Philippians 1 - Steve Wiggins Daily Devotional
“For it has been given to you on Messiah’s behalf not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him, having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear about me.” Philippians 1:29-30
“Hey, Paul! How are we supposed to convince sinners with THAT kind of theology? Struggling? Suffering? Dude, you don’t understand this post modern culture…”
Paul’s statement certainly raises some questions and concern, as to what we should expect from following Yeshua. The “problem of pain” is, perhaps, the Messianic community’s greatest dilemma, moving ahead. We live in a culture of luxury. Ours is an “i-Centerd” world, complete with iTunes, iChat…iChurch. I’m writing this study on a Mac iBook!! The being that our world seems to revolve around how we feel.
You can tell our narcissism by the complaints we have about Shabbat services. “The music was off today.” “The preaching went long.” “The parking lot is too crowded…”
News flash: G_d connects more deeply with us through hardship, than through abundance. Consider the September 11th tragedy of 2001. Remember how quickly our national focus changed to “G_d, save us!”? Recall how soon folks abandoned the Lord, once the immediate hardship seemed to diminish?
Some within the Messianic community believe that believers in Yeshua never have problems, as long as they are nice people and live according the 10 Commandments. When such people observe your pain, they say it must be the result of your sin. Any difficulty in their life, they attribute to the sins of others. This theology is negligent of Paul’s teaching. It is heresy, because Paul exhorted that suffering is a GIFT from the L_rd. It is part of His grace to us!
Alongside the gift of salvation, through faith in Messiah, we also receive the gift of living “in Him”. Consider the lives of Yeshua and Paul. Who wants to be beaten, stoned, shipwrecked…crucified? Yet, they considered it all joy, in light of the hope set before them.
Hardship is inevitable, and also a privilege for believers. How so? It builds faith.
“Blessed is a man who endures trials, because when he passes the test he will receive the crown of life that He has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12
We trust G_d, initially, because of the observable testimony of faithful believers. When we read the Bible, where we learn of G_d’s holiness and His faithful interaction with mankind. This leads us to trust His leading in our lives. He leads us through hardships, where we learn the reality of His faithfulness, as opposed to abstractly believing in the theory of it. Thus, our faith and boldness builds. Observable faithfulness attracts unbelievers…and whole process starts again.
~Steve Wiggins, Associate Leader, Worship Leader
Daily Devotional, Friday, October 11, 2013