The message coming out of the church on the reasons why we suffer afflictions must change dramatically. We must take an inventory on what is being said and take a closer look at what the Scripture is actually saying concerning this topic in particular.

     Recently, I had the opportunity to be in the presence of various ministers and leaders in the city and it was no surprise that the main topic discussed was on suffering, afflictions and pain. Everybody in that room agreed that 2010 was a year of great suffering for, perhaps, every believer.

     To examine this topic, I want to point out a few things that the Lord is placing in my heart concerning what the main focuses in the messages that are coming out of the church in America is today. One is not addressing the issue of suffering much as it does not match with their theology and the other one is indeed addressing the issue of suffering, but it is not going deep enough. I want to propose a third message that will be released very soon into the hearts of Apostles and Prophets in this nation.

     Basically we have two messages in the Body of Christ today:

  1. The one that emphasizes in what we are supposed to have. This is the Prosperity Message.

  2. The one that emphasizes in what we are suppose to do. This is the one that places the emphasis on the need for the Body of Christ to use their God-given gift.

    It is important to address suffering because suffering is a Biblical Promise for every believer and if we do not have the proper Biblical prospective, we can find ourselves up-set and away from God.

      The message that emphasizes on making the Gospel all about “having,” commonly known as the “Prosperity Message,” is a grotesque, selfish message that not only ignores the message of suffering, but also mocks everything that looks like brokenness as an essential part of the Gospel experience.

     There is nothing wrong with “having” and if God blesses you with being rich…praise the Lord! But the idea that you can go above your stewardship ability is not Biblical at all. How can God give you a million dollars when you don’t even know how to be a good steward with the thirty thousand you make a year? That would be irresponsible!

     The awesomeness of God is that He will take the time to teach you to be a good steward of what you already have before giving you more. Some of these TV Evangelists actually go on TV and ask the people of God that if they don’t have the money, to make the offering on a Credit Card…can you believe that? They go as far as saying that God told them to tell the people that if they sow a seed of “X” amount, the Lord will bless them with a harvest. I don’t know about you, but that kind of message makes me sick to the stomach.

     In the Prosperity Message, there is no room for suffering; everything is resolved by sowing a seed. They have truly milked that message. The Gospel is about dealing with the heart; you can sow all the seeds you want, but if your heart is rotten, your seeds will be rotten, also. You will never hear a Prosperity Preacher preaching out of Philippians 4:10-13

10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”



One response to “Why Do I Have to Suffer? Part 1”

  1. Dennis Owen Avatar
    Dennis Owen

    One of the major breakthroughs in a believer’s life is when they are able to proclaim: “And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). Many people use this scripture as justification to ask God to supply something they don’t already have. I don’t believe that is Paul’s intent. Paul is saying that number one, now that you are saved by the Grace of God through Faith in Jesus Christ alone, you don’t need anything else. We need to move from our attitude of scarcity to abundance. Paul lived with that attitude. It was a product of being transformed, born again, and filled with the Holy Spirit of Jesus!

    Paul writes this closing in chains as a prisoner in Rome: “To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen” (4:20). Even in that statement, he lives to Glorify God! He offers his heart to all with whom he has had contact. “Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The friends who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of the emperor’s household. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit” (4:21-23). His lists of Saints include members of the household of the emperor. Even in prison, Paul was fulfilling the purpose for which he was created. Paul lived that others, friends and enemies, religious and irreligious people, would come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord! He instructs and exhorts the Christians in Phillipi to be content in community and to serve as witnesses of the Gospel. The key is for them to embrace a vision for life centered on the cross and modeled by Jesus. Such a life runs counter cultural to the dominant visions of success and satisfaction of Paul’s day and ours.

    In Philippians 4:1-9, Paul unpacks what it means to “stand firm in the Lord.” Let’s look at what he writes:

    “So then, my brothers and sisters, dear friends whom I long to see, my joy and crown, stand in the Lord in this way, my dear friends! 2 I appeal to Euodia and to Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 3 Yes, I say also to you, true companion, help them. They have struggled together in the gospel ministry along with me and Clement and my other coworkers, whose names are in the book of life. 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice! 5 Let everyone see your gentleness. The Lord is near! 6 Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. 9 And what you learned and received and heard and saw in me, do these things. And the God of peace will be with you.”

    Paul roots his words in a profound love for his friends in Philippi. He piles on terms of endearment in verse one. He describes his fellow Christ followers as those “whom I love and long for, my joy and my crown” and as “my beloved.” This relational language is crucial for connecting with his audience. Paul is modeling the sort of Christian community that he desires to see exist in Philippi. It is one rooted in mutuality and love. There is the old adage, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Paul exemplifies this maxim. Paul desires to teach the Christian life but fundamental to this is an ethic rooted in love between Paul and the Philippians. As we seek to build a community that stands firm in the LORD, we must begin on a foundation of love for one another. This core of the Christian life goes back to Jesus himself who taught, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).

    Paul then moves to a crucial element for maintaining a community of love: unite around the Gospel. Divisions with churches are not a modern problem. Most of us have experienced the trauma caused by strife and broken relationships between brothers and sisters in Christ. Apparently two leaders of the church in Philippi Euodia and Syntyche were at odds with one another. Paul moves to heal the rift. But notice his tactic. He calls them to “be of the same mind in the Lord” (4:2). This language is identical to 2:5 and 3:15. What does it mean to have the “same mind in the Lord”? The issue is intentionality. Paul calls for Euodia and Syntych (and implicitly all who read Philippians) to center their wills and intentions on God’s mission. Jesus modeled a life focused on accomplishing God’s work through his becoming human and embracing death on a cross. When we learn to put the mission of the Gospel before our own wants and needs, we will discover a unity among like-minded Christ followers. Unity does not mean the loss of individuality or a conformity to group think, but it does require that we surrender ourselves fully to the work of the Gospel. Such a mindset fosters an atmosphere where true unity in Christ is possible.

    Next, Paul presses Christ followers to embody a recognizable and contagious joy. Paul is not demanding that believers slap on fake smiles or repeat clichéd expressions such as “It’s all good” or “Praise the Lord” in the face of trying circumstances. Rather he is reminding the community of faith of their security in God through Jesus Christ. At the heart of verses 4-7 is the expression “The Lord is near.” This truth changes everything. Paul testifies to the abiding presence of Jesus with the church and also of Jesus’ imminent return. We can live lives of joy because our future is absolutely secure in God’s hands. This security allows us to manifest lives of gentleness and to undergird all that we do in trusting prayer to God. True joy emerges from living out our faith daily. Such joy serves as a tangible sign of hope in a world in which so many toil and suffer through a joyless existence.

    Finally, Paul sums up his creed by urging his hearers to live lives that demand an explanation. Verses 8–9 exhorts us to incorporate right attitudes and practices into our daily habits. Following Christ alters our mode of existence. The world looks different. Our thinking shifts away from negativity and turns to the beautiful and true. Author and speaker John Maxwell says, “Your attitude will determine your altitude.” If we desire to live lives that witness for Christ, we must nurture the habit of consistent reflection on good and positive things. Moreover, our living roots itself in new role models. The popular and the trendy fade into black as we begin to take seriously the lives of those who taught us the faith. In 3:17 Paul wrote, “Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us.” In other words, following Christ molds into one right thinking and right living.

    Our world desperately needs the hope, peace, love, and joy that the Gospel brings. The Apostle Paul boldly calls those who follow Christ to stand firm in the Lord as a visible witness to the surrounding culture. His words invite us to imagine how a community of such people looks. It is rooted in a mutual love for one another that manifests itself in a community unified around God’s mission, living joyfully in light of a secure future, and fostering godly attitudes and practices into habits. What would your life look like if you gave yourself fully to Paul’s challenge? What if fully trusting and following Jesus Christ were the only way to become the persons whom Paul describes? What is keeping you from moving forward today? Amen.


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