Strength and Courage

Ephesians 3:7-10 ESV

“Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”

There are people who are called to full-time ministry, to be ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is their calling, their assignment from God. He has gifted them specifically for this ministry. Paul was one of those.

But we are all called of God to share the truths of his gospel to the people we meet. We, the church, are to proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light (1 Pet. 2:9).

We are to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world in sharing the gospel, but not in word only, but by example. We are the Lord’s witnesses. And, we are to make disciples of Christ of people of all nations, following in his steps (Matt. 5:13-16; Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; Rom. 10:14-15; Jn. 4:31-38; 1 Pet. 2:21).

We are not to be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ or of our Lord. Having people like us, and not reject us, should never be more important than their salvation from sin and their eternal life with God. For, if we love Jesus and other people, we should want to share his gospel, for that is love.

Ephesians 3:11-13 ESV

“This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.”

It is God’s eternal purpose that not one of us should perish, but that we should all come to repentance. It was his eternal purpose to send Jesus (God the Son) to the earth so that he could be our sacrifice for our sins. And, this was so that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24; Rom. 6:1-23; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

And, it is God’s eternal purpose that we should walk in holiness and purity and no longer according to our flesh. And, it is his purpose that we should serve him and obey him in doing what he has said to do and what he has specifically called us to do, too (Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 2:3-6).

Yet, it is also God’s eternal purpose for us that we should suffer for the sake of the gospel and for the sake of the name of Jesus Christ. For, he said, if we follow him, we will be hated and persecuted as he was (Lu. 21:12-19).

And, his word teaches us that suffering is for our good, to make us holy, to purify us, to teach us to rely on God and not on ourselves, to teach us perseverance and to grow us to maturity, and so that we bear much fruit for God’s eternal kingdom (Rom. 5:3-5; Phil. 3:7-11; 1 Pet. 4:12-17, etc.).

Ephesians 3:14-19 ESV

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Paul did not want the believers in Jesus Christ to lose heart over what he was suffering for them. For, he was facing much persecution, which included beatings, false accusations, and false imprisonments. So, he prayed for them that they would be strengthened with power through the Holy Spirit in their inner being – in their hearts and minds and emotions.

And, you know, right now we are all going through some tough stuff. If we are not yet being directly impacted by all that is going on inside our nations and in the world, then we are being indirectly impacted by it. And, I believe it is going to affect all of us in one way or another as time goes on. For, where this is all headed is what the Bible foretold many years ago.

And, there are many who are now losing heart, and who will lose heart when things get much worse, which they will eventually. Some of them will lose heart because they were convinced that they would not have to suffer for the sake of their faith in Jesus Christ, so they weren’t prepared. And, we need to be prepared!

So, we need to pray for one another. We need to pray for the salvation of souls, and for people to be lifted out of the darkness and brought into God’s wonderful light, including praying for those who think they are saved but who have never repented of their sins and turned to the Lord Jesus to follow him in obedience to his commands.

And, then we need to pray for those who are suffering persecution for righteousness’ sake, that they will remain strong in their faith, and that they will be bold in their witness for Jesus Christ. And they will, if they truly comprehend God’s love for them and his power and his authority and his sovereignty over all that he has made.

Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

In all that is going on in our lives personally, and in all that is going on in our lives as the body of Christ, the people of God, and as citizens of nations of the world, we need to believe that God is absolutely sovereign over all. He is still God. No one can thwart his purposes. He is the victor in all of this!!

He does not promise that we will not have to suffer, though. He says, if we are his followers, that we will be treated as he was. We will be hated, rejected, falsely accused, oppressed, afflicted, hounded by the opposition, beaten, falsely imprisoned, and perhaps tortured and/or put to death for our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

So, yes, God is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us. But this will be according to his divine purpose and will for our lives. So, he may not remove the pain, but he may just take us through the pain, and through it we will grow in love with him, and we will mature in our walks of faith, because we suffered for him.

Blessed Assurance

Frances J Crosby, 1873
Phoebe P Knapp, 1873

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.

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