Purposes of Christ in Suffering

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Purposes of Christ in Suffering

By Dr. Joel R. Beeks

Christ intends to use suffering in the lives of His people to sanctify them and to prepare them for eternal glory.  Recognize how sanctified affliction is used to glorify God.  First of all, sanctified affliction humbles you (Deut. 8:2), teaches you what sin is (Zech. 12:10), and causes you to seek God (Hosea 5:15). Affliction vacuums away the fuel that feeds your pride.

Secondly, sanctified affliction serves to keep you in Christ’s communion, closely by His side, to conform you to Him, making you partakers of His suffering and image, righteousness and holiness (Heb. 12:10-11).

Thirdly, sanctified affliction serves to wean you from the world and to cause you to work by faith.  Perhaps affliction bites you so deeply because you are too little at home with the Word and ways of God and too much at home with the world.  In prosperity you often talk of living by other-worldly faith, but in adversity you live your talk.  Discover the truth of Robert Leighton’s words, ‘Affliction is the diamond dust that heaven polishes its jewels with.’

Recognize also that the end of all of His affliction, and ours, is eternal glory.  Think more of your coming crown and your eternal communion with God’s Triune saints and angles. ‘He that rides to be crowned, ‘John Trapp wrote, ‘will not think much of a rainy day.’

Consider Christ: His afflictions, power, presence, perseverance, prayers, goals, and end. Seek grace to live Christianly today through and in your afflictions and you shall soon discover with the apostle, ‘For me to live is Christ and to die is gain’ (Phil. 1:21).

Within the Bud

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Within the Bud

by Patricia Knight

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
the old has gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Flower buds are a mystery.  Within their protective sheath resides concealed potential; invisible flower power packed into a compact package, prepared to explode with new life and beauty at the opportune moment.  Until the swollen bud unfurls tight petals to reveal its inner features, we can only speculate about its impending characteristics of size, color, and fragrance.

Similar to a confined, insipid flower bud, our Christian capabilities were once concealed beneath an exterior layer of unbelief.  When we humbly accepted Christ’s forgiveness and redeeming grace, we became a new creation.  We “put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24).  Our hearts jubilantly responded like a newly exposed flower bud, revealing a thriving uniqueness, shining brightly with the light of Jesus, and salting the world with the intense fragrance of His goodness and love.  No longer held captive by an inexorable bud with no expression of beauty or power, we magnified Christ as we learned to spiritually bloom where we were planted.

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Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches.
If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit;
apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). 

A branch out of contact with the vine is deprived of life, just as a flower bud’s vital resources are terminated when it is severed from the parent plant.  Only when we are anchored to our sovereign Source of energy does our life consistently exhibit loveliness and value.

We become a catalyst to God’s love under the nourishment of the Son, flourishing with the strength He supplies.  As a flower bud opens from the center to reveal a delightful bloom, our hearts display the central focus of our spiritual life, where Jesus’ love grows and disperses joy.

Though the flower bud maintains a blind physical attachment to the parent plant, we express free will, nurturing trust and following our Lord with eager obedience.  “Those who look to him are radiant” (Psalm 34:5) with joy as we align ourselves with our Savior, leading a “thy will be done” walk with Jesus.

God surrounds us with myriad expressions of His presence in nature.  If we seek to appreciate the proliferation of His creation, we learn more about our personal relationship to our Lord.  Just as the flower bud’s true potential is revealed as its protective exterior sheath peels away to unfold an extraordinary flower within, Christ living in our hearts promises a unique positional status as a child of the King and heir with the Son of God for all eternity.

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Bloom with confident obedience! —Patricia Knight

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