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The Fellowship of Suffering

About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.  Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed, Luke 22:59-60.

While individuals may not want to admit it, there is a lot of Peter within most human beings.  When questioned by someone like Jesus, its easy to become defensive proclaiming, “I’d never do that.”  Yet, when push comes to shove human nature longs for acceptance.  Thus, few people ever join the fellowship of suffering.

Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go,” John 21:18.

When Jesus witnessed Peter’s final denial, this event likely cut to his heart.  Usually a big talker, Peter’s fear of persecution revealed a major flaw within his character.  Based upon the words within the gospel of John, it appears that this betrayal of Jesus haunted Peter for years.  Nonetheless, Jesus shows the way toward the fellowship of suffering, letting go and allowing God to lead you where you don’t want to go.

For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil, 1 Peter 3:17.

Following a moment of reconciliation with Jesus, Peter begins to enter a special group.  Unless you are willing to endure hardships for doing what is right, the fellowship of suffering is unattainable.  Jesus’ brother James refers to embracing trials by considering each attack on your faith a joy.  Whether it was maturity or a spiritual transformation, Peter gave up his life to spread the good news about Jesus Christ.  Prior to his death, Peter demanded to be crucified upside down claiming he was unworthy to die in the same manner of his Savior.  May this blog inspire you to follow in Peter’s footsteps by joining the Fellowship of Suffering.

by Jay Mankus

 

Unworthy

There is a growing movement in America based upon entitlements.  If you asked a senior citizen about entitlements, one might bring up social security if they are retired.  However, millennials have broadened this term, believing healthcare and other government programs are what they deserve.  Yet, when you open the Bible, the opposite is true.

As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.  All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one,” Romans 3:10-12.

During a visit to the church at Rome, the apostle Paul reminds his listeners of a statement made by an Old Testament prophet.  Regardless of how disciplined you may be, hard you work or pure your intentions, no one is worthy.  This concept is difficult to grasp, especially to those who live in a bubble, protected by justification, rationalization and a secular worldview.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst, 1 Timothy 1:15.

As for me, I recently started studying the book of Job.  I have had some bad things happen in life, but nothing compares to the series of trials Job endured.  Job developed a severe rash similar to poison ivy resulting in a constant itch and oozing puss.  When three friends came to visit, Job 2:12-13, each began to weep aloud, unable to fathom Job’s pain.  Based upon this context, I’m undeserving of God’s love.  Instead of being ungrateful, I need to be content on what I receive, either good or bad.  Don’t let a world full of entitlements spoil your mind.  Rather, come to a place of unworthiness so you will understand that the Lord gives and takes away.

by Jay Mankus

A Bold Request

The recent commercials sponsored by Credit Karma suggest that getting a free credit score empowers individuals with boldness.  Thus, whether you are buying a car or house, you should always ask for more.  Perhaps the meek have a bargaining chip, yet reality is a far cry from Hollywood.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you, ” Matthew 7:7.

Boldness can be manifested within Type A personalities, conceived through desperation or develop overtime through confidence.  In the case of a criminal, hanging on a cross next to Jesus, it didn’t take long to realize He was different.  Whether it was listening to nearby conversations or something inside his heart, a sense of urgency grew.  When the time presented itself, this unworthy soul asked for forgiveness and a place in paradise.

For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened, Matthew 7:8.

One of the areas where I am not bold enough is when I pray.  During a discussion with followers prior to his death, Jesus unveiled a secret about prayer.  “You don’t have because you haven’t asked!”  This dilemma applies to many who are currently experiencing a life without much joy.  Therefore, if you want to make a bold request, approach God’s throne of grace with an expecting heart, believing that you too will experience paradise.

by Jay Mankus