm or any insurance policy you have on your cars and home, wouldn’t you? Then begin to say this out loud: 1 He who [a]dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand].

2 I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust!

When you do this and believe this in your heart then the benefits package of verses 4-16 begins to activate in your life. It cannot fail! The word of God cannot fail. You have every right to believe it. Now believe it and have faith in God!

Remember what Jesus said in Mark 11: 22 And Jesus, replying, said to them, Have faith in God [constantly].

23 Truly I tell you, whoever says to this mountain, Be lifted up and thrown into the sea! and does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it will be done for him.

24 For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it].

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