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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Way of Suffering

Philippians 2 : 8 - 11, And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. NKJV

Since it's only you, this devotion, and the Lord here today, let me ask you a question. Do you consider yourself perfect? If you answered no, then ask yourself, "why?" What does perfection look like to you? Is perfection obtainable in the flesh? Doesn't the Word of God declare that Jesus was perfect and that He was also a man? Many would argue that fact and say that Jesus was God in the flesh... so it was impossible for Him to sin. Consider this also; James tells us that God can't be tempted with evil, but we read in Luke 4 that Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness and was tempted. If He was only God, and not man, then Satan would not have been able to tempt Him. If He were only God, then the writer of Hebrews misrepresented Him as our High Priest when he wrote that He could be touched with the feelings of our infirmities. Jesus, as the Son of man knows what it is like to be tempted, yet He resisted temptation, because He was submitted to God's will.

James tells us that if we will submit to God and resist the Devil, then the Devil will flee from us. So let me ask you again, what does perfection look like to you? Perfection is not according to our opinion, but rather perfection is based on God's Word and it being hidden in our hearts. God commands us to be holy, even as He is holy. He wouldn't ask something of us if it was impossible to obtain. Having stated these truths on perfection, let me add one more. Jesus was perfect in all His ways, yet the religious world called Him a winebibber, glutton, a friend of sinners, and last, but certainly not least, a blasphemer. When you hear their testimony as to what Jesus was, it doesn't quiet line up with God's testimony of Jesus does it?

So we can conclude that we're not called to live up to man's requirements or definitions of perfection; a perfection that is according to the leading of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God is where our calling is.

James 3 : 2, For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. KJV

James teaches us that if we can bridle our tongue and not offend in word, then we are perfect in the sight of God. Even as small as the tongue is, it is still hard to tame that little critter. The reason being, it vents what is hidden in our hearts. So we must begin with the heart if we want our tongues to remain silent. How did Jesus keep Himself from the pollution of this world and not offend in word?

The verses in our text for today teach us that Jesus was more than just obedient; He humbled Himself through submission. As a pastor, I have found that a lot of people will obey spiritual authority as long as they agree with it, but the moment they don't agree with authority, they rebel. This is why Christians can't tame the tongue. We sometimes refuse to obey when the suffering of our flesh man is involved. Yet Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient to the death of the cross. The Word declared that He "became" obedient. It was a process that He was willing to undergo that prepared Him for the suffering. It is that process of being "willing to be made willing" to suffer that we all must submit to if we want to be perfect before the Lord.

1 John 2:5-6, But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. NIV

There's a song that is sung during the celebration of Jesus' resurrection each year entitled "Via Dolorosa" which, when translated, means "The Way of Suffering." It talks about a person walking today where Jesus walked. I want to use that line to share one final thought: the Lord doesn't require us to walk the streets of Jerusalem to be like Christ, but He does require us to walk "the way" that Jesus walked, and Jesus walked humbly before the Father. Did He please the religious rulers, or did He seem to be humble to them? No. Was He still perfect? Absolutely! All the Father asks of us, as His children is that we place our faith in Christ and walk in humility before Him while we live in a fallen world. By the way, you are complete in Christ!

Learning How to Tame My Tongue,
Pastor Asa

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