“The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.” –Revelation 3:21

So how did Jesus conquer?

Jesus came chiefly as “God With Us” to bring redemption TO man. But, He also demonstrates the victorious life as the second Adam (1Co 15:45-47) and firstborn of all spirit-born image-bearers (Col 1:15). He is the perfecter AND the pioneer of our faith (Heb 2:10). So consider that in Jesus the fullness of God dwelt (Col 2:9), yet He did not hold on to His high status while on this earth, but took upon Himself the lowly position of a slave (Phi 2:6-7) for “a little while” (Heb 2:9). He then joyfully suffered (Heb 12:2) because He was focused on a great mission—“to seek and save” His wayward Bride (Luke 19:10; Hos 3:1; 14:4; Rev 21:2) Thus, He became “obedient to the point of death,” and God “exalted Him” (Phi 2:8-9).

Notice the process of perfection:

“For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.” –Hebrews 2:10

In other words, the success of Christ’s mission, the path to victory, was obedience “through suffering.” And if Christ “learned obedience through the things he suffered” (Heb 5:8), how much more we desperately need to be perfected through obedience by enduring suffering here on earth?

But do not think that this suffering is merely being ready to kneel before the Jihadist who holds a sword. For how can one be willing to lose his head if he is not willing to lose his job?

Therefore, suffering in this life is a daily task. It is heeding the battle cry of temptation and standing firm against our enemy in constant submission to God (Eph 6:12-18; Jam 4:7). Suffering is learning contentment and thanksgiving in ALL circumstances (Phi 4:11; 1Th 5:18; Ecc 6:10). Suffering is ridding ourselves of riches that hinder our walk with God, and severing those fleshly desires that are burdens or barriers (Gal 5:24; Rom 13:14; Mark 9:43-47; Mat 19:21-24). Suffering is choosing God’s way instead of our own—daily (Luke 9:23).

So, are you willing to lay your life down for Him today? Not just to some theoretical mob that comes to kill Jesus followers, but by being completely surrendered to His purposes every moment of the day? Are you willing to forsake your own schedule, your own plans, and your own dreams to be a conqueror?

Billy Neal

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Do You See Him? – Part 2

Do You See Him?Do You See Him?“Now that very day two of them were on their way to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking to each other about all the things that had happened. While they were talking and debating these things, Jesus himself approached and began to accompany them (but their eyes were kept from recognizing him). Then he said to them, “What are these matters you are discussing so intently as you walk along?” And they stood still, looking sad.” -Luke 24:13-17

Have you ever wondered, “Why were their eyes kept from seeing Jesus?” It does seem rather intentional on God’s part, and I think, like with all that God does, there are multiple purposes in it. However, let’s focus on one.

Keep in mind, this is not a physical blindness, but a spiritual one. The disciples had yet to see Jesus as He truly was. Sure, they had seen His physical form for several years and spent much time looking into His face. But they were constantly perplexed by the things He did and the things He said. And at this point in the narrative, they are all in deep sadness, and they remain there despite all the evidence that Jesus actually did what He said He was going to do—die and rise again on the third day (Mat 16:21; 17:9; 20:19). Apparently, there was the important element of suffering that was missing from their equation (Luke 24:25); and thus, when Jesus appears to them in a more glorified state, (Luke 24:21), they missed Him entirely.

Suffering is often the missing element from our own equation that leaves us reeling in sadness and often feeling as if we are walking alone. I often hear people say that God doesn’t really give us answers to why we suffer and cite the book of Job as evidence of this. Yet, I believe Job tells us the opposite. God does give us answers (Job 33:14; 36:10, 15), for we are His “friends” if we seek to obey Him (John 15:15-14). And He has promised to be by our side (Lev. 26:12; Mat. 1:23; 28:20). Perhaps the reason we do not perceive that He is giving answers is because we are listening to another god (Ezek. 14:4) … a false image of Him, an idol in our heart that cannot answer (Isa. 115:3-5). In our suffering, perhaps the reason we are so often saddened by circumstances and feel God has abandoned us, that we are walking alone, is because we are looking for another messiah. The true Jesus is present with us, but we perceive Him not.

Joni Erickson Tada, in an old interview with James Dobson (“God’s Purpose in Tragedy I”, Family Talk, July 5, 2018) spoke of her own suffering. She had many questions those first few years after the accident that left her paralyzed. She was filled with questions longed for answers from God but got none. BUT, she said, “Once I came to the point of accepting my disability fully and entirely,” things started to change. “My trust in God did not depend on my ability or inability to perceive His plan or figure out His mind. My trust in God simply rested on His nature and His character… THEN I began to piece together some of the insights and reasons behind my disability.”

God is sovereign, and He does as He pleases (Isa. 115:3). He will not cater to our demands for immediate answers, nor should He (Job 35:9-15). Nor will He be manipulated and controlled by our assumptions and false images (1Sam. 15:23). He is the great I AM, and it is WE who need to bend our will, not Him. Because, He is that GREAT.

Yet God is also incredibly good, promising us gracious love (Exo. 34:6), abundant blessings (Isa. 78:15; John 10:10; Eph. 1:3; 2Pet. 1:3), and ultimate good (Rom. 8:28; Jer. 29:11) through circumstances and men’s wicked intentions (Gen. 50:20). In addition, even though a single sin is worthy of death, we go on living day after day breathing in His mercy. Even though we rebelled and became His enemy (Rom. 5:10), He pursued us and rescued us from our bondage to sin. Because He is that GOOD.

Therefore, as we go through this life, may we remember that suffering is a part of God’s redemptive work in a fallen, sinful world. Our Lord and Messiah HAD to suffer (Luke 17:25; John 1:29; Acts 2:23; Heb. 10:10; etc.). And since a servant is not greater than his master (John 13:16; 2Tim. 2:3), so as His servants we participate in His suffering so as to participate also in His resurrection power (1Pet. 4:13; Col 1:24; Phil. 3:10; 2Cor. 1:5). If we stay focused on Jesus as He is truly revealed in His Word, trusting in His character (His sovereignty and goodness and the necessity of suffering), then we will indeed see His presence walking with us, and in due time hear the answers we long to understand.

Billy Neal

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